How to open a business bank account in Canada

Panna Kemenes

If your US business has Canadian customers and suppliers, it can seem more convenient to receive payments to a Canadian account. You could also save money by avoiding international transaction fees.

But is it possible to open a business account in Canada as a US citizen?

Read on to learn more about the process and requirements for opening a business bank account in Canada.

Get Canadian account details with
Wise Business

What you’ll find in this article:

Can I open a business bank account in Canada as a foreign entity?

Yes - you don’t have to be a Canadian resident or citizen to open a Canadian bank account. You also do not necessarily need to intend to immigrate to Canada.

The banking industry in Canada is more centralized than its cousin in the U.S. Six banks control 90% of the retail banking industry in the country.¹

Canada supports several types of businesses, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and co-operatives.

Do I need to be physically present to open a business account in Canada?

Some banks require your presence to open a business account. Others may allow you to complete the process via online banking, without visiting Canada. This often comes with much greater requirements and account restrictions.

Rules vary from bank to bank. You can call the bank directly for information, or visit one of their branches that is local to you, if applicable.

Some US banks, such as TD Bank, have operations in Canada. You may be able to open an account in the US that can be transferred to Canada. However, these banks may have more expensive fees for holding an international account. Such accounts may also need a high minimum balance.

💡 You can open a Wise Business account from the US, and get Canadian account details to receive CAD payments just like a local. Wise is not a bank, but a Money Services Business (MSB) provider and a smart alternative to banks. Register online in just a few clicks.

Canadian skyline

How do I open a business bank account in Canada?

Opening a bank account in Canada is fairly simple, and lacks much of a formal process.

Your company needs to meet the requirements set out in the Access to Basic Banking Services Regulations under the Bank Act. After that, all you’ll need to do is submit your paperwork.²

What is needed to open a business bank account in Canada?

All company types must have the following personal documents:

  • Two valid forms of identification for the business owner (at least one photo ID and one document that is issued by the government)

The additional required documents will vary depending on the company type:³

Company typeRequired documents
Sole proprietorship
  • Trade name registration
  • Master business license
Corporation
  • Two pieces of identification of those who will be the corporation’s signing authorities
  • Articles of Incorporation/ Association
  • Certificate of Status
  • Corporate Profile Report
  • Certificate of Existence
  • Certificate of Compliance
  • Corporate Annual Government Filing
  • Notice of Assessment for Income Tax
  • Business Number
  • Business License
Partnerships and Limited Partnerships
  • Registered declaration of partnership
  • Copy of partnership agreement
  • Trade name registration

Can I open an account in Canada as a non-resident?

Yes - there are no residency requirements for opening a business bank account in Canada. It may be a more challenging process, however. You’ll need to make sure you have all the required documents ready.⁴

Canadian business account documents

What is the best bank for a business account in Canada?

Canada is home to five major banks, known as ‘The Big Five’. Each institution has its own set of features. The five banks include:

  • RBC Royal Bank (Royal Bank of Canada)
  • TD Bank (Toronto-Dominion)
  • Scotiabank (Bank of Nova Scotia)
  • BMO (Bank of Montreal)
  • CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce)
  • The banks’ account offerings are broken down as follows:

    RBC Royal Bank

    • Business bank accounts at RBC include monthly fees between $5 for the Digital Choice account package, to $100 for the Ultimate Business account package. The fee can be waived if the minimum balance requirements are made.⁵

    • RBC also extends its business account owners the ’Newcomers to Canada package’, including a cash reward for your business.⁶

    • RBC online business banking is available to help you stay on top of your finances.

    TD Bank

    • TD Bank offers a range of business checking options.

    • The TD Business Simple Checking account carries a $10 monthly fee, with a minimum deposit of $25 required to open the account.⁷

    • TD also offers five different Small Business bank account plans. The monthly fees for these plans vary between $5 to $125.⁸

    • The most comprehensive TD Unlimited Business plan offers unlimited withdrawals, transfers, and deposit items.

    • Customers using the Unlimited plan have their monthly fees waived if they’re using any of TD Bank’s financial services. These services include Merchant Solutions, TD Digital Express, or TD Small Business Lending.

    Scotiabank Business Account

    • Scotiabank makes it easy to access your funds. The bank allows same-day availability for in-branch deposits, electronic payments, and next-day availability for night deposits.

    • The flexible business bank account also helps you save money by tailoring your fees to your usage. You’ll also get one free transaction per every $1500 kept in your account.⁹

    • For U.S. companies, Scotiabank offers a US dollar account option to help you avoid dealing with exchange rate fluctuations and currency conversions.

    Bank of Montreal Business Accounts (BMO)

    • BMO is one of the most flexible banking solutions for businesses, offering a range of four different plans with varying levels of comprehensiveness, features, and fees.

    • A mid-range Business Builder 2 plan, for example, carries a small fee of $45 per month. There is no minimum balance and allows 70 transactions per month.

    • This account option also features two e-transfer interactions, unlimited Moneris (Canada’s major debit/credit card processor) transactions, and unlimited transfers to other BMO accounts.¹⁰

    Business Account CIBC

    • A business account at CIBC comes packed with features, and allows you to choose the option that works best for your business.

    • Small businesses, for example, may select the Basic Business Operating Account featuring a low monthly fee in which you only pay for what is used.

    • Customers can also access transaction reporting on CIBC’s Cash Management Online, assign financial transactions to individuals within the business, and receive unlimited CIBC small business convenience cards at no additional cost.

    The Wise Business account - For business without borders

    There is also an alternative option - Wise Business.

    Old-world bank accounts only work properly in one country. They hold money only in one currency. It gets expensive when you try to use them across borders. The Wise Business account solves all of this.

    Wise Business is the cheap and easy way to manage your international business. Wise is not a bank, but a Money Services Business (MSB) provider and a smart alternative to banks. You get security for your money, without the bank-style trading. It’s free to register in the US, and there’s no monthly fee. For a simple one-time payment, you can get bank details for 9 major currencies (including CAD!).

    You can get Canadian account details, even as a US citizen, and you won’t have to visit Canada to do so. This means you’ll be able to receive CAD payments just like a local, with no hidden fees. You can then exchange money to USD, make payments, and manage transactions with ease. All in one place.

    Register with Wise Business today

    Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

    What bank fees are there for Canadian business accounts?

    Anywhere you open a bank account, you can expect it to come with a long list of fees. Canada is no exception.

    Typically, fees are pretty standard; monthly or annual maintenance fees, debit fees, ATM fees, and deposit fees.

    If you’re planning to transfer money overseas from Canada, you may also want to look out for foreign transfer fees. For example, TD Bank charges up to $25 per transfer.¹²

    Unfortunately, these fees also go the other way. You will likely be charged for incoming international SWIFT transfers into your Canadian bank account.

    If you’re receiving international transfers, there are can also be additional fees deducted by the sending bank and 1-3 additional intermediary banks, as well.¹³


    💡 If you’re transferring money internationally, using Wise is an easy and cost-effective solution. Wise always exchanges your money using the mid-market exchange rates, which is the same as what you’ll see on Google.

    Save time and money by using Wise

    Now you can send, receive and manage your money internationally, without crazy fees or even-crazier exchange rates – just a small, fair charge when your money moves between currencies.


    Summary

    Opening a Canadian business banking account can be a painless process. There are plenty of options for choosing the right account for your business. With the correct documents in place, you can likely open an account.

    It’s worth paying attention to the fees, however, if you’ll need to make international transfers. It can make more sense to use a banking alternative, such as Wise Business - which is specialized in international transfers.

    Read next:

    Sources:

    1. THE GREAT CANADIAN OLIGOPOLY (page 5)
    2. Access to Basic Banking Services Regulations
    3. Business accounts and services (Page 3)
    4. Can a Foreigner Open a Bank Account in Canada? - GlobalBanks.
    5. Business accounts and services (Page 13)
    6. What We Can Offer Newcomers to Canada - RBC
    7. TD Bank Business Simple Checking Account
    8. Open a Small Business Bank Account | TD Canada Trust (TD business plans)
    9. Basic Business Account | Scotiabank Canada
    10. Open a Business Bank Account | BMO
    11. Send money abroad and save – RBC Royal bank
    12. Send money Internationally to your recipient's bank account with TD Global Bank Transfer
    13. Personal Fee Schedule - TD Bank

    All sources checked January 28, 2022.


    Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

    This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

    We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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