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How to open a Canadian bank account

By ATB Financial 25 October 2018 2 min read

If you recently moved to Canada, you may not know how Canada's banking system works. As a new Canadian resident, your first financial step should be to choose a bank and open an account.

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Why you need a Canadian bank account

Having a Canadian bank account makes it easier to manage your money. With a Canadian bank account, you can go shopping, pay bills and deposit cheques in a safe and easy way. In Alberta, most employers will pay you electronically by depositing your paycheque directly into your bank account. You’ll hear it referred to as direct deposit. This means you have immediate access to your money. You don't have to go to the bank to deposit your cheque or wait for it to be processed.


What you need to bring to the bank

Your banker will need to see some documents and confirm your identity before opening a bank account for you. The Government of Canada groups the types of identification accepted into two different lists: List A and List B.

  • Landed immigrants: Landed immigrants need to bring two pieces of ID: one piece from List A, and a second piece from List A or B
  • Foreign workers: Foreign workers need to bring two pieces of ID: one piece from List A and a second piece from List A or B. You must also provide:
    1. Your work permit
    2. A letter from your employer in Alberta
  • International Students: International Students need to bring two pieces of ID: one piece from List A and a second piece from List A or B. You must also provide:
    1. Confirmation of enrolment
    2. Valid study permit

Your new bank card (debit card)

After your banker confirms your identity and reviews the account details and documents with you, you will receive a bank card. It’s also commonly called a debit card.

Your card allows you to draw from your bank account to buy things at stores or to get money from an automated banking machine (ABM). People also call it an ATM for automated teller machine, or a bank machine. An ATB Financial debit card will allow you to access your money 24 hours a day, 7 days a week across Canada and in 92 other countries around the world.


Your Personal Identification Number (PIN)

Every time you use your debit card, you will be asked to enter your Personal Identification Number (PIN). When you first get your card, your PIN will be four numbers long, but you can change it to any numbers that are easy for you to remember. Your new PIN can have 4–12 numbers. You should memorize your PIN (but do not write it down) and keep it secret from others.


Setting up online banking and mobile banking

With an ATB bank account, you will have the option to set up ATB Personal online banking. Then you’ll be able to use a computer with internet access to see how much money you have in your account, transfer money between your accounts, and pay bills.

You will also be able to download the ATB Personal app to manage your account from a smartphone or other mobile device. The team at any ATB Financial branch in Alberta will get you set up with all of this, and anything else you need. 


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