Opening a bank account: what you need to know

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Imagine trying to get through life without a bank account. How would you pay your bills? Where would you keep your money safe? As of September 30, 2003, there are regulations that make it easier for consumers to access banking services. Now, under the Access to Basic Banking Services Regulations, you can open a personal bank account even if:

  • you don’t have a job;
  • you have declared bankruptcy (except if your bankruptcy was the result of illegal activity); or
  • you don’t have money to put into the account right away.

Provided you open the account in person, and you present the proper identification, the bank must open the account for you. However, there are unusual circumstances whereby the bank may refuse to open the account.
The bank may refuse to open an account for you if:

  • it has good reason to believe that your account will be used for illegal activity;
  • you have been involved in dishonest activity against a bank in the last seven years;
  • you have knowingly given false information about yourself when opening the account; or
  • the bank believes you may harass, abuse or cause physical harm to the bank’s customers or staff.

If you feel that you have been refused an account unfairly, or for more information about the identification you need to open a bank account, contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). FCAC is the federal government agency that monitors and regulates federal financial institutions and protects consumers like you. You can call FCAC toll-free at: 1-888-461-3222 or visit FCAC’s Web site at:

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