Bank Accounts

It is important to open a bank account as soon as possible after you arrive in NL. You might use your account to:

  • Deposit your financial assets in a secure place
  • Keep records of your income (money you receive) and expenses (money you spend)
  • Pay bills like rent, electricity, telephone, etc.
  • Receive direct payments from some employers or government services
  • Establish a financial history in Canada, which may help you borrow money or get a credit card in the future

Types of Financial Institutions

There are different types of financial institutions. For their day-to-day banking, most people use:

  • Banks
  • Credit Unions
  • Online Banks

You can get information about their services in person or online. In NL, bank and credit union branches are usually open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, have reduced working hours on Saturdays, and are closed on Sundays. Most branches offer extended hours on certain days of the week.

Banks and credit unions operate automated teller machines (ATMs) which are usually located at the branch entrance and other convenient locations. An ATM allows you to complete basic financial transactions without the aid of a branch representative or teller. To access ATM services you need a debit or credit card.

With most bank accounts the use of ATM services is free. If, however, you use a machine that is operated by a bank other than the one that issued you the access card, or by a non-banking business, fees will apply. Most ATMs will notify you in the event a surcharge will be applied to your withdrawal. In addition, your bank may also charge your account a small fee for using an ATM from another institution.

There are ATMs operated by non-banking businesses, usually offering only the cash withdrawal service and charging a higher fee per transaction.


There are six main financial institutions that do banking activities and have many locations in NL and all over Canada. They are sometimes called the ‘Big Six’: BMO Financial Group, CIBC, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank, TD Canada Trust, and Credit Union.

All major banks and credit unions also offer online banking. They operate secure websites which allow you to access your bank accounts and make transactions.

Credit Unions

Credit unions are cooperative financial institutions owned and controlled by its members, also known as shareholders. Credit unions offer the same financial services as a bank.

Online Banks

With online banks, you pay lower or no fees for financial transactions, but you have to do your banking transactions on the Internet, at an ATM, or by telephone. Some of these institutions require you to have a checking account open in a regular bank before you can open an account with them.

Types of Bank Accounts

Banks usually offer several varieties of each account type. The account varieties and associated monthly fees, transaction fees, and interest vary from institution to institution.

If you are running a small business, you should set up a separate business account. This will help you keep your personal and business finances separate and make your bookkeeping easier.

Most common account types are:

  • Savings – an account which earns you a small amount of interest
  • Chequing – an account used for frequent transactions (deposits and withdrawals), allows you to issue cheques

The decision on which type and variety of account you open should be based on your financial needs. It is important to ask the right questions to help you make that decision.

Documents Needed to Open a Bank Account

Generally, you need two pieces of identification to open a bank account, and one has to have your picture. The documents you take to the bank must be valid originals, not photocopies.

Related Resources

Major Banks in Canada