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Rumark

How I opened a Canadian bank account from South Africa

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Rumark

I'm not sure if this has been covered recently, but I have seen it disputed. People have written that you cannot open a bank account in Canada before you arrive there, but this is untrue. My savings account with the Royal Bank of Canada opened this week and I've already sent money across.

I went to the the RBC website and sent them a contact email stating my intentions. They then forwarded it to the account opening department who stated that they would help us open an account, as well as links welcoming us to Canada etc. They sent all the relevant documents to be completed. It is very important to do exactly what they say. It will naturally appear to be a difficult process if you don't do what they say.

documents required...

  • application to open a bank account
  • application for joint back account if applicable
  • signature form (sample of your signature)
  • two pieces of identification... Passport and drivers is fine.
  • verified identification form to be completed by notary public

note: ALL your documents must be certified by a notary public even if it doesn't say so. 

My allocated personal banker then asked me to email her my documents so she could check them for accuracy. I had to tweak some things as requested and then I emailed her the originals in a package. Four days later she received it via courier and two days after that my account was open. They sent me all the details e.g. Account number, SWIFT etc. One week from first email to active bank account.

Be aware of two essential factors...

1. They will only open a savings account for you. Cheque accounts are not available as far as I am aware. However, I have also now been offered investment accounts at higher interest rates but I have not initiated this application process and not reviewed what is available.

2. You can only deposit into your account NOT withdraw. Your account is frozen until you arrive there and they identify you in person. It is therefore a one-way street so don't send money unless you're happy to part with it until (or if) you arrive.

I hope this helps anyone out there who is wondering about this issue, as I was. 

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Andre1

Thanks @Rumark This certainly helps.

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Holmes Family

This is awesome. Now would having a savings account that has had money in for a while be beneficial?

Would it help with financial checks for say renting?

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MaryJane
2 hours ago, Rumark said:

2. You can only deposit into your account NOT withdraw. Your account is frozen until you arrive there and they identify you in person. It is therefore a one-way street so don't send money unless you're happy to part with it until (or if) you arrive.

So if your visa is denied further down the line, are you still able to get your money back?

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MaryJane
1 hour ago, Holmes Family said:

This is awesome. Now would having a savings account that has had money in for a while be beneficial?

Would it help with financial checks for say renting?

When I look at my credit report, I don't see investments being reported, only debt, what the balance is and how well I pay for each.

If the savings account is taken at credit checks, then this could possibly be an alternative with regards starting a credit record here in Canada. Hmm....

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Jester

This sounds great. @Rumark

When you say you emailed your intentions what exactly did you say if I may ask?And also did you query with any other banks?

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GrantM

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Rumark
1 hour ago, MaryJane said:

So if your visa is denied further down the line, are you still able to get your money back?

I believe so, but you will need to fly to Canada to validate your identity and then presumably close the account, but I'm speculating. I think no one should start transferring until they are sure.

1 hour ago, Jester said:

This sounds great. @Rumark

When you say you emailed your intentions what exactly did you say if I may ask?And also did you query with any other banks?

I emailed them and said we are immigrating and would like to open a bank account before we arrive. They were very obliging.

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Druce

Thank you for this threat @Rumark. It certainly takes the hassles out of opening an offshore account etc etc.

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Guest

As with anything in life there is a risk associated. Weigh up the risk vs reward and apply your mind accordingly. 

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Tracey22

Savings accounts and cheque accounts do not get reported as part of your credit report. Simply because there are no repayment requirements.  The benefit of doing this would be when it is time to land, it is easy t transfer your funds into an existing account than have a bank draft/travellers cheques/cash.

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Nettie

This is how I built my credit. It took about 6 months, so for the first few, I did everything cash and prepaid, including phone and rent. You need proof of a Canadian Address.

http://www.capitalone.ca/credit-cards/guaranteed-secured-mastercard/

Edited by Nettie
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Guest
On 08/03/2016 at 11:47 PM, AshB said:

As with anything in life there is a risk associated. Weigh up the risk vs reward and apply your mind accordingly. 

My take, if you are visiting Canada, have the opportunity and are permitted then open a bank account. I opened my Canadian bank account during our 2000 visit and provided my families home address in Canada as our contact address. Hassle free experience!

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Robes

Thank you so much for this post @Rumark. We are in the process of opening a RBC saving account now because of your advice and I am so happy to be able to transfer the majority of our money to a Canadian account before landing. It takes a lot of stress off us because we can land and show that we have the required amount in Canadian dollars as well as also saves us cash because initially we thought of taking cash and a Canadian cash card from Bidvest and then do transfers from Canada. Thanks again!

BTW I looked at the other big banks in Canada and it only looks like Scotiabank also allows you to open an account while still in SA. I would only recommend doing this once you have your PR visa.

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Robes

Just to add there is one downside of this RBC account, we are charged $15 for each wire deposit into this account from any other account. I don't think why because that doesn't happen with our SA banks but I asked out of interest what extra charges were there since it didn't cost us to open the account and there are no monthly charges. @Rumark and @jones did you experience this?

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Rumark

Yes that is true - there is a $15 deposit fee. I don't think it's too bad though if one limits transactions to a few big transfers.

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jones
On 3/8/2016 at 4:38 PM, GrantM said:

Hi Robes,

I have not received my PPR nor have I made a transfer on my personal account but I would expect bank charges of this kind to be relevant. When I receive funds from abroad (in RSA) I pay bank charges (mainly due to conversion of funds) based on a percentage of funds received. I would not say that $15 per transfer received is significantly high especially if you take into account the fact that you don't pay other bank charges from what I understand. Furthermore I have made transfers to Canada (for my company) and bank charges ranged around $30, so the $15 seems quite reasonable. 

 

 

 

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Robes

Thanks @jones it's good to know that $15 is reasonable. In the end I am just over the moon that I can send the majority of my POF over to Canada while I'm here and the money is locked in Canadian dollars. 

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PaulD
On 3/8/2016 at 1:35 PM, Rumark said:

I'm not sure if this has been covered recently, but I have seen it disputed. People have written that you cannot open a bank account in Canada before you arrive there, but this is untrue. My savings account with the Royal Bank of Canada opened this week and I've already sent money across.

I went to the the RBC website and sent them a contact email stating my intentions. They then forwarded it to the account opening department who stated that they would help us open an account, as well as links welcoming us to Canada etc. They sent all the relevant documents to be completed. It is very important to do exactly what they say. It will naturally appear to be a difficult process if you don't do what they say.

documents required...

  • application to open a bank account
  • application for joint back account if applicable
  • signature form (sample of your signature)
  • two pieces of identification... Passport and drivers is fine.
  • verified identification form to be completed by notary public

note: ALL your documents must be certified by a notary public even if it doesn't say so. 

My allocated personal banker then asked me to email her my documents so she could check them for accuracy. I had to tweak some things as requested and then I emailed her the originals in a package. Four days later she received it via courier and two days after that my account was open. They sent me all the details e.g. Account number, SWIFT etc. One week from first email to active bank account.

Be aware of two essential factors...

1. They will only open a savings account for you. Cheque accounts are not available as far as I am aware. However, I have also now been offered investment accounts at higher interest rates but I have not initiated this application process and not reviewed what is available.

2. You can only deposit into your account NOT withdraw. Your account is frozen until you arrive there and they identify you in person. It is therefore a one-way street so don't send money unless you're happy to part with it until (or if) you arrive.

I hope this helps anyone out there who is wondering about this issue, as I was. 

Thanks for info, very helpful. Two questions:

 

I know how to access a commissioner of oaths but not sure about a notary.  Do I need to visit a lawyer's office?

When you say every document certified, what does the notary actually do?  Just stamp and sign each page, or check document?

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Nelline

On the matter of bank charges, not sure how relevant this is but just to mention that transfers from my UK HSBC account to my Canadian HSBC account is free. Not sure if this would be the case from an SA HSBC account though. 

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Robes

@PaulD we used a lawyer as our commissioner of oath and from what I remember he said that they are not allowed to charge you for acting as the commissioner of oath and signing our documents. I also only recall him signing the documents that required his signature and stamp. But RBC made us scan and send them everything to double check before we couriered the documents. All the best, we just landed and its been incredible so far!

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Jules

As someone who works for one of the big banks here in Toronto I want to emphasize how strict they are on anti money laundering. It's the reason RBC freezes withdrawals until you are here as a landed resident. Essentially what that means is that they will complete all the AML checks when you arrive so only then your account becomes fully active. 

If your visa is declined you will have one MAJOR problem on your hands. Trying to withdraw your dollars from overseas is going to be a headache. And trying to land in Canada after your immigration visa was declined is next to impossible. If you are declined an immigration visa then expect to see your vacation visa application also declined. CIC will assume you won't leave Canada after the vacation. 

Only put money into a frozen account if you already have a visa approved. 

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NostalgiaNut

Thanks a lot for this thread! Very useful! I have 2 questions:

1. Can we get these documents certified at an SAPS police station? If not, can anybody give me some names of notaries/attorneys in the Midrand/Johannesburg/Sandton area who don't charge an arm and a leg for this service. I know one in Midrand who I regularly went to but she has recently increased her prices from R250 per document to R1500 or something ridiculous like that.

2. Can we show funds during landing in the form of a current statement from a South African bank? The funds will be in ZAR of course. Will the officer be okay with that?

@Rumark @MaryJane

Thanks, guys.

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Squire

@NostalgiaNut my sis works for Kisch Ip in Sandton. There's a great notary public who did my ANC and recently notarised my banking application. I'm seeing them again tomorrow. I will pm u the details in the morning, she charges about R500 for the session. 

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NostalgiaNut
11 minutes ago, Squire said:

@NostalgiaNut my sis works for Kisch Ip in Sandton. There's a great notary public who did my ANC and recently notarised my banking application. I'm seeing them again tomorrow. I will pm u the details in the morning, she charges about R500 for the session. 

Oh that sounds perfect! And close by. Is there a per document fee or only for the whole session?

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