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Rumark

How I opened a Canadian bank account from South Africa

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Squire

@NostalgiaNut just for the session. Not sure if they doing a favour for me, but after I see them tomorrow I will drop u a pm.

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MaryJane
4 hours ago, NostalgiaNut said:

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.

Hi @NostalgiaNut

1. Can't answer for this. I did have all my documents notarized but the documents were never used to apply for a Canadian bank account. I only applied for my Canadian bank account within 2 days of landing in Canada.

2. Yes. That is what would normally happen if your funds are still in SA. What we did was we went to the SA bank, asked them to give us a balance confirmation, stamped and dated by the bank. And that is what we brought along, together with the bank statements. It's just to show that whatever money we had at the time was still in the bank by the time we were leaving (we had proof of settlement funds, just not on our bodies). Officer at airport did not ask to see it though.

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Squire

@NostalgiaNut I have just sent you a PM with the details of a very good (and affordable) notary public. Good luck out there!

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JeffH

So I walked into an RBC branch today having done my landing yesterday and my request for opening an RBC Newcomer Account (which is really just their $15/month plan but free for 6 months) stopped pretty abruptly as I don't have a fixed address - I'm unfortunately here only to activate and do some Looking and Seeing etc as I have to return to SA. So they won't allow creation of an account without an address. Maybe there is a way around this but based on this, I think it looks like it might be easier to open an account from SA (until you have a residential address here of course). 

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Squire

Hi @gripen. What I did was apply for the RBC Newcomer Account in SA. Just make sure you have all your documents in order:

  1. Application for account
  2. Signature Specimen
  3. Passport Copy
  4. RSA ID Copy
  5. Identity Validation document

All of the above should be NOTARISED by a notary public, not certified (don't bother with the SA Police certification). If you need a good notary public to do this for you I can recommend one. She did our notarization as well as provided additional notarization certificate for all of the above in a very professional way. I then posted the originals via PostNet and they arrived 5 days later in Toronto. RBC was happy with the documents and proceeded to open a Deposit only account, I still need to go to the branch when I touchdown in order to activate the full account.

Just a word of advice, send a scanned copy to the RBC International Banking liaison at the branch you wish to apply - let them confirm that everything is in order, don't make the same mistake I did and post the documentation twice because the first batch was not correct.

hope that helps!

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K&U

Has anyone opened an account at one of the other banks before landing? I have read a lot about people opening accounts with RBC, but am keen to hear about the other banks too.

On the website Scotiabank says they do not have this service for South Africa.

From what I have read, it sounds like RBC offers no bank fees for 6 months, while others offer no fees for a year. Is this right?

Also, how long does it take to open an account while still in SA? With all the back and forth and signing of documents, how long should I plan for this?

Edited by K&U

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Andre1

Hi

The concern about fees is a little overrated here in Canada as there are many ways to get around them. For example, at CIBC the primary cheque account is the Smart account with $4.95 basic monthly fee and then you get 12 transactions included in that. If you do more transactions than 12 in the month they charge $1.25 for each transaction but they cap your monthly fee for transactions at $14.95.

However, they waive the monthly fee if you keep more than $3000 in the account.

If you really don’t want to pay fees and can’t keep a balance in your account then there are always Simplii Financial (used to be PC Financial), which is a subsidiary of CIBC, and Tangerine, which is a subsidiary of Scotiabank, that are internet based banks and that offer free banking accounts.

Where the banks get you is with other fees like Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) fees. That is when you have preauthorized payments (debit orders) or cheque payments that go off your account and you don’t have sufficient funds in the account. A standard NSF charge is $45.

CIBC also offers free international wire transfers and so the only cost to you is the interest rate spread, which I find is very similar to SA banks. (I personally use exchange4free, I find their spread is a lot better than the banks or for small amounts I just do private deals with friends or family)

In Canada the basic credit cards have no annual fees and all transactions are free. Interest rates are typically 19.95% annually but if you pay off your card each month then there is no interest applied. Premium cards or cards with added benefits (such as cash back or rewards programs) have an annual fee. The premium cards at CIBC have annual fees between $99 - $399.

So the bottom line is if you use your credit card for the majority of your transactions (shopping etc.) and you use your bank account correctly you should be able to get away with either no fees or minimal fees.

My opinion is that the banks really are very similar. Your choice of bank should be based on the personal relationships that you are able to build with a personal banker or financial advisor. It's great to be able to call a person rather than a call centre if you have questions or need to make changes to something.

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Andre1

Both the online banks only offer accounts to Canadian residents and one has to attest to your residence status when you apply online. Also, they mail your bank card to your postal address (Canadian only) and you then need to activate your card at a bank machine. 

So like most things in life I'm sure if you really wanted to you could open an account at one of these from SA, but I certainly wouldn't recommend it. 

Also. It is important to build your credit ASAP in Canada and the primary banks can help you with that by giving you a credit card without having a credit record as a new immigrant. The online banks cannot do this. 

Don't get me wrong. I personally bank with Simplii, (even though I work at CIBC) but when I arrived I opened an account at one of the major banks first to get started. And that's what I recommend. 

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IsabelE
On 8/18/2016 at 8:13 AM, Robes said:

@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!

@Robes, I see you only used someone as a commissioner of oath and it was accepted by the bank? So it is not necessary to be notarised, just certified?

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Nettie

Hello, @IsabelE This is an old thread, so I don't know if Robes is going to see this. In my experience, SA certification (like when a banker, lawyer or policeman stamp the document to certify it as a true copy of the original), is the same thing as having something notarized in Canada. Except, in Canada it is super expensive and notaries are not readily available. So I always suggest that you have everything certified (a couple extra maybe), while still in SA.

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