Set up a bank account before you arrive in Canada. You’ll have enough to in the first few days and having a local bank ready and waiting for you will make it all much easier. Plus, leaving it till you get here can make it harder to give proof of address, making things harder still, at the time when you most need things to be easy.
You’ll probably need to settle at least a small sum of money in your new Canadian bank, even if you establish your account from overseas.
There a five very large, publicly listed banks, colloquially referred to as “the big 5”: Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal, and CIBC. They’re all headquartered in Toronto, but are basically everywhere there’s people. There are also a few specialised, Government owned banks.
Canadians are also extremely keen on credit unions, which are effectively owned by their own borrowers, a model which is purported to lower the cost of borrowing. Some credit unions due to their nature are technically private schemes, but many are not. While they may sometimes offer more favourable rates than banks, credit unions may tend to have fewer branches and less sophisticated online offerings.
Plus there are local Canadian branches of most of the world’s major banks. Still, “local” is a relative term. It’s a big country, so if your bank has only one branch here, you could be in for a long walk. Regardless of your situation, you’re going to need a local bank account, ready and waiting for you when you arrive.
MoveList puts you in touch with up to three leading banks that have services for new migrants and international workers. All of the banks with MoveList allow you to open your bank account before you arrive in the country.