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Canadian bank accounts for a US citizen

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  • Oct 4th, 2012 8:32 pm
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Jr. Member
Apr 7, 2008
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Canadian bank accounts for a US citizen

Is there any bank that makes it easy for a US citizen temporarily living in Canada to open a bank account for a year? Interest rates aren't a big concern, just to put a few grand in spending money.
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Jul 30, 2005
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Any bank will open an account for you as long as you can give them ID/documentation to prove who you are and where you live. Citizenship doesn't matter.

However residency definitely does matter when they're setting up the account, because it will determine the amount of withholding tax that is levied on any interest earned.
[OP]
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Apr 7, 2008
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I have my DL and my passport and various US bank cards with my name on it, but I don't have anything showing my name on the residence I'm staying at in Canada. How should I proceed? Any suggestions on where to bank is helpful too. I'm in Port Colborne, Ontario for reference.
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They can always put in your U.S. address to start. Interest is so negligible any way.

If you're staying up here for a year, are you planning to be moving around a lot, or staying put? If the latter, then you're going to wind up with a utility bill or a rental agreement at some point - just show that to them and they can change it for your afterwards.

I have no idea what's in Port Colborne. Driven past it, never in it. But any of the banks should do (CIBC, RBC, TD, etc. etc.)
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bylo wrote:
Oct 4th, 2012 7:58 pm
You will also need a Canadian Social Insurance Number (SIN) to open an account. A SIN is like a US SSN. See http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sc/sin/
Incorrect. A SIN is not required.

They can (should) ask you for it, but you don't have to give it.

http://www.cba.ca/en/consumer-informati ... nk-account
Income tax reporting requirements

The Income Tax Act requires banks to ask you for your Social Insurance Number (SIN) when you open an interest-bearing account, so the bank can report your interest income to the government. Any account, however, can be opened without your SIN.
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ronin1701 wrote:
Oct 4th, 2012 8:04 pm
Incorrect. A SIN is not required.
Interesting. Thanks for the clarification. If you decline to give a SIN I wonder if that increases the chances that you'll get audited by CRA?
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RBC has a US oriented bank account that REQUIRES a US address and all of it is under it's own jurisdiction. So take a look at that, its called RBC USA.
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Dorianking wrote:
Oct 4th, 2012 9:24 pm
RBC has a US oriented bank account that REQUIRES a US address and all of it is under it's own jurisdiction. So take a look at that, its called RBC USA.
Are you sure that's not for Canadians who live/work or travel in the U.S. and require banking services down there?
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bylo wrote:
Oct 4th, 2012 9:21 pm
Interesting. Thanks for the clarification. If you decline to give a SIN I wonder if that increases the chances that you'll get audited by CRA?
The Bank will still issue you a T5 at the end of the year regardless of whether they have a SIN on file. So you shouldn't be any different from others as long as the T-slip is properly reported on your return.

The CRA might have a greater interest in looking at bank accounts that lack SINs on file (but trust me, that's pretty common, especially for the older accounts) but they'd still have to match up the account owner to the potential auditee.

And that's what the SIN is really for in cases like this - identification/matching of accounts to taxpayers.
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ronin1701 wrote:
Oct 4th, 2012 9:41 pm
The Bank will still issue you a T5 at the end of the year regardless of whether they have a SIN on file. So you shouldn't be any different from others as long as the T-slip is properly reported on your return.
Yes, however CRA uses the SIN on T-slips to reconcile the copies they get from the issuers with the income reported by tax filers. That's more difficult and much more prone to mis-attribution without SINs...
The CRA might have a greater interest in looking at bank accounts that lack SINs on file (but trust me, that's pretty common, especially for the older accounts) but they'd still have to match up the account owner to the potential auditee.
...Which is why they might have a greater interest. I'm a bit surprised that no-SIN accounts are common because when CRA instituted the demand for SINs, the banks began a campaign of asking their account holders. The same with FINTRAC. The banks have been going to existing customers, even those they've known for decades (e.g. moi), asking for copies of driver's licenses or passports. I realize some people may decline, but I'd imagine in a country of politely compliant citizens the vast majority provided the information requested.
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bylo wrote:
Oct 5th, 2012 12:24 am
Yes, however CRA uses the SIN on T-slips to reconcile the copies they get from the issuers with the income reported by tax filers. That's more difficult and much more prone to mis-attribution without SINs...

...Which is why they might have a greater interest. I'm a bit surprised that no-SIN accounts are common because when CRA instituted the demand for SINs, the banks began a campaign of asking their account holders. The same with FINTRAC. The banks have been going to existing customers, even those they've known for decades (e.g. moi), asking for copies of driver's licenses or passports. I realize some people may decline, but I'd imagine in a country of politely compliant citizens the vast majority provided the information requested.
Like I said above, it's mainly used for matching purposes.

Until it's actually a law that SINs are required with an account, you're going to have varying levels of non-compliance.

I'd imagine that there are plenty of people who still don't totally trust their banks (or the CRA for that matter).

But in any case, unless you have an a TFSA or RRSP or a brokerage account or a really big GIC, then it's really not that big a deal, because the amount of income generated from a chequing account is negligible.
Iv ta'be' Hev SoH, ghobe' Qoy lIj mu'mey, as SoH jaH pa' vo' vetlh tuq joq vetlh veng, shake lItha' the dust vo' lIj qamDu' (translation from the original Klingon: And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet)
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