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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I'm new to this forum and this is my first post. I plan to relocate from Ireland to Ontario next May on a skilled worker permanent resident VISA. I will have lots of financial questions for you all over the next few weeks and months and hopefully it won't be too long before I will be able to contribute and give something back too.

I would like to try and open a bank a/c before I move, so my first questions is....

Which bank;
1 - might allow a non resident a/c to be opened
2 - has the lowest transaction charges

thank you in advance

hughm
 

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It's not going to be a worthwhile experience for you trying to open a bank account until you have officially become a landed immigrant i.e. completed your landing formalities.
Also, you will require a Social Insurance Number (SIN), which can only be obtained after you have completed your landing formalities.
It is very hard to deal with the banks while residing abroad and not having any base or prior residency here.
You will run into all sorts of hurdles.
I suggest do not waste your time and wait until you become a landed immigrant.
After that, it's a breeze - it will take you no more than 15 to 20 mins. to open an account

Regarding lowest transaction charges, there are various "packages" that you will need to look into before selecting what best meets your needs.
There are essentially two types of chequing accounts:
- no fee accounts from the online banks, such as PC Financial and ING
- fee based accounts from the Big 5 banks like Royal, TD and Scotiabank.

Most of the fee based accounts allow you to avoid the fees by maintaining a minimum balance.
The balance, fees, number of transactions allowed, etc. vary from account to account and bank to bank.
If you go with the onliners, you have no fees or minimum balance requirements of any sort, but you sacrifice some convenience such as a smaller ATM network, no branches, etc.

And yes, BTW, Welcome to Canada!
 

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PC Financial allows you to use any CIBC bank machines which there are a lot of. The biggest difference between the two is really the ability to talk to a teller.
 

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Just for the record Canada really has the big five-six banks and they are in no special order:

TD Canada Trust (Toronto Dominion Canada Trust)
Scotiabank (Bank of Nova Scotia)
CIBC (canadian imperial bank of commerce)
Royal Bank of Canada
Bank of Montreal (BMO)
National Bank

All these above are brick and mortar banks with many, many branches. TD Canada Trust is excellent for service and might be the number one bank right now for good service. (subjective)

Then as Humble_Pie said, you have the no fills, online banking, no fee, PC (Presidents Choice) Financial and ING Direct.

Good luck and welcome over to this side of the pond! :)
 

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Check out services available for immigrants offered by many of the big banks. Here's one from RBC:

http://www.rbc.com/canada/before-you-move/landed-immigrants.html

The other big banks TD Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal and CIBC might have similar plans.

Unfortunately, your needs as a future immigrant will be quite different from those of resident Canadians who congregate here. Therefore, our suggestions for bank accounts may not be entirely suitable for your purposes.

Good luck with your immigration!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
hi everyone. Thanks for all the replies and advice. I'm just bursting to get over to Canada as a new resident as opposed to a tourist.

I will set up a chequing a/c on arrival.

I will also need a decent interest bearing deposit a/c as I will want to get my funds out of Ireland once I arrive in Canada. I can currrently get a 3.5% Gross (2.62% net of tax) interest rate on a 3 month fixed term deposit in Ireland BUT, and it's a big BUT, most deposits in Irish banks are either guaranteed by the Irish Government under a specific Bank Guarantee Scheme with an expiry date or a permanent Deposit Guarantee Scheme (which only covers the first €100,000 in any one institution). Neither are worth the paper they're printed on if Ireland Inc fails to convince the bond markets that it has the public finances under control, can't borrow any more money and ultimately defaults. Although the interest rate is attractive right now, the risk of a bank default coupled with the additional risk that Ireland may leave the Euro for an IRL£ again and devalue the currency, make it unattractive to keeps funds here.

Is there any web based resource that offers online and up to date comparisons of the various banks fixed term deposit a/c showing terms and rates?
 

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If you go with the onliners, you have no fees or minimum balance requirements of any sort, but you sacrifice some convenience such as a smaller ATM network, no branches, etc.
While this is a reasonable overview, the online banks have more options that this implies.

A couple of points about President's Choice:
a) there are a lot of no-fee services but there are some.
One example was a money order - there is a fee to have it done and a courier fee to get it to you.
b) there isn't a minimum balance requirement for most PC accounts but to get the bonus interest on the high interest account, there is the $1K minimum.
c) I don't see the "sacrifice ... a smaller ATM network" as if I signup with CIBC, I can use there ATM network only. With PC, I get to use CIBC's ATMs plus the ones in grocery stores (Loblaws, Independent Grocer, SuperStore etc.). To me, that's a larger ATM network.
d) branches are not as clear cut. On one hand, there isn't a teller in the booth in the grocery store, so
it's now a true branch. On the other hand, for things like opening a TFSA account or questions, I've been able to talk to a person, one-on-one.

The bottom line is to spend some time checking out what is available and compare it against how you expect to bank.
 

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hi everyone. Thanks for all the replies and advice. I'm just bursting to get over to Canada as a new resident as opposed to a tourist.
Funny, I'm the opposite - I've enjoyed a couple of driving tours in Ireland and would be bursting to get back there as a tourist! Although when I was last there in 2006 the Celtic boom seemed to have tragically caused all the pubs to replace their Kilkenny and Caffrey's taps with Budweiser... :)

I will also need a decent interest bearing deposit a/c as I will want to get my funds out of Ireland once I arrive in Canada. I can currrently get a 3.5% Gross (2.62% net of tax) interest rate on a 3 month fixed term deposit in Ireland BUT, and it's a big BUT, most deposits in Irish banks are either guaranteed by the Irish Government under a specific Bank Guarantee Scheme with an expiry date or a permanent Deposit Guarantee Scheme (which only covers the first €100,000 in any one institution). Neither are worth the paper they're printed on if Ireland Inc fails to convince the bond markets that it has the public finances under control, can't borrow any more money and ultimately defaults. Although the interest rate is attractive right now, the risk of a bank default coupled with the additional risk that Ireland may leave the Euro for an IRL£ again and devalue the currency, make it unattractive to keeps funds here.
It could have been worse - one wrong letter and it would be Iceland... :)

Is there any web based resource that offers online and up to date comparisons of the various banks fixed term deposit a/c showing terms and rates?
There's a site that tracks the high interest savings accounts. The big-5 banks aren't on their, because even their high-interest accounts are currently at 1.35% or below. I updated an ugly little chart I did on them - it has convenient links to their pages. Beware that big banks only brought in high interest reluctantly to compete with people parking money at places like ING, and many of them have restrictions or fees on withdrawals. BMO for instance gives you one free withdrawal each month, but they are $5 after that. TD is even worse; no freebie (all transactions are free with $25,000 deposited, but at that level you can do much better elsewhere). The other three at least let you transfer free to other accounts with them. Most of the big 5 banks will have a separate "regular" savings account with lower rates that aren't so sticky. For instance with TD Canada Trust, the high interest is 1.25%, and the regular savings is 0.25-0.75%.

At least according to the rates shown by a deposit broker, you'd have to go longer than a year on a GIC to beat the current 2% rate of the best online savings accounts. If you have significant sums that you want to keep in cash, I'd suggest splitting your high interest and chequing choices, and pick the chequing bank that has the best features for you. Set up a separate savings account with an online provider - Ally is offering 2% right now. You can easily link online accounts to your chequing. It does take a couple of business days for transfers to clear, so you might want to have a "regular" savings account at your chequing bank to keep a buffer to top up the chequing and avoid too much money sitting there at no interest. Ally also has a penalty free cashable GIC with a one-year rate of 1.75%, if you want to lock in and avoid any chance of them deciding they've grown their customer base enough and falling back to the level of ING or PC Financial.

You should also think about related things you'd want, like credit cards. Depending on that, there may be packages that would be worthwhile. For instance, TD has a Select Service plan, with a hideous $25 monthly charge, but which is free if you keep a minimum chequing balance of $5000. For that you can get one of their high-end VISA cards (normally $100-$120 annually), a $US dollar chequing account and Visa ($40 annually), most transactions free and various other goodies. I'm sure the other banks have similar packages, and if you need enough of these things anyway they can easily make up for the lost interest.
 

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hello hugh

a big welcome for next may 2011 !

re your interest-bearing deposit, which is currently in irish pounds but you wish to migrate it to canadian dollars.

other posts on this thread don't seem to understand that until you arrive in canada - scheduled for 6 months from now - you are a non-resident. This means that a lot of stuff available to resident canadian taxpayers is not available offshore; or if it is available there are non-resident withholding taxes to pay. I don't know which part of ireland you're in, so your NR tax rate could be either the UK rate if you're in the north or another rate set forth in the canada-ireland tax treaty.

one way to learn more would be to follow the royal bank website whose link CC set out for you higher in this thread.

there are exceptions to non-resident tax imposed by canada on certain interest-bearing instruments that can be owned by foreigners, but it's tricky to find them and probably expensive to buy them.

i don't want to write a book, so perhaps could just mention here to follow the royal bank thread, it might lead you to roybank representatives in the UK or in dublin who could help you land a tax-exempt instrument ... for a fee.

2 other canadian banks out of the big 5 are recognized for their international expertise. One is TD, with its london discount brokerage subsidiary TD Waterhouse UK, and the 3rd would be Scotiabank. Re the td, may i suggest that you phone them in london & ask if they specifically offer any canadian dollar-denominated eurobonds that are exempt from non-resident taxes when held by foreigners. If they do, their fees will probably be the most reasonable by far.

there is also the HKBC international or borderless account, whatever they call it. It's headquartered in Jersey. They will have non-resident-tax-exempt bonds in every currency; these are among their basic products. As best i can recall they're looking for accounts 100,000 CAD or USD and up, so i'm not sure if this is something you might be interested in.

it does appear to me that you have 2 operations going on & they are actually quite distinct from each other. One is preparation for your move to canada in 2011. The other is rescuing your irish pound deposit & converting it into a more stable currency. The fact is that you and every other irishman can accomplish this, at any time you please, without ever moving out of ireland. You can do it now, or whenever you think the currency conversion rate would be beneficial to yourself. That's why i offered the suggestions above.
 

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I would like to try and open a bank a/c before I move, so my first questions is....

Which bank;
1 - might allow a non resident a/c to be opened
2 - has the lowest transaction charges
Like other posters, I'm thinking opening the bank account would be better left to when you have arrived. I don't have any information thought, so feel free to check out the bank web sites and email them to get the scoop.

As far as lowest transaction charges, do you have an idea of what you are looking to do (and are comfortable with)?

For example, my mom and I setup online bank accounts. As I knew how I planned to use it, I've gone over 3+ years with no transaction charges, no charges for the paper cheques etc.

My mom on the other hand, didn't seem to understand the "it will take a day to transfer money from the savings to the chequeing account" restriction. She put everything into the savings and then couldn't figure out why the Direct Debit card was failing. Funny enough, if the chequeing and savings account were different banks, then she could understand the restriction.

If you know what types of services you like, that will help in the selection.

On a general note, typically the online, no-fee type accounts are passing on the savings of not requiring a branch. So if you are comfortable using the phone or internet or limited access to a person, the online accounts might be useful.

Though, come to think of it, if you setup a regular account, you could also setup an online account since there usually isn't a cost to the online ones. Over time, as you see what services are available and what you doing, you may choose to keep or get rid of the regular account.
 

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I found TD's page for new Canadians, and they say you can't open their accounts before you get here. It probably isn't completely impossible - apparently there is an HSBC package that can be started from outside the country - but you'll probably want to wait and do it when you arrive. At least with the internet you can do all the research in advance!

Keep us posted - the whole changing countries process sounds like it would be filled with fascinating details.
 

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Hi all and thanks for the replies. Some great info there and I realy appreciate you all taking the time.

I will go for a current a/c with a good web presence, a reasonable number of ATMs, and low charges. I will definately need a deposit bank for cash. Pardon this next question as I appreciate that you guys have one of the most stable banking systems around, BUT is there a limit on how much you can deposit in any one institutions to ensure that your cash is 100% guaranteed?

Things not very good over this side of the pond. We are having the IMF the ECB and the European Commission as guests tomorrow to check our homework and I think that the dog may have eaten it! Looks like our banks are being bailed out. That is step one, step two is full economic bail out. I really hope i am gone before that hapens. It's odd in one sense, but I will be giving up a well paid secure job here to start all over again in Canada. You only live once and we been there now and done the Irish thing. We believe there's more to this one life than Ireland and we just want to experience some of it, for better or worse. Hopefully better!

@ humble_pie, my money isn't in IRl Pounds yet as Ireland is still currently in the Euro, but that may change yet. If we left the Euro and went back to teh Punt, that would result in a devaluation and we could lose 20-30% of our money in relation to the CAD$ so that would be bad news.

@ NorthernRaven I am looking forward to visiting Ireland again as a tourist also, but it will be great to be getting on a plane home to Canada at the end of it. It's very different working and living here to seeing it as a tourist, although I dare say that is pretty ture of most places. I would love to come here with a few bucks in my pocket and just enjoy the countryside and craic!

cheers!
 

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Hi all and thanks for the replies. Some great info there and I realy appreciate you all taking the time.

I will go for a current a/c with a good web presence, a reasonable number of ATMs, and low charges. I will definately need a deposit bank for cash. Pardon this next question as I appreciate that you guys have one of the most stable banking systems around, BUT is there a limit on how much you can deposit in any one institutions to ensure that your cash is 100% guaranteed?

[ ... ]

cheers!
$100K per institution, assuming the account type is covered. For example,
GICs over 5 years or stocks won't be covered.

Here is the web link:
http://www.cdic.ca/e/coveredornot/coveredornot.html
 
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