International students can apply for a bank account with many Canadian financial institutions online. Most banks require members to activate their accounts at a branch in person, while others allow students to complete the entire process remotely.
Open a Bank Account
To open bank accounts, you will likely be asked for specific information. To speed up the process, have the following documents prepared:
- Student ID
- Study Permit
- Proof of enrollment at SFU
- Canadian address
- SIN (some banks)
The list below includes financial institutions that you will be able to open accounts remotely.*
- a non-transactional bank account that allows individuals to transfer funds before they arrive in Canada
- helps individuals demonstrate proof of funds
- makes it quicker to set up a checking account upon arrival in Canada
View Banks and Credit Unions
The list below includes most financial institutions* you will find in the Metro Vancouver Area:
Aldergrove Credit Union
BlueShore Credit Union
CCEC Credit Union
Coast Capital Savings
Community Savings Credit Union
Envision Credit Union
Greater Vancouver Community Credit Union
G&F Financial Group
Khalsa Credit Union
Prospera Credit Union
Sharons Credit Union
Vancity Savings Credit Union
VP Credit Union
Westminster Savings Credit Union
Transfer Funds to Canada
You have several options for transferring money to Canada:
Wire transfer money into your Canadian bank account from your home country. Before making the transaction, ask how long the transfer will take, as Canadian banks can place lengthy holds on deposits (sometimes up to 20 business days
Obtain a bank draft for the amount you wish to transfer and bring it with you to Canada. When you are ready to deposit the bank draft into your Canadian bank account, ask the bank how long it will take to access the funds, as they may place a hold on the deposit.
If you have an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) card for your bank in your home country, you may be able to withdraw money from your account at ATMs in Canada. Check with your home bank about this option, but keep in mind that you may need to pay service charges and that exchange rates fluctuate.
Regardless of which option you choose, keep copies of all transaction records. Note that if you are bringing $10,000 or more into Canada, you must declare these funds.
Even if you plan on using debit or credit cards while in Canada, it can be handy to have some cash on hand when you first arrive. Currency exchange services are available at the Vancouver International Airport under the "Services" tab.
Explore by Topic: Finances
*The content on this page is for students' information and reference only. SFU is not affiliated with and does not endorse any of the specific companies listed. We encourage students to seek more information in order to determine which companies and products are best suited to their needs.
Make Payments During Self-Isolation
During your 14-day self-isolation period, you will likely need access to funds in order to make purchases (ex. food & groceries). If you do not have access to a credit card when you first arrive in Canada, there are a few options you can choose from in order to get set up for the self-isolation period ahead of time.
Prepaid Gift Cards*
These are prepaid, non-reloadable cards that can be used everywhere the card provider is accepted, including online. You can purchase them online from select retailers. Staples, for example, sells them online and has an online activation page. Prepaid gift cards are an easy, temporary solution for everyday life purchases during quarantine, such as food, groceries, and clothing, but will likely not be suitable for larger expenses.
Retail Gift Cards*
There are multiple companies within the Greater Vancouver area that deliver food and groceries, so you don't have to leave your self-isolation accommodation. Gift cards can be purchased ahead of time and redeemed online. A few examples are SPUD.ca, HelloFresh, SkipTheDishes, and Uber Eats.