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Bringing Money to Canada and Sending Money Overseas as a Newcomer


Published February 16, 2024 • 9 Min Read

As a newcomer to Canada, you may wish to bring your savings from back home to Canada, before or after you arrive. Ideally, you’ll want to have access to your money as soon as possible after you land in Canada. In fact, it’s a good idea to carry some cash for expenses during your first few days, such as cab fare from the airport, groceries, and more, until you’re able to activate or open your Canadian bank account.

As you get settled and begin earning income in Canada, you may want to send money back home periodically to help support family members or loved ones with their expenses as well. In this article, we share the process of bringing money into Canada as a newcomer, as well as tips on sending money abroad after your arrival.

Bringing money to Canada as a newcomer

Most newcomers transfer some money into their Canadian bank account before or after their move. This means that you should research your banking options and understand the money transfer process before leaving your home country. Here’s how you can securely transfer funds to Canada from your home country:

Step 1: Figure out how much money you need to show at the border

Approved permanent residents are required to prove that they will have access to a predetermined amount of settlement funds when they first move to Canada. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) revises the minimum settlement funds requirement each year, based on Canada’s Low-Income Cut Off (LICO). The minimum funds you need to have will also depend on the number of family members listed on your immigration application.

Certain Permanent Resident categories are exempt from the settlement funds requirements, including applicants approved under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program or applicants with a valid Canadian job offer. Some temporary residents may also have to show proof of financial support in the form of sufficient funds to cover their living expenses in Canada initially.

However, it’s important to note that the minimum settlement amount may not always be sufficient to cover your living expenses during your initial months in Canada, especially if you’re moving to a large city like Toronto or Vancouver where the cost of living is quite high. Be sure to budget for your living expenses in your future city and bring at least enough funds for six months’ expenses.

Is there a limit on the amount of money newcomers can bring to Canada?

There is no upper limit on how much money you can bring to Canada with you. However, if you’re bringing $10,000 or more in the form of cash, traveller’s cheques, forex cards, etc., you must declare it at your port of entry into Canada, and you may be asked to prove that the funds were obtained legally.

Step 2: Check if your home country has any restrictions or limits on carrying or transferring foreign exchange

If you plan to transfer funds to your Canadian bank account directly, check if your home country imposes any restrictions or limits on foreign remittances. Some countries may impose or withhold tax on international money transfers, while others may only permit transfers of up to a certain amount per day or year. Similarly, some countries limit the amount of foreign currency you can possess or carry in the form of cash, traveller’s cheques or travel cards.

Although Canada does not place any limits on how much money can be transferred to or from the country, international transactions of $10,000 or more are tracked by the Canadian government to prevent money laundering, terror financing, and other financial crimes.

Step 3: Start the process of opening a bank account before you arrive

Some Canadian banks allow newcomers to open their first bank account before their move to Canada. Banking advisors can also help you understand how banking works in Canada and the financial products you may need initially, based on your unique situation.

Once your bank account is set up, you can transfer funds to this account. However, you may only be able to access the account and the money in it after you arrive in Canada. You can use the money transfer acknowledgement you receive from the bank as proof of funds when you enter Canada.

Connect with an RBC Newcomer Advisor or browse through RBC’s newcomer-specific banking offers to identify the right bank account for your newcomer needs.

Step 4: Gather documents for your proof of settlement funds

The settlement funds you’re required to show while entering Canada don’t necessarily have to be on your person in the form of cash, they can also be funds in a Canadian bank account or a bank account in your home country.

At your port of entry to Canada, border officials may ask to see proof of your settlement funds, and you’ll need to provide paperwork to show you have ready access to at least the minimum amount the IRCC requires you to have to support yourself and your family in Canada.

You can show proof of funds in the form of one or more of the following:

  • Letters from your banks (in your home country or Canada)

  • Cash

  • Traveller’s cheques

  • Bank drafts

  • Travel cards or forex cards

  • International money orders

  • Stocks, bonds, or debentures that can be easily liquidated

The IRCC recommends that the letters you get from your bank include the bank’s official letterhead, their contact information, your full name, a list of your bank and investment accounts along with each account opening date, current balance, six-month average balance, and a list of outstanding debts you have with the financial institution.

Assets that cannot be easily liquidated, such as real estate and other fixed assets, cannot be used to show proof of settlement funds. Moreover, you cannot borrow money from family or friends to show proof of funds.

Sending money abroad as a newcomer to Canada

As a newcomer, there may be several instances where you need to transfer money back home to your family and friends. In some cultures, the younger members of a family are expected to financially take care of their parents. Other newcomers may want to send occasional monetary gifts to their loved ones back home or help out with larger, one-time expenses. Whatever your situation may be, you’ll likely need to send money abroad from Canada at some point.

International money transfer or remittance

The simplest, most secure way to send money internationally is through an international money transfer through your bank. Also known as bank remittance, this process allows you to send money directly from your Canadian bank account to a foreign bank account. The recipient will receive funds in their local currency. Here are a few things to keep in mind while sending an international money transfer from Canada:

Step 1: Choose a financial institution

Many financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, and money transfer operators, allow you to send remittances abroad. You can choose the right one for you based on the cost and convenience of the process.

Step 2: Understand the total remittance fees

Depending on the financial situation you pick, you may need to pay a transaction fee for each international money transfer. In addition to the transaction fee, the total cost may also include currency conversion fees, differential forex costs, service charges, and taxes.

If you don’t have sufficient funds for the transfer in your bank account, you may be able to use your credit card for international money transfers. However, these payments will be considered a “cash advance” and will be subject to high interest rates with no interest-free grace period. Be sure to estimate the total cost of the remittance before making an international money transfer.

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Step 3: Gather the recipient’s information

You will need the recipient’s banking information to make the transfer. This includes their full name, phone number or email address, bank’s name, branch details, bank account number, and SWIFT or transit code or international bank account number (IBAN).

Once you have all the required information, you can initiate an international money transfer in-branch, through email, phone banking, online banking or through your bank’s mobile application.

Step 4: Get a transaction receipt

It can take anywhere between a few minutes to a few days for international money transfers to reach the intended recipients. The time it takes may vary based on the recipient’s country and bank, as well as the amount you’re sending.

It’s always a good idea to save a copy of the transaction receipt, regardless of whether you’ve made the transaction in branch or online, just in case there’s an issue or delay in the transfer and you need to track its status.

Other ways to transfer money internationally from Canada

Besides banks and credit unions, you may also be able to send money abroad through money transfer operators, such as Western Union and MoneyGram. Some of these services allow you to send money to recipients who do not have a domestic bank account. In such a situation, the recipient may be able to pick up cash at a local money transfer operator office.

Some newcomers also use peer-to-peer (P2P) transfer services such as Wise or Remitly to transfer small amounts of money. These P2P services may operate in limited geographies and may impose daily, monthly, or annual restrictions on the amounts you can transfer. You may need to provide context on who you’re sending money to and for what reason.

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This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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