Find out what you need to set up a bank account and how to go about transferring funds if you've come to UBC from another country.

Bank branches near UBC

Bank of Montreal (BMO), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Scotiabank and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) are in or near University Village. ATMs of several other banks are also located on campus. The following banks are located on West 10th Avenue, near Sasamat Street:

Opening a bank account

To open a bank account, you’ll need identification, such as your UBCcard, passport, and local address. If you don’t have a local address yet, you can use the International House address temporarily. Some banks may ask for a letter of reference from your bank at home. If you don't have such a letter, go to a different bank to open an account.

When you visit a bank, ask about accounts that offer lower service fees for students. Be sure to ask for details concerning all the possible fees that might apply for services, such as:

  • monthly administrative service
  • withdrawing and depositing money
  • using Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) at other institutions
  • writing cheques
  • online banking
  • using debit cards

When you open an account, the bank will issue you an ATM card. Your ATM card can be used in bank machines around the city. You can also use it as a debit or Interac card and pay for items directly. Charges to debit cards are deducted from your account immediately, unlike a credit card.

If you do not have a bank account yet and need to withdraw cash from your home country's bank, you can access your bank through the Plus or Cirrus international banking networks at an ATM. Additional fees will be charged on top of the currency transfer rates.

Cash advances from credit cards carry high interest rates and should usually be avoided.

Transferring money to and from Canada

Your bank can advise you on the best way to send money home or have money transferred to Canada. Money transfer firms can also send your money electronically to any destination within a few minutes. Fees can be high, so find out the cost before you use the service.

Before you leave your home country, you can transfer funds to Canada by:

  • Obtaining a bank draft for the amount you wish to transfer and bringing it with you to Canada. It can take anywhere from 10 to 20 days for a bank draft to be processed.
  • Obtaining an electronic bank card from your home bank and bringing it with you to Canada. You may have to pay service charges for using a bank card outside your country and exchange rates change daily, so find out about fees before choosing this option.

Once you’ve arrived in Canada, you can transfer funds from your home bank by:

  • Wiring funds from your local bank to a Canadian bank. This method ensures that your money is available immediately once transferred to Canada.
  • Using a bank card from your home bank to withdraw money at ATMs in Canada.

Don’t carry large amounts of cash on you while en route to Canada. ATMs and currency exchange services are available at Vancouver airport and at any of the major banks or credit union banks in the city. Traveller’s cheques and credit cards are widely accepted in Vancouver.

Learn more about banking in Canada.