How to Send a Wire Transfer to Canada

When sending a wire into Canada, you'll need the following information: 

  1. Beneficiary Name (who you're sending the wire to) 
  2. Beneficiary Address (their business or home address)
  3. Beneficiary Bank (Usually the SWIFT Code)
  4. Beneficiary Bank Address
  5. Beneficiary Account Number (transit+account, more on this later)
  6. Amount
  7. Value Date
  8. Reference Field
  9. Who will be paying the fees?

Introduction

When non-Canadian banking institutions send money into Canada, delays can occur if the information isn't in the right format.

To increase the chances of a successful wire delivery (with little to no delays), check out the sections below and make sure your wire follows these recommendations.

Beneficiary Name

Check that the beneficiary name matches the bank account holder name verbatim.

A lot of companies see delays because they think they're sending a wire to ACME Inc when in fact the legal name of the company is 12345678 Ontario Inc.

Any mismatches here may result in the beneficiary bank taking extra manual steps to apply the payment, resulting in delays for your recipient.

Beneficiary Address

This can usually be acquired from an invoice or corporate website.

While this is usually the last line of defence when applying payments, don't leave this blank or use generic addresses.

In Canada, we use postal codes (not ZIP codes), so follow the format L1L 1L1 (L=Letter, 1=Number).

You can look up a postal code in Canada here if you have the street address.

Beneficiary Bank

When sending from overseas, the most common method to send a wire is through the SWIFT system.

You can lookup a SWIFT Business Identifier Code here if you weren't provided one.

A list of common Swift codes for Canadian banks are as follows: 

  • RBC = ROYCCAT2 (180 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON, M5J 1J1)
  • TD = TDOMCATTTOR (222 Bay St, Toronto, ON, M5K 1A2)
  • BMO = BOFMCAM2 (129 St. Jacques Floor 10, Montreal, QC, H2Y 1L6)
  • CIBC = CIBCCATT (700 595 Bay St, Toronto, ON, M5G 2M8)
  • SCOTIA = NOSCCATT (44 King St West, Toronto, ON, M5H 1H1)

Keep in mind that any funds received in USD should usually go through an intermediary bank in the US, which you can usually find the details for when searching for the Swift code.

For more information on intermediary and their closely related correspondent banks, click here.

Beneficiary Bank Address

This one can be looked up online when you search the SWIFT code. It's not AS important as all the rest, but because it's a requirement from most wire systems, we had to add it to this list.

Beneficiary Account Number

The Canadian banking system is not as simple as the USA or in other parts of the world.

In the US, you have ROUTING and ACCOUNT numbers. In other countries, you have an IBAN. Pretty simple right?

Well, in Canada, we don't have routing numbers or IBANs, but do have TRANSIT, FINANCIAL INSTITUTION and ACCOUNT numbers.

TRANSIT

A transit number is essentially a BRANCH identifier. A place where the ACCOUNT was created.

TRANSIT numbers are always 5 digits long, so if someone gives you 4 digits (like TD and BMO typically do), you'll need to find that last digit. The last digit typically relates to the province where the branch is located. When in doubt, ask your recipient to check their void cheque or to contact their bank.

FINANCIAL INSTITUTION

This is a 3 digit code representing the Canadian bank you're sending money to.

Some popular financial institution numbers for the big 5 banks in Canada include: 

  • BMO =001
  • SCOTIA =002
  • RBC =003
  • TD = 004
  • CIBC =010
ACCOUNT

This is where most people from outside of Canada get tripped up.

This is because you may only have one field to enter all of the three previously mentioned numbers.

The safest way to enter an account number is to combine the FINANCIAL INSTITUTION, TRANSIT and ACCOUNT numbers together.

For example, 00010123411112222 whereby: 

  • FINANCIAL INSTITUTION = 0001 (always add an extra 0 at the beginning for international transfers)
  • TRANSIT = 01234
  • ACCOUNT = 11112222

Note there are no spaces, special characters (like dashes) or letters.

Currency

Most transfers into Canada come as CAD or USD.

As mentioned above, if sending in USD, please look into finding the USA intermediary bank and their corresponding account details.

Amount

The amount you're sending in the currenty noted in your transfer.

Some people add CA$20 - CA$50 on top of their wires coming into Canada to take care of any intermediary or beneficiary bank fees when they're not sure who will take out fees along the way.

Value Date

What is a wire value date? This is the date your wire is processed on your end.

It's not when the funds are received in Canada.

Due to international checks/balances, wires sent through the SWIFT system incoming to Canada can take anywhere from 0-3 business days on average.

It's not uncommon for a wire with perfect information to be sent in the morning and received later the same day if dealing with larger institutions.

Reference Field

While this field isn't mandatory, accountants and bankers on both sides of the transaction will thank you for filling this out.

Typical uses include invoice numbers, PO numbers or special instructions.

Who Pays Fees in a Wire Transfer?

As a sender, you normally can select who is responsible for paying bank fees along the way.

However, it seems no one really gets that memo and fees are taken out along the way without explanation. In Canada, it's VERY common for every bank to take their own fee and charge the Canadian customer anywhere from $15 - $50, depending on the value.

A good practice is for the sender to take responsibility for the fees, and if you're feeling generous, add a couple bucks to the wire for processing charges.

Summary

Wire delays in Canada occur for a few reasons:

  • The account number is incomplete
  • The SWIFT code is for another division of the bank
  • The beneficiary name does not match the real account holder name

While SWIFT is the oldest and most used payment rails system in Canada, there are other options to bring funds into Canada. A foreign currency broker (FirmaFX), Fintech tools such as TransferWise and cryptocurrency transfers.

At LiveCA, we see a lot of issues when companies send wires incorrectly into Canada. Hopefully this provides you with some tips and tricks to make the process a bit smoother.

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