UPDATE: We have already landed in Canada and have successfully activated our account with Scotiabank. Read more about it here.
It’s now a little over a month before our big move to Canada and we have been busy taking care of the many different matters that need to be settled.
Right now, we’ve put our house on the market and have started making inventories of the items and clothes that will be making the trip with us. It’s also starting to take it’s toll emotionally as we’re slowly coming to grips with the fact that we’ll be leaving our family, friends, and dogs (most especially our dogs!) behind. We get tearful moments just thinking about things like this.
Anyway, one of the more important things that have been occupying our time is looking for ways to transfer our money to Canada. After doing some research, combing through forums and consulting with various people both in and out of Canada we have come up with three possible options for an immigrant to transfer their money from the Philippines to Canada. (If you’re reading this from a country other than the Philippines, then hello!! Nice of you to drop by! Kindly take note that the information below may not apply to where you live.) Okay. Let’s go on to the list.
With the ever-fluctuating exchange rates between the Peso (PHP) and Canadian Dollar (CAD), we have been periodically purchasing CAD in order to have a pretty favorable rate when you average everything up.
Initially, our plan was to liquidate all our PHP to CAD and then physically bring them to PEI and deposit it when we open a bank account in PEI. However, after some thought, we realized that carrying a substantial amount of physical cash with us will be impractical and unsafe for us especially since we’ll have so many things with us and we’ll also be spending a couple of days touring Toronto before landing in PEI.
A safer and more convenient option would be to obtain a bank draft, issued in CAD and just deposit this to the bank of your choice in Canada. Most big banks in the Philippines should be able to do this for you, but you will probably have to buy your CAD from them as well to be able to do this. Since our account is with Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), we explored this avenue with them.
BPI has a tie-up with the Canadian bank, Scotiabank and this partnership would allow the BPI bank draft to have a significantly shortened clearing period of a week up to 10 days, with there being cases of drafts being cleared on the same day. You will just need to present the draft itself and the receipt when you open your Scotiabank account to have this done. Usually, bank drafts issued in your home country would clear after 30-40 days when deposited in a Canadian bank, so having a draft issued by a bank that has a tie-up with a Canadian bank has its advantages. Furthermore, with BPI, doing this does not require opening a Canadian dollar bank account as long as you have an existing Peso account, as they would just convert the Peso using their exchange rate then issue the bank draft to you in Canadian dollars. In our case, since we already had the CAD, we decided to just open a Canadian dollar account with BPI and eventually have our draft drawn from that account.
Do note however, that not all BPI branches can issue CAD bank drafts. Only branches that are classified as a “third currency branch” will be able to issue CAD bank drafts.
Wire / Telegraphic Transfer
After doing some more research, we stumbled upon Scotiabank’s StartRight Program for Newcomers. This program essentially allows you to open a Scotiabank account prior to landing in Canada and they will permit an initial wire transfer of up to CAD 50,000 from your home country without charging any fees. You’ll just have to open an account online through their website, but this will have to be done at least a month prior to landing because they would need sufficient time to arrange for your account opening and welcome kit which will be mailed to you after three weeks. And since BPI has a tie-up with Scotiabank, future wire transfer charges that are usually deducted by intermediary banks are waived. With this option, we can wire the majority of our funds from our BPI CAD account directly to our Scotiabank account and just bring with us a minimum amount of cash during our travel. Confirmation of the wire transfer from Scotiabank will serve as the proof of funds that will be showed to the CBSA officer during landing.
The third option, in our opinion, is most beneficial to us for the following reasons:
- We already have Canadian dollars in cash, so it was more sensible to open a Canadian dollar account. If you don’t have the cash but have an existing Peso account with BPI, then going for the bank draft should work just as well. Just remember that a BPI bank draft should only be deposited to a Scotiabank account if you want a faster clearing period. If you don’t mind the wait, then it should be fine to open an account elsewhere.
- Having a Canadian dollar account in BPI would allow us to take advantage of the Scotiabank StartRight Program’s initial wire transfer allotment, at the same time, take advantage of the BPI-Scotiabank waiver of fees. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone.
- We’re very clumsy people. As much as possible, we want to avoid carrying physical cash or cheque with us while traipsing around the Niagara Falls.
We suggest inquiring at your local bank regarding tie-ups with Canadian banks (most big banks in the country should have a Canadian partner), as this would really be helpful in getting a smooth and convenient transaction.
Next, we’ll be writing about our experience with opening a Scotiabank StartRight account online.
Moving to Canada will be a daunting task for anyone and If there’s anything you want to ask, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!