By law Canadian Bank dormant accounts are kept for 10 years. After 10 years has expired the unclaimed balance in a Canadian bank dormant account is transferred to the Bank of Canada where it is held for a further 30 years if the balance is less than $1000 and 100 years if it is greater. Millions of dollars has been transferred to the Bank of Canada from banks in Canada with dormant bank accounts. Canadian banks unclaimed money transferred to the Bank of Canada can be searched using their database. For more information visit our article on Canadian Bank Unclaimed Bank Accounts.
A savings account in Canada is considered dormant if their has been no activity for at least 6 months and a chequing account is considered dormant if there has been no activity for 1 year. Some banks like RBC consider an account is dormant if there has been no activity for 2 years (24 months).
Once an account has been inactive for a period of two years, five years and nine years overall, the banks are required by Canadian law to advise you in writing by sending you a notice. The banks do need to send notices after the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th year of inactivity.
If a dormant account remains inactive for more than 2 years then most banks in Canada will begin charging dormant account fees. Here is the CIBC dormant account fee schedule, as an example
For years 2,3, and 4 there is a fee of $20 per year
For years 5,6,7 and 8 there is a fee of $30 per year
For year 9 there is a fee of $40
If the account balance is less than the the fee amount than this will be the dormant account fee. This effectively brings the account to zero.
Here are the dormant account fees for the other major banks in Canada.
TD Bank dormant account fees are $20 for 2 years, $30 for 5 years and $35 for nine years.
RBC dormant account fees are $20 for 2 year inactive notice, $20 for 5 year inactive notice, $40 for 9 year inactive notice and $20 for every other year the account remains inactive (year 3,4,6,7,8)
BMO dormant account fees – $20 for 2 year notice, $30 for 5 year notice and $40 for transfer to Bank of Canada – Note there is no charge to BMO customers that acknowledge the dormant account notice within the first 60 days
Scotiabank Dormant account fees – $20 for years 2, 3 and 4; $30 for year 5, 6, 7 and 8; $40 for year 9.