The Bank of Canada is holding millions of dollars from dormant Canadian bank accounts, and they will return the money to its rightful owners free of charge. The Bank of Canada provides an online search tool and detailed instructions on how to claim money that is yours.
Dormant Bank Accounts in Canada
Dormant bank accounts are accounts that have no owner activity in relation to the account. Canadian banks are required by law to send written notification to the owner of a dormant bank account after two years of inactivity, and again after five years. After nine years, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) publishes all unclaimed balances over $100 in the Canada Gazette, which is available at public libraries in Canada. After 10 years of inactivity, unclaimed balances of all amounts are transferred to the Bank of Canada.
Unclaimed Balances Held by the Bank of Canada
Unclaimed balances held by the Bank of Canada are Canadian dollar deposits in Canadian banks at locations in Canada and negotiable instruments issued by Canadian banks at locations in Canada. This includes bank drafts, certified cheques, money orders and travellers cheques.
Length of Time Bank Balances are Held
The Bank of Canada holds unclaimed bank balances of $500 or more indefinitely. Unclaimed balances under $500 are kept for 20 years from the date of the last transaction - 10 years at the original bank, and another 10 at the Bank of Canada.
Search for Unclaimed Bank Balances
The Bank of Canada provides a free online Unclaimed Balances Search database for unclaimed bank balances.
How to Claim Funds
To claim funds from the Bank of Canada, you must
- complete a claim form.
- submit it with the appropriate signatures and documentation required to prove your identity and ownership of the funds.
To submit a claim
- locate the accounts you wish to claim in the Bank of Canada Unclaimed Balances Search database.
- click on the account, and then click on the claim form link. If there is no claim form link, click on the contact us link.
- complete the claimant portion of the claim form and forward it to the bank address listed. The bank then confirms your ownership, completes their portion of the form, and forwards it to the Bank of Canada.
It normally takes from 30 to 60 days to process a claim, although there may be delays due to the volume of requests the Bank of Canada receives. You may also be contacted for further documents showing ownership.
The Bank of Canada provides detailed instructions on how to make a claim, including information on how to handle special circumstances and problems, and a contact address.