Canadian banks require you to keep a close eye on your money. Leave some money in an unused bank account for a few years and it will disappear.

Accounts that are not actively being used are called dormant, inactive or unclaimed accounts. If interest and services changes are the only transactions on an account it is considered a dormant account.

Dormant account holders, in most cases, are either deceased, have moved, or simply forgotten about these accounts. Knowing that these account holders are not diligent about their money banks follow a few simple steps to ensure that they can drain the account as quickly as possible.

The bank converts the type of account so that there is a monthly account maintenance fee. This usually occurs after 1 year of dormancy. The notice of account change is mailed to the last known address of the account holder. If the account holder does not contact the bank the account conversion goes through. Since the account holder has probably moved there would be no response.

If the balance in the account is small, a monthly fee of $2-$10 will zero out the account.

Every 2, 5, and 9 years banks also mail out dormant account notices. The fees for these notices range from$20-$40. The notice of dormancy might in itself zero out the account balance.

If an account remains dormant (inactive) after 10 years, the balance is transferred to the Bank of Canada. 30 years after being held by the Bank of Canada if the transfered balance was less then $1000 dollars it becomes prescribed. Balances greater than $1000 are held by the Bank of Canada indefinitely.

The Bank of Canada currently hold $320 million in dormant account transfers. In most cases you can claim this money if the account was yours or if you inherited the account from a family member.

Bank of Canada Dormant Account Database

In the following example John Smith from Sarnia, Ontario has $5696.91 in a dormant account dated June 9, 1993. It was transfered to the Bank of Canada on June 9, 2003 and is still unclaimed.

Dormant, inactive and unclaimed account fees

TD Canada Trust - $85

  • 2 Years - $20.00 (no charge if acknowledged within 60 days)
  • 5 Years - $30.00
  • 9 Years - $35.00

CIBC - $85

When there has been no activity, other than interest or service charges on your account for 6 months (on non-interest bearing accounts+) or for 12 months (on interest bearing accounts), your account becomes dormant (inactive).
  • 2 Years - $20.00
  • 5 Years - $30.00
  • 9 Years - $35.00

BMO Bank of Montreal - $75
  • 2 Years - $20.00
  • 5 Years - $25.00
  • 9 Years - $30.00

ICICI - $30
  • 2 Years - $0
  • 5 Years - $0
  • 9 Years - $0
  • 10 Years - $30 balance transfer to Bank of Canada fee

PC Financial - $180
  • $20.00 each year (After two years of dormancy)