Transferring Money from UK to Canada

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  • Some expats open an account with HSBC in Canada (sometimes even before they've left the UK).
    • An advantage of HSBC is that it allows you to maintain both pound sterling and Canadian dollar accounts and to transfer money between them.
    • A disadvantage of HSBC is that it has fewer branches than Canada's "high street" banks in most cities. However, in the Metro Vancouver area HSBC has roughly the same number of branches as the chartered banks.
    • Another potential disadvantage of HSBC, which some members of the BE forum have reported, is that it provides less then stellar service on the Canadian end (again, according to some). Another poster, in the Metro Vancouver area, has nothing but praise for their customer service.
    • HSBC's advantages and disadvantages notwithstanding, it may be a useful institution to use during your "bridge" phase, while you're transferring your assets from the UK to Canada.
  • Other expats use foreign exchange specialists, like CanadianForex, HiFX, Moneycorp, XE, Custom House, and the like.
  • One of the advantages of some of the foreign exchange specialists (e.g., CanadianForex, Custom House and Moneycorp) is that they have a service where you state a range of rates you want, and as soon as the exchange rate reaches your desired level, you're guaranteed that rate if you pay up a percentage of the transfer amount (10% in the case of Moneycorp).
  • There are relatively new entrants to the FOREX market that work in a different way. TransferWise and CurrencyFair offers the full, current money market exchange rate, then charge either a fixed fee of a percentage of the transaction amount (the net effect of which is often still a better net exchange rate than any other current FOREX specialist). It does this by a peer-to-peer method whereby your money payment in GBP is matched to others who want to exchange CAD, so that 'your' money is not exchanged at all, it is matched to CAD dollars in the Peer-to-peer company CAD customer money account and paid direct to the Canadian bank of your choice.
  • If you bring the equivalent of C$10,000 on your person when you travel from an international destination to Canada, you have to declare the money at your Canadian port of entry. The money could be in the form of cash, a cheque, traveller's cheques, or any instrument that is the equivalent of cash. You do not have to pay any tax on the amount, and you will not be prevented from taking it into Canada. But you do need to declare it.
  • If you transfer $10,000 or more via CanadianForex, HSBC, HiFX, Moneycorp, etc., the relevant institution will make the declaration on your behalf, and you don't have to worry about it.
  • If you leave behind in the UK (or any other country) assets that add up to $100,000 or more, you need to declare those assets on your Canadian income tax return. You don't need to pay tax on those assets. You just need to declare them. See the wiki on Taxation for more details.
  • Watching exchange rate fluctuations as you prepare to move from the UK to Canada can be a nerve-racking experience. Posters on the BE forum sometimes ask whether they should transfer their assets immediately or wait till later. Unfortunately none of us mere mortals knows what's going to happen to the exchange rate. Our guess probably is as good as yours.
    • Having said this, there are various strategies you can use. Bear in mind that there is a cost to changing money. Whether it is shown as a fee, or is lost in the exchange rate, it is there and you can save money by making as few transactions as possible. Most banks will also charge a fee to wire money from the UK to Canada.
    • If you will need some money in pounds in the UK leave it there. Examples might be final bills you still need to pay. You might also want to keep hold of a UK Visa/Mastercard until you get one in Canada so you need to keep some sterling to pay for this.
    • If you will be in Canada temporarily and don’t intend to buy a home, the prudent course of action will be to invest any surplus cash in the UK (you will probably get a better interest rate than in Canada) and change money into Canadian dollars only if and when you need it.
    • If you plan to move to Canada permanently, or to buy a house, you will need to transfer the bulk of your money into Canadian dollars. You can change it as soon as you can, accepting the current rate. This will eliminate potential future losses if the exchange rate worsens. You can hold your pounds until the last possible moment hoping the rate will improve, but you expose yourself to possible losses. Which one you chose will depend on how comfortable you are accepting risk, and how damaging any exchange rate loss will be to you.
    • One poster suggested a way to compromise between the two extremes. If you do not need your cash right away in Canada why not change it in, say, three separate transactions a few months apart? This eliminates some of the risk of the exchange rate worsening, and still leaves some opportunity for profit if the rate improves. This is a suggestion, not a recommendation, but some people may wish to give it some thought.
    • Bear in mind that once you are resident in Canada, UK interest earnings and foreign exchange gains are potentially taxable.
    • The website has a simple interface to look at the history, this link shows the GBP to CAD over the last 120 days. [Oanda] [1] gives up to date daily rates as well as going back with several years of exchange rate history. CanadianForex [2] also offers up-to-date Currency Converters, historical data of a wide selection of currencies as well as Daily and Weekly Foreign Exchange Market reports.
  • You also may be interested in the British Expats Wiki articles on Banking, Mortgages, Taxes during immigration, and Taxation.
  • A British Expats Wiki article that might be of particular interest is Currency Exchange Gains and Losses-Canada.