Frequently Asked Questions

The following list of questions is provided by the Bank of Canada, displayed here as per the Bank’s Terms of Use.

How do I make a claim?

Follow the Bank of Canada’s instructions for making claims.

Why does the personal information of individuals appear on this website?

The Privacy Act permits the disclosure of personal information when an Act of Parliament so authorizes.

Up until the end of 2007 the Bank Act authorized the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to publish (in the Canada Gazette, available at most libraries) information about all unclaimed balances of $100 or more, once they have been inactive for nine years. This information includes the creditor’s name, last known address, and balance amount. The purpose is to help people locate balances that may be owed them.

If still unclaimed by the end of the tenth year, these balances are then given to the custody of the Bank of Canada, which in turn assumes responsibility for publishing the above information.

What unclaimed balances are maintained at the Bank of Canada?

Unclaimed bank balances held at the Bank of Canada are exclusively Canadian-dollar deposits in, and negotiable instruments issued by, Canadian banks at locations in Canada.

They can be in the form of deposit accounts, bank drafts, certified cheques, deposit receipts, money orders, or traveller’s cheques.

Unclaimed bank balances are maintained by the Bank of Canada, which acts as custodian on behalf of the owner, when there has been no owner activity in relation to the account for a period of 10 years and when the owner cannot be contacted by the Canadian bank holding that asset.

Will I need documents besides the claim form?

You will need documents proving your identity and connecting you with the account. If you are an heir, or are making a claim in some representative capacity, you will need appropriate documentation of your status or authority.

How does the claim process work?

When you identify an unclaimed balance which you believe you are probably entitled to, you will have to complete the claim form which you will obtain from this site. Follow the instructions carefully, obtain the necessary signatures, and return it to the address shown. Be sure to attach all requested documentation to support your claim to ownership.

When we receive your completed claim form, we review it carefully and compare it with information on file. We will contact you if we need additional information. Once we receive all required documentation and have established ownership, we will pay the claim.

How long will it take to process my claim?

We generally process and pay claims within 30 to 60 days from receipt of a claim. Some claims involving estates may take longer.

Do I have to pay to get an unclaimed balance back from the Bank of Canada?

The Bank of Canada provides this service free of charge. However, you may have to incur legal fees or notarial fees to provide us with legal evidence that you are entitled to claimed funds.

How long do I have to claim the funds?

The Bank of Canada maintains custody of all balances of $1,000 or more for 100 years, until they are claimed. Unclaimed balances under $1,000 are retained for forty years (ten years from the date of the last owner transaction at the Canadian bank, plus an additional thirty years at the Bank of Canada). Consequently, in the case of balances under $1,000, a written claim must be received by the Bank of Canada no later than December 31 of an account’s last year (that is, the year of the last transaction date + forty years).

What is done to find the owners of unclaimed balances?

Canadian banks have a legal obligation to send written notification after 2, 5 and 9 years of inactivity. To help find the owners:

Up until the end of 2007 the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) published all unclaimed balances of $100 or more in the year prior to their potential transfer to the Bank of Canada (i.e., in the ninth year of inactivity). This was published in the Canada Gazette; which is available at all public libraries.

The Bank of Canada makes information available to the public without charge: on this Internet site (excluding balances below $2.00) by mail: Bank of Canada, Unclaimed Balances Services, 234 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G9 by fax: (613) 782-7802 A request for a search must include the full name of the individual, the addresses of his/her past residences, and the year of death if the individual is deceased.

How much money is held at the Bank of Canada as unclaimed balances?

At the end of December 2009, approximately 1,122,000 unclaimed balances, worth some $395 million, were on the Bank’s books. Over 93.4% of these were under $1,000.00, representing 30.82% of the total value outstanding. The oldest balance dates back to 1900.