Payset prespective
June 27, 2024

How to Open a Canadian Dollar Account in the UK

If you are in the UK and need a Canadian dollar (CAD) account, you have more options than ever with the advent of electronic money institutions (EMI). These innovative, global services provide an alternative to traditional bank accounts.

Key Takeaways

  • UK-based individuals and businesses can open accounts with electronic money institutions (EMI) to transact in the Canadian dollar
  • EMIs typically provide online services and cater to users globally
  • By contrast, traditional CAD bank accounts usually are only available to users who are citizens or residents of Canada
  • Either option might be appropriate depending on your situation 

Can You Open a Canadian Dollar Account in the UK?

Yes, it's possible to open a Canadian dollar account from the UK.

If you’re a UK resident, you won’t be able to remotely obtain an account at a Canadian bank unless you also have citizenship or resident status in Canada. 

Instead, you can access all the payment features of a Canadian account with an IBAN (international bank account number) issued by an electronic money institution (EMI) that offers support for the Canadian dollar (CAD). These services provide many basic account and transaction services, including the ability to send/receive CAD transfers locally.

Understanding CAD Bank Accounts and EMIs in the UK

EMIs and traditional bank accounts have many of the same basic capabilities. Each option allows you to hold, manage, send, and receive currency over secure networks. However, there are key differences. EMIs cannot issue loans or credit, for instance. 

On the other hand, EMIs typically offer multi-currency accounts, which banks do not. Payset, for instance, offers the ability to hold up to 34 currencies, including CAD, in a single account. While both services offer currency exchange, a traditional bank typically offers limited foreign currency account options. 

While traditional banks have large networks of brick-and-mortar branches, EMIs largely offer access through online accounts and mobile apps with no in-person services. EMIs generally focus on digital payments, multi-currency accounts, cross-border money transfers, and foreign currency exchange, while bank services encompass investment, loans, and credit. 

The simplicity of EMI services is not a disadvantage. If you’re looking for a cross-border payment solution, EMIs typically offer quicker setup, faster transactions, and lower fees thanks to their streamlined and focused service model.

Benefits of Using an EMI CAD Account

EMIs provide various advantages over a bank account. Consider these features:

Multi-currency support: You can open an EMI account strictly to store and transact with the Canadian dollar (CAD) or the British pound (GBP), but you can also use an EMI account to handle other currencies.

Competitive exchange rates: EMIs offer competitive exchange rates through a variety of strategies. Payset provides real-time conversion rates in a quote prior to your FX transaction, ensuring that you get the best rate on any transaction.

Faster account setup: EMIs typically offer fast, fully online, account setups with relatively minimal documentation requirements.

Reduced fees and requirements: EMIs often provide low transaction fees, impose no maximum on transaction amounts, and do not require minimum balances.

Real-time management capabilities: EMI platforms usually allow users to monitor their finances in real-time.

Worldwide access: Whereas banks often serve a local or domestic market, EMIs typically serve multiple countries on a global scale.

Required Documentation 

The amount of information that you need to provide during sign-up varies between services. This also depends on whether you want an EMI account or a bank account. 

However, there are some common requirements. You'll almost always need to provide:

  • Personal identification, such as a passport, ID card, or driver’s license
  • Proof of address, such as recent utility bills, bank statements, or government-issued documents from the last several months

You might also need to provide:

  • A “selfie” photo, if the registration process is online 
  • Proof of income, such as a pay slip or evidence of self-employment income
  • Non-resident information, such as proof of legal residence, home country visa status, and details about the purpose of your account
  • Business documentation, if you are opening a business account

EMIs usually require less information than banks, but every provider sets its own requirements. Payset’s sign up process will tell you exactly what you need to register for our service.

Are You Eligible for an Account?

Your eligibility for an account depends on various factors, including but not limited to:

Location: Though EMIs often serve a wider range of countries from which to send and receive transfers than banks, no service supports every single location. Consider Payset’s full list of supported countries here.

Age: Banks and EMI services typically restrict services to adults, meaning individuals under 18 are often not eligible for an account. This requirement may vary by location.

Rejected KYC: Your EMI account provider typically will check your identity in compliance with Know-Your-Customer or Know-Your-Business (KYC/KYB) regulations. 

Even if you are in good standing, you may be rejected during a KYC/KYB check if you provide outdated or invalid documents, blurry images, or mismatched photos and documentation. If you can’t provide satisfactory information, you might not be able to open an account.

Poor credit: For certain bank accounts and features, you might need to have sufficient credit. However, this is rarely an issue for EMI accounts and basic bank accounts.

Insufficient funds: Banks may require you to maintain a minimal balance or perform regular deposits. This is less common with EMI funds, which have fewer requirements.

Step-by-Step Guide to Opening an Account

Opening an account takes several steps. 

Step 1: Explore providers: Research different providers and consider account features, fees, and supported currencies and countries before you choose a service. 

Be sure the service supports your country or region, your desired currency, and language.

Step 2: Compare account models. A single provider may provide multiple levels of service, each with different features. Find a service tier that is right for you.

Step 3: Submit an application. You can usually apply for an EMI account online. However, you’ll typically need to visit a branch to open a bank account, even if you can start the process online. Be sure to have all necessary documents and information ready regardless.

Step 4. Wait for approval. The bank or EMI company will verify your documents and perform a background check, including KYC/KYB checks — and possibly a credit check.

Step 5. Access your account: Once you receive approval, your bank or EMI service will provide further instructions on how to access your account and transfer funds. If you sign up with Payset, you can contact customer support for help accessing your account.

Comparing Business and Personal Accounts

Below, we’ll compare accounts aimed at general users and businesses.

Personal Accounts

Personal accounts are aimed at individuals who need to manage funds and perform daily transactions. These accounts are ideal for individuals who only need the most basic features, such as the ability to buy, sell, hold, and exchange currencies.

If you obtain a personal account from a Canadian bank, you will likely receive in-person branch service alongside online banking tools and the ability to transfer and receive funds. 

However, CAD bank accounts are usually only available to residents and citizens. If you reside outside Canada, it’s easier to obtain an EMI personal account.

Business Accounts

Business accounts are aimed at companies of all sizes. 

Maintaining a business account separate from your personal account makes accounting and tax reporting easier. And although all companies stand to benefit from business accounts, companies that make large and frequent transactions often get the best fees and terms.

Aside from the benefits, you might be required to maintain separate business and personal accounts depending on your local laws and regulations.

Unlike with personal bank accounts, you might be able to open a business bank account in Canada as a non-resident. You may still need to visit a branch in order to complete registration, and banks may charge higher fees for international business accounts.

An EMI account can provide an efficient and affordable alternative to a business bank account.

Managing Your CAD Account

Managing a CAD balance is similar whether you choose a bank account or an EMI account. You’ll need to maintain a balance and transact within the limits of that balance.

Other account actions can be easier with an EMI account. EMI accounts provide foreign transfers at competitive rates, real-time currency exchange, and simple app-based account management — all for a more streamlined approach than traditional online banking.

As an EMI, Payset offers multi-currency IBAN accounts so you can make low-cost, cross-border transactions in CAD via local and international networks. Payset also allows you to swap many other currencies through its built-in exchange.


Electronic money institutions (EMIs) like Payset provide accounts for UK residents and businesses that intend to transact in the Canadian dollar (CAD).

EMI accounts allow you to transact in CAD like a local resident or business, with the ability to receive, send, and swap currencies as necessary.

It’s comparatively difficult to obtain a traditional CAD bank account, but UK locals who are also a citizen or resident of Canada may be able to do so. Some UK businesses may also be able to obtain an international bank account in Canada.

Whether you should choose a traditional bank account or EMI account depends on your needs and eligibility, but EMIs are usually more readily available for international clientele.


What is a multi currency account?

A multi-currency account allows you to handle a variety of foreign currencies. With a Payset multi-currency account, you can hold up to 34 different currencies and exchange 38 currency pairs.

You can deposit and withdraw funds, convert currencies at competitive exchange rates, and hold, send, and receive your chosen currencies.

Payset offers:

  • Deposits and withdrawals for a small fee
  • Free incoming and outgoing transactions between Payset users
  • Free incoming transactions
  • Access to payment networks such as SWIFT, SEPA, ACH, FPS, BACS, and CHAPS, depending on region and currency
  • Transactions via SWIFT and EFT for CAD payments
  • Services for individuals and businesses

Are there limits on the amount of money I can send and receive?

Payset does not impose maximum limits on transactions. However, we may need to apply additional anti-fraud verification for large transactions. 

You can contact us before you make a large transaction to avoid delays.

How is Payset regulated?

Payset is regulated as an authorised Electronic Money Institution (EMI) by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and adhere to all associated UK legislation including the Payment Services Regulations 2017 and the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/99).

How do I send and receive money in my account?

It’s easy to send money from your Payset account once you have registered and verified. Just log into your account, add a beneficiary and opt to “make a transfer.’

Receiving money is also simple. You can ask others to send money to your account or deposit funds from an external account that you own.

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Frequently asked questions

What is a multi-currency account/virtual IBAN?

A Payset multi-currency account allows you to receive money in 34 different currencies and send money in up to 38 currencies, all within the same account.

You can deposit and withdraw funds, convert currencies at competitive exchange rates, and hold your chosen currencies to capitalize on market movements.

A Payset multi-currency account allows startups and business owners to receive payments from clients virtually anywhere in the world and pay suppliers, staff, and contractors quickly and affordably in their chosen currency.

  • Funds can be deposited and withdrawn from the account for a small fee.
  • Account holders can send and receive money with other Payset users for free.
  • Depending on your region, you can use various payment networks from your Payset account, including SWIFT, SEPA, ACH, Fedwire, Faster Payments, BACS, and CHAPS. 
  • Once you register an account, you will be provided with a Virtual IBAN (International Bank Account Number), which makes all of these transfers easy.
  • We provide you with local payments and collections. For example, transactions in USD, EUR, CAD, and GBP are processed through the local payment networks, which is far cheaper and takes minutes as opposed to days

Are there limits on the amount of money I can send and receive?

No, there are no transaction limits on Payset multi-currency accounts.

However, higher-volume transactions may require additional anti-fraud verification. If you plan to make a large transaction, contact us in advance to avoid verification delays.

How is Payset regulated?

Payset is regulated as an authorized Electronic Money Institution by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. Our activities are also regulated by the Payment Services Regulation 2017 and the Electronic Money Regulation 2011 (SI 2011/99).

How do I send money from my account?

Once you have opened your verified IBAN account and added money to a balance, transferring funds is simple.

Simply log in into your account and add a beneficiary, then simply “make a transfer” in your preferred currency to that beneficiary.

Information contained in this publication is provided for general education and information purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax, investment or other professional advice or recommendation, or an offer of, or solicitation for, any transactions or any other actions (or refraining therefrom); This material has been prepared without taking into account any particular recipient’s financial objectives or situation. We make no warranty, guarantee or representation, whether express or implied, as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or fitness thereof for a particular purpose; Use of images and symbols is made for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation or advice to take or refraining from any action; Use of brand logos does not necessarily imply a contractual relationship between us and the entities owning the logos, nor does it represent an endorsement of any such entity by Pay Set Limited, or vice versa; Market information is made available to you only as a service, and we do not endorse or approve it; Any reference to past performance, predicted returns, or likelihood performance scenarios may not reflect actual future performance and certainly do not guarantee future outcomes.

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