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What Are Canadian Bank Institution and Routing Numbers?

Written by Jessica Steer
In Canada, routing and institution numbers are an important part of the information required in order to send domestic payments and international transfers.
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    Not only that, these numbers are used to set up automatic payments and write cheques as well. 

    Depending on your financial institution, the routing and institution numbers will be different. They are unique identifying numbers, and no two financial institutions will have the same. 

    Routing Numbers Vs Transit Numbers Vs Institution Numbers

    One thing that’s important to remember is a Canadian routing number is different from a transit number. The routing number in Canada is actually an eight-digit number that’s a combination of the institution number and the transit number. Before we dive too much into that, though, let’s take a look at what financial institution and transit numbers are. 

    Institution Number

    A financial institution number is a three-digit number that refers to a specific branch, not the bank branch in general. This number can be found on a cheque linked to your account, as well as in your direct deposit information. 

    Transit Number

    A transit number is a 5-digit number that refers to your specific bank branch. While the financial institution is referred to in the institution number, the transit number refers to which branch location of that financial institution your account is associated with. 

    Routing Number

    The routing number associated with your account is actually a combination of your institution and transit numbers. This eight-digit number shows your financial institution and the branch associated with your account. 

    Routing Number for Direct Deposit

    Whether you use a direct deposit form or a void cheque to set up a direct deposit, they both contain the same information. That said, the routing number is only half of the information needed to set up a direct deposit to the correct account. 

    The other half of the information needed to set up a direct deposit is your account number. This number is between 7 and 12 digits and is a unique identification number for your account. When you combine your routing number and account number, you get your unique number that allows money to be deposited to or withdrawn from your account. 

    Finding Your Routing Number

    Traditionally, you can find your bank routing number on a cheque. The first set of numbers that you’ll see is your cheque number. After that, you’ll see the five-digit transit number, then the three-digit institution number and lastly, the bank account number. Combine the transit and institution numbers to get the bank account routing number. 

    With online banking accounts being so popular now, you can also find your routing number online. There are a few different ways to find the routing number. The first is by signing into your bank account and selecting the account details section. This should show you a breakdown of the different numbers associated with your account. 

    In your online banking, you can also find a copy of your void cheque online and/or direct deposit form online. Each of these forms can be used in place of a traditional void cheque, or you can use the information that’s on these forms if you’re looking to enter the information online. 

    Canadian Bank Branch and Transit Numbers

    When you’re looking up your account information in your online banking portal, you may notice your transit number, referred to as a bank or branch number. Some institutions will interchange these words, whereas others will just use the term branch number instead of transit number. It’s important to remember that while the names are different, they’re the same thing. 

    Routing and Institution Numbers for Major Banks

    When it comes to determining the routing and institution number for your bank, there are a few different ways to figure it out. You can look up your account information, or you can look it up online. 

    The important thing to remember when looking up these numbers is that the institution number refers to the financial institution as a whole. In order to determine the routing number, you’ll also have to find the transit number for your branch. 

    Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

    If you bank with RBC, your institution number is 003. That said, though, it’s difficult to determine your routing number because that will depend on which branch your account is held with. The easiest way to find it is on your cheque, deposit slip, bank statement or through your RBC online bank account. You can also see it in your online banking. Once you have that, you’ll have your RBC routing number. 

    Scotiabank (Bank of Nova Scotia)

    The institution number for Scotiabank is 002. The best way to find your Scotiabank routing number is by determining the branch number of your primary banking institution. In order to get your full deposit information, though, you will need your account numbers as well. 

    Bank of Montreal (BMO)

    When finding your routing number for BMO, the first thing you need to do is find your institution number. For BMO, this is 001. Once you have that, you will need to track down the transit number of your primary financial institution. This is the individual branch where you hold your account. This will give you your full BMO routing number. You’ll need your account number as well, though, to be sure the funds will be deposited into your account. 

    Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)

    The process for finding your routing number with CIBC is the same as with other financial institutions. You first need your institution number. For CIBC, this is 0010. From there, you can find your transit number as well and get your CIBC routing number. 

    TD Canada Trust

    For TD Bank, the institution number is 004. This will be the first three digits of your routing number. Once that’s found, you can get the five digits of the transit number of your primary branch to complete the routing number. 

    Routing Number for the Bank of Canada

    The Bank of Canada is Canada’s central bank. Just like other financial institutions, they have a routing number made up of the institution number and the transit number. The institution number for the Bank of Canada is 177, and the two different transit numbers are 00000 and 00006. This would make the bank routing numbers for the Bank of Canada locations:

    • 00000177
    • 00006177

    Canadian Payments Association Routing Number

    The Canadian Payments Association, now referred to as Payments Canada, is responsible for payment clearing in Canada. They’re also responsible for settlement infrastructure, associated systems, by-laws, rules and standards. As an example, in 2022, Payments Canada cleared $119 trillion. That equals around $476 billion daily. 

    On their site, Payments Canada has a directory to let you know your bank's institution number. They also have a section that will list your bank's transit number as well. When you look at your institution number and branch number combined, you find your routing number without having to go to the bank. You’ll still need to get your individual account number for your chequing account, though. 

    What Are Canadian Bank Institution Numbers?

    Now that we’ve gone over some of the Canadian routing numbers for the top 5 banks in Canada, let's take a look at some of the institution numbers for other Canadian banks and credit unions. 

    Transit NumberFinancial Institution
    006National Bank of Canada
    016HSBC Bank
    030Canadian Western Bank
    039Laurentian Bank of Canada
    219Alberta Treasury Branches
    240Royal Bank of Scotland N.V (Canada Branch)
    241Bank of America, National Association
    242The Bank of New York Mellon
    260CitiBank Canada
    303Amex Bank of Canada
    294State Bank of India (Canada) Alberta
    308Bank of China (Canada)
    309Citizens Bank of Canada
    310First Nations Bank of Canada
    323Capital One Bank (Canada Branch)
    326President's Choice Financial
    338Canadian Tire Bank
    334Pacific & Western Bank of Canada
    358Home Equity Bank
    359Walmart Canada Bank
    551Sun Life Financial Trust Inc.
    625Industrial Alliance Trust Inc
    626Manulife Trust Company
    837Meridian Credit Union
    842Alterna Savings and Credit Union
    010Simplii Financial
    623EQ Bank

    It’s important to keep in mind that these aren’t all the institution numbers in Canada. This is just a list of the few that seem to be the most common. There are plenty more where these came from. 

    How a Routing Number Works on a Physical Cheque

    Depositing a physical cheque isn’t much different from processing a direct deposit. The information needed for both transactions is the same, but the process of how the payment is made is different. 

    A physical cheque must be filled out correctly and signed before the transaction will be processed. It can take some time to process the transaction, and the funds don’t actually leave your account for a few days. Direct deposits are set up on a schedule and only require one signature. The funds are taken from your account immediately. 

    You may be wondering how a cheque is validated. Well, financial institutions have something called magnetic ink character recognition. This is used to validate the cheque and streamline the process of clearing a cheque. It also reduces the potential for fraud. 

    Reasons You May Need Your Routing Number and Account Number

    There are a few different reasons you might need to use this information. These reasons involve sending and receiving money electronically. Let’s take a look at a few of these.

    • Set up direct deposits
    • Bill payments
    • Recurring loan payments
    • Sending money (Electronic fund transfers)
    • International wire transfers

    No matter what reason you need it, direct deposit forms or void cheques can get you the information that you need. 

    Final Thoughts

    While it used to be common to receive physical cheques, more and more employers are switching to direct deposit. In order to opt into this, you need to know your routing number as well as your account number. This isn’t the only situation you’d need this information, though. There are plenty of other electronic transactions you could use this information for.

    In general, though, finding your routing number is a fairly simple process. You can find it in your account details through your online or mobile banking. It can also be found on paper cheques and your direct deposit form. You can even find it online because others will have the same routing number. If you can’t find it there, though, you can always just ask your bank. 

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