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What's a Routing Number in Canada?

Written by Jessica Steer
Whether you use cheques, transfer money or pay bills, there are specific numbers that you need in order for the money to be taken from one account and deposited into another. Transit numbers, account numbers, routing numbers and branch numbers are all identifying factors that help to avoid mistakes. If you look at a cheque or direct deposit form for example, all of these identifying numbers are there as instructions for the bank.
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    Where to find your Routing Number

    The term routing number isn’t as commonly used as branch number, transit number and account number. However, just like those numbers, your bank account routing number can be found at the bottom of your cheque. This number is your transit number and branch number combined. Your routing number identifies the combination of these two things. The account number then identifies your specific account at the particular branch of your financial institution. On a cheque, these numbers are run through magnetic ink character recognition which verifies that the cheque is legitimate before transferring the money from the account.

    Routing Numbers Based on Financial Institution

    Depending on which financial institution that you bank with, your routing number will be different. There won't be the same routing number for every person that banks with that institution either. The 3 digit institution number will be the same but the transit number will be different, which is the second half of the routing number.


    If you bank with TD, the institution number portion of your routing number will be 004. The rest of the routing number will be unique to your branch and can be found on your online banking account. You can even call your home branch and ask.


    If you bank with Scotiabank, its unique 3 digit institution number is 002. Just like with the other banks. The rest of the routing number is unique to your branch.


    The Royal Bank of Canada’s institution number is 003. You may have noticed there is a slight pattern to these numbers but it is important you get the right one when entering your routing number.


    The Bank of Montreal's institution number is 001. If you are writing or receiving a cheque it will tell you the institution the money is coming from on the cheque so it is easy to verify if the routing number is correct.


    Lastly the institution number for CIBC is 010, but there are obviously a lot more financial institutions out there. To find yours if it isn’t in this list you can ask your financial institution or look it up on your online banking. There should be an option for a direct deposit form which will show your full routing number.

    Knowing your Routing Number

    While knowing your routing number and account number is pretty important, the nice thing about our access to technology is that you do not need to have it memorized. You just need to know how to find it. There will be very few cases where you actually just need the numbers. Most places that require this information prefer a piece of paper or void cheque from your financial institution to prove that the information is actually yours. This is mainly because when these numbers are required, it is usually to withdraw money from your account and they need to verify that it is actually you who is going to be paying that bill. In other instances, like setting up direct deposit for your pay, that is the employers discretion on how they require that information.

    Canadian Routing Numbers and International Routing Numbers

    As you probably guessed, routing numbers are used to transfer money within Canada but the combination of numbers is going to look different if you are trying to transfer money internationally. The US has an ABA (American Bankers Association) routing number. If you are transferring any money there, this number is required and is 9 digits long. It holds a little more information than the Canadian routing number. On top of this you may need to know their SWIFT/BIC code. Just like in Canada, the US routing number can be found on a cheque or at the banking institution .

    Sending money across Europe, instead of referring to the number as a routing number, it is called an IBAN (International Bank Account Number) number. This number can be found at the bottom of a bank statement or can be requested at the bank. This number is required if you intend to send money to Europe.

    The thing with all of these different numbers is, routing and account numbers all are used for the same thing. They allow money to be transferred accurately from one account to another. In today's day and age it is much easier to make these transfers than ever before, which is why it is important to verify that these numbers are correct. Once the transfer has been made, there is no guarantee that the transfer can be stopped. If you want to be certain that any international transfer is done correctly, you can do it directly at the bank or you can go through online banking. Most major banks in Canada now offer international transfers right online.

    Routing Number and Debit Cards

    Unlike a cheque, your debit card does not have your routing number on it, however, the numbers on this card are identifying numbers This card contains a unique institution identifier number, your account number. That unique number on your card is only linked to your account at your financial institution, there is no duplicate of it. The first 6 digits on your bank card are your institution identifying number. This is the same as how a credit card works. The first few digits on a credit card vary depending on the credit card company. A reason for this is to allow for more variations of numbers and to help identify the institution when the money is being taken from your account.

    The rest of the numbers, after the first 6, are your individual bank account numbers. These aren’t bank routing numbers but they are very similar since they are identifying numbers. This full 16 digit code is known as a PAN number or a Permanent Account Number. While the number on the card does not reflect your exact account number, it is a unique identifier that is connected to your account number.

    Can Routing Numbers Change?

    It is not extremely common but yes, your routing number can change. The main reasons something like this would happen are a branch closes, there is a merger, acquisition or consolidation. In a case of this happening, you would be notified by your financial institution. Most of the time direct deposit forms and cheques linked to the old routing number will still work but anything new will have the new routing number.

    In the event of a routing number change, the bank may contact you saying that your current cheques are no longer valid. If this happens you can ask them to replace them since this wasn’t a situation you had any control over. You then would also want to update this information with any automatic withdrawals you have and/or your direct deposit information with your employer. It is possible for missed payments and such to happen during this process so make sure to keep any eye on your bank account.

    Does Spring Financial use Routing Numbers?

    Yes! The great thing about our personal loans is that, with a direct deposit form we can get the money directly deposited into your account. This does require you to provide us with your routing number and account number. Depending on the amount of your loan, you can also get the money E-transferred eliminating the need for a direct deposit form. These numbers also allow for your monthly loan payments to be taken directly from your bank account, reducing the risk of missing a payment. If you are in need of a personal loan from $500 to $35,000 we can help. Apply online or give us a call at 1-888-781-8439.

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