5 steps to open an RRSP
1. Shop around to compare fees and plans
Learn about different types of RRSPs and how they work. Then talk to banks and other financial institutions. Ask them what investment options they offer and what the fees are.
2. Decide how you want to invest your savings
Your options include savings accounts, GICs, Canada Savings Bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, stocks and bonds.
Some plans only let you hold certain types of investments, like GICs or mutual funds. A self-directed RRSP lets you hold a wide range of investments. Ask about the costs of any investment before you decide.
3. Choose an RRSP and financial institution
If you don't have an account there already, bring 2 pieces of acceptable identification when you go to open the RRSP. One of them must be from the government.
4. Complete the RRSP application
Be prepared to answer these questions:
- How much do you know about investing?
- What are your investment goals?
- How much money did you make last year? Bring your most recent Notice of Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to show how much you can contribute to the RRSP this year.
- Do you have a pension plan at work? This affects how much money you can contribute each year.
- Who is your beneficiary? This is the person you want to receive the money in your RRSP when you die.
5. Open the account
You usually have to make a contribution or transfer money from another RRSP to open an account. You can also set up regular contributions through a pre-authorized debit (PAD), pre-authorized contribution (PAC) or a payroll savings plan, instead of making your annual contribution all at once. If you are opening a self-directed RRSP, you don’t have to decide how to invest your money right away. You can leave it in the account as cash or park it in a money market fund.
Your RRSP money is largely protected from creditors if you go bankrupt. But any RRSP contributions you make in the 12 months before you declare bankruptcy can be seized by creditors.