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Unclaimed Money in Canada: How to Check & Claim What’s Yours 


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Key Takeaways

  • Unclaimed money refers to unclaimed bank balances that hold Canadian money, or financial products that Canadian owners have not used for ten years.
  • Federally-regulated financial institutions are required to turn over all unclaimed funds to the Bank of Canada, which will attempt to find the owners of the balances and hold their assets for up to 100 years. 
  • Find out if you have unclaimed money by going to the Bank of Canada website and doing a search using the Unclaimed Properties Office portal.  

As with many Canadians, you may have unclaimed money sitting in a bank account or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) without your knowledge. You may also have unclaimed assets in insurance companies, pension plan administrators and public trustees.

The Bank of Canada reported that as of June 30, 2022, there were over $1.8 billion in unclaimed bank accounts and estates in Canada. Also, as of May 2022, the CRA held a total of $1.4 billion in uncashed cheques on its books. 

In this post, learn more about unclaimed money in Canada, how to check if you have unclaimed cash sitting somewhere and how to claim it. 

How to Check for Unclaimed Money 

Generally, chequing accounts, credit balances, estates and other types of funds managed by financial institutions, like banks, that have remained inactive for at least ten years are referred to as unclaimed money or unclaimed property. 

Financial institutions are required to transfer unclaimed balances to the Bank of Canada. If the money remains unclaimed after the required period, it is forfeited and transferred to the Canadian government treasury. 

But before the financial institutions transfer the funds, they are mandated to contact the owners of the accounts in writing using the last address on file. They will typically send out notices after 2, 5 and 9 years of inactivity. 

During the third notice, the financial institutions will inform you that they will transfer your bank balance to the Bank of Canada. The BoC will hold unclaimed balances of less than $1,000 for 30 years. For balances of $1,000 or more, the bank will hold it for 100 years. 

To search for unclaimed money at the Bank of Canada:

  1. Go to the Unclaimed Properties Office page.
  2. Fill out the online form. Provide your last name or business name, first name, city, province and account or instrument number.
  3. Click “Search.” 

Residents of Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Quebec can find their unclaimed balances through their provincial databases:

How to Check for Unclaimed Money From the CRA

To check if you have an unclaimed cheque from the CRA, go to your CRA My Account, where you can view your personal income tax and benefit information. There are two ways you can access My Account: by logging in through a sign-in partner or signing into your CRA My Account.

Partners

  1. Go to the CRA web page showing its Sign-in Partners. You can use the Interac sign-in service to select a Sign-in Partner.
  2. Click on your preferred service provider and fill out the required information. 

CRA My Account

  1. Once you have registered for a CRA My Account, sign in to your account.
  2. Go to “Overview” and select “Uncashed Cheques.”
  3. Wait to receive your payment. It can be sent to you via direct deposit or mailed to the address CRA has on file.

If you have an existing debt with CRA, part or all of your payment will be applied to the debt. If there is a remaining balance, CRA will issue it to you as a new payment. 

You can contact the CRA using these telephone numbers:

  • Individual tax enquires line: 1-800-959-8281 
  • Benefit enquiries line: 1-800-387-1193 
  • Outside Canada and the U.S.: 613-940-8495

How to Check for Unclaimed Insurance Money in Canada

One reason why you may have unclaimed insurance benefits is if you are entitled to receive a payment from a life insurance company. You may also be qualified to receive cash, dividends or shares.

To find out if you have unclaimed insurance benefits, visit the OmbudService for Life and Health Insurance. The portal also helps you find the policies of deceased family members.

How to Know If You Have Unclaimed Inheritance in Canada

You may have unclaimed inheritance if a deceased loved one named you as an heir or died without a will and you are entitled to a part of the estate. 

To track down unclaimed inheritances in Canada, you can also use the Bank of Canada’s Unclaimed Properties Office to find out if there is any unclaimed inheritance under your name. 

You can contact the Public Guardian and Trustee office in your province to learn how to file an estate claim. 

How to Ensure Your Cash Doesn’t Get Lost in the Future 

One way to ensure your money does not get lost is to prevent it from becoming unclaimed property. There are different ways to keep your bank account active:

  • Perform banking tasks like depositing or withdrawing cash, paying bills or transferring funds.
  • Set periodic transfers from another account to your bank account.
  • Link your account to a mobile wallet and use it to make regular payments. 

Track your finances regularly and keep your bank account active to prevent your balances from becoming idle, resulting in unclaimed property. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best site to search for unclaimed money? 

The Bank of Canada’s Unclaimed Properties Office is the best site to find unclaimed money. All federally-regulated financial institutions in Canada transfer all bank balances to the Bank of Canada after ten years. 

What happens to unclaimed estates in Canada? 

Unclaimed estates will be held by the Bank of Canada for up to 100 years. If they remain unclaimed after the maximum period, they will be forfeited and the ownership will be transferred to the government of Canada. 

What is the average inheritance in Canada? 

The average inheritance in Canada is $100,000. The amount will, however, vary depending on the province and territory since some regions are wealthier than others, which is often mirrored in inheritances. 


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Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu, personal finance expert, author, and founder of Savvy New Canadians, has written about money matters for over 10 years. Enoch has an MSc (Econ) degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has completed the Canadian Securities Course. His expertise has been highlighted in major publications like Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC News, Toronto Star, Financial Post, CTV News, TD Direct Investing, Canadian Securities Exchange, and many others. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and recently created a practical investing course for beginners. You can read his full author bio.

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