If you’re moving to Canada from another country and planning to make any large purchases, like a car or perhaps a house, then you will probably want to bring some foreign money into the country. Moving money in and out of Canada is not terribly difficult, but it can get expensive. These days, there are a variety of options, and it may take a bit of research on your part to determine the best method for your situation.

The most obvious and traditional way to move money is a wire transfer between your old bank at home and your new bank in Canada. But the banks tend to charge some pretty high fees for international wire transfers, and these fees can vary widely between banks. Alternatively, many people are now using online services like PayPal to move their money across borders, with a service charge of around 3 percent. Currently, the best value we have found is through TransferWise, an online service that acts as a clearing house between foreign banks, charging only about 1 percent, and offering very favorable exchange rates.

Again, the rates and fees will vary between banks and from country to country, so we recommend you check with your home bank and then compare with one or two online services. Pay close attention to the service charges, which could be a flat fee or might be percentage based. Then check their exchange rates. One service, for example, might offer “free” transfers, but then end up costing you a small fortune because of their exchange rates.

The first time you send money internationally, there could be lengthy security procedure. And that’s a good thing, but it might mean having to wait a week or more to have the funds available in Canada. So start planning early. Once you have an account set up with one of these services, subsequent transfers can generally be made in just a day or two.

To learn more about day-to-day finances in Canada, check out our Online Relocation Guides.

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