Now that the RRSP season is officially over, although technically there is no RRSP season, I want to focus on a subject that many people wonder about. How to transfer your RRSP to another financial institution.

At first glance, making the switch may appear difficult, but it’s a surprisingly easy process. Generally speaking, all you really need to do is sign one form with your new financial institution and they’ll take care of the rest; it’s that easy!

Should you transfer your RRSP?

People who are seriously considering transferring their RRSP (or any investments for that matter) usually aren’t satisfied with how their money is currently being handled.

How your current financial institution is handling your money is a reasonable concern, but is it really enough to justify a move?

Making a switch just because your investments haven’t been performing well is probably a bad idea. Why? Because markets change all the time, so you need to stick to your plan (assuming you’ve got an actual investment plan).

Now if you’re tired of paying high fees and you’re ready to invest on your own (or pay someone else to do it for less), then that’s a pretty good reason to make the switch.

Lower fees have become a huge priority for Canadians over the years which is why robo-advisors such as Justwealth have become so popular. Why pay 2.5% in mutual fund fees when you can get a balanced portfolio for less than 1%? What’s great about robo advisors is that they’re transparent and don’t require any effort on your end. There’s also RBC InvestEase that offers no management fees for 12 months (you just pay the ETF MERs).

How to transfer your RRSP

To get your RRSP transferred to another financial institution or discount brokerage, all you need to do is fill out the paperwork to authorize them to move the funds over. This sounds simple enough, but there are a few other things you should do to prepare for the transfer.

First, grab the most recent statement from your investments and bring it to the new financial institution. They’ll basically want to know if you want to do a transfer “in kind” where you can literally just move your investments to them as is (when available) or if you want them to “sell” all your investments so you can start fresh with the “cash” from the sale.

Now the institution you’re leaving won’t be happy once they find out you’ve triggered the transfer, but they really have no say at this point. What they can do is charge you a transfer fee which should be posted on their website. The good thing is that the receiving institution will usually cover that fee for you up to a certain amount so ask them about it before you sign.

The transfer can take some time but you still want to ask your new financial institution about when you should expect your funds to arrive. Monitor your account and if your money hasn’t arrived by the time they said it would; make a follow-up call.

Once your money is in your new account, you can start investing. Alternatively, your new institution can start investing on your behalf.

When not to transfer your RRSP

In a few situations, you might not want to transfer your RRSP or you might not be allowed to at all.

If your employer offers some kind of RRSP matching program or has a group rate for investments, there’s a good chance that you’ll be forced to keep your money invested with a specific financial institution or brokerage. This may be annoying, but considering you’re getting a match or access to funds which cost less; I think you’re actually coming out ahead.

As mentioned above, you shouldn’t transfer your RRSP just because you’re disappointed with the performance. I did this years ago before doing my research and ended up with an advisor with a financial institution that put me in overpriced mutual funds.

Finally, if you recently purchased investments that have a holding period, you shouldn’t make a transfer right away. Just wait for the holding period to end so you can avoid paying any additional fees.

Final word

Transferring your RRSP to another financial institution is simple; you just want to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Once you’ve committed, take the time to ensure that everything is the way you want it to be so you don’t end up switching again in a few years.

64 Comments

  1. Vito on May 16, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Hey Barry,

    Good article, I’m actually in the process shortly to move my traditional mutual fund RRSP from my bank to Questrade, because of the high fees and start DYI. Only one issue is that some institutions will only cover a certain amount as you wrote, but also will only do it if the amount transferred is a certain threshold. Questrade for example, will cover I believe its up to $150 but the minimum transferred has to be $25K or more.

    • Bradley on November 22, 2019 at 1:51 pm

      Hey Vito I’m actually going through this process right now. Right now I have a few different RRSP and TFSA accounts through TD. I was thinking of getting them to consolidate all of the RRSP’s to an RRSP savings account and then transferring all of that to Questrade. If I do it that way do you think it’ll avoid fees? Or is it unavoidable? I don’t have $25K in RRSP funds to get Questrade to waive this.

  2. Gabi on August 23, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Before I was financially savvy I had my kids RESP’s at a FI in essentially a savings account. I was reviewing the documentation a few years back and for the 6 years they were there they were only earning 1% interest. For the last 5 years they have been earning an average of 10% now that I understand what I am doing.

    • Barry Choi on August 23, 2017 at 9:00 pm

      Gabi,

      I can’t believe your previous FI left your kids RESP in a savings account. You would think it would be in their own best interest to at least put it in a mutual fund since they would give them a commission. You should have at least got the CESG.

  3. Coby on December 8, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    Hello, I have recently come into a little money and am looking to place into an RRSP. I have to move the money rather quickly so I am not sure I have the time to do much for research and meet with an investor. I currently have 2 RRSP accounts right now, both at FIs. I was thinking about just dumping it into one of those to buy some time to really figure out what I am going to do long term. Then when I build the strategy, with the help of a professional, I may look to transfer the funds into a different RRSP account. Would you consider this a sound interim plan? I am wondering whether it is easy to transfer around 100k out of on RRSP to another without taking to much of a service hit from a Canadian bank?

    • Barry Choi on December 8, 2018 at 3:48 pm

      Hi Coby,

      Is there a reason you need to move your money rather quickly or do you mean you need to make a deposit soon? There’s nothing wrong with parking your money in a high interest savings account or money market fund within your RRSP until you decide to consolidate your accounts later. When you’re ready to transfer your finds, your new institution should request a transfer in kind from your old institution so you don’t pay any withdrawal taxes.

      • Coby on December 9, 2018 at 11:29 am

        Hello Barry,
        I have to move the money by a certain date or I am forced to take an alternative pathway with the funds. I want to slide into an RRSP to gain the tax benefits as I have some room in my RRSP maximum allocation. The remainder i will move into a TFSA. I just want to make sure I am not locked in in any way to the RRSP account and would be able to move it around I to another differently managed RRSP at a later date.

        • Barry Choi on December 9, 2018 at 7:08 pm

          Hi Coby,

          As long as you’re not putting your money into a fund with a deferred sales charge within your RRSP or a set term, you shouldn’t be locked in. Both Money market funds and high interest savings accounts within RRSPs are a good place to park your money until you’re ready to do something with your money.

        • Brad on February 17, 2019 at 2:09 pm

          Hi Barry

          I contributed to a spousal RRSP for my wife, we now want to move this to another financial institution. Is transferring a spousal RRSP any different to the steps you described for a regular RRSP.

          • Barry Choi on February 17, 2019 at 4:25 pm

            Brad,

            It should be the same.



  4. Darlene on February 21, 2019 at 1:04 am

    I have RRSP investments that is linked to SNC Lavalin. There is a lot of media coverage of SMC being involved in some kind of criminal wrong doing. I am only a few months away from my retirement age of 65. I was thinking about transferring my RRSP to a differant institution, do you advise this under these circumstances?

    • Barry Choi on February 21, 2019 at 4:45 pm

      Darlene,

      Their involvement in a possible scandal wouldn’t affect your RRSPs unless you happen to have a lot of their stocks. I wouldn’t worry too much about it if you have a diversified portfolio.

  5. Bjanka on March 6, 2019 at 12:13 am

    I was trying to consolidate my account over a year and would be trapped between the financial institutions in long-exosting process where I would have some losses. In last 5 months. The company I was trying to consolidate my accounts to called me home and ask me to transfer out all my accounts otherwise will be placed a restriction on accounts. They said they spend a lot of time with me. The real reason is in complain I had on prior transfer where they override my instruction in Kind to be in cash end extended the written commitment transfer will be completed within 2 weeks.
    This last transfer last over a month where old company trapped me with partial transfer and new company do not update Average stock cost, and accounts missing some stocks which had been transferred. I do not know what tax implication this will have. I did not receive any document confirmation of what was transferred and what was received. I need legal advice and contact with Lawyer who would take the case. Thank you

  6. Luiza on April 13, 2019 at 12:26 am

    Hi !when I bought my first house I borrowed my RRSP money and now I have to pay for 15 years, can I transfer my RRSP in another bank ? Thank you!

    • Barry Choi on April 13, 2019 at 10:22 am

      Luiza,

      Yes you can still transfer your RRSP to another financial institution. You would still need to pay back your RRSP from the HBP otherwise it will be considered income.

  7. Brad on April 21, 2019 at 11:23 am

    One good reason to transfer RRSPs is the fact that most large institutions do not show you how much they charge you for fees. There are a wide array of fees in the industry to choose from. The lack of transparency regarding to fees we pay is criminal.

    Find lower fees people….you pay institutions to manage your money and they really don’t do the work required, but charge you high fees over years and years.

  8. Terry Dubois on April 26, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    Hello Mr. Choi: I have been reviewing your site. I am receiving an Omers Pension. Omers has a great RRSP vehicle called an AVC. (Additional Voluntary Contributions). The annual fee is $35, no matter what value is held in the account. I would like to transfer my RRSP holdings from my FI to the AVC. This will ensure no more MER that reduce my portfolio. I want to avoid any transfer fees or fees applied to funds that may not be mature. How can I ensure this with my present FI ?? I have paid much to often in 30 years. Thank you

    • Barry Choi on April 26, 2019 at 6:07 pm

      Terry,

      You’d have to check with OMERS to see if they pay for any transfer fees that your current FI may charge, but I suspect they will not. You also need to find out if your current FI charges any fees by redeeming your mutual funds early. You’re looking for things such as deferred sales charges.

      Note that Omers will likely still charge fees for the mutual funds, but they’ll likely be lower than your current FI.

  9. Terry on April 26, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    Mr. Choi: thanks for your response. The AVCs are in an RRSP. The total annual fee is only $35. That is my concern is to avoid the charges stemming from the FI in the transfer process. I will try to determine if there are any DSC or mutuals in the RRSP that are not mature. Thank you.

  10. KENNETH on June 15, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    I have two banks that hole my RRSP’s I now live or have a temp. visa out of Canada. Is there a problem moving my RRSP?

    • Barry Choi on June 15, 2019 at 7:37 pm

      Kenneth,

      What do you mean by moving your RRSP? Do you want to move it to another financial institution within Canada or are you looking to withdraw it completely?

  11. Wayne on July 23, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    Hello,
    I am in process of transferring a RRSP account to a discount brokerage account and asked to have it transferred “In Kind”. I have recently been told that my current investment advisor will only transfer the account In Cash. Am I not allowed to transfer In Kind? Is there an advantage(to me), to have it transferred a certain way? Can they force me to transfer In Cash only?

    • Barry Choi on July 23, 2019 at 8:32 pm

      Wayne,

      Transferring in cash is the only option available if your old RRSP was in funds that the new brokerage does not have access to. E.g. bank or investment group mutual funds. But let’s say you were invested in ETFs that are available via any brokerage, then you would be able to transfer your shares over to your new brokerage. The advantage would be that you don’t need to sell and buy again.

      In your scenario, it appears you don’t have a choice but to transfer in cash. It’s normal, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

  12. Wayne on July 23, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    Thank-you Barry. It is mutual funds I am wanting to transfer, so that I can buy shares in a company. Are there tax implications to doing this?

    • Barry Choi on July 24, 2019 at 8:22 am

      Wayne,

      As long as you transfer your RRSP from the old institution to your new one in kind/cash there would be no tax implications. In other words, don’t withdraw your money from the old RRSP on your own, and then deposit it into your new one. That’s when there would be taxes.

  13. KEN FORD on August 5, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    I feel like I have been taken by TD bank so I want to transfer my RRSP out to another bank. However, I live out of country now.

    • Barry Choi on August 5, 2019 at 2:16 pm

      You could look into transferring your RRSP to a robo advisor such as JustWealth or WealthSimple. You don’t need to go in person to set it up and you would likely reduce the amount of fees you pay.

  14. victoria on August 5, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    Hi Barry,

    So if 4 of my mutual funds is a DSC kind and it hasn’t matured yet can I transfer out the other 3 to my Qtrade account and then wait for the other one to mature before transferring it out later? Thanks.

    Victoria

  15. victoria on August 5, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    Sorry, I mean if one 1 of my 4 funds is a DSC

    • Barry Choi on August 6, 2019 at 7:40 am

      Hi Victoria,

      I’m pretty sure you should have no issue transferring just one of your funds out. That said, what % do you have on your DSCs and how long will it take to hit 0%? It may be worth it to rip that bandaid off right away. E.g. If the DSC is 5% and you’ve got three years left, but if you transfer right away and can save 1.5%-2% a year, you might be closer to breaking even than you realize.

      More importantly, you an just be done with your old financial institution. Now if you’re talking about a 6 figure sum, then it may be worth waiting.

  16. Sb on September 4, 2019 at 1:07 am

    When you are charged a transfer fee, does it come off your rrsp amount? And if so, when reimbursed by the other financial institution, it goes back into the RRSP, so would that count as a withdrawal and a contribution? Like if you are transferring out $10000, then maybe $100 is taken off as a fee, then reimbursed.

    • Barry Choi on September 4, 2019 at 7:38 am

      SB,

      The transfer fee is separate and is not considered a withdrawal. The financial institution that’s receiving your funds will sometimes cover that fee for you up to a certain amount, but you need to check with them.

  17. Jess Tiquis on September 7, 2019 at 12:32 am

    Hi Barry,

    I’ve met a someone working with Primerica and I am quite interested in RRSPs Investment. I just wanted to know if this is a good idea or a bad idea. I have about 10K in my account in a Community Savings Account and I feel like I wanted to invest to get the best out of money. What to do?

    • Barry Choi on September 7, 2019 at 4:00 pm

      Jess,

      Primerica is known as a multi-level Marketing scam otherwise known as a pyramid scheme. I would avoid using them. If you don’t believe me, just Google them.

      If you want to start investing, using a robo advisor is likely the easiest way these days.

  18. Jess Tiquis on September 7, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    That’s why I am doing my homework before jumping into it…

    I will look into ROBO Advisor. Thank you

  19. Jo-Anne on September 22, 2019 at 10:58 am

    I heard that when the time comes that you must convert to an RRIF, if you hold RRSPs at two different institutions, they will both start the process of providing income to you based on the formula without knowledge of each other. Would it make sense to transfer all one’s RRSPs to one institution prior to the time you must convert to RRIFs to make it simpler and easier to control, or is having two accounts not a serious problem? I currently hold a ladder of GICs in a credit union which have higher deposit insurance limits than the banks and index equities in another.

    • Barry Choi on September 23, 2019 at 6:36 pm

      Jo-Anne,

      I personally don’t think it’s a huge issue to have separate retirement accounts but you do want to talk to a fee only investment advisor to ensure you’re making withdrawals properly to minimize taxes.

  20. Darwin Ayson on September 24, 2019 at 4:13 pm

    Hi,

    Quick question, I am planning to transfer my RRSP from a segregated fund (Empire Life) to Questrade. I know that my RRSP with Empire Life has DSC. Should I transfer it in cash or in kind? Also, is there a way to get around paying the DSC?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Barry Choi on September 24, 2019 at 9:22 pm

      Darwin,

      You can’t really get around DSCs but if you’re switching to an index portfolio, you’ll probably pay lower fees in the long run. When you have Questrade transfer your funds in kind, they’ll convert it into cash since they can’t port it over to any similar funds compared to what Empire Life had.

  21. Edward Gutti on November 7, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    Hi Barry,
    The process you described in the article also applies to RRSP that are Locked-In (LIRA)? I am 67 and retired at 65.
    Thanks for throwing a light.
    Edward

    • Barry Choi on November 8, 2019 at 7:45 am

      Hi Edward,

      It should be the same.

  22. Nana on December 13, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    Hi Choi,
    I am thinking of moving my RRSP in a bank to another financial institution because of its extremely high MER. I think it can be moved “in kind” and then I will need to sell the mutual fund in order to switch to another mutual fund with lower MER by myself. What I am not sure about is, it is not considered withdrawal? I think withdrawal can cause me a penalty, so I am worried about it. Thank you so much.

  23. Ahmed on February 6, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    Hi Barry,
    Say I’ve maxed out my TFSA, but I still have some extra cash I want to invest. Is it possible to invest in Mutual Funds without being in a TFSA? or is there a better way to do it? I prefer to invest and get something better than 1% which the esavings account give. Thanks for your help!

    • Barry Choi on February 7, 2020 at 8:27 am

      Ahmed,

      If you have extra funds, consider the following. Put it in a high interest savings account to increase your emergency fund, contribute to your RRSP, pay down your mortgage.

      High interest savings accounts pay 2.40*+ (EQ Bank), but you also need to think about what this money is for. If you plan on using it for something in the short term e.g. 1-5 years, I wouldn’t invest it.

  24. ahmed on February 7, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Barry,

    What is the penalty if you withdraw RRSP before 65?

  25. vicky minich on February 10, 2020 at 11:17 pm

    Hi Barry, when I last met with my advisor and we talked about me transferring my high fee A series mutual funds to my Qtrade account he told me I would pay the same fees there as I am with him. He was lying to me right? 3 of my funds are FEL and 2 are DSC. I know there are penalties attached with DSC’s. Can I wait until that period has expired to avoid paying the penalty and then transfer those 2 funds then. I would transfer my 3 other right away. Tx

    Victoria

    • Barry Choi on February 11, 2020 at 7:57 am

      Vicky,

      Your advisor isn’t technically wrong. If you moved to Qtrade, the fees for the mutual funds would be the same but you would in theory pay less in trading fees.

      With the DSC’s, how much in penalties would you pay and how long do you have left? Also, what is the management expense ratio of your current funds? Sometimes it might be close e.g. let’s say the DSC fee is currently at 3%, but if you can save 2% every year by becoming an index investor, that’s not so bad.

      It might be better to rip the bandaid off if you know what I mean. I don’t know your whole picture, but 5 funds seems like a lot.

  26. vicky minich on February 11, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks Barry, that clarifies that. Do you offer a service for analyzing one’s portfolio and then making recommendations? That would be extremely helpful at this stage of my life. So wish I had learned this stuff a long time ago. Thanks.

    Vicky

  27. vicky minich on February 13, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks Barry.

    Wealthsimple or Questwealth? Which of these 2 would you recommend? Tx

    Vickiy

    • Barry Choi on February 13, 2020 at 2:47 pm

      Vicky,

      They’re both similar, but Questwealth has lower fees

      • Munni on April 13, 2020 at 11:16 am

        Good morning,

        Can my husband take some of his RRSP money transfer into my account, would he get charged to do that.
        Thanks

        • Barry Choi on April 13, 2020 at 1:02 pm

          Hi Munni,

          Your husband would be responsible for any withholding taxes as this would be considered an early withdrawal – https://www.sunlife.ca/ca/Tools and Resources/Money and Finances/Saving for retirement/The hidden costs of early RRSP withdrawals?vgnLocale=en_CA

  28. Juan Nochez on April 16, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    Hi Barry:

    If I switch my mutual funds in Kind for example to Questrade – I currently have my RRSP with an Financial Advisor and the funds that I have also carry a Trailing Commission Fee. The MER on my fund is 2.35% the DSC will end in 2024. Now my question is would I be paying Trailing Commission Fee to Questrade if I switch to them? or will that dissapear?
    Please let me know

    Thank You,

    • Barry Choi on April 16, 2020 at 4:35 pm

      Juan,

      When you switch your funds to Questrade, you’d probably sell your funds and it would be cash gets transferred to Questrade so you can invest in whatever you want.

      You would obviously pay the trailing fee by selling early, but you might actually break even or come out ahead if you’re switching to ETFs since the management fee would be much lower than 2.35%.

  29. Ryan G on April 22, 2020 at 9:05 am

    Hi Barry, just wanted to start by thanking you for a great article.

    I currently have an rrsp and a tfsa mutual funds with an FI and also a Tsfa with TD where I manage my own stocks. I started with the FI when I was 18 as it was a easy way for me to consistently be putting money away set up by my grandma. Over the years I took interest into money management and have done better purchasing and managing my own money than the FI accounts. tFSA if for a house (hopefully purchase in the next two years), but I would like to move the rrsp over so I can manage it myself. I am 28 and still have a lot of room left in my tfsa to contribute. How do I go about getting that rrsp either transferred or sold so I can put it in my TD acc and manage it myself. Any suggestions for a way with the least amount of fees?

    Thanks again!

    Ryan G

    • Barry Choi on April 22, 2020 at 2:08 pm

      Hey Ryan,

      Thanks for reaching out and good on you for investing at such a young age.

      So I’m assuming you know that any funds meant for home down payment should be put in a High Interest Savings Account. Don’t invest that money since you need it soon.

      Moving your RRSP over to TD is easy and all you need to do is follow the steps in this article. Set up an account with TD and then get them to transfer your funds in kind. That might require the other FI to sell the funds before it gets transferred to TD. That’s normal and you would get the cash value. You may have the pay some back end fees depending on the fund you’re in, but I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Once the funds are in TD, you can do whatever you want.

      With your TFSA in the other FI, you have a few options. Let’s say you have enough contribution room to cover whatever you withdraw from the other FI. You could just sell/withdraw and then deposit it into your TFSA at TD.

      The other FI might charge you a separate fee since you’re moving the funds out, so check if TD will cover any of it. This fee would be separate from any back end fund fees.

  30. Lawrence Roy on April 23, 2020 at 1:28 pm

    I am currently in the process of transferring my rasps to another institution.
    Desjardins is refusing to transfer the portfolio in kind.I don’t understand why they can dictate the the terms to transfer my assets

    • Barry Choi on April 23, 2020 at 1:33 pm

      Lawrence,

      Is the Desjardins the new or old financial institution?

      If Desjardins is the old one, what they might mean is they need to sell your investments before they can transfer your funds to the new financial institution. This sometimes happens if you’re invested in funds that are exclusive to them.

  31. Lala on May 12, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    Hi, I want to transfer my RRSP AND Spousal RRAP to a new bank. This new bank I already have some money in a open RRSP, But do I have to Also open a spousal RRSP with my new bank before I proceed with the transaction?

    • Barry.Choi on May 13, 2020 at 6:43 am

      Lala,

      Yes, you would need one with your new bank. Talk to your new bank and tell them about your intentions and they’ll walk you through everything.

  32. Patrick on July 1, 2020 at 8:01 am

    Hi Barry,

    So I have RRSPs with Scotia. I am looking to transfer the RRSPs into ETFs (but still eligible for RRSP). I also have a Scotia iTrade account. Do I still need to fill in a form or can I just go ahead and sell the RRSPs and then purchase the ETFs via the iTrade account?

    • Barry.Choi on July 1, 2020 at 1:48 pm

      Patrick,

      I believe Scotia iTrade is separate from Scotia so you still need to request a transfer, but since it’s the same company, things can be done much quicker.

      Also, since it’s the same company, they can likely do an in kind transfer. If you’re looking to change your investments, ask for in cash so then you can just use the proceeds and invest in whatever you want.

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