There are four main steps to recovering an unclaimed balance:

  1. Identify a balance by searching the Bank of Canada’s unclaimed balances registry.
  2. Fill out a claim form for the balance(s) found and submit it.
  3. Respond to requests from the Bank of Canada for additional information, if required.
  4. Await claim results.

The details and duration of the processing of each claim can vary considerably, depending on the type of claim being made. There are three different types of claims:

  1. Individual – A claim to retrieve a balance for which the owner is still living.
  2. Estate – A claim to retrieve a balance for which the owner is now deceased.
  3. Corporate – A claim to retrieve a balance for which the owner is an organization—as opposed to an individual.

To make an Individual claim

If you have identified a balance for which you wish to submit a claim, you have two options, depending on the type of balance:

  1. By using a Payment Authorization Form
  2. By submitting your contact information to the Bank of Canada through its website.

Option 1 – Payment Authorization Form

If the unclaimed balance was originally an account (savings or current/chequing account) you may be able to generate a Payment Authorization Form from the Bank’s website. You can then print the form and take it directly to your financial institution for completion. (Detailed instructions are included with the form.)

If you are able to provide evidence of your identity and entitlement to the account balance, the financial institution may guarantee your signature and forward your Payment Authorization Form to the Bank of Canada for final approval and payment.

If the financial institution is unable to guarantee your signature, they will forward your Payment Authorization Form to us for further processing. We will then mail you the appropriate claim package that will need to be completed and returned to the Bank of Canada for processing.

Option 2 – Contact Information through the Bank’s website

If the balance was originally a deposit or financial instrument, you will not be able to generate a Payment Authorization Form and will instead be directed to Submit Your Contact Detailsdirectly to us for further processing.

In either case—whether you have submitted your contact details to us online or we receive your Payment Authorization Form after the financial institution was unable to guarantee your signature—we will then mail you a package containing an Individual Claim Form requesting more information about the balance holder(s) and their entitlement to the balance(s) being claimed.

Information and documents requested may include:

  • Proof of identity of each claimant/balance holder (two different official documents)
  • An original bank passbook or bank statement, if the claim is for an account
  • The original instrument(if the claim is for a financial instrument)
  • Proof of investment
  • Proof that the balance holder once resided at the address noted under "Unclaimed Balance Information" as it appears in our registry.

To make an Estate claim

To claim on behalf of an estate, use the Submit Your Contact Details form and fill out the requested information. Once we have reviewed your request, we will mail you an estate claim package that will need to be completed and returned to us.

If an executor/trustee/liquidator has been officially appointed to settle the estate, then the claim must be submitted by that authorized representative.

Information and documents requested may include:

  • Proof of identity of each claimant (two different official documents)
  • Evidence that you are authorized to act on behalf of the estate
  • Proof of death of the balance holder
  • Details on how the estate was disposed of

The required documentation will vary, depending on whether or not the balance holder had a will and in which province she or he lived at the time of death. Specific examples include:

  • Death Certificate
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Will Search Certificates (Quebec only)
  • Proof of Probate/Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee with a Will
  • Declaration of Heredity or Letters of Verification (Quebec only)
  • Letters of Administration/Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee without a Will

To make a Corporate claim

To claim on behalf of an organization, use the Submit Your Contact Details form and fill out the requested information. Once we have reviewed your request, we will mail you a corporate claim package that will need to be completed and returned to us.

A corporate claim can be made for the following types of organizations:

  • Corporate Entities
  • Registered Charities and Registered Non-Profit Organizations
  • Non-Registered Associations and Non-Registered Non-Profit Organizations
  • Partnerships
  • Sole Proprietorships

Information and documents requested may include:

  • Status of the organization (e.g., active or dissolved corporation)
  • Proof of signing authority

The required documentation will vary, depending on the type of balance and the type and status of the organization holding the balance.

For example, if the business has been dissolved or is inactive, it must be revived before the Bank of Canada can proceed with the claim, and documentation confirming this will be required. (Otherwise, all funds for dissolved/inactive business entities vest with the Crown). To find out how to revive a corporation, please contact the applicable provincial corporate registry office or Industry Canada.

Specific examples of documentation may include:

  • Corporate Profile
  • Registered Charity/Registered Non-Profit Information Return
  • Association Bylaws
  • Minutes of most recent Annual General Meeting
  • Partnership Agreement
  • GST/HST Registration

General considerations when submitting a claim

Claims for negotiable instrument balances

If the claim is for a negotiable instrument, the claimant must be the original purchaser of the instrument for a claim to be considered by the Bank of Canada, unless the original instrument itself can be presented by the payee/beneficiary.

Joint ownership of an unclaimed balance

If an unclaimed balance is held by two or more names joined by “or,” it may be claimed in its entirety by any of the balance holders or by the estates of any deceased balance holders, if applicable.

If an unclaimed balance is held by two or more names joined by “and,” then entitlement to the balance will be split equally between the living holders and the estates of any deceased balance holders, if applicable.

In either case, when a claim is made on behalf of a deceased balance holder, the Estate Claim Form must be used and the claimant must be an authorized representative of the deceased balance holder.

Proof of entitlement

You must demonstrate entitlement to a balance by providing supporting documents, such as an account pass book, bank statements, the original instrument, etc.

If you are unable to provide proof of entitlement, the Bank of Canada may require that you obtain a Bond of Indemnity to guarantee the claim and to provide the Bank with recourse should the claim subsequently be found invalid.

Processing time

Every attempt is made to respond to claims and inquiries within four to six weeks of reception. The time required to fully process a claim depends on its complexity and the degree to which the claim package has been properly and fully completed by the claimant.

Return of documents

Legal, official and other supporting documents submitted to the Bank of Canada will not be returned to claimants. As such, we strongly recommend that only certified copies of documents be submitted with a claim.

Payment process

If a claim is approved, a cheque will be issued to the balance holder, payable in Canadian funds.