Trust Accounts versus Accounts in Trust: Are they Different?

Darrell Pinto

Darrell Pinto

If you have been involved in a “named sponsorship” for a refugee either in a Group-of-Five or in a constituent group, you likely have faced this question when you tried to open a bank account as required by IRCC to support your submission. It appears IRCC specifies on its website that a trust account is necessary. Requirements to setting up a trust account vary from bank to bank and even across branches within the same bank because many banking staff appear not to understand private refugee sponsorship or are hesitant to create an account to benefit someone not resident in Canada. PRSN recently did a sounding of its member sponsors to identify issues and also consulted with Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) about how to make the process easier.


In practice IRCC will accept a savings or chequing account in trust in the names of two of people in a sponsoring group acting as trustees or point people responsible for the account operation. Confusion stems from IRCC’s use of the word “trust” account implying a formal trust account. To support a submission, you need an original document, stamped by the financial institution no more than six months before you submit your application. It must show the name of the bank, names of the account holders, the account number, account balance, name of the bank employee and signature, and the bank stamp. The account does not need to be a formal trust account.  A savings or chequing account is sufficient provided there are two sponsors acting as the joint account holders.


Although RSTP does make the distinction in their training material to sponsors about the difference between the practice and the IRCC’s requirement about “trust” accounts it nevertheless continues to be a source of confusion. Some other tips included in RSTP training includes:


    • The deposited funds must remain in the account until the newcomer arrives
    • Each newcomer family needs a separate account
    • Funds must be in Canadian currency


PRSN will try to get IRCC to clarify the information on its website through collaboration with RSTP and will also address this issue with major Canadian banks.