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What is an Institution Number?

What is an Institution Number?

We had somebody write to us telling us that about a Transferwise transaction with Canadian dollar transfers. Our loyal reader asked, “What is an Institution Number?” The institution number is a number you need if you wish to send funds to something such as Transferwise from a Canadian bank account.

Sending Canadian Dollars From Canadian Institutions

If you are looking to send Canadian dollars from your Canadian bank account to either another country or to a currency converter, then you then three things. You need your:

  • Financial Institution number
  • Your Branch Transit Number
  • Your Account Number
  • A Financial Institution number in Canada is a three-digit number
  • Your Branch transit number is a five-digit number
  • Your account number will be between five and twelve digits

What Is An Institution Number?

A financial institution number is part of these three-pronged set of digits. It helps to identify the bank from which the funds will be taken. In the image below, you can see a Canadian check. It shows you were the numbers are typically located.What Is An Institution Number - CAD checkbook

As you can see by the image above, the Financial Institution number is the one in the middle and it is three digits long. Your bank or your credit union will tell you what your institution number is if you do not have a check to look at.

The Number Doesn’t Change From Branch To Branch

Each bank/credit union (institution) has its own institution number. That number does not change from branch to branch; it only changes from institution to institution.

For example, if you bank with Bank of Montreal, then the branch down the street will not have a different institution number to the one in the next town. However, the Bank of Montreal has a different institution number from the Bank of Canada, from Atlantic Central, and so on.

You May Be Confused By The Numbers On Your Check

The example we gave of a check is a very simple version of a check. Some checks are loaded with numbers, so we have included a check below to help you figure out what you are looking for.Canada Trust cheque check

On the left, you see the check number. That number will often appear in other places on the check. You can also see the check number in the top right corner on this check.

Next is the transit number, which people in the US call the routing transit number. You may also hear it called the branch number. Next to that is the financial institution number. The key to remembering which one is the financial institution number is to remember that it is a three-digit number.

If you are worried that you will confuse the three-digit number of your financial institution code with your check number code, then look at your other checks. Your check number will change, but your financial institution number will not.

What Is A Designation Number?

Some checks will have a designation number. That is so that the recipient bank or credit union knows exactly which branch this check came from. It does not matter so much these day which branch the check came from because we live in a very digital world, but some checks still have the designation number on them. I suppose it may help them to identify fraud a little quicker if they can call the branch and ask them if a check or cashier’s check is real.

About The Author

Ash The Great

After a varied career in different industries from the hospitality industry to the financial consultancy industry, Ash now spends his days working as a professional writer.

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