Who can open a TFSA?

Any individual who is 18 years of age or older and who has a valid Canadian social insurance number (SIN) is eligible to open a TFSA.

Note

A person determined to be a non-resident of Canada for income tax purposes can hold a valid SIN and be allowed to open a TFSA; however, any contributions made while a non-resident will be subject to a 1% tax for each month the contribution stays in the account. For more information see Non-residents of Canada.

You cannot open a TFSA or contribute to one until you turn 18. However, when you turn 18, you will be able to contribute up to the full TFSA dollar limit for that year.

Example

Julie turns 18 on May 13, 2014. She will not be able to open and contribute to a TFSA until that date. However, as of May 13, 2014, she can open a TFSA and contribute the full 2014 dollar limit of $5,500.

Note

In certain provinces and territories, the legal age (depends on the age of majority) at which an individual can enter into a contract (which includes opening a TFSA) is 19 years old. Beginning in 2009, individuals turning 18 years old in these jurisdictions who would otherwise be eligible, will accumulate TFSA contribution room for that year, and will carry it over to the following year.

The account holder is the only person who can contribute to their TFSA. You can give your spouse or common-law partner money to contribute to their own TFSA without that amount, or any earnings on the amount being attributed back to you. The total of all contributions your spouse or common-law partner makes to their TFSA must not be more than their TFSA contribution room.

Are you considered a non-resident?

You may be considered a non-resident for tax purposes if you:

  • normally, customarily, or routinely live in another country and are not considered a resident of Canada; or
  • do not have residential ties in Canada; and
    • you live outside Canada throughout the tax year; or
    • you stay in Canada for less than 183 days in the tax year.

Even if you no longer live in Canada, you may have residential ties in Canada that are sufficient for you to be considered a factual or deemed resident of Canada. In these cases, the regular rules for opening a TFSA still apply.

Residential ties include:

  • a home in Canada;
  • a spouse or common-law partner or dependants in Canada;
  • personal property in Canada, such as a car or furniture; or
  • social ties in Canada.

Other ties that may be relevant include:

  • a Canadian driver's licence;
  • Canadian bank accounts or credit cards; and
  • hospitalization and medical insurance coverage from a province or territory of Canada.

For more information, see Income tax folio S5-F1-C1, Determining an Individual’s Residence Status or call the International Enquiries for Individuals and Trusts at one of the following numbers: 1-855-284-5942 ( from anywhere in Canada and the United States ), or 613-940-8495 (from outside Canada and the U nited States – we accept collect calls by automated response. Please note that you may hear a beep and experience a normal connection delay).

Non-residents of Canada

If you become a non-resident of Canada, or are considered to be a non-resident for income tax purposes:

  • you will be allowed to keep your TFSA and you will not be taxed in Canada on any earnings in the account or on withdrawals from it.
  • no TFSA contribution room will accrue for any year throughout which you are a non-resident of Canada.
  • any withdrawals made during the period that you were a non-resident will be added back to your TFSA contribution room in the following year, but will only be available if you re-establish your Canadian residency status for tax purposes.

You can contribute to a TFSA up to the date that you become a non-resident of Canada. The annual TFSA dollar limit is not pro-rated in the year of emigration or immigration.

If you make a contribution, except for a qualifying transfer or an exempt contribution, while you are a non-resident, you will be subject to a 1% tax for each month the contribution remains in the account. You may also be subject to other taxes. For more information, see Tax payable on non-resident contributions.

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