These days more than ever Canadians are doing much of their banking online. And it's almost certain that you'll need to know your transit, institution and account numbers in order to complete electronic transactions.

These numbers are essential when depositing and withdrawing money from sources such as the following:

  • Wire transfer
  • Pre-authorized debit
  • Recurring bill payment
  • Transfers between two bank accounts
  • Tax refunds
  • Payroll with a new employer
  • Receiving emergency government benefits
  • Transferring funds to and from a brokerage account

But how exactly do you find these numbers?

There are two easy ways: look at the numbers on the bottom of your cheque, or find them by logging into your online or mobile banking.

Let’s break down what numbers you will find there. 

Institution and transit number

Every Canadian financial institution has its own three-digit identifier called the institution number. Scotiabank's three-digit institution number is always 002.

Your transit number refers to the 5-digit number that is connected to your home branch.

You can easily find these numbers on the bottom of your cheques, right after the cheque number - they are the first five digits of the second chunk of numbers, right before the numbers 002.

You can also log-in to your mobile app or online banking to download a direct deposit form or void cheque which will include your institution, transit and account numbers.

Note: your transit number may change if your branch closes or your bank goes through a merger or restructuring. If anything like this happens your bank is required to notify you – this happens very rarely. 

Routing number

Your routing number is a combination of your institution and transit number, and it represents the “route” to your account, via the bank and specific bank branch.

Your routing number is a combination of the five-digit branch number and the three-digit institution number. Together the routing number will look something like this: xxxxx-002.

Account number

Once you have identified your bank (institution) and branch (transit) numbers, you now have to identify your account number. This is the most important and private piece of information. You should secure your account number the same way you secure your social insurance or credit card number. Never share it with anyone unless you are sure they are trustworthy.

Your account number length at Scotiabank is 7 digits long (it’s often preceded by your account’s transit number for a total of 12 digits and may look something like this TTTTT AAAAA AA). Your account number is not the same as your debit card number.

On the bottom of a cheque your account number is the last chunk of numbers, right after the institution number of 002.

Like for your transit and institution numbers, you can log in to your mobile app or online banking to download a direct deposit form or void cheque which will have your institution, transit and account numbers. 

Cheque number

Once you have identified your bank (institution) and branch (transit) numbers, you now have to identify your account number. This is the most important and private piece of information. You should secure your account number the same way you secure your social insurance or credit card number. Never share it with anyone unless you are sure they are trustworthy.

Your account number length at Scotiabank is 7 digits long (it’s often preceded by your account’s transit number for a total of 12 digits and may look something like this TTTTT AAAAA AA). Your account number is not the same as your debit card number.

On the bottom of a cheque your account number is the last chunk of numbers, right after the institution number of 002.

Like for your transit and institution numbers, you can log in to your mobile app or online banking to download a direct deposit form or void cheque which will have your institution, transit and account numbers. 

SWIFT and ABA numbers

If you are making a wire transfer, you will need your bank’s SWIFT and ABA numbers.

SWIFT is used for Canadian and other wire transfers. ABA is required only for wires from USA. They are required in addition to your transit and account number. For wires you will also need to provide the address of the transit, which you can find at the top of your cheque. For Scotiabank, our ABA number is 026002532 and our SWIFT code is NOSCCATT.

Knowing where to find these key details will enable you to successfully complete electronic transactions, deposits and payments with ease and simplicity, without the hassle of using paper cheques.

Check out more tips and tools to help you get your finances on track for the future

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Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only. It is not to be relied upon as financial, tax or investment advice or guarantees about the future, nor should it be considered a recommendation to buy or sell. Information contained in this article, including information relating to interest rates, market conditions, tax rules, and other investment factors are subject to change without notice and The Bank of Nova Scotia is not responsible to update this information. All third-party sources are believed to be accurate and reliable as of the date of publication and The Bank of Nova Scotia does not guarantee its accuracy or reliability. Readers should consult their own professional advisor for specific financial, investment and/or tax advice tailored to their needs to ensure that individual circumstances are considered properly and action is taken based on the latest available information