How to Open a RBC Direct Investing RRSP Account Online

I’ve had a spousal RRSP at ING Direct for several years. ING Direct is great for handling new contributions. Any time my husband wants to add to my account, he just has to click a few selections from his ING investment savings account and he’s done. The RRSP receipt needed to file his income taxes is available to be printed immediately. I can then invest his contribution to my account in a daily interest savings account, in guaranteed investment certificates or in the Streetwise mutual funds. Or, I can transfer the money with no fees (at least so far!) to another financial institution. But what I can’t do is buy shares, ETFs or bonds or mutual funds offered by other companies like Vanguard. So today I decided to set up a Spousal RRSP account at RBC Direct Investing and move some of my money in from ING Direct to fund the account.

Why Did I Decide to Open a RBC Direct Investing Account Now?

Why now? Well, right now I can get 25 “free” (actually reimbursed) trades at RBC Direct Investing if I open a new account with at least $25,000 and keep those funds in it for about a year. It’s not much of an incentive but it’s enough for me.

There are some conditions on this offer. (Aren’t there always?!) And you have to be very careful to include the Offer Code when you fill in your paperwork or you won’t get the trades. Don’t count on phoning to ask for them later: many of these offers must be requested at the time your paper first hits someone’s desk or electronic in-basket.

Will I Have to Pay Transfer Fees to Fund My RBC Direct Investing Account?

Because I’m transferring the money from ING Direct, I don’t have to pay any transfer out fees. (RBC DI’s website does say they will reimburse up to $135 in transfer fees if you move enough money.)

If you’re interested in setting up a new account at RBC Direct Investing, you can follow the same steps I did. There may be a few minor differences depending on whether you are creating a non-registered cash account, a TFSA or a RRIF, but the general procedure is the same. (It’s slightly different for RESPs and some other types of accounts.)

How Long Did It Take to Complete the Application?

It took me 18 minutes to fill in all forms and review them. That doesn’t include the time it took to read the Operation of Account Agreement and the Declaration of Trust agreement.

Was It Easy to Set Up the New Account at RBC Online?


It was fairly easy until I got to the point where I needed to print the documents so that I could sign them and mail them in.

Then I managed to crash the program twice before I successfully printed the forms.

The first time, although I had the proper form of Adobe Acrobat Reader downloaded to my PC, I did not have it installed as the default in my browser. That meant it “hung” trying to open the documents. Since there was no back button or way to back up a step, I actually lost all of the data I had entered. Grrrr.

The second time, I made a mistake and selected “Other” for Occupation for one of us. That led it into a loop where it needed me to enter information that doesn’t exist: namely a name, address and phone number for a non-existent company. I couldn’t break it out of the loop demanding the information and had to close the session to clear the error.

The third time, I nearly failed again. Somehow it reset the Province field in my address to a blank value and a few other quirks. By repeatedly clicking on the message to Take me to the Error and to Return to Print, I eventually cleared the messages and was able to send the document to my printer.

The only time I discovered I could save my work and handle it later was when I tried to save my input via Acrobat. At that time, RBC Direct Investing responded with a request that I set up an id and password so I could re-open my file in the future. I didn’t actually choose to do that.

I don’t think most people will have these problems filling in their application. *But* if RBC Direct Investing’s IT department happens to read this, I suggest they add a “back up” selection to their “review your forms” program so that users stuck in a input loop can just try again without having to re-key in all of the data.

What Do I Need Before I Start to Open a RBC Direct Investing Account?

You may need to know

  • Your SIN
  • Your spouse’s SIN, if applicable
  • The mailing address and plan and account numbers for an investment account at another financial institution if you want to transfer it into a RBC DI account
  • How much you want to transfer in from another location and whether to transfer in cash or in kind
  • Whether you want to have *all* of your dividends re-invested using a dividend re-investment plan (at the time you apply you can only choose to re-invest all or none of your dividends: you can’t pick and choose.)
  • Your RBC bank account/s  numbers if you want to link them to your trading account

You also may need

  • To wait until GICs mature and are cashed before they can be transferred
  • To check whether certain mutual funds can be transferred into a RBC DI account. (For example, you can’t transfer in ING Direct Streetwise funds. You would have to sell them and transfer in the cash and buy something else.)
  • To have a printer that works and has lots of ink and paper. (I had to print out 17 pages.)

Opening a RBC Direct Investing Account Online

  1. Go to RBC Direct Investing Website at‎
  2. In the banner ad at the top of the page called Trade Free for a Year (which is misleading but not illegally wrong) click on the button called: Learn More.
  3. Copy the Offer Code (if you apply without it you will NOT get any free trades!)
  4. Read the information, including the Terms and Conditions for the Free Trades at
    • Note that you only get up to 25 Free Trades. It does not mean that every trade you make is free for one year!
    • You also have to pay for the trades and they reimburse you. They only refund the cost of a trade on a Canadian exchange paid in Canadian dollars, so the trade won’t be free if you are charged a commission in US dollars while the US dollar is higher than the Canadian dollar.
    • The trades must be executed during a time set by a letter sent to you by RBC. The maximum time will be one year. (This time is longer than the average offered by online brokerages though.) If you pull your money out of the account, you may have to re-pay any of your trading commissions.
  5. If you still want to continue, click on the Open an Account online button.

Opening an Account for New RBC Customers

If, like me, you are new to RBC, you have two options.

  • You can apply online only after you are authenticated by a third party service; or,
  • you can apply by filling in an application form and dropping it off at a RBC bank branch or by mailing it in.
  1. Click on the Get Started button.
  2. You need Adobe Reader version 9 or higher. (You may wish to make sure your browser is actually defaulting to use that version of Reader before proceeding to avoid the mess I got into.)
  3. Next you need to choose whether to use the online authentication process or not.
    It says: “RBC Direct Investing incorporates an online authentication process using a third party information service to identify you. The key advantage is that you may access your account and start investing within 24 hours.”
  4. I have bad luck with these things so I selected the radio button beside No: Complete a new account application form and forward it to RBC Direct Investing.
  5. I also know that I am funding the account with a transfer from ING Direct so I won’t be able to trade for a few weeks because there won’t be any money to trade with!
  6. Click on the Continue button.

In the Account Ownership section,

  • select Sole or Joint.
    I selected Sole.

To open a Retirement Savings Plan in the Please select the account type(s) you wish to open: field, click the box beside Retirement Savings Plan.

A new list will be displayed with all of the types of RSPs:

  • Retirement Savings Plan (RSP)
  • Spousal Retirement Savings Plan (RSP)
  • Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA)
  • Restricted Locked-in Savings Plan (RLSP)
  • Group RSP – Regular
  • Group RSP – Spousal

If you had chosen Investment (Cash/Margin)
you would also have seen the choices:

  • Individual
  • Informal Trust (not applicable in province of Quebec)
  • Group Investment
  • Cash
  • Margin

There are no sub-sections if you choose Tax-Free Savings Account.

If you had chosen Retirement Income Fund
you would also have seen the choices:

  • Regular (RIF)
  • Spousal (RIF)
  • Life Income Fund (LIF)
  • Prescribed Retirement Income Fund (PRIF)
  • Locked-in Retirement Fund (LRIF)
  • Restricted Life Income Fund (RLIF)

I selected Spousal Retirement Savings Plan.

In the Choose your method of application section, select either

  • Interactive online application form; or
  • Accessible online application form
    I selected Interactive.

Read the information on the screen that says: “(For RESPs, Investment Joint (3 or 4 applicants), non-personal accounts, and General Power of Attorney Mandate in Quebec, you have to Download and Print an application form using the link at the bottom of the screen.)”

Click on the Next button.

Read the RBC Privacy and Security Canada information at
If you can stand the terms, click on the Next button.

The Account(s) Selected Screen opens.

  1. Type the 25 free trades code into the Offer Code field. If you don’t, you won’t get any free trades! I used: 25Y9
  2. Answer the question “Is the account being opened on behalf of the applicant by a General Power of Attorney, Public Trustee, etc?”
    by clicking to select Yes or No.
  3. Answer the question “Do you want to transfer your account from another institution” by clicking to select the Yes or No radio button.
  4. Click the Continue button.

The Personal Information Screen opens.

  1. Complete the personal information.
    • From the Title drop-down list select your title.
    • In the First Name field, type your first name.
    • In the Middle Initial field, type your Middle Initial if applicable.
    • In the Last Name field, type your last name.
    • In the Date of Birth field, type your date of birth as MM/DD/YYYY
      For example, if you were born on January 23 in 1930, type: 01/23/1930
      (Note that RBC DI has learned from the Year 2000 fiasco and uses four digits for years.)
  2. If you have one, type your RBC Royal Bank/RBC Direct Investing Client Card Number. (I don’t have one.)
  3. To answer the question Are you a Canadian citizen? Click to select Yes or No radio button.
  4. The Social Insurance Number field will open. Type your SIN in the field.
  5. To answer the question Are you a US citizen? Click to select the Yes or No radio button.
  6. Click on the Next button.

The Contact Information screen opens.

  1. Complete your address information.
    • In the No and Street field, type your street address.
    • If applicable, in the Apt/Suite field, type your apartment or suite number.
    • In the City field, type your city or town of residence.
    • From the drop-down list select your Province.
    • In the Postal Code field, type your postal code.
  2. In the Home Phone Number field, type your home telephone number; or
  3. In the Cell Phone Number field, type your mobile cellular telephone number; or both.
    Don’t use spaces or dashes in your phone number or it will generate an error message. (I know because it happened to me when I put in spaces.)
  4. In the E-mail Address field, type your email address. Choose one you will have for a long time. If it’s like other online brokerages you’ll be able to change this once your account is fully set up.
  5. Click to select English or French for all future correspondence.
  6. If your mailing address is the same, click on the Yes radio button.
    Otherwise click on the No button and type in your mailing address.
  7. Click on the Next button.

The Employment Information screen opens.

  1. In the Employment Information section, from the drop-down list, select your occupation.
    As an Engineer I am offended that they do not list Engineer as an option to select!
    Oops! Yes they do: you just have to keep scrolling down to Professional/Engineer. Still, why do Lawyers get their own line? Hmmm. Accountants and Pharmacists don’t get a line either…
    How come I can be a Minister or a Priest but not a Rabbi or an Imam? This list is squirrelly.
  2. If applicable, enter your Business Phone Number and/or extension. (This is not mandatory.)
  3. Click on the Next button.

The Financial Information screen opens.

  1. From the Annual Income drop-down list, select your income.
    I modestly selected $100,000 and over. I really wish I could select $10,000,000 and over. I wonder if I would get a personal phone call if I did?
  2. In the Total Net Worth section, type approximate values in the Net Liquid Assets; and Net Fixed Assets. The system will calculate your Total Net Worth field.
  3. Click on the Next button.

The Spousal Information screen will open.

  1. For the question, Are you married or do you have a common-law spouse, Click to answer Yes or No.
  2. If you select Yes,
    • Type in your spouse’s/partner’s name in the First Name and Last Name fields.
    • From the Occupation drop-down list, select the job.
    • From the Type of Business drop-down list, if applicable, select
  3. Oh Come On: They have “Hydroponics including Equipment Manufacturers” and “Internet Gambling” and they don’t have:
    Fuel; or
    as a Category?!
    [My husband wants to know if the hydroponics firm is code for a supplier for grow ops.]
  4. In the Employer / School Name field, type the name of the company.
  5. Click on the Next button.

The Additional Information screen opens.

  1. It asks: “Are you a partner, director, officer or employee of a Member firm of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada or a relative of any such individual living in the same household?”
    Click to select the Yes or No radio button.
  2. Then it asks: “Is the account being opened on behalf of the applicant by a General Power of Attorney, Public Trustee, etc.?  If yes, please attach the original or notarized governing document and completed RBC Direct Investing Trading Authorization Supplemental Form, with the application.”
    Click to select the Yes or No radio button.
  3. And it asks: “Are you or your spouse/partner a director, senior officer, 10% shareholder or more, or insider of any reporting issuer?”
    • For You: Click to select the Yes or No radio button.
    • For Spouse/Partner: Click to select the Yes or No or Not Applicable radio button.
  4. Finally, it asks: “Do you or your spouse/partner, as individuals or in combination with others, control (directly or indirectly) more than 20% of the voting securities of any reporting issuer?”
    Click to select the Yes or No radio button.
    The system says: “Please Note:  If I have answered “yes” to questions 3 or 4, I am aware of my obligations to report purchases or sales and possible restrictions on trading these securities according to applicable securities legislation.”
  5. Click on the Next button.

The SIN & Account Registration screen opens.

  1. For some reason, you have to type your SIN ag’in. (tee hee) in the Social Insurance Number field.
  2. Confirm that the type of Account is correct.
  3. If so, click on the Next button.

The Spousal Information screen opens.

  1. Confirm the spouse’s first and last name are correct.
  2. In the SIN Number field, type your spouse/partner’s social insurance number.
  3. Click on the Next button.

The Dividend Reinvestment Plan screen opens.
(! I didn’t see this one coming!)
It states: “RBC Direct Investing’s Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP) allows stock dividends to be automatically re-invested to purchase new shares (whole shares only).  Over 500 securities are eligible. Please check to have stock dividends automatically reinvested.    (Please note that the Dividend Reinvestment Plan reinvests dividends of all qualifying securities in your account.)”
If you are sure you want to re-invest the dividends from ALL of your stocks, click on the Yes button.
Otherwise, like me, select No.

Click on the Next button.

The Banking Information screen opens.
If you bank with RBC, you can link your accounts to your Direct Investing account.

If so, click on the Yes button and type in your Transit Number and CAD Account Number and/or your Transit Number and your USD Account Number.

Then click on the Next button.

The Shareholder Communication screen opens.
In the Disclosure of Beneficial Ownership Information section

  • I Do Not Object; or
  • I Object

to “disclosing the information described in the Operation of Account Agreement”
I’m not sure what’s in the Operation of Account agreement, so I objected.

In the Receiving Security-holder materials section

  • Click on I want to receive ALL; or
  • ONLY proxy-related materials to a special meeting; or
  • I decline to receive all security-holder materials.

I declined.

In the Consent to Mailing Cost section
Click on

  • I wish to pay for delivery; or
  • I do not wish to pay for delivery

I declined!

I don’t actually know what you are agreeing to if you select “I wish to pay for delivery.” But it doesn’t sound good.

Click on the Next button.

The Transfer Authorization Screen opens.
This is for transferring holdings at another institution to RBC Direct Investing.

  1. From the drop-down list, select the Delivering Institution Name.
    For ING Direct, I had to select Other.
    The system says: “ (Note: If “Other” is selected, transfer will be processed upon receipt of your signed transfer request)”
    When you select Other, new things appear.

    • In the Address field, type the street address.
    • In the City field, type the city or town.
    • From the Province drop-down list select the province.
    • In the Postal Code field, type the Postal code.

    Scroll down to see the rest of the questions.

  2. From the Delivering Institution Account Type: drop-down list, select the appropriate choice.
    I selected Spousal RSP.
  3. In the Account / Policy Number field, type the relevant information.
    It only gave me enough room to include my Spousal RSP Account number.
    In Name of:
    I typed my name as it appears on my RSP statements.
  4. RBC Direct Investing Account Information
    Transfer to Account #
    (which I don’t have yet as it isn’t created) (I cannot type in this field anyway.)
  5. Receiving Institution Account Type: is pre-filled in as Spousal RSP.
  6. Click on the Next button.

The Transfer Authorization – Part 2 screen opens.
The choices include:

  • Transfer all of my assets as they are (“as is”) including any existing cash balances to RBC Direct Investing (All in Kind)
  • Sell all of my assets and transfer the cash proceeds to RBC Direct Investing (All in Cash)
  • Transfer all of my assets. However, sell a portion of them and have the cash proceeds along with the remainder of the account transferred “as is” to RBC Direct Investing (Please provide the details in Section (b) below)
  • Partial Transfer – Transfer only a portion of my assets/cash to RBC Direct Investing (Please provide details in Sections (a), (b) and/or (c) below.)


For (a) Cash Balance Details,

  • Click to select All Amount or fill in the field for the number of CDN dollars to transfer
  • Click to select All Amount or fill in the field for the number of USD dollars to transfer


For (b) Assets to be Sold

  • Click to select All or type the number of Units/Shares, then fill in the corresponding Security Description/Symbol

There are 4 fields you can use this way.

I selected Partial Transfer
And typed the number of CDN dollars to transfer from ING Direct.

Click on the Next button.

The Review Screen will open.
Read the instructions.

Click on the Review Forms button.

Wow. Talk about fatal errors. For some reason my new version of Acrobat Reader is not loading properly. Now I have a window that says it can’t open the document with no back button and no way to go forward!

After I got that fixed, I then crashed again by selecting a mistaken choice in the Occupation screen and ending up in a fatal loop.

Finally on the third try I printed the documents successfully.

Close all the browser sessions.

Review, Sign and Mail the Application to RBC Direct Investing

After printing the documents, I read through them, signed as required and packaged up the originals. I then mailed them to RBC.

And now I wait…..

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Have you opened a brokerage account online recently? Did it make you long for the days of sitting waiting for hours at a bank branch to meet with a bank representative? Please share your laments, lambastes or laurels with a comment.

2 thoughts on “How to Open a RBC Direct Investing RRSP Account Online

    • I often like to know how something is going to happen before I try it. I wrote this for people like me who don’t want to start clicking on things without knowing what will happen next. I hope you found it helpful.

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