Global Banking
Karthikeyan Sundaram
Karthikeyan Sundaram
June 11, 2024

Transit and Institution numbers in Canada: what they are and how to find them?

Transit and institution numbers are essential for banking in Canada, used to identify branches and banks for transactions. In this article, we'll explain what these numbers are and how to find them.
Transit and Institution numbers in Canada: what they are and how to find them?

Transit and institution numbers play a crucial role in Canadian banking, helping to identify specific bank branches and institutions. This article will guide you through what these numbers mean and how to locate them.

What is an Institution Number?

The institution number is a unique three-digit code assigned to a bank or financial institution, used to identify them. Combined with a five-digit transit number, they form a routing number, essential for processing cheques and electronic transactions such as funds transfers, direct deposits, digital cheques, recurring loan, and bill payments.

The institution number specifically identifies your bank, while the transit number shows which branch you opened your account at. Together with the account number, which can range from seven to twelve digits, these numbers facilitate various banking operations.

What Is a Transit Number in Canada?

A transit number, also known as a branch number, is a five-digit code that, when combined with a bank institution number and your account number, provides the precise address of your bank account. This information is crucial whenever you set up new payment processes, such as direct deposit with a new employer.

Transit Number Formats

In Canada, transit numbers are formatted as five-digit numbers, contrasting with the nine-digit format used in the U.S. Think of the series of numbers like an address: the transit number indicates the specific bank branch where your account was created, functioning like the name of your street, while your account number is akin to your apartment number.

Your bank transit number and institution number can be found at the bottom of a cheque. The transit number (five digits) identifies the branch where you opened your account, and the three-digit institution number identifies your bank. Additionally, the account number (typically 11 digits) identifies your individual account. On a paper or digital cheque, you’ll see a string of numbers at the bottom left. The sequence starts with the cheque number, followed by the five-digit transit number, and then the three-digit bank institution number. So, the entire sequence of numbers at the bottom of your cheque would look like this: {XX} cheque number {XXXXX} transit number {XXX} bank institution number.

How to Find a Transit Number Without a Cheque?

If you need your institution number but don't want to deal with cheques, you can find your bank’s transit number in several ways:

  • Your paper or electronic bank statement.
  • Your online banking portal.
  • By contacting or visiting your bank branch and asking for the number.

To ensure your bank processes your payment securely and efficiently, always verify routing numbers with your bank or the recipient.