Our neighbors to the north handle unclaimed property differently than we do here in the states, and the rule differences between provinces are stark. Understanding these differences is useful if you do business in Canada.
One important difference is that federally regulated banks are administered by The Bank of Canada, the country’s central bank. All unclaimed balances are to be reported directly to this central authority after ten years of inactivity. Note that this does not cover credit unions, which are very popular in Canada.
Another important difference is that while in the United States, unclaimed property is almost always held indefinitely by the states (though there are a few exceptions), Canada has true escheat. The Bank of Canada acts as a custodian of the funds for a given period of time, after which the money is definitively transferred to the Receiver General for Canada. For funds under $1,000, this time period is 30 years. For amounts over $1,000, owners and their heirs have 100 years to collect their unclaimed property.
As of today, only three Canadian provinces have unclaimed property laws on the books. They are Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec. The country’s most populous province, Ontario, has no unclaimed property law, despite a series of halting efforts dating back to 1989.Read more