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This exciting number is the name of a transfer form you need to fill out to transfer RRSP funds between two institutions (say, you're changing stockbrokers, or you want to move your GIC to a mutual fund at a new company) without having to deregister the funds.

It's a long, legal-sized form with 3 or 4 carbon copies attached, and has sections requiring:
-some personal information, like the client's address & SIN;
-the details of the receiving institution, including investment instructions and account number;
-the details of the relinquishing institution, including a list of what is to be transferred (usually people just attach the most recent statement to the back),
-the account number(s),
-and whether it is to be transferred in cash (so they would sell the asset and send the money) or in kind (they would just change the registration of the asset to reflect the new trustee, and/or send along the appropriate power of attorney, and/or send the actual certificates involved).
-finally, the client's signature is required.

Using a t2033 is a good idea, because if you didn't use it, you'd have to deregister the funds and then make a new contribution at the new institution, which would involve being dinged with withholding tax and permanently losing RRSP contribution room.

The original copy of the form has to be sent to the relinquishing institution, because they need the original signature, supposedly to avoid being sued. Other copies go variously to the government, the receiving institution, and the client. The client keeps a copy upon signing, and then the relinquishing institution sends out copies to everyone else. (however, most times the person sending the t2033 in the first place, if it's not the receiving institution itself, (which comes up with assets that are to be held at a third party, especially for small mutual fund dealerships that don't keep client accounts in nominee name) will send a photocopy of the t2033 to the receiving institution so that they know what to expect, to make the process run a little more smoothly.)

Transfers generally take about 10 days, except from government sources like Pension Boards, who tend to be ridiculously backlogged all the time, and of course if you're trying to transfer an asset with a specific maturity date, it will take longer while you wait for maturity.

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