Financial Terms Translation Key (Canadian Edition)

Much of the financial investment and savings advice I come across is U.S.-centric, so I always have to ask myself things like “what’s the Canadian equivalent to a 401(k), again?”

Here’s my reference sheet. Making it public to hopefully help some other Canadians interested in personal financial management.

Note: This is an incredibly basic “equivalence” list. Different laws dictate how each investment vehicle works in each country (and even different states/provinces). This is just how the overall concept of each vehicle generally equates in my mind with many many caveats involved (see the TFSA vs Roth IRA, for instance).


U.S. term Canadian term Definition
IRA RRSP/RSP pre-tax vehicle can hold non-cash investments; annual limit carries over.
Roth IRA TFSA after-tax investment vehicle with annual contribution limit; in Canada it can hold cash and the annual limit carries over.
529 plan RESP pre-tax contributions that save toward education goals of recipient of the plan
401(k) defined contribution pension Wikipedia article
401(a) defined benefit pension Wikipedia article

Terms I have yet to match are left blank. If I miss or misstate something in this table, let me know in the comments and I’ll update it.