Frequently Asked Questions
The questions and answers provided in this document are general. For additional information, please refer to the information circulars and the Unclaimed Personal Property and Vested Property Act and Regulation, or contact Tax and Revenue Administration (TRA).
- What is unclaimed personal property?
- How much unclaimed property does the Government of Alberta currently hold?
- What does the Government of Alberta do to find unclaimed property owners?
- How do I search for any unclaimed property that may belong to me or a family member?
- I searched for property using my full name, but didn't get any results. Are there specific search criteria?
- What if someone offers to help me locate unclaimed property?
- Can heirs collect unclaimed property?
- What is tangible and intangible property?
- What is the difference between unclaimed personal property and "vested" property?
- We have property that was unclaimed before the legislation took effect. Do we still have to report it?
- In the past we have been required to send any unclaimed deposit balances to the Bank of Canada. Should we continue to do this?
- I transferred property to the Government of Alberta in error. What should I do?
- How do I make a claim for property?
- What if my claim is not accepted?
- Can I make a claim as a creditor?
- What information do I need to confirm my claim?
- Will I be charged a fee for making a claim?
- When will I receive my property?
Unclaimed personal property is property on which the owner has taken no action (e.g., no additions to an investment account or update of the mailing address) for an extended period of time and/or did not respond to the holder’s attempts to contact the owner. Depending on the type, property must be dormant for one to 15 years before it can be declared unclaimed. For a list of properties and the amount of time they must remain inactive, please refer to Appendix A of Information Circular UP-2, Property Holders.
As of March 31, 2017, the government maintains a central listing of approximately 205,000 unclaimed items in the Alberta unclaimed property registry with an estimated value of $70.4M. For the fiscal year 2016-17, 636 claims with a total value of $948,064 were paid out.
Alberta Treasury Board and Finance, Tax and Revenue Administration (TRA), on behalf of the Alberta Minister of Finance, maintains an up-to-date online registry of unclaimed property that is searchable free of charge. Through annual advertisements, TRA informs the public of the program’s existence and how to access it.
To check the Alberta registry, click on "Search for Lost Property or Money". This will take you to a window where you can enter your search name. A website named MissingMoney.com will search the Alberta registry and over 40 other state and provincial registries throughout North America and provide you with the available results. You can also search other jurisdictions individually by clicking on the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).
I searched for property using my full name, but didn't get any results. Are there specific search criteria?
Try searching by your first initial, nickname or any other name you have previously used (e.g., maiden name). Also, check the website on a regular basis as more property is added to the database as it becomes unclaimed. For more information, visit the MissingMoney.com search tips in the search criteria box.
There is often a fee charged for unclaimed property search services. You can Search for Lost Property or Money on our website, or other websites that offer this service free of charge. For a list of other jurisdictions that offer this service free, visit the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) website. If you feel that you are owed money by a business or government agency, contact them directly.
You may choose to accept the fee-for-service assistance of a person or agency to locate your property, but taking the time to search on your own may be worthwhile. If you do purchase the services of a property locator, make sure you get the arrangement in writing. The locator fee in Alberta cannot be greater than 10 per cent of the value of the property.
Yes. If they can prove they are the legal heirs entitled to the property, they can make a claim for return of the property.
Tangible property is physical property, such as jewellery, coins, collectables or furniture.
Intangible property is an interest that is held, issued or owing by a business or government. It can include stock or bonds, uncashed cheques, or unpaid salaries.
Unclaimed personal property is any asset that has not had owner activity for some time. The length of time the property must remain inactive to be considered unclaimed depends on the type of asset. Timelines can be one, three, five, seven or 15 years. For a comprehensive list, refer to Section 6 of the Unclaimed Personal Property and Vested Property Regulation.
Vested property is generally property that was not disposed of when a corporation, society or cooperative was dissolved and has been claimed by the Crown (Government of Alberta). It can also come from an estate with no known heirs.
Reporting by Holders
We have property that was unclaimed before the legislation took effect. Do we still have to report it?
If the property is on your book of accounts as of September 1, 2008, and no contact could be made with the owner during the abandonment period*, then you are required to provide an online property submission after the abandonment period. If you have any further questions, please contact us.
*The abandonment period is the length of time that must pass before a property is determined to be unclaimed under the Act. The period begins on the later of September 1, 2008 or the date that the Regulation specifies. For example, a travellers cheque becomes abandoned 15 years after the later of September 1, 2008 (this would affect a travellers cheque issued prior to September 1, 2008) or the date it was issued. For more information, please see S. 6(2)(a) of the Regulation.
In the past we have been required to send unclaimed deposit balances to the Bank of Canada. Should we continue to do this?
Yes. Section 3 of the Unclaimed Personal Property and Vested Property Act (UPPVPA) states that this Act does not apply to unclaimed personal property or vested property in Alberta disposed of, or otherwise dealt with, under other applicable Alberta or federal legislation. Any unclaimed property not managed under other legislation is to be reported under the UPPVPA.
If you believe you transferred property to the Minister of Finance in error, submit an online claim to TRA explaining the reason for the error.
Owners, their heirs or legal representatives or a previously dissolved corporation can make an online claim.
TRA will undertake to process the claim within 120 days. If the information provided meets the validation requirements, the property will be returned to the claimant.
You may file an objection to the decision TRA makes regarding your claim. Complete form AT4954, "Unclaimed Property Notice of Objection," and mail it to the address on the back of the form.
Creditors may be entitled to make a claim on property held by the Minister. If you feel you are entitled to property where you are not the legal owner, complete the online claim and provide sufficient information to support your claim. For more information, please see section 49 of the Unclaimed Personal Property and Vested Property Act or contact TRA.
Your claim should provide enough information to match the holder’s identifying information. All personal information, such as social insurance number (SIN), driver’s license number (DL) and previous mailing address, is confidential and used only to reunite property with the owner.
The Government of Alberta does not impose a charge for the retrieval of unclaimed property. However, you may be required to pay a fee for the administration costs of the property (e.g., storage costs of property, holder fees) from the proceeds of sale of the property.
You should receive your property within 30 days after your claim has been validated and all administration costs paid.
Unclaimed Property Unit
Alberta Treasury Board and Finance
Tax and Revenue Administration