Getting a Social Insurance Number in Canada (SIN Canada) is one of the first tasks you’ll need to do upon arrival. This is because you cannot legally work in Canada without one.
Why do I need a Social Insurance Number in Canada?
Your SIN number is a nine-digit number used to identify you by government agencies. You will need it to pay taxes, or access government programs and benefits, like Employment Insurance (EI) and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents, who are 12 years of age or older, may apply for their own SIN number.
The purpose of a Social Insurance Number is similar to the PPS number in Ireland, the National Insurance Number in the UK, or the Tax File Number in Australia.
When you start a job, you are required to provide your SIN Canada to your employer.
There is no fee to apply for a Social Insurance Number in Canada.
Where can I get a Social Insurance Number in Canada?
You can apply for a Social Insurance Number in Canada by gathering the documentation you need and bringing these to your nearest Service Canada office.
Permanent residents will need to show their Permanent Resident card. A Confirmation of Permanent Residence letter is acceptable within the first year of permanent residency, when accompanied by a passport or other valid photo identification like a driver’s licence.
Temporary residents for example, those who arrive on a Working Holiday Visa in Canada, will need to provide either their Canadian work permit, or their Canadian study permit which indicates that they may accept employment.
Temporary residents will be issued with a Social Insurance Number in Canada beginning with ‘9’. The confirmation of SIN Canada letter will have an expiry date which matches the end-date on the immigration document.
You may apply for a SIN number in Canada by mail if you live more than 100 kilometres from your nearest Service Canada office, or if extenuating circumstances prevent you from presenting in person and another individual cannot submit an application on your behalf, or if you are applying from outside Canada. Learn more here.
How long does it take to get a SIN number in Canada?
Your SIN Canada is given to you during your visit, on a printed sheet of paper, called a Confirmation of SIN Number letter.
Previously, plastic cards were issued with the Social Insurance Number in Canada printed on them. This practice stopped in 2014, though the cards themselves may still be used where required by anyone who still has them.
For mail applications, you will receive your SIN Number within 20 days from the receipt of your application.
How do I find my SIN number in Canada?
You can either find you SIN number for Canada on your SIN card, confirmation letter or on relevant CRA documents. Service Canada used to issue SIN numbers in plastic card format, however presently, they are issued in paper format. Check your records for either your card or confirmation letter.
How do I get a replacement SIN?
To replace your lost SIN, you should visit your local Service Canada branch. If you have all the correct documents and everything is in order then Service Canada will give you your SIN number on the spot.
If you live more than 100 km from a Services Canada branch or cannot visit a Service Canada branch because of a special situation, you can make a SIN request by mail. But, before mailing your SIN request, you must first get permission from Service Canada by calling 1-800-206-7218 (select Option #3).
It’s important to note that you will only be issued a brand new SIN if you were the victim of identity theft or fraud
What documents do I need to get a new SIN?
To apply for a Social Insurance Number, you must provide a valid primary document that proves your identity and legal status in Canada.
If you are applying for someone else, you may need to provide additional documents.
Protecting your Social Insurance Number in Canada
Your Social Insurance Number in Canada is confidential. It could be used maliciously to obtain private information about you, so it’s important to only disclose your SIN number when it’s essential to do so.
Employers, financial institutions, and government agencies will usually require your SIN number for legitimate reasons, which include setting up your income tax and benefit arrangements.
It is not illegal for private companies to ask for your Social Insurance Number in Canada, however it is discouraged. Examples where it is not required include property rental applications, credit card applications, subscribing to phone or internet providers, or applying to a college.
If you are unsure why your SIN number for Canada is being requested, offer an alternative proof of identity, and ask to speak to a manager if this is not accepted.
More assistance for newcomers to Canada
- Learn how to find jobs in Canada
- Arrange your flights to Canada
- Prepare for your welcome to Canada with these 10 things you should know
- Buy travel insurance for Canada
Here are some of the essential things you’ll need to do during your first week in Canada.