When arriving in Canada as a permanent or temporary resident, one of the first things to think about is how to get all the documentation needed. One important document to first apply is the Social Insurance Number (SIN).
What is a SIN
SIN is a 9-digit number needed to work in Canada and to access government programs and benefits. This number is issued only for one person and cannot be used by anyone else. It is very important to protect your SIN. Always store it in a safe place and never carry it with you. The SIN is confidential and should not be used as personal identification.
Service Canada (responsible for issuing SIN) only issues SIN in paper format. Plastic cards are no longer produced, however, cards that are in circulation and not expired can still be used.
Who can apply for a SIN
Canadian citizens, permanent residents and temporary residents, including international students with a work permit, can apply for a SIN.
SIN starting with number 9 means that it was issued for temporary workers who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents. In these cases, the SIN is temporary and it is only valid until the expiration date on the immigration document with authorization to work in Canada. The holder must update the SIN record to ensure that the expiry date always corresponds with the expiry date on the immigration document. Once the information has been updated, a new SIN will be issued with a new expiry date. The previous SIN will no longer be valid and should be destroyed in a secure manner.
What do you need to apply
To apply for a SIN, request confirmation of a SIN or to update information in the SIN record, 2 documents must be provided: a valid primary document that proves your identity and legal status in Canada and a secondary document that confirms your identity.
For permanent residents, the following are accepted as primary document:
- Permanent Resident card issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship CanadaImmigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada – IRCC Citizenship and Immigration Canada – CIC)
- Confirmation of Permanent Residence issued by IRCC, accompanied by a travel document (passport)
- Record of Landing issued by CIC
For temporary residents, the following are accepted as primary document:
- Work permit issued by the IRCC or CIC
- Study permit, issued by the IRCC or CIC, indicating authorization to work in Canada. In this case, the permit must indicate that the holder “may accept employment”, “may work” in Canada or a confirmation to work off campus letter issued by IRCC or CIC. Otherwise, the IRCC should be contacted to verify if the student is eligible to apply for an amended study permit.
A secondary document must be an official document that confirms the identity of the applicant. A valid passport or a provincial or territorial driver’s license is accepted.
If the name indicated on the primary or secondary document is different than the name currently being used, supporting documents must be provided.
All documents to be submitted must be original, photocopies are not accepted. If one of the documents is not in English or French, a translation and an attestation from a translator must also be submitted.
How to apply for a SIN
In person: bring all the gathered documents to the nearest Service Canada website.. O número do SIN é obtido durante a visita.
Note: all Service Canada Centres are closed until further notice due to COVID-19. For that reason, online applications are available at the Service Canada website. To apply online you will need to fill out the application and upload copies of the primary and secondary documents, and also a proof of address.
By mail: send a completed SIN application form (available in the Service Canada website) and the required original documents (photocopies are not accepted) to:
Service Canada website.
Social Insurance Registration Office
PO Box 7000
Bathurst NB E2A 4T1
More information about the SIN
The government of Canada emphasizes the importance of protecting the SIN. If used to commit fraud, it could ruin the credit rating of the holder and make it very hard to get credit in the future.
For a lost or stolen SIN letter or card, Service Canada will not issue a new SIN. The number can be found in the income tax return or a confirmation letter of SIN could be requested. Service Canada may issue a new SIN only if there is proof that the SIN was used fraudulently.
Only provide your SIN when it is legally required, for example, when being hired by an employer, when completing the income tax information, when opening an account at a financial institution from which interest will be earned or when accessing government programs and benefits (Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, Canada Child Benefit).
Never provide your SIN by phone or email and if suspected of fraudulent use of the SIN, contact the police, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and the major credit bureaus (Equifax/TransUnion).
If you find someone else’s SIN, bring it to a Service Canada Center or mail it to them.
It is very important to keep your personal information linked to your SIN updated. By law, the SIN holder should inform any legal change in their name. Changes in their legal status in Canada and of gender, also need to be informed. There is no need to notify Service Canada about changes of address unless you are waiting to receive a confirmation of SIN letter.
Children do not need a SIN, unless they will earn money from an investment in their name. However, if a child is eligible for a SIN, the parents or guardians can apply for one. If a child is born in Canada, a Social Insurance Number can be requested together with the online birth certificate using the Newborn Registration Service.
For more information about the Social Insurance Number, visit the Service Canada website..
By Janayna Sercheli