Social Insurance Number (SIN)
What is a SIN?
To work in Canada you must have a Social Insurance Number (SIN). The SIN number is a unique 9-digit number given to each individual. You must have this number to work in Canada and to have access to government programs and benefits.
This number is for you only so make sure it is protected! it cannot be used by anyone other than the person it is issued to and it is the responsibility of the person to keep the SIN number private so no one else steals it.
In the past your SIN number was always issued as a plastic card, but now it it usually on a paper (confirmation of SIN number).
Who can get a SIN?
A SIN number can be applied not only to Canadian citizens or permanent residents, but also to Temporary Residents holding a Study Permit or Work Permit.
Student visa holders are eligible for a SIN number only if the conditions of the visa say that they are allowed to work. And there are usually specific working rules tmwhen it comes to international students.
The SIN number cannot be issued to minors (under 18), early international students, or adult language trainees who are unable to work legally.
How can I get a SIN number?
You can apply by for a SIN number online, by mail, or in person. There is no fee to apply!
Canadian citizens and residents can apply for a SIN number automatically but international citizens will need to have visas first. This is explained below.
To apply by mail send your completed application form and original documents (photocopies are not accepted) to:
Social Insurance Registration Office
PO Box 7000
Bathurst NB E2A 4T1
To apply in person please visit any Service Canada branch. They are open Monday-Friday from 8:30am--4pm. Try and get there early as you may have to wait a while in line if you don't. If you want to book an appointment so you don't have to wait there as long, then visit this page.
If you're an international citizen who has a visa that allows you to work in Canada, you can obtain a SIN number immediately upon arrival at a Canadian airport. If you apply for a visa before you enter Canada you will receive your student visa or work permit at the airport immigration office. You can then go to Service Canada (at the airport or elsewhere) to get your SIN number.
If you do not receive it at the airport, you can get it anytime by visiting a Service Canada branch with the required documents. If there is no Service Canada branch within 100 km of your residence, you can apply by mail. You can search for branches near your current address by entering your postal code here .
If you are from another country and you have never worked in Canada, you must visit a Service Canada centre to apply for a new SIN letter!
When will I use a SIN number?
It is not common for someone to ask you for a SIN number. You will need to give your SIN number only if:
- You are hired at a job (you must submit your SIN number to your employer)
- open a bank account that earns you interest
- Apply for a tax refund
- Receive a grant or pension from the Canadian government
Do not give your SIN number to anyone else! Other than the reasons above, there is no reason to give out your SIN number.
Since only one unique SIN number is given to each individual, it is impossible to reissue a new number. If you lose your SIN number, you can find it yourself in your records such as your Income Tax Return (T4).
Again, if you are from another country and you have never worked in Canada, you must visit Service Canada to apply for a new SIN letter.
If your SIN number starts with “9”, you are a temporary resident. This means that your SIN number will have an expiry date. The SIN number will not automatically renew (even if a visa extension is successful) so you must go to a Service Canada branch to renew the SIN number.