Social Insurance Numbers

Canada-P-Social Insurance Numbers

You must have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada, pay taxes, and access government features and benefits.

A SIN is 9 digits long: XXX XXX XXX.

Temporary residents and newcomers to Canada should apply for a SIN as soon as they arrive in Canada.

When you apply for a SIN you also receive a plastic SIN card. Service Canada is responsible for issuing SIN cards in Canada. You can apply for a SIN card by mail or in person at a Service Canada Center.

There is no fee to apply for a SIN.

To replace a lost SIN card you must pay $10 by cash, credit card, debit card, or cheque at a Service Canada Center.

If you don’t remember you SIN number, you can refer to your income tax return where your SIN number can be found.

You may be required to use or provide your SIN in the following instances:

  • Employment
  • Income tax information
  • Financial institutions
  • Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) benefits
  • Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
  • Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
  • Child tax benefits
  • Canada Student Loans
  • GST/HST tax claims
  • Social assistance benefits
  • Veterans benefits
  • Workers compensation benefits
  • Child support payments

Beginning in March 2014, plastic SIN cards will no longer be issued in Canada. Service Canada will still issue SINs, but they will be issued in a letter, rather than as a separate plastic card.

Required documents

Permanent Residents applying for a SIN must provide:

  1. A Permanent Resident Card issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    1. or a confirmation of Permanent Residence and visa counterfoil affixed to a foreign passport or travel document
    2. or a confirmation of Permanent Residence and foreign passport for visa exempt countries.

Temporary Residents applying for a SIN must provide:

  1. A work permit issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    1. or a study permit and a contract of employment from a learning institution or employer on campus where you are studying.

If the name on any of these documents is different from the name you currently used (e.g. maiden name/married name) you must also present an original supporting document in English or French, such as a marriage or divorce certificate, legal change-of-name certificate, adoption order, etc.

Applying by Mail

To apply by mail, send:

  1. Your completed application form
  2. Your required documents
  3. Payment (to replace lost cards only)

to:

Service Canada
Social Insurance Registration Office
PO Box 7000
Bathurst NB  E2A 4T1

If you send your SIN application by registered mail (at a Canada Post office or branch) Service Canada will return your documents and SIN card to you by registered mail.

If your SIN application fulfills the requirements, you will receive your SIN card by mail 20 days after Service Canada receives your application.

Applying in Person

To apply for a SIN in person, visit your local Service Canada center. To find your local Service Canada center use Service Canada’s locator service.

Bring with you:

  1. Your completed application form
  2. Your required documents
  3. Payment (to replace a lost card only)

If your application and documents are in order you will receive your SIN number on your first visit to a Service Canada center, and you will receive your SIN card within 10 business days.

Children

Children who are 12 years of age or older may apply for their own SIN. However, parents and legal guardians can also apply on behalf of a child under the age of majority (voting age) in their province.

As with other SIN applications, you may apply for a child’s SIN in person or by mail.

Parents applying for a SIN on their child’s behalf must present a completed application form, the required documents for their child (these are the same for adults and children), and their SIN or their required documents (see above).

In addition to these documents, legal guardians applying for a SIN on their child’s behalf must present an original or certified copy of a document that confirms their legal guardianship, issued by a provincial or territorial authority.

Identity Theft/Lost or Stolen SIN Cards

If your SIN card is lost or stolen you may become the victim of identity theft. You should review your bank statements, credit history, and monitor your mail for any disruption in delivery.

If you suspect your SIN card has been stolen you should report the theft to the police. When filing a police report, ask for a reference number, the officer’s name, and telephone number.

If you suspect your SIN is being fraudulently used contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center at 1-888-495-8501.

You can also visit a Service Canada Center to discuss getting a new SIN. You will be required to prove fraudulent activity to receive a new SIN.

You do not have to provide your SIN in the following situations:

  • Proving your identity (except for some government programs)
  • Completing a job application before you get the job
  • Completing an application to rent a property
  • Negotiating a lease with a landlord
  • Completing a credit card application
  • Cashing a cheque
  • Applying for any type of membership
  • Completing some bank transactions
  • Completing a medical questionnaire
  • Renting a car
  • Subscribing to telephone services
  • Writing a will
  • Applying to university or college
  • Filling in any forms online
  • Making purchases online or in person

By Jess Gerrow, who traded city life in Canada for island life in the Mediterranean two years ago. She is a postgraduate marketing student, blogger, and freelance writer.

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