Social Insurance Number-Canada
- Get a Social Insurance Number (SIN) as soon as possible after taking up residence in Canada.
Why you need an SIN
- You will need an SIN to work in Canada, to complete an income tax return, and to benefit from government programs.
How to apply
- To apply for an SIN, go to your nearest Service Canada Centre (listed in the blue pages of your telephone book or on this website).
- Note that it is possible if you are already a Canadian citizen, to apply for a SIN while living outside of Canada by mail. This involves completing a PDF and sending original 'proof' documents specified to Canada. See here. However, it may be 'safer' for your original documents to just apply in person at Services Canada when you arrive.
- Permanent residents need to provide the original copy of their Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292) with photo ID if applying within a year of becoming a PR. After this point, a PR card is required.
- Temporary residents need to show their study or work permit.
- If the name you are using to apply for your SIN card is different from the one listed on your supporting document, you must also provide a marriage certificate or a change of name document.
Meaning of the First Digit
- The first digit of the SIN usually indicates the province/territory where it was first issued
- "1" is allocated to the Atlantic Provinces, "2" and "3" to Quebec, "4" and "5" to Ontario, "6" to the Prairie Provinces, and "7" to the West (B.C. and Yukon).
- If you move elsewhere in Canada you retain your initial SIN.
SIN beginning with "9" - Temporary Residents
- If you are not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident your SIN will begin with "9" and will have an expiry date linked to your status in Canada
- This will indicate to an employer that you need specific permission to work in Canada.
- Banks and credit providers will generally be more reluctant to extend credit to those whose SIN begins with "9" (but see below)
- If you extend your temporary status in Canada, you may obtain a new SIN card with a new expiry date. The number will remain the same.
- Even if you are a temporary resident, if you previously had a SIN beginning with a number other than "9" you may still use it. For example, if you are a former permanent resident, former Canadian citizen or a former temporary resident who was issued with a full-validity SIN before the existing rules were introduced.
- A non-resident may be given a tax identification number if they have Canadian source income. These numbers are similar to Social Insurance Numbers but begin with a "0".
- A SIN card where the first digit begins with 9 that does not have an expiry date is no longer valid. You will need to re-apply for a SIN card. It will have the same number.
- If you switch status from temporary to permanent resident (or in the small number of cases where you become a Canadian citizen directly from temporary residence), you will need to apply for a new "permanent" Social Insurance Number where the first digit will be from 1 to 7.
- Note that you are required to give your SIN to people or organizations that give you taxable income, or to government departments. E.g. banks (if you have funds on deposit), employers, investment trusts etc. The Canadian Government recommends that, as a precaution against identity theft, you do not give your SIN to organizations that do not have a legitimate need, such as credit reference agencies, loan companies and so on.
How long does it take?
- If your documents are in order, you will receive a Social Insurance Number during your visit to a Service Canada Centre.
- Service Canada no longer issues actual SIN "cards" as of 31 March 2014. New applicants will simply receive a paper based letter/print-out with their number on it. Existing SIN cards remain valid.
SINs for children
- Young children ordinarily do not require Social Insurance Numbers.
- However, there are some situations in which your child may need a SIN, for example, if you invest in a Registered Education Savings Plan(RESP) on behalf of your child.
- Service Canada’s Newborn Registration Service is an integrated birth registration and SIN application process. This service is available in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Québec, and Newfoundland and Labrador.Newborn Registration Service
- In other provinces, you can apply for your newborn's SIN at a Service Canada Centre or by mail.
- It is only possible to apply by mail in certain circumstances, such as living in a remote area with no Service Canada office
- There is no fee for applying for a Social Insurance card.
More stuff to do
To find out the other things that you need to do after arriving in Canada, please see the BE Wiki article entitled Arrival To Do List.