What is a Social Insurance Number SIN?
In Canada, the Social Insurance Number SIN is a 9 digit number that is assigned to you in order to access government programs and benefits. Here’s how to apply for your SIN.
SINs are assigned to Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents, as well as foreign nationals under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
If you are in Canada as an Overseas Filipino Worker OFW under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program TFWP, you will be assigned a special SIN.
Visitors to Canada are NOT issued SINs.
A SIN is assigned to you and cannot be transferred to another person. You will be responsible for keeping your SIN secure. Keep any documentation pertaining to your SIN in a secure place. It is not recommended that you keep your SIN on you, only bring it when necessary.
Service Canada is no longer issuing plastic SIN cards. New SIN documents (such as the confirmation of SIN letter) are provided in paper format.
If you have just recently given birth in Canada, you may apply for a new SIN for your child using the Newborn Registration Service.
Canadian employers have responsibilities in regards to keeping your SIN information safe. If you have any questions, speak with your employer.
Who is eligible to apply for an SIN?
Canadian citizens, Permanent Residents and some temporary residents are required to apply for an SIN in order to work in Canada and to receive benefits and services from the federal and provincial governments.
Children ages 12 years old and older are eligible to apply for their own SIN.
Parents and legal guardians can apply for children under the age of majority, as well as adults in their care.
If you would like to apply for your very first SIN, or request for a confirmation of your SIN, or make changes to your SIN, you have to provide a valid primary document which shows your identity and immigration status in Canada.
Primary documents are official documents that proves who you are and what your immigration status is here in Canada.
If you are a Canadian citizen, you must provide an original copy of your Certificate of Birth or Birth Certificate issued by the vital statistics agency in the province or territory of your birth.
Take note that some birth certificates previously issued by provincial or territorial agencies may no longer be considered a valid by Service Canada, including Quebec proof of birth documents issued before 1994.
Canadian citizens may also submit original copies of their Certificate of Canadian Citizenship and Certificate of Registration of Birth Abroad issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada IRCC.
If you are a Permanent Resident, you must submit one of the following documents: Permanent Residency card issued by IRCC, Confirmation of Permanent Residence issued by IRCC within one year after first arriving in Canada (must be accompanied by valid travel document such as a foreign passport or another piece of photo ID such as a Canadian driver’s license), Record of Landing issued by IRCC if you arrived before June 28, 2002, Verification of Landing issued by IRCC (when Record of Landing or Confirmation of Permanent Residence is not available, can only be presented when amending an existing SIN or obtaining a confirmation of an existing SIN), or Status of Verification or Verification of Status issued by IRCC issued by IRCC (can only be presented when amending an existing SIN or obtaining a confirmation of an existing SIN).
If you are a Temporary Resident (such as an OFW), you must submit one of the following documents: Work Permit issued by IRCC, Study Permit issued by IRCC (which indicates that you are authorized to work in Canada), a Visitor Record issued by IRCC (stating that you are authorized to work in Canada), Diplomatic Identity Card or a Work Authorization issued by Global Affairs Canada. Temporary Residents are issued special SINs that start with the number 9.
If the name on your valid primary document is different from your currently used name, you will be asked to provide supporting documents.
When applying for an SIN, you may also be asked to submit supporting documents. Supporting documents are legal documents that show the name that you are presently using and will be required if the name on your valid primary document is different.
In addition to your valid primary document, you may need to submit an original copy of one of the following supporting documents: Certificate of Marriage, Record of Solemnization, marriage statement to support a change of name after marriage (residents of Quebec do not need to present this document if married after April 1, 1981), or Divorce Decree, Certificate of Divorce or Decree Absolute issued by a Canadian court supporting a change of family name, or Legal Change of Name Certificate or Court Order document issued according to provincial name change laws, or an Adoption Order certified by a Canadian court, or a Notarial Certificate, Notarial Adoption Certificate issued by an adopted child’s country of origin, or a Request to Amend Record of Landing issued by IRCC when amending a Record of Landing or Confirmation of Permanent Residence.
If someone is applying for your SIN on your behalf, they may be asked to provide additional documents.
When applying for your SIN, you will be asked to provide original documents (no photocopies allowed).
If your documents are not in English nor French, you may be asked to translate these documents. These translations must be accompanied by an attestation or affidavit signed by the certified translator. You may not have these documents translated by a family member or relative.
You can choose not to declare your gender when applying for a SIN.
If you are applying for your child or a minor under your legal guardianship, you may be asked to submit additional documents.
Parents must submit their child’s valid primary document and their SIN when applying at a Service Canada branch.
If you are submitting your child’s application for a SIN by mail, you will have to submit a valid primary document to prove your identity.
If you have legal guardianship of a minor applying for a SIN, you will need to submit an original or certified true copy of a document from the provincial or territorial authority that confirms your legal guardianship.
If you are applying at a Service Canada branch, legal guardians must provide their own SIN.
If you are applying by mail, legal guardians have to submit a valid primary document to prove their identity.
Legal representatives, including court appointed lawyers and provincial or territorial employees can apply on behalf of children or adults. Legal representatives must submit a valid primary document from the person who is applying for an SIN as well as their own valid photo ID, and a document confirming their legal representation, and a Letter of Authorization issued by the agency’s hear issued to provincial or territorial employees acting as legal representatives.
How to apply for a SIN
You can apply for a SIN in person by going to a Service Canada office.
If your documents are complete, you will receive your SIN at the end of your visit.
If you require special accommodation, inform Service Canada representatives prior to your visit.
Some individuals may apply for their SIN by mail. If you live more than 100 kms from a Service Canada office, or in an area that is not readily accessible by the local postal service, you may be able to apply by mail.
If you have other circumstances that prevent you from visiting a Service Canada office, you must call Service Canada to determine if you can apply by mail.
Under certain circumstances, individual may apply for their SIN by mail if they are outside of Canada.
If you are applying by mail, you will have to submit a completed SIN application form as well as all the original documents to:
Social Insurance Registration Office
PO Box 7000
Bathurst, New Brunswick E2A 4T1
Service Canada recommends using registered mail which provides a tracking number. Service Canada will not responsible for any documents lost in the mail.
If your application is complete, you will receive your SIN within 20 business days from the date the application was received.
Contact Service Canada if you have not received your SIN within 25 days.
What happens after you receive your SIN?
After you receive your SIN, Service Canada will store the information you provided in the Social Insurance Registry. This will include your name, birthday, place of birth as well as your parents’ names. The Social Insurance Registry also keeps record of dates of death.
It is very important that you ensure that your SIN is kept secure at all times. Your SIN is confidential and is not meant to be used as a piece of identification. Protect your SIN, and report any incidents of fraudulent use to Service Canada immediately.
If you need to update any information associated to your SIN, such as a legal change of name or gender designation, you will have to provide Service Canada with original documents including a valid primary document and a supporting document.
After receiving your new SIN record, destroy all previous copies of your old Confirmation of SIN letter or SIN card.
You do NOT have to inform Service Canada if you move or change your mailing address (unless you are waiting to receive your Confirmation of SIN letter).
If your SIN has been lost or stolen, you will not be issued a new SIN. If you can provide proof that your SIN was used fraudulently, Service Canada may issue you a new SIN.
If a family member dies in one of the territories or outside of Canada, you must inform Service Canada immediately to reduce the risk of fraud. If the death occurred in a province, you do NOT have to notify Service Canada.
You can request for a Confirmation of SIN by visiting a Service Canada branch (bring all of your original valid primary documents as well as supporting documents).
If you are a legal representative, lawyer, trustee or an individual granted the power of attorney, or if you have been given consent by the individual, then you can also request SIN information for another person at Service Canada.
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