Did you know that Canada welcomed 184,000 new immigrants in 2020?
As a newcomer, there are a lot of things on your mind. Acclimating to the cold weather in Canada during the winter, building a community you can feel connected to and learning about the country you’ll be living in. You also need to think about bank accounts, new jobs, credit cards, schools and places to live. Be sure to refer to the link in the bottom of this article for more information on the best ways to navigate all of those areas.
To access all these and more, you need to make sure you have a Social Insurance Number. You may hear it being called a “SIN Number”. While the second “number” is redundant, it’s still the social norm to call it a “SIN Number”.
Forms and applications can seem overwhelming especially in a new country. We’re here to help you tackle the application process and renewals of a temporary SIN Number. We'll even show you how to report and replace a lost one.
What Is a Social Insurance Number (SIN)?
The SIN is a 9-digit number that you need to be able to work in Canada or access any of the government programs and benefits. You get issued a single unique SIN Number and it can’t be legally used by anyone else but you.
Remember that the SIN number is something that needs to be secure and protected. You’re responsible for protecting your SIN.
One thing you should note is that Service Canada is no longer issuing plastic cards for SIN Numbers. SIN Cards that are not expired are still valid, so you might see some people with plastic SIN Cards. You will receive your SIN Numbers in paper format.
Why Do I Need a SIN Number?
You’ll need your SIN Number if you want to work in Canada or access any of the benefits and services from the government. You also need a SIN Number to file your Canadian taxes.
Remember to protect your SIN Number. Make sure you check why the particular individual or business needs your SIN Number before providing it. You will need to provide your SIN Number to your employer, and for accessing certain government programs like Employment Insurance, Canada Student Loan Program and Canada Pension Plan.
There are many other situations that you have to exercise your judgment about whether a SIN Number is needed and whether you should provide it.
You don’t need to give your SIN when you are applying for a rental home, getting a cellphone plan or renting a car. As a newcomer, you want to make sure to understand your rights and responsibilities as a renter.
Who Is Eligible for a SIN Number?
There are certain eligibility criteria that you need to be aware of before you can apply for your SIN Number. If can apply for a SIN Number if you are:
- A Canadian citizen
- A permanent resident
- Some temporary residents
- Some refugee claimants
Temporary residents and refugee claimants will get a SIN Number starting with a 9. These SIN Numbers have an expiration date.
Children over the age of 12 can apply for their own unique SIN Number. For any child under the age of 12, the parent or legal guardian can apply for a SIN Number on the child’s behalf.
SIN Number Application - How to Apply for a SIN Number
By following these steps you’ll have your SIN Number in no time. There is no fee to apply for a SIN Number.
The first thing you need to do is gather all the documents that you’ll need for the application. You don’t want to have your application rejected because you didn’t provide the correct information. Make sure that you have your original documents for your application. You cannot use photocopies.
Depending on the method of application, you will need a primary identity document. For Canadian citizens, this means a birth certificate or certificate of Canadian citizenship. A permanent resident in Canada must show a permanent resident card, certificate of permanent residence, record of landing or verification of landing.
You may also need secondary documents to show proof of identity. Secondary documents include a Canadian or foreign passport or a driver's license.
If your name on your SIN application is different from your primary and secondary documents, you need to provide supporting documents such as:
- Certificate of marriage, a record of solemnization of marriage or marriage statement
- Divorce decree or certificate of divorce
- Legal change of name certificate
- Adoption order
- Notarial certificate
- Request to amend a record of landing
Once you have the original documents, you can choose whether you want to apply online, by mail or in person. Remember that many settlement agencies can help you apply for your SIN.
If you choose to apply online, you need digital copies of the original documents. Make sure the digital copies are clear and legible. Failure to provide clear documents can lead to your application being rejected.
If you’re applying for yourself, you need to provide:
- A digital copy of a primary identity document
- A digital copy of a secondary document
- A digital copy of a proof of address
- A digital copy of a supporting document (if your name has changed)
Use this information to apply online. A proof of address document must be issued by the government, a company, a landlord or an employer and be a document or an attestation letter signed by the issuer. An envelope is not enough proof of address.
If you’re applying as a legal guardian or legal representative, you need to also provide primary and secondary identity documents for the legal guardian, parent or legal representative. You also need to show proof that confirms legal guardianship issued by a province or territory.
If you want your SIN Number mailed to another address than the one on your proof of identity documents, you’ll need to apply by mail.
Apply by Mail
You can also apply for your SIN Number by mail. You will need to mail the original valid primary identity document and completed SIN Application Form. Remember photocopies will not be accepted.
If you can’t access or print the application form, you can order a new form by phone at 1-866-274-6627 (toll-free number). If you’re outside Canada, use 1-506-548-7961. Remember that you will have to pay long-distance charges when you call from outside Canada.
Mail the completed application form and original documents to:
Social Insurance Registration Office
P.O. Box 7000
Bathurst, NB E2A 4T1
Remember to sign the application. An incomplete, unsigned form that is missing original identity documents will not be accepted. If all the information is complete, you’ll get your SIN Number in the mail within 20 business days.
If you’re applying in person, you don’t need to complete the SIN Application form. All you need to do is show the original primary identity document and original secondary document. You can book an appointment for your local Service Canada centre online.
If everything is in order, you will get your SIN Number during your visit. You will not have to leave your original documents with the Service Canada office.
How Do I Apply for a Temporary Social Insurance Number (SIN)?
But first, who is a temporary SIN Number for? A temporary resident is a foreign national who is legally authorized to enter Canada temporarily. This can mean coming in as a visitor, student, worker or temporary resident permit holder.
For a temporary SIN Number, you can use the following as proof of identity:
- Work permit issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) (previously known as Citizen and Immigration Canada (CIC))
- Study permit issued by IRCC or CIC
- Visitor record issued by IRCC or CIC
- Diplomatic identity card and a work authorization issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.
You can apply online, by mail or in person. The steps for applying are the same as applying for a new SIN Number. All you need to remember is that the documents that you will be using to prove your identity will be different.
How to Renew Your SIN Number
A temporary SIN Number starts with the number “9”. They are issued to temporary workers who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents. These SIN Numbers are temporary and have an expiry date indicated on the immigration document authorizing them to work.
When you apply for a renewal of your work or study permit with IRCC, you can continue working or studying in Canada until your application for renewal is complete, as long as you remain in Canada. In such a case, you will have an “implied status” until IRCC makes a decision.
As soon as IRCC makes a decision, you must apply to update your SIN record with your new immigration documents. You need to ensure that the SIN record has been updated to match your documents from IRCC. Once you update your SIN records, you will get a SIN with a new expiry date. Your previous SIN will no longer be valid and you will need to make sure it's destroyed.
You can apply online, by mail or in person. The steps for applying are the same as applying for a new SIN Number.
Since there are no plastic SIN Cards anymore, there’s less chance of losing your SIN Number. If your confirmation of SIN Number was lost or stolen, Service Canada will not issue a new SIN. If you don’t remember your SIN, you can find it on your income tax return or request another confirmation from Service Canada.
If you have proof that your SIN Number was used fraudulently, then you can contact Service Canada who will determine whether they will issue a new SIN.
SIN Number FAQ's
More About Government Services, and Even More Financial Advice
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, you'll want to check out our piece on the Newcomer's Checklist. It's a wealth of information on all of the important aspects of life which need to be considered when you settle in Canada. Here at Insurdinary, we are committed to providing you with all of the financial information required to set up your new life. From the best credit cards, banks accounts, loans and of course insurance, we are here for you. Reach out to our team, and don't forget to visit our blog for great tips on all things financial.