What is Social Insurance Number SIN

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number issued by Service Canada which individuals must obtain if they want to work legally and receive social benefits from the Canadian government. Every year, more than 1.3 million people in Canada apply for a SIN. In its functions, it is similar to the US Social Security Number.

In general, you are entitled to SIN if you are a Canadian citizen over 12 years old, and a permanent or temporary resident in the country. With temporary residents, the digit number always commences with 9, and the card includes an expiry date; so, it has to be renewed periodically.

You can apply for SIN at the nearest Service Canada Centre, where you have to submit a number of primary documents depending on your legal status. For example, if you are a temporary resident, you must provide the following documents: a Canadian work permit/ study permit and Visitor record from Citizenship and Immigration Canada; a Diplomatic Identity Card and a note of permission of employment issued by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. You can also send the documents by mail to the Central Office of Service Canada in Bathurst, New Brunswick. The SIN number is obtained the very same day and the card is ready in 10 business days. The service is free of charge but in the case of lost card, there is a $10 fee for the replacement card.

Remember you cannot start working in Canada unless you have obtained your SIN. In order to obtain a working place in Canada, regardless of whether the workload is full-time or part-time, it is mandatory to provide your SIN upon appointment or no later than three days after it.

Once you receive your SIN, you are entitled to participation in the Canada Pension Plan which guarantees that you will receive pension benefits in the years after retirement. The SIN is also required in order to participate and receive benefits from government plans such as Old Age Security, Employment Insurance benefits, Canada Education Saving Grants, Canada Students Loans, child-support payments ,etc.

Moreover, the possession of SIN allows you to take advantage of unemployment benefits in case you have been laid off, disabled in a work accident or had to take maternity leave or compassionate care leave.

You need SIN for tax purposes as well. As a Canadian citizen or resident, you are required to pay taxes which means that you will have to possess and present on demand a legitimate SIN.

When you obtain SIN, it is your exclusive responsibility to protect it. To avoid frauds, do not disclose it to other persons unless you are sure it is legally required. Do not use your SIN as a general purpose identifier, and whenever it is requested by a company or an individual, ask for the legal grounds of the request. Think twice before you give out your SIN to people other than government officials, your employer or your bank. Also, be particularly wary of non-native speakers who call you on the phone and introduce themselves as representatives of government organizations. Remember that every SIN card owner has the right to refuse sharing information and may file a complaint if there is a suspicion of abuse. A stolen SIN card could bring serious negative effects, such as credit card and bank account fraud, with the SIN owner being held responsible for those actions by the authorities.

If you suspect illegal operations with your SIN, or if it gets lost or stolen, call at service Canada to annul it.