Social Insurance Number (SIN)

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a unique nine-digit number issued to a single person.

If you are a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a temporary resident, you need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada or to receive benefits and services from government programs.

What You Need Before You Apply

  • All documents must be original. Photocopies are not accepted.
  • If you submit a document that is not in English or French, you must also submit an English or French translation of the document and attestation or affidavit written and signed by the translator.
  • Children who are 12 years of age or older may apply for their own SIN. Parents or legal guardians can apply on behalf of children who are under the age of majority.

To apply for a SIN, you must provide a valid primary document that proves your identity and legal status in Canada.

If the name indicated on your primary document is different from the name you are currently using, you must also provide supporting documents.

If you are applying for someone else, you may need to provide additional documents.

Permanent Residents

Permanent residents must provide one of the following documents issued by the Canadian immigration authority:

  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence
  • Record of Landing if you arrived before June 28, 2002

The Confirmation of Permanent Residence must be accompanied by either a travel document or an alternate photo identification issued by the provincial authority (for example, a driver’s licence), and is only acceptable within one year of the date you became a permanent resident. The permanent resident card is required after this period.

Temporary Residents

Temporary residents must provide one of the following documents issued by the Canadian immigration authority:

  • Work permit
  • Study permit indicating that you are authorized to work in Canada
  • Visitor record indicating you are authorized to work in Canada

Supporting Documents

A supporting document is a legal document indicating the name you currently use. It is required if the name on your primary document is different.

If this is the case, in addition to your primary document, you will need to provide one of the following:

  • Certificate of marriage or a similarly titled document to support your family name after marriage.
  • Divorce decree or a similar document.
  • Legal change of name certificate or court order document issued in accordance with provincial name change legislation.

Other supporting documents may apply, depending on the specific situation.

How To Apply

Applying In Person

There is no fee to apply for a SIN, and you can apply in person. Simply gather all the required original documents and take them to the nearest Service Canada office.

If everything is in order, you will get your SIN during your visit and you will not need to part with your documents.

Applying by Mail

You can apply by mail if you live 100 km or more from the nearest Service Canada office or have limitations that prevent you from accessing a Service Canada office.

If you are mailing in your SIN application package, it is a good idea to send it by registered mail.

If you need to apply by mail, follow these steps:

  1. Call 1-800-206-7218 and select option ‘3’; to determine if you are eligible to apply by mail
  2. Download, fill out and print the SIN application form
  3. Send your completed application and original documents to:
    • Service Canada
      Social Insurance Registration Office
      PO Box 7000
      Bathurst, NB E2A 4T1

Uses of the Social Insurance Number

  • A SIN can legally be used only by the person to whom it is issued and nobody else.
  • Your SIN is confidential and you are responsible for protecting it from inappropriate use, fraud, and theft. Store any documents indicating your SIN in a safe place.

Provide your SIN:

  • After being hired by your employer
  • When completing your income tax information
  • When opening an account from which you earn interest at a financial institution such as a bank or credit union
  • When accessing government programs and benefits (e.g.: Canada Pension Plan benefits, Employment Insurance benefits, Canada Child Benefit, Canada Student Loans, GST/HST claims, etc.)

Some businesses may ask you for your SIN. This is strongly discouraged, but it is not illegal.

Some examples of when you do not have to provide your SIN:

If you are asked for your SIN when it is not legally required, you can inquire why it is being requested, how it will be used and with whom it will be shared. If you are not satisfied with the organization’s response, you are entitled to file a complaint with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Related Resources

Service Canada Centres in NL