Social Insurance Number

Social Insurance Number (SIN)

Every person needs a 9-digit Social Insurance Number (SIN) in order to work or use certain government services in Canada. There is no fee to apply for a SIN.

Who can get a SIN?

If you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, you are entitled to receive a SIN. This number – under certain circumstances – could also be issued for those who are in Canada temporarily. If you do not have a SIN then you cannot be legally hired by employers. All employers ask for your SIN before employment. If your visa does not qualify you for a SIN, then you are not able to work in Canada (i.e. any type of work such as full-time, part-time, contract, temporary, and casual).

Children who are 12 years or older may directly apply for SIN. Parents or guardians of children under 12 may apply for SIN on their behalf. A SIN is mandatory in order to receive a government grant under the RESP program. There are also other government services that require a SIN. The sooner you get a SIN for your children, the better.

Parents can use the Newborn Registration Service to complete their child’s Birth Registration and apply for their newborn’s SIN.

SINs that begin with the number “9” are issued to temporary workers who are not Canadian citizens nor permanent residents. The use of these SINs is temporary and they’re valid only until the expiry date on the immigration document that authorizes them to work in Canada.

Who issues a SIN?

Service Canada is a federal government organization that issues SIN. You may refer to any Service Canada Centre to request a Social Insurance Number. They usually issue the number immediately and then send you the SIN card within a few weeks. You do not need the card to start working; knowing the number is good enough. Visit the “Service Canada” website for more information about SINs.

Protect your SIN

Every person in Canada owns a unique SIN. In other words, every SIN belongs to one person only and you cannot share your SIN with others. Since your SIN is part of your identity, it is important to protect it. Share your SIN only with those you trust. I strongly recommend not to carry your SIN card or documents with you. In case of theft, a SIN is the best tool for scammers to access your identity and commit identity theft. If somebody manages to access your identity, they may empty your bank accounts, abuse your credit cards, get loans on your behalf and even get you into serious trouble with criminal accusations.

Service Canada is now giving people their SIN in paper format (confirmation of SIN letter). The plastic SIN card is no longer being issued, however, SIN cards that are not expired and still in circulation can be used.

What happens if you lose your SIN?

If you lose your SIN card or confirmation letter, Service Canada will not replace the Social Insurance Number. Instead, they will reissue a confirmation letter. The only time they will give you a new number, is if you can prove that your SIN was stolen or being used in identity theft.

If you wish to visit or move to Canada, please fill out our free assessment form. We will review the form for free, but we will contact you only if we find an opportunity for you. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session. Consultation sessions are not free, but you will receive formal advice from a licensed practitioner.

Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada


This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not give legal advice. Do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. We cannot be held responsible for the content of these articles. If you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. If you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment. All the characters in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Any resemblance in names, dates, and places (whether individuals, organizations, regions, or countries) is coincidental.

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Al Parsai

Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (class L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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