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Canadian SIN Number Application Guide for Newcomers

Learn how to get started with your SIN number application in this article.

The social insurance number (SIN) is a powerful 9-digit number that you will need in Canada. In this article, we will guide you on how to start your SIN number application, how to check your SIN application status, the phone numbers to call if you want to, and what to do if you mistakenly lose your SIN. We will also cover how to renew your SIN number if it expires.

What is a SIN number?

Your Canadian Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a 9-digit number that the Canadian government gives to each person. You need it to be able to legally work in Canada and also have access to Canadian government programs and benefits.

Each SIN number is unique. Nobody can use your SIN number (not even your spouse or child). You also won’t be able to use another person’s SIN number. This is why it’s very important to get your SIN number and also know how to safeguard it properly which we’ll also cover in this article.

SIN numbers are now issued in paper format by Service Canada. The name of the paper is your “confirmation of SIN letter.”

The government used to give plastic SIN cards but they’ve stopped it. If you were given a plastic card and it hasn’t expired, you can keep using it till it does. Then you apply for a renewal and get your renewed SIN in paper format.

What does it mean when your SIN begins with “9”?

SINs that begin with the number “9” are issued to any person who is not in Canada when they applied for the number. This includes those who are not Canadian citizens and those who have not been granted permanent residency.

SINs that start with 9 are usually SIN numbers for students, SIN numbers for temporary workers, etc.

Who can get a Social Insurance Number?

If you’re going to Canada, then you need to get a social insurance number. Those that need a SIN also includes:

  • Canadian citizens
  • Permanent residents
  • Some temporary residents (visitors, students, etc.)
  • Some refugee claimants and
  • Children who are 12 years of age or older

What you can do with your SIN number?

Anyone that wants to study, live and work in Canada needs to apply for a SIN number. With your SIN number, you will be able to:

  • Work and earn money in Canada
  • Enjoy student aids
  • Reap the harvest from your investments
  • Contribute to retirement and pension plans
  • Use government services like social assistance, veterans benefits, workers compensation benefits, etc.

So if you will be migrating to Canada, we advise that you start your SIN number application as soon as possible.

The law in Canada says that you can be asked to present your SIN at any time so start now so that you will have it when you need it.

5 Places to Find your SIN Number After Registration

This is for those that have already been issued their SIN number before. If you ever need to quickly find out what it is, there are a few easy ways to find it. You can find your SIN number:

  1. on your record of employment
  2. on your income tax return
  3. your tax slips (T4s)
  4. on your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contribution, or
  5. or you can request your SIN from your employer

Three ways to Apply for your SIN Number Application

There are three ways to apply for the SIN number. You can either apply:

  1. Online
  2. By mail and
  3. In-person

#1: Online SIN number application

Service Canada has a dedicated page for receiving SIN number online applications. The page looks like this:

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Under the application type, make sure to choose the First Social Insurance Number (SIN) and then fill out the rest of the application.

#2: SIN number application by mail

To apply by mail you need to first download the SIN number application form and fill it out. Then you gather all the required documents (they must be original), put everything in a big enough envelope with your filled SIN number form. Send the parcel to the Service Canada mailing address:

Service Canada
Social Insurance Registration Office
PO Box 7000
Bathurst NB E2A 4T1
Canada

Never worry about your original documents. They’ll be sent back to you via return mail after the verification process is completed.

#3 In-person SIN number application

Since some people are not comfortable applying online, you have an option to apply in person. You’ll have to book an appointment and visit a Service Canada Center.

One big advantage of applying in person is that you will get your SIN number before you leave. You also won’t have to part with your original documents.

Documents you will need to apply for a SIN Number

To apply for your SIN number online, by mail or in person, you’ll need the original copies of these documents. If you’re applying online, then you need to scan the documents to be very clear and legible.

The documents you’ll need will depend on your status in Canada (that is if you’re a citizen, a permanent resident or a temporary resident) and who you’re applying for.

How to apply for a SIN Number Expiry Extension or Amend your SIN Record?

If you’re not a citizen or a permanent resident, it’s likely your SIN number will have an expiry date. This is always the case for temporary residents or foreign students. Your SIN number may then end with the number 9.

So if your SIN number expires, you can edit your record or apply for an extension online, by mail or in person.

How to renew your SIN Number or Amend your SIN Record online

Service Canada has this dedicated page for receiving SIN number online renewal and update applications. Just pay attention to the application types.

Under the application type, make sure to choose the Change of Expiry Date (900 series SIN) option and then fill out the rest of the application.

Track/check SIN Number Status

Sometimes getting your SIN will take longer than usual and you may want to reach out to Service Canada to know what is going on.

You can contact Service Canada about your SIN number application in three main ways: by phone, by mail or in person.

Check SIN application status by phone:

If you are in Canada use the phone numbers below:
Canada Toll-free: 1-866-274-6627
Canada TTY: 1-800-926-9105
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. local time
Closed statutory holidays.

If you are outside Canada:
Outside Canada: 1-506-548-7961 (long-distance charges apply)
TTY: 1-800-926-9105
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Atlantic time
Closed statutory holidays.

Check SIN application status by mail:

To check your SIN number application status or request any information from Service Canada, simply send a mail to this mailing address:
Mailing address:

Service Canada
Social Insurance Registration Office
PO Box 7000
Bathurst, New Brunswick
E2A 4T1
Canada

Check SIN application status in person:

To enquire in person or get general information about your SIN application, you need to visit a Service Canada Office.

Doing this in person, you must go with a government-issued identification document and an original proof of identity document.

Top 8 Ways to Protect your SIN Number

Since the SIN number is provided on paper (the confirmation of SIN letter) it is easy to lose it. It can also be easily destroyed by water. Here are the top eight ways to protect your SIN letter:

  1. If you still use the SIN card, keep it in a safe place at home
  2. Don’t use your SIN as a means of identification
  3. Only release your SIN only when it is legally required
  4. Never disclose your SIN over the phone unless you’re sure beyond doubt that it’s legally required
  5. Never reveal personal information like your SIN over email
  6. Destroy paper records with your SIN number once you no longer need them (do not recycle)
  7. Always contact Service Canada if you change your name, your citizenship status, or information on your SIN record
  8. Take immediate action if you suspect someone is using it fraudulently using your SIN

What if you lose your sin number

If you lose your confirmation of SIN letter, you can easily get your SIN number from your income tax return or you can ask your employer to give you your SIN number. Alternatively, you can apply to Service Canada for another Confirmation of SIN. online, by mail or in person just as we explained above.

If you’re applying online, make sure to change the application type to “Confirmation of SIN.”