Social Insurance Number (SIN)

Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine digit unique number assigned to individuals and is issued by Canadian Government. It is primarily used for financial, employment related transactions and tax reporting purposes under Section 237 of the Income Tax Act. If you are a temporary resident or a permanent one above the age of 12, a SIN is essential to work in Canada and to avail the benefits and services from Canadian Government.  Your SIN cannot be used by anyone else and has to be protected to the most.

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SIN For International Students

International students are eligible to apply for a SIN if they are planning to work in Canada.  Having said that, SIN alone is not enough for an international student, but they also need to be “eligible” to work in the country. The SIN can only be applied for after the student is present in Canada as they need to get the study permit at the airport or at the border Post that, they fill an application form (NAS-2120-(05-04), which can be downloaded from or obtained from International Student Centre Office (An application form is not required when you apply in-person application at a service Canada centre). Do note that there is no fee levied for applying for a SIN.

The SIN for international students, start with the number “9” (code for temporary residents/ foreign students etc),  which is an indication to the employers to make them aware that it belongs to a temporary resident in Canada. One can apply for a new SIN in case one becomes a permanent resident from a temporary one.  SINs which begin with 9 are usually different than the SINs that are issued for the permanent residents/Canadian citizens as they hold and expiration date which usually matches the date on the holders work permit. These SINs are deemed invalid unless there is an expiration date on the card or the date has not passed. 

What Does A Temporary Resident SIN Include

  • Unique nine digit number – SIN comprises a one-digit code (9) followed by an eight-digit serial number, making up a total of nine digits. The initial three digits are referred to as the header, and the final digit of the serial number serves as a check digit.
  • Your First name and last name.
  • Expiry Date (that matches the document issued to you by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada).

Sample image of a temporary SIN (source: Google)

How To Apply For A SIN

You have the option to obtain a SIN through online application, by mail or in person (via appointment) which involves submitting original and valid primary identification documents to authenticate both your identity and legal status in the country.

Online: Utilizing the online platform for your SIN application is a speedy and straightforward process. The eSIN portal provides a secure and safeguarded environment, allowing you to efficiently submit your SIN application and upload digital copies of your required documents.

You will receive a SIN by mail within 10 business days if the application is accepted. 

By mail: Opting for an alternative method, you have the option to send your filled-out SIN application form that is completed, dated and signed and all necessary documents by mail to the Social Insurance Registration Office. You will receive a SIN by mail within 20 business days if the application is accepted.

They can be mailed to:

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

Note: If you opt for submitting your application via mail, your documents will be returned to you by mail once the application process is finalized. It’s important to note that Service Canada cannot be held responsible for any documents that may be lost during the mailing process.

In Person: Service Canada might have a presence in your local area, conducting clinics at educational institutions or community organizations to issue SINs. To learn more, get in touch with the International Student Centre at your educational institution.

If applying online or attending a SIN clinic is not convenient for you, we recommend scheduling an appointment at a nearby Service Canada Centre and ensuring you bring all the required documents. Your SIN will be issued during your visit if all the necessary requirements are met.

Upon the successful processing of your application, Service Canada will furnish a paper confirmation containing your distinctive SIN. It is imperative to treat your SIN as confidential and take necessary measures to safeguard it. If you do not receive your SIN within the give n timeframe, you can reach out to the SIN program for more information. 

Students who are in the country on exchange programs can apply for an Individual Tax Number (ITN) for tax purposes, as they might not be eligible for SIN.

Documents Required For SIN Application (For Temporary Residents)

Primary Document: A primary identity document refers to an official document that serves as evidence of your identity and status in Canada.

It could be one of the following documents:

  • IRCC or CIC issued work permit.
  • IRCC or CIC issued study permit to indicate that the permit holder “may accept employment” or “may work” in Canada.
  • A visitor record issued by IRCC or CIC demonstrating your authorization to work in Canada.
  • A diplomatic identification card and a work authorization issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development.

Secondary Document:   A Secondary document is an authorized record that validates your identity. The secondary document should remain and must be in the form of a foreign passport and this document must include legal name (family name and given name) and your date of birth.

Acceptable examples of supplemental documents include:

  • Passport 
  • Canadian provincial or territorial ID card or driver’s license
  • Any other official ID issued by the Canadian government

Supporting Document: If the name on any provided document differs from the name on the SIN application, it is necessary to include an original and valid legal document that indicates the most recent name used.

When applying Online: It is required that you submit digital copies of your original document, which are clear, complete and legitimate in English or French. 

When applying By mail: Submit original and valid primary document and supporting documents (if required) which are clear, complete and legitimate in English or French, along with a completed, dated and signed SIN application form. 

When applying In Person: Submit Original and valid primary, secondary document and supporting documents (if required)which are clear, complete and legitimate in English or French, along with a completed, dated and signed SIN application form.

Note: In the event you furnish a document in a language other than English or French, kindly adhere to the following:

  • Provide an English or French translation of the document.
  • Include an attestation* or affidavit*, personally written and signed by the translator.
  • Should a certified translator* undertake the translation, please submit an attestation**.
  • For translations performed by non-certified translators, submit an affidavit***.

Any application that fails to be deemed complete, unsigned or do not provide original identity documents are not considered and the application will be rejected. 

How To Protect Your SIN

  • Place your SIN at a secured place and do not carry your SIN in your wallet or bags.
  • Do not use your SIN for validating your identification and share it only when it is required in a legal manner. 
  • Do not share your SIN over calls or emails unless you are doing it when it is required legally. 
  • Discard all the records where your SIN is mentioned if they are of no further use.

It is also required to note that: 

  • If you fail to recall your SIN, it can be found on your tax return, pay slips or can also be accessed by login into your My Service Canada account (MSCA), but it has to be confirmed by the Government via submitting a form. 
  • If you lose your SIN either by misplacing or it being stolen, Service Canada will not re-issue another one unless there is a proof of it being used fraudnetly.  There is a replacement fee of $10 charged for re-issue.
  • If you happen to find someone else’s SIN, you can return it to Service Canada Centre or mail it to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)

Validity Of Your SIN:

The validity of your SIN should match the document issued to you by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada which mentions your eligibility of work in the country. Once your SIN is expired (be it a card or a paper format), it is no longer valid and needs to be discarded in a secured manner.  

It’s important to note that the SIN is for legal employment purposes, and it should be kept confidential. Be cautious about sharing your SIN and only provide it to authorized entities.

For the most up-to-date information and detailed instructions, you should check the official website of Service Canada or contact them directly.