Obtaining your Social Insurance Number, or SIN, is one of the very first steps you will need to take when arriving in Canada, whether you are on a Work Permit, on a Study Permit with the intention to work on campus, or on Permanent Residence.
This number is your social ID: you need to provide it to your employer in order to get your salary. You will also have to use it in your communications with the Government, to pay your income tax and to receive social benefits, such as maternity or parental insurance, or unemployment insurance. It is required that you and your children have a SIN if you want to open Registered Savings Plans, to prepare for your retirement or their education.
Apart from your employer and the Government, any credit provider may ask for your Social Insurance Number; for instance, when you get a mobile phone, or the Internet, or a bank account, or when you apply for credit or a loan (credit card, car loan, leasing).
To obtain your Social Insurance Number, you need to apply in person. You must go to a Services Canada office, preferably early in the morning the day after you arrive in Canada. There are offices of Services Canada throughout the country, but if you happen to live more than 100km away from one, you can be exceptionally allowed to apply by mail, in which case you will have to send the originals of your ID documents.
Depending on how many people are waiting, it generally takes less than an hour to obtain your Social Insurance Number. The procedure itself lasts 15min. The best way to ensure fast service is to have gathered all necessary documentation beforehand.
In most cases, to obtain your SIN, you only need:
- a proof of identity (passport, ID, certificate of citizenship and/or birth certificate)
- a proof of your status in Canada (Work Permit, Study Permit and letter of on campus employer, Confirmation of Permanent Residence).
Application is free.
We recommend that you take all the necessary precautions to protect your Social Insurance Number and that you pay attention to whom you share it with. Identity theft happens and you really want to avoid this common, modern con. Learn your SIN by heart and secure the card away from your wallet and other identity documents.
We suggest you to visit the Services Canada website to know more on how to obtain your SIN, to check which papers are necessary in your specific situation, to find the address of the nearest office, and to learn more on identity theft and tips to avoid it.
Photo Credits: Wagner51 (Wikipedia)