Social Insurance Number

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number that is required for every worker in Canada. If you plan to work while in Canada, either as an on-campus or off-campus employee, or a teaching or research assistant, you must have a Social Insurance Number in order to receive payment for work in Canada.

Note: Only full-time students are eligible to work on-campus or off-campus. Students must stop working if their status changes to part-time or if they take a break from their studies (e.g. a term off or year off). If you are no longer eligible to work, you can keep your SIN but you cannot work. 

How to Apply for a SIN

The SIN is essential for accessing government services and benefits, and required to work in Canada. If you plan to work while in Canada, either as an on-campus or off-campus employee, or as a graduate teaching assistant, you must have a Social Insurance Number in order to receive payment for work in Canada. There is no fee to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Currently, due to COVID-19, eligible students are strongly encouraged to apply for Social Insurance Number (SIN) online. Through the Canada.ca eSIN portal, individuals can quickly and easily submit a SIN application online within a secure and protected environment. You will need a copy of your study permit with conditions of work authorization, which is issued at the port of entry if your study permit is approved from outside of Canada. You will find this handout providing information on how to apply for a SIN online. For more information on eligibility to work, please visit IRCC's webpage on students working in Canada. We recommend you apply as soon as possible after you arrive in Canada.

If you apply for a SIN online or by mail and your application meets the requirements, you will receive a letter with your SIN by mail within 20 business days from the date the application is received. If more than 25 business days have passed and you would like to find out the status of your application, contact the SIN program.

If you need to start working immediately after completion of quarantine, you can apply in person once you have completed your quarantine and receive your COVID-19 negative test results. To request an appointment to apply in person, please use the online service request form. You should request an appointment as soon as you arrive in Canada, while you are in quarantine. Please note that the Eservice request form is a temporary measure at this time and is subject to change. By completing the eservice request online, you will include your legal name, phone number, check off the SIN box and request to book an appointment box (do not include your SIN# if you have one or any other personal information). Once Service Canada receives the eform, one of the agents will contact the requestor within 2 business days. Please find more information on this poster.

SIN & Expiry Dates

SINs that begin with a "9" (also called 900-series SIN) are issued to individuals who are neither Canadian citizens nor Permanent Residents and who need a SIN for employment purposes.

900-series SINs are temporary and have an expiry date that coincides with the date on your primary immigration document (Study Permit or Work Permit) issued to you by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). 1

Is your Social Insurance Number expiring soon?

For those students who are employed on or off campus, your Social Insurance Number expires on the same date as your Study Permit. In order to avoid interruption of employment, make sure that you apply for a Study Permit renewal well in advance before it expires. This will ensure that there is sufficient time to apply for the renewal of your SIN (which must be done after you receive your renewed Study Permit).

You will need to extend your SIN each time that you extend your stay in Canada (for example, when you extend your Study Permit, or receive a Post-Graduation Work Permit).

Existing 900-series SIN holders updating/renewing their Social Insurance Number, will receive a confirmation of SIN letter with the new expiry date. There is no fee for this service. To renew your Social Insurance Number, please follow the instructions on applying for a Social Insurance Number above. Your previous confirmation of SIN or SIN card is no longer valid and should be destroyed in a secure manner. 2

Protecting Your SIN

Your Social Insurance Number is personal information. The SIN is not a piece of identification. It is a client account number for specific Government of Canada programs, such as Employment Insurance or the Canada Pension Plan. Unless it is required by law, it should not be shared.3 "Each SIN is issued to one person only. It cannot legally be used by anyone else. You are responsible for protecting your SIN. Store any document containing your SIN and personal information in a safe place. Don’t keep it with you." 4

Please note that a SIN is no longer required to:

  • Complete an Income Tax return or apply for certain tax benefits (Canada Child Tax Benefit)
    • If you are not eligible for a SIN, you can apply for an Individual Tax Number to be used for tax purposes only
  • Open a bank account (unless it earns interest or income)

Use your SIN with caution! Do not give your number unless it is required by law. If your SIN is not required by law, ask why it is being requested, how it will be used, and with whom it will be shared and offer a different proof of identity. Service Canada provides information on what to do if an organization asks for your SIN but it is not legally required.

Your Social Insurance Number: A Shared Responsibility. Protect it. Safeguard it.