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Create your Social Insurance Number (SIN)

This week it's a short article because I see more and more people asking what is the SIN, what is it for, and how to create it.

The SIN in short

The SIN is a 9 digit number (XXX-XXX-XXX) that will follow you throughout your journey in Canada. It is linked to a number of services in Canada (work, bank account, taxes...). Despite this, you must be careful to keep it confidential, because if anyone obtains it, you can be a victim of identity theft.

How do I get a SIN?

You need to go to Service Canada. It only takes about 15 minutes once it's your turn. You will need :

  • your passport

  • your visa / permit

  • a proof of address

Don't worry at all about the address, when I created my SIN, I didn't have a fixed address yet so I had put the address of one of my contacts in Canada, you can change this address later. However, don't apply online if you don't have proof of address, apply in person. You will leave the Service Canada office with your SIN document, so there is no problem with receiving mail.

When to create a SIN number?

Create it as soon as you can, it will allow you to open a bank account, or even to start a job. But don't forget to update it too. Indeed, when you change your status: for example from a PVT to a permanent residence. I don't know if you noticed, but the number that starts your SIN indicates your status and/or your region:

1: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador

2–3: Quebec

4–5: Ontario (excluding Northwestern Ontario), and overseas forces

6: Northwestern Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut

7: British Columbia, Yukon, and new business numbers.

8: Used exclusively for the BN (Business Number) assigned to business owners and corporations. Due to the limited number of BNs available new BNs can start with a 7.

9: Temporary resident[5]0: CRA-assigned Individual Tax Numbers, Temporary Tax Numbers or Adoption Tax Numbers

Where to get a SIN in Toronto?

For Toronto there are 3 main centers that allow you to create this number, you can go with or without an appointment:

  • A 559 College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1A9

  • B 1000 Gerrard St E Floor, 2nd, Toronto, ON M4M 3G6

  • C Lawrence Square, 700 Lawrence Ave W #142-146, North York, ON M6A 3B4

Don't give your SIN to just anyone!

Here's when you'll be asked for your SIN:

  • starting a new job

  • filing your taxes

  • opening a bank account

  • accessing government benefits (e.g. financial aid)

Here is a non-exhaustive list of cases where you do NOT have to provide your SIN. I want to specify them, because some people abuse and ask you for it anyway:

  • proving your identity (except for certain government programs)

  • applying for a job

  • applying to rent a property

  • negotiating a lease with a landlord

  • applying for a credit card

  • cashing a cheque

  • completing some banking transactions (mortgage, line of credit, loan)

  • completing a medical questionnaire

  • renting a car

  • signing up for cell phone, Internet or TV services

  • writing a will

  • applying to a university or college

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