Employer information - Social Insurance Number (SIN)

Overview

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is used to administer many government benefits including Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan, Canada Student Loans and Employment Insurance. As an employer, you play a leading role in protecting your employees' personal information and preventing fraudulent activities. Your employees' SIN is confidential and should only be used for income-related information.

The SIN card is not an identity document; it contains no photo and has no security features to guard against fraudulent use.

In Canada, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act sets out ground rules about how private sector organizations may collect, use or disclose personal information.

Every person working in Canada must have a SIN. On March 31, 2014, the production of the SIN cards was discontinued. Service Canada will start to issue SINs to individuals in a paper format instead of a card. There will be no recall of existing SIN cards.

According to the Employment Insurance Regulations which came into force on April 30, 2013, employees are required by law to provide their SIN; they may do so by presenting a SIN card, letter (Confirmation of SIN) or other documentation showing the SIN. In addition, employer business operational procedures, documentation and forms may require modification to simply refer to the number and not the card.

If a new employee does not have a SIN and is eligible to work in Canada, instruct them to visit the nearest Service Canada Centre to apply in-person for a SIN. They will need to bring with them their original identity documents.

Note:

Photocopies of identity documents are not accepted. If their documents are in order, they will receive their SIN at the time of their visit.

What you need to know about Social Insurance Numbers

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) Program is delivered by Service Canada - the Government of Canada's service delivery network that brings a range of federal services and benefits together to meet your needs. Service Canada offers easy-to-access, one-stop, personalized services - on the Internet, by telephone, in-person or by mail.

Responsibilities at a glance

  • Ask for each new employee's SIN within three (3) days after the day on which their employment begins, and maintain a record of the SIN of the employee.
  • Ensure that any employees that have a SIN beginning with the number “9” are authorized to work in Canada.
  • Protect your employee's SIN and personnel records.

Inform Service Canada if you suspect that a SIN is being used fraudulently.

Remember:

Your employees' SINs are confidential and should only be used for income-related information.

Key responsibilities

Request each new employee's SIN within three days after the day on which their employment begins, and maintain a record of the SIN of the employee.

  • Ensure employees are correctly identified by requesting other pieces of identification before finalizing their employment documents.
  • Every person working in Canada must have a SIN. This number is used to administer government benefits under the Income Tax Act, the Canada Pension Plan Act, and the Employment Insurance Act.
  • If a new employee does not have a SIN and is eligible to work in Canada, instruct the individual to apply for a SIN at one of our Service Canada offices - tell them it's fast, simple and secure! If the employee's application and identity document(s) are in order, he or she will receive a SIN in one visit.
  • If you would like to confirm the SIN of a current or former employee, please contact Service Canada's Social Insurance Registration office at 1-800-206-7218 and select Option "3". If calling from outside Canada dial 506-548-7961 (long distance charges apply). You will need to provide your business number (issued by Canada Revenue Agency), along with appropriate information to verify the identity of your company as well as the employee.
  • You play a leading role in detecting and preventing Social Insurance Number (SIN) fraud since illegal employment and income tax evasion are two of the main objectives of SIN fraud. If you have any reason to suspect that a SIN is being used fraudulently, report the situation immediately to the Social Insurance Number Program.

Ensure that any employees that have a SIN beginning with a "9" are authorized to work in Canada and that their immigration document has not expired.

  • SINs beginning with a “9” are issued to temporary workers who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents. These SINs are valid only until the expiry date indicated on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) document authorizing the person to work in Canada. You must take the necessary steps if you wish to renew or hire the employee again.
  • Employers must continue to see the employee's existing immigration document authorizing them to work in Canada (e.g. work permit, study permit) and verify that the immigration document is not expired. If work is to be performed on a college or university campus, ensure that you have collected all the necessary information before hiring a foreign student.

Protect your employees' personal information, including their SIN, from theft and inappropriate use or disclosure.

  • Store all sensitive personal information in a secure area or on an encrypted computer system. Only allow access to it on a need-to-know basis.
  • If you become aware that an employee's SIN has been stolen or is being inappropriately used or disclosed, take the following steps to minimize the negative impact that could result:
    • assess the damage
    • inform the employee(s) concerned
    • if any criminal activity occurred, contact the police
    • contact Service Canada and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, and
    • contact anyone else affected.

More information is available in Annex 4 of the SIN Code of Practice, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and the Consumer Measures Committee.

Inform Service Canada if you suspect that a Social Insurance Number is being used fraudulently.

  • You play a leading role in detecting and preventing SIN fraud. Two main examples of this type of fraud are illegal employment and income tax evasion.
  • If you have concerns regarding a SIN you may contact Service Canada's Social Insurance Registration Office at 1-800-206-7218 (select Option "3"). Provide us with your Canada Revenue Agency issued business number along with appropriate identification.

Did you know that, in Canada, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act sets out ground rules about how private-sector organizations may collect, use or disclose personal information? For more information, consult the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada at www.priv.gc.ca

For more information on how to protect the SIN, please see our publication, Your Social Insurance Number: A Shared Responsibility! (SC-237-07-12).

How to reach us

CALL 1-800-206-7218. Select Option "3".
Agents are available Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (your local time), except statutory holidays.

If you are calling from outside Canada, the number is (506) 548-7961 (long distance charges apply).

CLICK servicecanada.gc.ca
For more information on how to contact the Government of Canada and access the full range of Government of Canada programs and services.

VISIT the nearest Service Canada Centre
on our website, or call 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232) TTY 1-800-926-9105.

You can also write to us at:

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

International students and the Social Insurance Number

International students in Canada may work on or off campus without a work permit if they meet the eligibility requirements of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Students are required by law to provide their Social Insurance Number (SIN) within three (3) days after the day on which their employment begins.

To apply for a SIN, international students must present either:

  • a study permit issued by CIC that indicates the permit holder “may accept employment” or “may work” in Canada; or
  • a study permit and a “confirmation to work off campus” letter issued by CIC prior to February 6, 2015.

If neither of these requirements is met, the international student may contact CIC to verify if he or she is eligible to apply for an amended study permit.

For more information about working while studying in Canada, visit the CIC website or call the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100.

SIN beginning with a '9'

SINs beginning with a “9” are issued to temporary foreign workers who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents. These SINs have a period of validity corresponding to the period in which the foreign worker is authorized to work in Canada, which has been granted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

Before hiring a new employee

You must see the employee's existing immigration document authorizing him or her to work in Canada (e.g. work permit, study permit) and verify that it has not expired. If the immigration document has expired, you must ask the employee to contact CIC to obtain a valid document before hiring the employee. You must also inform the employee to apply with the new immigration document to Service Canada for the SIN record to be updated with the new expiry date.

Before extending employment for your employee

You must always verify that the employee is eligible to continue working in Canada. Your employee must have applied to extend their authorization to stay and work in Canada with CIC in advance of the expiry date on their document.

If a temporary resident applies for renewal of their work or study permit and their permit expires before a decision is made, paragraph 186(u) and section 189 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulation provides them the right to continue working or studying under the same conditions, while their application for renewal is being processed, as long as they remain in Canada. This is referred as "implied status". The temporary foreign worker will have implied status until a decision is rendered by CIC.

As soon as a decision is made by CIC authorizing the employee to continue to work in Canada, you must verify the new immigration document and the expiry date. You should advise the employee to apply with his or her new immigration document to Service Canada for the SIN record to be updated with the new expiry date.

For more information about hiring or extending the work of temporary foreign workers, you may contact the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100.

List of forms

Personal Information Request Form

This form will enable you to request access to personal information held about you by the federal government. With this form, you may request copies of your previously submitted Social Insurance Number applications.

SIN Application form

You do not need to complete this form if you are applying in-person at a Service Canada point of service.

You must complete this form if you are applying from outside Canada.

Special measures are in place to accommodate individuals who cannot apply in-person at a Service Canada point of service:

  • Individuals living 100 km or more from the nearest Service Canada point of service, in an inaccessible area, or where outreach is very infrequent may apply by mail. To confirm your eligibility to apply by mail, you must verify your postal code.
  • Individuals with other extenuating limitations preventing them from visiting a Service Canada point of service and cannot use the assistance of another individual to submit an application on their behalf may be eligible to apply by mail. Note that individuals must contact Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218 (select Option #3) to determine if they are eligible to apply by mail.

If you are eligible to apply by mail, your application must be accompanied by original proof of identity documents. Photocopies are not accepted. Service Canada is not responsible for document(s) lost in the mail.

Refer to the Instruction Guide on the application form for more details.

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