Social Insurance Number (SIN)

Social Insurance Number (SIN) 

Full-time international students with a valid study permit can work off-campus up to a maximum of 20 hours per week. In order to work in Canada, you will need to apply for a Social Insurance Number. Find out what it is and how you can get it. 

What is a Social Insurance Number (SIN)?

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a 9-digit number that you need to work and be paid in Canada and access government programs and benefits. It is also used to file taxes. You MUST apply for a SIN if you work in Canada. 

Cost: Free

 To qualify to work in Canada as an international student, you must:

  • have a valid study permit,
  • be a full-time student,
  • be enrolled at a designated learning institution at the post-secondary level 
  • be studying in an academic, vocational or professional training program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate that is at least six months in duration.
How to apply for a SIN?
Apply in person at a Service Canada Centre

Service Canada Centres are gradually reopening to help serve most Canadians within 100 km of where they live and to support clients who face barriers to accessing SIN online.

Find out if your local Service Canada Centre is open

To request an appointment, please use the online service request form.

If everything is in order, you will get your SIN during your visit and you will not need to part with your documents

Service Canada Centre Locations

  • 3480 Gilmore Way Suite 100, Burnaby, BC V5G 4Y1
  • 1420 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5N 2R5
  • 757 W Hastings St #125, Vancouver, BC V6C 1A1
  • 1263 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V6H 1G7
Apply Online

We highly recommend you apply for your SIN number online at Social Insurance Number – Apply. 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.

What you need before you apply

To apply online you will need to upload copies of at least 3 different documents:

  1. a valid primary document that proves your identity and legal status in Canada, and
    • Temporary Residents of Canada need to provide 1 of the following documents:

      • work permit issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC)
      • study permit issued by IRCC, indicating that you are authorized to work in Canada, which must meet either 1 of the following criteria:
        • a study permit 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 IRCC prior to February 11, 2015
  2. a valid secondary document to confirm your identity, and
    • When applying online, you must also provide a secondary document that is valid and issued by a government (federal or provincial). The document must contain your legal name (surname and given name) as well as your date of birth.

      Examples of acceptable secondary documents include:

      • a passport (Canadian or foreign)
      • a provincial or territorial ID card or driver’s license
      • any other government-issued ID
  3. proof of address
    • Examples of acceptable proof of address:

      • a letter or document from a government (federal, provincial, territorial or foreign)
      • a letter or document from a financial institution (bank statement, credit card statement, mortgage contract or statement, etc.)
      • a residential tenancy agreement/ lease
      • a bill (from among others a telecom provider, a cable provider, a utility provider, etc.)
      • any document issued by a school, college or university that shows your address
      • employment contract that shows your address
      • a letter from an organization or an institution attesting the mailing address of the applicant. The organization/institution and the applicant must sign the letter confirming the mailing address
How to keep your SIN valid?

If you’re an international student, make sure you keep your SIN valid by renewing your SIN each time you extend your temporary residency in Canada. (For example, if you extend your study permit). 

To extend your SIN, follow the same procedure above. 

Note*: International students get a SIN starting with the number ‘9’, which allows employers to know that you are a temporary resident in Canada. Your SIN will remain the same unless you become a permanent resident. In this case, you can apply for a new SIN that doesn’t start with the number ‘9’.

More information can be found on the Government of Canada website

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