Online Guide for Newcomers to Prince Edward Island, Canada

Social Insurance Number

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a unique nine-digit number issued to a single person. If you are a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a temporary resident, you need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada or to receive benefits and services from government programs.

What You Need Before You Apply

To apply for a SIN, you must provide a valid primary document that proves your identity and legal status in Canada.

If the name indicated on your primary document is different than the name you are currently using, you must also provide supporting documents.

If you are applying for someone else, you may need to provide additional documents.

Permanent Residents

Permanent residents must provide one of the following documents issued by the Canadian immigration authority:

  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence
  • Record of Landing if you arrived before June 28, 2002

The Confirmation of Permanent Residence must be accompanied by either a travel document or an alternate photo identification issued by the provincial authority (for example, a driver’s licence), and is only acceptable within one year of the date you became a permanent resident. The permanent resident card is required after this period.

Temporary Residents

Temporary residents must provide one of the following documents issued by the Canadian immigration authority:

  • Work permit
  • Study permit indicating that you are authorized to work in Canada
  • Visitor record indicating you are authorized to work in Canada

Supporting Documents

A supporting document is a legal document indicating the name you currently use. It is required if the name on your primary document is different.

If this is the case, in addition to your primary document, you will need to provide one of the following:

  • Certificate of marriage or a similarly titled document to support your family name after marriage
  • Divorce decree or a similar document
  • Legal change of name certificate or court order document issued in accordance with provincial name change legislation

Other supporting documents may apply, depending on the specific situation. [See Related Resources]

How to Apply

Applying in Person

There is no fee to apply for a SIN, and you can apply in person. Simply gather all the required original documents and take them to the nearest Service Canada office. [See Related Resources]

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

Applying by Mail

You can apply by mail if you live 100 km or more from the nearest Service Canada office or have limitations that prevent you from accessing a Service Canada office.

If you need to apply by mail, follow these steps:

  • Call 1-800-206-7218 and select option '3' to determine if you are eligible to apply by mail
  • Download, fill out and print the SIN application form [See Related Resources]
  • Send your completed application and original documents to:

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

Uses of the Social Insurance Number

Provide your SIN:

  • after being hired by your employer
  • when completing your income tax information
  • when opening an account from which you earn interest at a financial institution such as a bank or credit union
  • when accessing government programs and benefits (e.g.: Canada Pension Plan benefits, Employment Insurance benefits, Canada Child Benefit, Canada Student Loans, GST/HST claims, etc.)

Some businesses may ask you for your SIN. This is strongly discouraged, but it is not illegal.

Some examples of when you do not have to provide your SIN:

  • 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
  • completing some banking transactions (mortgage, line of credit, loan)
  • renting a car
  • signing up for cell phone, Internet or TV services

If you are asked for your SIN when it is not legally required, you can inquire why it is being requested, how it will be used and with whom it will be shared. If you are not satisfied with the organization's response, you are entitled to file a complaint with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. [See Related Resources]

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Online Guide for Newcomers to Prince Edward Island, Canada © by Immigrant & Refugee Services Association of PEI (IRSA) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

We have made every effort to ensure that the information in this Guide is accurate and up-to-date. If you find of any errors or omissions, please contact us.