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The Canadian SIN Card - You Can't Job Search without It (in Canada)

By Daisy Wright

"What is your SIN?" This normal question could startle any job seeker and have them wondering what his or her "sins" have to do with getting a job. In Canada, this is a legitimate question.

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SIN = Social Insurance Number

Before anyone can legally begin working in Canada, it is necessary to provide one's Social Insurance Number (SIN), a unique nine-digit number issued by the Canadian Federal Government to an individual. It is used to identify that person for employment, government benefit programs and/or services, and taxation purposes. This number cannot be used legally by another person.

If someone is a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident to Canada, or a temporary resident (with a work permit), he or she will need a Social Insurance Number (SIN). The Canadian SIN is similar to the Social Security Number used in the United States. It must be provided when applying for benefits and services from the government.

When a SIN Card Is Required

The Social Insurance Number plays an important role in the employment sphere. Without the number, the government would not be able to keep a record of a person's deductible earnings – income tax, Employment Insurance (EI), or Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Neither will the government be able to verify whether someone qualifies for and is eligible to receive certain benefits.

A newcomer to Canada, for example, would not be able to open a bank account without providing a SIN.

Each individual must provide a SIN to the following:

  • An employer, and the income-tax office
  • Financial institutions where you are earning interest or income
  • Employment Insurance (EI) benefit office
  • Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) or a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
  • Canada Child Tax Benefit (if one has children)
  • Social-assistance benefits
  • Workers Compensation benefits

When a SIN Card Is Not Required

While the above is mandatory, there are situations when one is not obligated to provide a SIN or show the card, such as:

  • Proof of identity (except for government services)
  • Completing a job application prior to a job offer
  • Renting a property
  • Negotiating a lease
  • Completing a credit card application
  • Cashing a cheque
  • Renting a car
  • Applying to university or college
  • Completing some banking transactions (mortgage, line of credit, loan), or
  • Completing a medical questionnaire

Some private-sector organizations may ask for the SIN, and although this practice is strongly discouraged, it is not illegal.

Basic Precautions

Since the Social Insurance Number is unique to each person, you should protect it from theft and fraud. Here are some basic precautions:

  • Do not make it a habit to carry around your SIN card with you. It's better to memorize your number and keep the card in a safe place at home.
  • Do not use your SIN as a form of identification, as you will be putting your personal information at risk.
  • Do not provide your SIN over the telephone unless you are the one who initiated the call.

Source of SIN Cards

Service Canada is the federal government agency that oversees the issuance of the Social Insurance Number. For detailed information about the card click on this link: ServiceCanada.gc.ca.


About this author...

A Certified Career Management Coach, Daisy Wright is Author of "No Canadian Experience, Eh? A Career Success Guide for New Immigrants."  She is also the founder of The Wright Career Solution, where she assists executives, managers, and other job-seeking professionals with their resumes, cover letters, social media profiles, and interview preparation. Daisy can be found blogging at Career Musings, hanging around in CareerTips2Go Cafe as the resident "Coach-on-Call," or tweeting as @CareerTips2Go and @NoCdnExperience.


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