Can I Get a Job in Vancouver Without a SIN Number?

The short answer to whether you can get a job in Vancouver without a SIN number is “no”. The longer one is a little more complicated as there are a few exceptions to the rule. Read on to take a deep dive into everything you need to know about SINs.

What is a SIN number?

SIN stands for Social Insurance Number (making the term ‘SIN number’ redundant). It is required to work legally in Canada.

A SIN is a unique nine-digit number issued by the Canadian government to identify individuals. It shows employers that you can legally work in the country and allows you to access government benefits. A SIN number is essential for the following reasons:

  • Employment: Employers are required to have the SIN number of new employees within the first three days of the start date of their employment. In some cases, employers may permit you to start working without a SIN, but you need to show proof that you have applied for one. In such cases, you are allowed to work until you receive your SIN, and it must be submitted to your employer immediately. Note that you do not have to provide your SIN until you are hired.
  • Taxes: You need a SIN to file taxes and to contribute to pension plans.
  • Government Programs: A SIN lets you access government programs and benefits like Employment Insurance and the Canada Pension Plan.
  • Banking: A bank may ask for your SIN if your account with them earns interest.

How to Apply for a SIN?

You can apply for your SIN by visiting a Service Canada office in person, by mail, or online. Depending on how you decide to apply, you will be asked to provide original documents (or digital copies of original documents) that demonstrate your legal status to reside and work in Canada. Applying in person means you get your SIN immediately, provided all your documents are in order while applying online or via mail can take a few days.

Canadian citizens are eligible to apply for a SIN anytime and the SIN is valid for life. Foreign nationals must apply for an SIN after they arrive in a country.  Documents you need include:

  • A valid primary document that proves your identity and legal status in Canada like your birth certificate/certificate of Canadian Citizenship or a work permit issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC), or a study permit that demonstrates you are allowed to work in the country.
  • Passport/driver’s licence/ Canadian Government-issued ID.

The documents you need to provide can vary depending on your legal status, so it’s a good idea to check the requirements on the Service Canada website.

Social Insurance Numbers for Temporary Workers

A SIN starting with the number ‘nine’ denotes a temporary SIN. The validity of this number corresponds to the expiration date indicated on the immigration document that allows the individual to work in Canada. For example, those on a student visa would have a SIN that is valid until the expiration date on their student visa.

Temporary workers need to renew their SIN with a new expiration date when they receive a new immigration document extending their right to work from the IRCC. If you SIN has expired but you are still waiting on a decision regarding your status from the IRCC, you are allowed to continue working under the same conditions until a decision has been made.

Protect Yourself (and Your SIN) from Identity Fraud

It is important to keep your SIN number safe and only share it with people authorized to ask for it. Some things you can do to keep it safe include:

  • Storing your SIN in a safe place instead of carrying it around in a wallet or purse.
  • Never use your SIN as a piece of identification.
  • Only provide your SIN when it is legally required.
  • Never give out your SIN to someone who called you and check if it is legally required to give to the person asking for it.
  • Not replying to emails that ask for personal information like your SIN.
  • Shredding paper records that contain your SIN when you no longer need them (do not recycle them).
  • Updating the SIN program with changes to your name or citizenship status or to indicate if your SIN record is wrong or incomplete.
  • Acting immediately if you suspect your SIN is being used fraudulently.

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