If you were born in America, you’ve been issued a Social Security card. But what about Americans living in Canada or residents north of the U.S. border?
If you are a Canadian citizen, temporary resident, or a newcomer to Canada, the Canadian government will assign you a Social Insurance Number (SIN). This number is required to work in Canada and also makes you eligible to receive government benefits and services.
Working without an SIN is illegal, and you are personally responsible for protecting your SIN at all times. The number cannot legally be used by anyone else but you, and each number is issued to just a single person.
Responsibilities of SIN Holders
The Canadian government requires all SIN holders to abide by certain guidelines to protect their SIN from fraudulent use. It’s important that you never give out your SIN unless you are legally required to do so.
Most employers, insurance companies and any type of government program agent will request your SIN as part of the application process. Some banks may also require proof of an SIN when opening a bank account or verifying your identity.
Government agencies that will request your SIN include: Canada Revenue Agency when filing income taxes; Employment Insurance (EI); Canada Pension Plan (CPP)/Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) benefits. Unless it is for a government entity or a private institution such as a bank, it is ultimately your decision to share your Social Insurance Number.
Protecting Your Identity and Your SIN
You need to keep your SIN card in a safe place and carry it with you when traveling. If you do carry the card with you, keep it in an area of your wallet or purse that you don’t use very often.
This will reduce the risk that the card will be mistaken for something else, given out accidentally, or dropped when pulling out other materials. You should also take steps to ensure that anyone outside of a government agency or bank who is requesting your SIN is doing so for legitimate reasons.
You are always putting yourself at risk of identity theft when sharing your SIN with an individual or company that doesn’t make it clear why they actually need that number.
Take these steps to avoid identity theft.
If your citizenship status changes, there is a death in the family, or you suspect that someone is using your SIN illegally, you must contact Service Canada immediately and report the issue.
You will also need to make sure that all of your contact information and status information is always accurate and up-to-date. You can visit the Service Canada website or call toll-free 1-800-206-7218 to make changes and report any issues with your SIN card.