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Many Canadian companies hire temporary foreign workers, through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), to fill a labour or skill shortage. These temporary foreign works may enter the program through one of  the following streams:

  • Express Entry, which entails an employer supporting a foreign worker to support their permanent residence application;
  • Global Talent Stream, which allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers with a unique and specialized skill set.
  • Academics, which is for foreign post-secondary students.
  • Agriculture, which is for work to be done on a farm, nursery or greenhouse.
  • Caregivers, which is for temporary workers that offer in-home care to children, seniors, or people with other medical needs. 
  • Quebec, which is specific to temporary foreign workers who wish to work in Quebec. 

Even if you don’t have permanent residency, you are still given a Social Insurance Number (SIN) as a temporary foreign worker. 

What Is A SIN?

To work in Canada or access government programs, you must have a Social Insurance Number (SIN). The number is nine digits long, and applying for one is free of charge. You cannot share your SIN for use with anyone. Additionally, it’s important to protect your SIN, thieves and scammers can use it to steal your identity

SINs Starting With “9”  

If you’re a temporary worker who hasn’t yet achieved permanent resident status or citizenship, your SIN will begin with the number “9”. In this case, you are responsible for updating your SIN’s expiry date to coincide with the expiry on your immigration documents that allow you to work in Canada. Once you update your SIN, your previous SIN will no longer be valid. 

Find out your rights and responsibilities as a temporary foreign worker.

When Must You Renew Your SIN? 

There are a few scenarios in which you’ll need to renew your SIN, including: 

  • if you change your name
  • If you change your gender designation
  • If your temporary SIN (SINs starting with 9) expires

As a temporary worker, you’ll need to update or renew your SIN anytime the expiry date does not match the expiry date found on your work authorization document from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). 

Need extra cash, check out these loans for people new to Canada.

In some cases, temporary workers may have “implied status”. This occurs when you apply to renew your work permit and the permit expires before the IRCC makes a decision on your application. During this time, you have the right to continue working despite your expired SIN, until a decision is made on your application. To continue working under these circumstances, you must still be living in Canada.  Once the IRCC accepts your application, you’re responsible for updating your SIN with the new immigration document. 

How To Apply For Or Renew Your SIN?

There are several ways a temporary foreign worker can apply for or renew their Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Learn how to apply for a SIN from the Government of Canada.

Apply For Or Renew A SIN Online

You can apply online by visiting this government webpage. You’ll need to have the following documents handy if you’re applying online:

Apply For Or Renew A SIN In-Person

You can apply in person at your local Service Canada Centre after requesting an appointment. You’ll need: 

Learn how to open a CRA My Account.

Apply For Or Renew A SIN Through The Mail

You can mail this form to apply for your SIN. You’ll also need to include the following in your package:

Mail your SIN application to this address:

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

DocumentWhat is it?Examples
Primary identity document Government-issued document that proves your identity and status in Canada– Birth Certificate
– Certificate of Canadian Citizenship
– Certificate of Registration of Birth Abroad
Secondary document– Federal, provincial, territorial, or municipal-issued document
– Foreign passport that confirms your identity
– Passport- Driver’s license
– Canadian provincial or territorial ID card
– Any other government-issued photo I.D.
Proof of addressDocument from an organization or institution that proves your name and address– Bank statement
– Utility bill- Cell phone bill
– Credit card statement
– Mortgage statement
– Lease agreement
– Employment contract
Supporting documentsStates the name you currently use– Marriage certificate
– Divorce certificate
– Legal change of name certificate
– Adoption order
– Notarial certificate
– Request to Amend Record of Landing

Renewing Your Social Insurance Number FAQs

As a temporary foreign worker, can I still work if my SIN is expired?

If you’ve applied for a work permit extension before the permit expired, you’re allowed to keep working under “Implied Status”. Once the IRCC makes a decision on your application, you must then update your SIN accordingly. 

Does it cost money to renew my SIN?

No, applying for and renewing your SIN is completely free.

Where can I find my SIN?

You can find your SIN on the following documents:

Who can apply for a SIN in Canada?

Essentially, most Canadians who work or receive government benefits can apply for a SIN. More specifically, anyone over the age of 12 can apply for a SIN if they are any of the following:
  • Temporary worker
  • Permanent Resident
  • Work Permit and Study Permit holders, if temporary residents
  • Canadian citizen

Do I need a SIN to open a chequings or savings account in Canada?

No, you do not need a SIN to open a chequing or savings account, but you do need a SIN to open an account that earns you any interest. 

Final Thoughts

Canada has many avenues for foreign workers to find work, even if they don’t have citizenship or PR status yet. It’s important, however, to keep track of administrative obligations such as updating your SIN number while engaging in temporary work. 

Chrissy Kapralos avatar on Loans Canada
Chrissy Kapralos

Chrissy is a Toronto-based communications advisor. With an English degree from the University of Toronto and editing courses under her belt from Ryerson University, she has continued her lifelong passion for writing and editing. In addition to working for Loans Canada on a variety of financial topics, Chrissy has a few years of resume writing and editing under her belt, and takes great pleasure in helping people find work that fits with their experience and passions. When she isn't working, you can find her practicing yoga, hanging out with her dog, reading up on financial and real estate news, or planning her next trip abroad.

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