The Social Insurance Number Code of Practice

September 2013

Section 1 - Introduction

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) Code of Practice describes the roles and responsibilities of all SIN users, including individuals, employers, private sector and not-for-profit organizations, Service Canada and its federal and provincial government partners, and Service Canada employees. The Code respects and sets out relevant aspects of legislation, such as the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act , the Employment Insurance Act , the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act  , as well as relevant policies (for example, Treasury Board Policy on Privacy and Data Protection ) that govern the use of the SIN . Individuals and organizations using SINs are responsible for upholding these laws and adhering to these policies.

The purpose of the Code is to:

  • Establish a set of principles for the management and use of the SIN. These principles address issues of privacy, security and integrity.
  • Provide standards and guidance to help all SIN users understand and fulfil their responsibilities with respect to the SIN, according to legislation, policy and directives.
  • Increase awareness of how all users share the responsibility to protect the SIN from inappropriate use and fraud.

1.1 Background

The SIN was introduced by Parliament in 1964 to register people for Unemployment Insurance (UI), which later became Employment Insurance (EI). When the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) were introduced in 1965, the SIN was also used as an identifier for these programs. In 1967, the SIN became a file identifier for income tax. Today, this nine-digit number is used to identify people who earn money through work, pay taxes, contribute to pension plans and use a variety of government services. Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents must get a Social Insurance Number to work in Canada or to receive benefits and services from government programs.

The SIN is important and contains confidential information. Each SIN is assigned to only one individual (or SIN holder), and is used to identify that individual for employment, government benefit programs and/or services and taxation purposes. Safeguarding the privacy, security and integrity of the SIN is extremely important to protect individuals, businesses and government from fraud and theft in a wide variety of forms.

The Social Insurance Register (the Register) contains all SINs issued since 1964, along with the personal information that was provided when people applied for their SIN. This information includes a person's name, date of birth, place of birth and parents' names. Dates of death are also recorded in the Register.

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