Get the social insurance number (SIN)

Get the social insurance number (SIN)

When you hire a new employee, you are responsible for getting the social insurance number (SIN) from the employee and to make sure that the employee is legally allowed to work in Canada.

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Who should provide you with their SIN

Employees must obtain and provide the 9-digit number known as a social insurance number (SIN) when starting employment in Canada. Service Canada is responsible for issuing SINs.

A temporary SIN is issued to visitors, permit holders, refugees, and temporary workers who are legally entitled to work in Canada. These numbers begin with a "9" and have an expiry date.

Learn more on the employee's responsibilities to obtain a SIN prior to working in Canada from Employment and Social Development Canada: Who needs a SIN

When to get the SIN from the employee

You have to get the SIN from the employee within 3 days of when they start to work for you.

If the employee does not have a SIN when they start working for you, they have to apply for one and give it to you within 3 days after they receive it.

Learn more on your responsibilities from Employment and Social Development Canada: Employer information – Social Insurance Number (SIN)

What if you do not receive the SIN from the employee

If the employee does not give you their SIN, you need to:

  • Show that you made a reasonable effort to get it.
    Example of what is a reasonable effort

    After asking the employee for their SIN many times, you decide to contact them in writing to request their SIN. You made notes of the dates you asked for the SIN verbally, and keep copies of any written requests.

  • Inform Service Canada within 6 days of the employee starting to work for you that they did not give their SIN.
  • Suggest to the employee to contact Service Canada and consult Who needs a SIN.
  • Make deductions from your employee’s pay (even if you have not received their SIN), remit them and report them on a T4/T4A information return on or before the last day of February of the following calendar year.

Penalties

  • Employer

    A $100 penalty may apply if the employer failed to show reasonable attempts to obtain a SIN

  • Employee

    A $100 penalty may apply if the employee failed to provide their SIN when required unless the employee applies for a SIN within 15 days of the request and they provide the SIN to the employer within 15 days of receiving it

After receiving the SIN

Make sure the employee gives you their correct name and SIN. You may ask for other types of identification, such as a birth certificate or a certificate of citizenship or permanent residence, before finalizing their employment documents. An incorrect SIN can affect an employee's future Canada Pension Plan benefits if their record of earnings is not accurate.

What if the employee has a SIN beginning with a "9"

Social insurance numbers beginning with a "9" are valid only until the expiry date shown on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) document authorizing the person to work in Canada. You must see the employee’s existing immigration document authorizing them to work in Canada (for example, work permit, study permit) and verify that it has not expired.

If the immigration document has expired, ask the employee to contact IRCC to get a valid document. You can advise your employee to consult, What to do if your temporary SIN expires.

Learn more about hiring or extending the work of temporary foreign workers from the IRCC: Hire foreign workers

References

Legislation

ITA: 162(5)
Failure to provide SIN on form
ITA: 162(6)
Failure to provide SIN when requested
ITA: 230(1)
Books and records
ITA: 237(1)
Social Insurance Number – Individual's Responsibilities
ITA: 237(2)
Social Insurance Number – Employer's Responsibilities
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