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Social Insurance Number


Social Insurance Number

A social insurance number card. Note the date of expiration; this implies that the holder is neither a permanent resident, nor a Canadian citizen.

A social insurance number (SIN) is a number issued in Canada to administer various government programs. The SIN was created in 1964 to serve as a client account number in the administration of the Canada Pension Plan and Canada's varied employment insurance programs. In 1967, Revenue Canada (now the Canada Revenue Agency) started using the SIN for tax reporting purposes. SINs are issued by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (previously Human Resources Development Canada).

The SIN is formatted as three groups of three digits (e.g., 123-456-789).

The top of the card has changed over the years as the departments that are responsible for the card have changed:

  • Manpower and Immigration
  • Employment and Immigration Canada
  • Human Resources Development Canada
  • Government of Canada

As of 31 March 2014, Service Canada no longer issues plastic SIN cards. Instead, an individual will receive a paper "Confirmation of SIN letter".[1] The cards were phased out due to problems with identity theft.[2]


  • Functionality 1
  • Temporary SINs 2
  • Validation 3
  • Geography 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7



  • Social Insurance Number FAQ Page
  • SIN Privacy FAQ, from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

External links

  1. ^ "Social Insurance Number". Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Protecting your SIN: Who can ask for my SIN". User guidance document from Service Canada website. 


See also

1: Atlantic Provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador (this may also cover overseas residents).
2–3: Québec
4–5: Ontario (#4 includes overseas forces)
6: Prairie Provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta), Northwest Territories, and Nunavut
7: Pacific Region (British Columbia and Yukon)
8: In use, geography unclear
9: Temporary resident
0: Not used (Canada Revenue may assign fictitious SIN numbers beginning with zero to taxpayers who do not have SINs)

The first digit of a SIN usually identifies the province in which it was registered, as listed below. However, the government has found it necessary in the past to supply certain regions with SIN numbers assigned to other regions.


If the SIN is valid, this number will be divisible by 10.


Then, add all of the digits together:

086 858 276

So the result of the multiplication is:

In the case of a two-digit number, add the digits together and insert the result (the digital root). Thus, in the second-to-last column, 8 multiplied by 2 is equal to 16. Add the digits (1 and 6) together (1 + 6 = 7) and insert the result (7).

046 454 286 <--- A fictitious, but valid SIN
121 212 121 <--- Multiply each top number by the number below it.

Social Insurance Numbers can be validated through a simple check digit process called the Luhn Algorithm.


Social Insurance Numbers that begin with the number "9" are issued to temporary residents who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents (e.g., foreign students, individuals on work visas). Often, these individuals must have an employment authorization in order to work in Canada. SINs beginning with a "9" are different from SINs assigned to citizens and permanent residents, because they have an expiry date (which usually coincides with the expiration of the holder's work permit). These SINs are invalid unless there is an expiry date listed on the card and the date has not passed.

Temporary SINs

The Canadian military used the SIN as a form of unique identifier from the 1960s until the 1980s, when service numbers were reintroduced. Military identification, including ID cards and identity discs were marked with the SIN during this period.


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