The Social Insurance Card or Number (SIN) is a 9 digit number that is required by law to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits. A SIN is issued to one person only and it cannot legally be used by anyone else. You are tasked with protecting your SIN. Store any document containing your SIN and personal information in a safe place—do not keep your SIN with you.
Note that Service Canada is now issuing SINs in paper format (confirmation of SIN letter). Production of the plastic SIN card has stopped; however, SIN cards that are not expired and are currently in circulation can still be used.
If you’ve lost a SIN card or confirmation letter, Service Canada will not replace the Social Insurance Number they will reissue a confirmation letter. The only time they will give you a new number, is if you can prove that your SIN was stolen or being used in identity theft.
Steps to Replace Your Social Insurance Card in Canada
To replace a lost SIN card or confirmation letter you’ll need to:
Visit your local Service Canada Centre
To replace a lost SIN card, you have to bring all the necessary documents to the nearest Service Canada Centre. If everything is in order, you will get the confirmation letter during your visit. Normally you are expected to apply in person, or have someone else apply for you in person.
However, if you live in a remote area with no Service Canada Centre within 100 km, you are eligible to apply by mail. To confirm this is the case, you can use your postal code to check your eligibility on the Service Canada website or call Service Canada at 1-866-274-6627
Also, if you are unable to apply in person or to have someone else apply for you in person, you may be eligible to apply by mail. You must call Service Canada at 1-866-274-6627 in order to find out if you can apply by mail. You are also eligible to apply by mail if you do not reside in Canada. In order to apply, consult the Application for a Social Insurance Number – Information Guide for Applicants and Replacements.
Bring with you appropriate identity documents
Often times, you will be expected to provide 2 documents of identification: A valid original primary document to prove your identity and legal status in Canada; and a valid original secondary document to confirm your identity. Note that if the name on your primary or secondary document is different from the name you are currently using, you must also provide supporting documents.
If you are applying for someone else, you may need to provide additional documents. A supporting document is a legal document indicating the name you currently use. It is required if the name on your primary or secondary document is different. All documents must be valid originals. Photocopies are not accepted. Once you provide all these documents, you will receive a SIN confirmation letter that same visit and it is free.
If your SIN was stolen or you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, Service Canada recommends that you first report this to the police, review your bank account and credit cards for any unusual activity, watch your mail for any changes or disruptions, and get a credit report to check for unusual activity.
However, it is important to keep your SIN card or confirmation of SIN letter safe and report a missing card or letter right away. If someone finds your card or letter they could use the information to commit fraud against you or someone else.