Social Insurance Number (SIN)

To work in Canada, you will need to apply for a Social Insurance Number. Find out what it is and how you get it.

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a 9-digit number that you need to work and be paid in Canada and access  government programs and benefits. It is also used to file taxes, although certain students get an Individual Tax Number (ITN) instead. You must apply for a SIN if you plan to work in Canada.

If you are an international student, be sure you understand the eligibility requirements to work in Canada.

How to apply

Domestic students

You can apply for a SIN in person at a Service Canada Office. Your SIN will be issued the day you apply. Bring your original birth certificate or another primary document to Service Canada when you apply. 

International students

You can apply for a SIN in person at a Service Canada Office. Your SIN will be issued the day you apply.

Bring any one of the following documents to apply:

  • a study permit that states you “may accept employment” or “may work” in Canada, OR

  • a study permit and a “confirmation to work off campus” letter issued by IRCC prior to February 6, 2015, OR

  • a work permit (e.g. co-op, post-graduation, or spouse/partner work permit)

My study permit states that I can NOT work, or accept employment, but I am eligible to work according to immigration regulations

If you are eligible to work in Canada as a student but you do not have one of the documents listed above, you must:

  1. Determine if you need to "amend" or "change conditions" of your study permit. Choose the path that's relevant to you:
    • My situation has changed. I switched to a program of study that now makes me eligible to work off campus.
    • There was a mistake when I was issued the study permit. I need to correct the language
  2. Follow the instructions that apply to you (amend OR change conditions) to get a study permit that states you "may work" or "may accept employment" from Citizenship and Immigration Canada
  3. Take your new study permit that states you "may work", or "may accept employment" in person to a Service Canada Office to apply for a SIN

Service Canada Centre 

The closest Service Canada Centre to UBC is the West Broadway Centre.

Service Canada Centre

Service Canada Centre

1263 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC V6H 1G7


8:30 am - 4:00 pm
8:30 am - 4:00 am
8:30 am - 4:00 pm
8:30 am - 4:00 pm
8:30 am - 4:00 pm

Keep your SIN valid

If you're an international student, make sure you keep your SIN valid by renewing your SIN each time you extend your temporary residency in Canada (for example, when you extend your study permit or get a post-graduation work permit).

To extend or amend your SIN, follow the same instructions above.

Note: International students get a SIN starting with the number ‘9,’ which lets employers know that you are a temporary resident in Canada. Your SIN will remain the same unless you become a permanent resident, at which case you can apply for a new SIN which does not start with the number ‘9.’

International students working on campus

Make sure you're eligible to work on campus.

Important definitions for immigration purposes

In most cases, you may work on campus starting the first day of the term if you have a valid study permit and you are a full-time international student. Full-time has many definitions at UBC. See below for how UBC has defined it for immigration purposes.

This definition is for immigration purposes to denote students who are actively pursuing studies and who may be eligible to work on or off campus [1]. Full-time status is the minimum requirement to work on or off campus.

Students with full-time status can start work on the first day of the term as per the UBC Vancouver or UBC Okanagan academic calendar. You must stop work on the last day of the posted final exam period according to the academic calendar.

Exception: If your academic program has start and end dates which differ from those specified in the applicable academic calendar, you can start work on the first day of your program’s term, and you must stop work on the last day of your program’s term.


  • Students who meet the "full time" definition in summer and are not eligible for a scheduled break during the summer session will be deemed full time from May 1 to August 31. 
  • Courses spanning two terms are counted as half the credit value per term (e.g. a 6 credit course counts as 3 credits in Term 1 and 3 credits in Term 2).

[1] Work refers to work which is authorized by a study permit. Students who also hold work permits may be able to work additional days/hours in addition to work authorized by study permits.

UBC students are considered by UBC to be “full time for immigration purposes” if meeting any one of the following definitions:

Graduate students (enrolled in a graduate program)

  • Registered (“REGI” on the SISC), or
  • Continuing (“CONT” on the SISC) 

Undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students*

This category also includes Diploma in Accounting (“DAPP” on the SISC), Juris Doctor (JD), Unclassified (“UNCL” on the SISC), Access Studies (“ACES” on the SISC), Exchange (“EXCH” on the SISC), and Visiting (“VISI” on the SISC) students.

* Students taking graduate-level courses but not enrolled in a graduate program fall into this category.


  • Registered ("REGI" on the SISC) in 9 or more credits per winter term


  • Registered ("REGI" on the SISC) for 9 or more credits, and
  • Do not meet the definition of "scheduled break"


  • Registered ("REGI" on the SISC) in any number of credits in the “final” term – “final” as determined by your academic advising office before program completion

  • If a final course spans two terms (e.g. 6 credits), each term may be determined to be a final term.

  • If final coursework is taken during the summer session (May to August), you can be registered for any number of credits during this period. Your full-time status continues until your letter of completion is available.

Visiting International Research Students and Visiting Research Exchange Students

Visiting International Research Students (VIRS or VIRO) and Visiting Research Exchange Students are considered by UBC to be “full time for immigration purposes” if you are registered (“REGI” on the SISC). Please check with Go Global if you think this applies to you.

Students with academic accommodations

Students with academic accommodations are considered to be “full time for immigration purposes” if you are registered in 6 or more credits and have reduced course load accommodation as determined by the Centre for Accessibility (Vancouver), or the Disability Resource Centre (Okanagan) in line with Policy 73, Accommodations for Students with Disabilities.

Outbound exchange students

UBC students away on exchange term(s) abroad are considered "full-time for immigration purposes” if you are registered (“REGI” on the SISC).

Co-op students

UBC students on a co-op work term are considered by UBC to be "full-time for immigration purposes” if you are registered (“REGI” on the SISC).

UBC Okanagan English Foundation Program students

UBC students enrolled in the UBC Okanagan English Foundation Program are considered by UBC to be "full-time for immigration purposes”.

Graduating students

UBC students who completed program requirements and whose program completion letter is not yet available are considered by UBC to be “full-time for immigration purposes”.

Contact us

International Student Advising

Talk to an advisor

International Student Advisors are Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) or Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) who can help.

When emailing us, include the following information in the email:

  1. Your student number in the subject line
  2. Your name
  3. Your citizenship(s)
  4. All permit and visa expiration dates (if applicable)
  5. Currently in Canada (YES or NO)
  6. If you request specific assistance, please provide detailed information including applicable documents, such as a rejection letter
UBC Life Building
1200-6138 Student Union Blvd.
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1


9:30 am - 4:00 pm
9:30 am - 4:00 pm
9:30 am - 4:00 pm
9:30 am - 4:00 pm
9:30 am - 4:00 pm