Every Canadian citizen and permanent resident has been issued a Social Insurance Number (SIN) since 1964. This unique nine-digit number is required to work in Canada and is an inherent part of your identity.
If you legally change your name in Canada, you’re required to update your information with the SIN Program. Until you complete this step, your legal name change isn’t considered valid and you can’t use your new name on any official documents, as they won’t match your SIN identity.
Below, I’ll explain why you may need to go through with a SIN name change, how to do it, and answer a few other questions related to the process.
Your SIN number is an important part of establishing your identity. It is linked to your government documents and your credit report and is used to identify you as a taxpayer.
Your SIN number can be used by hackers and identity thieves to steal your identity, so it’s important to keep your number safe, secure, and up-to-date. This includes notifying the Social Insurance Program regarding any changes to your name.
Thankfully, the Social Insurance program makes it relatively quick and easy to update your legal name that’s associated with your SIN number. You just have to fill out some paperwork, submit an application, and wait to receive your response and updated SIN profile in the mail.
If you’ve recently changed your name, Canadian law requires SIN holders to update their name with the Social Insurance department.
To begin the process, you’ll need to submit an online application with the Social Insurance Program, just as you would if you were applying for a SIN for the first time. Depending on the reason for your SIN application, you’ll be given forms and documents to complete online.
You can also apply by mail by printing out the documents and mailing them to the Social Insurance Program. This typically takes several weeks longer than the standard online application, though, so I don’t recommend it.
Along with your application, you may also be asked to submit forms relating to your request, such as your name change documents.
If you apply online, a SIN name change is relatively quick. The Social Insurance program typically takes around ten days to process your application after it’s been received. So, expect to receive a response within two weeks regarding your application.
If there are any errors, you’ll be notified and asked to update or provide the required information. From this point, it could take another ten days for your application to be processed.
As long as your application is in order, though, you should receive a letter from the Social Insurance program notifying you that your SIN profile has been updated. Now, your legal name change is complete, and you’ll be able to use the letter to change other documents, such as:
- The name on your bank account
- The name on your mortgage or loan account
- The name on your credit/debit cards
- The name on your driver’s license
If you’re like most Canadians, you probably have your SIN number memorized. We use this number so often that it’s just as important to memorize as your phone number. The prospect of having to memorize a new SIN number after years of using your old SIN number seems a bit daunting.
Thankfully, your SIN number will remain the same after a name change.
The letter you receive from the Social Insurance Program will display the same SIN number as you’ve had all your life. However, it will show that your legal name has been updated, which is important if you wish to update your legal name attached to other accounts.
The most common reason for changing one’s name in Canada is marriage. Many Canadians choose to adopt the last name of their spouse after they get married. If you change your name after marriage, you must update your SIN profile to reflect your name change.
However, if you don’t change your name after marriage, then you do NOT need to update your SIN profile.
If you are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment, then you may wish to update your gender. In Canada, everybody has the right to assign their own gender and is allowed to update any and all legal documents (including their birth certificate) to reflect the gender they identify with.
The process for updating your SIN gender is the same as updating your name. You’ll start by completing a SIN application and identifying the reason for the update. Then, you’ll be given forms and documents to complete.
As long as your papers are in order, you should receive confirmation of the update within two weeks.
Unlike your driver’s license, which needs to be updated if you move or change your address, you do not need to update your SIN profile after moving. The only reason you’ll need to update your SIN is if you’re changing your name or gender or if you’re undergoing legal proceedings after being victimized by identity theft.
SIN and Employment
Employers often ask for your SIN to report your income to the government, issue tax documents, and assign your contributions to the Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan. If you’ve changed your name and haven’t updated your SIN, it might lead to complications with your employment records and tax obligations.
If you change your name, it’s imperative to inform your employer about the change, provide them with the updated SIN information, and make sure that your employment records align with your legal name.
SIN and Government Benefits
A SIN is not just for employment. The Canadian government uses your SIN for various benefits that you might be eligible for, such as the Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, and other provincial or territorial benefits.
If there’s a mismatch between the name registered with the SIN Program and your actual legal name, it can delay or even halt the benefits you’re entitled to.
Do I need to schedule an appointment with Service Canada to change my name on my SIN card?
No, you don’t necessarily need to schedule an appointment with Service Canada to change your name on your SIN record. You can initiate the name change process by submitting an application online or by mail. However, if you prefer in-person assistance or if you have specific questions or concerns, you can visit a Service Canada office.
Will my SIN number change if I change my name in Canada?
No, your SIN number will not change if you change your name in Canada. While your name and other personal details might be updated, the SIN number itself remains the same for life unless there’s a case of a SIN being compromised due to reasons like identity theft.
When you change your name and update it with the SIN Program, you will receive confirmation with your same SIN number, but the name attached to it will be updated.
Do I need to notify the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) of a name change?
Yes, it’s important to notify the CRA of a name change. While updating your name with the SIN Program will cover many government-related aspects, the CRA is a separate entity and needs to be informed separately to ensure there are no discrepancies in your tax records.
You can update your name with the CRA by calling them or through the “Change my address or personal details” section if you have an online account with CRA’s My Account service.
Once your SIN information has been updated, you’ll receive a letter in the mail (as well as a digital copy) detailing the update to your profile. To reduce instances of identity theft, the Social Insurance Program no longer issues plastic cards. So your letter is your main proof of identity. Make sure you keep it safe!
Did you know that the average Canadian has a 672 credit score? Keep on reading to see my breakdown of the average credit score in Canada by age next!