How to applying for your Canadian SIN card, health care card and more

By Gloria Suhasini

Along with all the tasks we have covered so far, applying for documentation such as your Permanent Resident card, your social insurance number, driver’s licence and health card will be important to cover during your first month in Canada.

Let’s start with the Permanent Resident card…

Receiving your Permanent Resident card 

When you arrive in Canada, you’ll have to give an address for where your Permanent Resident card is to be sent. This card gives proof of your residency in Canada If you don’t have an address, CIC’s website will provide you will instructions on how to get your card. If you don’t get your Permanent Resident card within 30 days of being in Canada (and having provided CIC with a mailing address), you should call them at 1-888-242-2100 (it’s toll free).

You should note that if you don’t receive your card within 180 days of the day you entered the country, you’ll have to reapply for the card and pay a fee. Make sure you take care of this identification document before any others in your first month in Canada.

Social Insurance Number (SIN) card

The next documentation you will want to secure is a Social Insurance Number (SIN) card. You will require a SIN card to work legally in Canada. Your SIN is a nine-digit number — it’s a good idea to memorize it when you get your card. To get an application for a SIN card, just visit the nearest provincial human resources centre or contact CIC at 1-888-242-2100 for more information. Your local settlement agency or post office will also be able to supply you with a SIN cardapplication form.

Finally, you can download the form online from All you have to do is fill it in and submit it online with this option. Human Resources Canada will send you your SIN card in the mail. Note that there is a processing fee for requesting a SIN card.

Health insurance card

Another very important form of documentation that you will want to secure in your first month is a health card. Each member of your family will need his or her own health card — this includes small children and newborn babies. Each province has its own healthinsurance card, so you will have to apply for one via your provincial ministry of health office. 

To apply, you’ll need to show your birth certificate or Confirmation of Permanent Residence and your passport. You can also use your Permanent Resident card as well. Before applying, check to see what documentation your province requires and ensure you have it on hand when applying. 

Also note that in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and New Brunswick, you will have to wait for 90 days before you can apply to a healthinsurance card. If you are settling in one of these provinces, it’s highly advisable that you secure private healthcare insurance in the interim. There are many options available to you, so do discuss this with a settlement agency representative or contact your provincial ministry of health office for advice on the bestinsurance company options to meet your needs. 

You can also go to any doctor’s office, walk-in clinic, pharmacy or hospital to obtain a form. It’s advisable that you connect with a settlement agency representative to help you fill out the form if you are unclear on any element of it, as this is a very important document. 

Your health insurance card will cover the following things: 

  • Hospital care 
  • Treatment and examinations performed by your family doctor
  • Many types of surgery
  • Many types of laboratory tests
  • Almost all immunizations
  • X-rays

However, your health insurance card will not cover: 

  • Various prescription drugs 
  • Dental care 
  • Prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses (in some provinces, your health insurance card will not cover visits to an optometrist, a.k.a. eye doctor) 
  • Ambulance services 

Note: When you gain employment, ask if your company offers a health benefits package, as many cover all or a portion of the cost associated with the services mentioned above that your provincial healthinsurance card does not cover. 

Driver’s licence 

In order to operate a motor vehicle in your province, you must obtain a driver’s licence. It’s the law — so if you do want to drive, get your driver’s licence first. You can use an international or foreign driver’s licence for up to 60 days in all provinces, but after that you will have to obtain a provincial driver’s licence. 

To start, you will want to contact the ministry of transportation in your province. Just go online and do a search for your province and “ministry of transportation” or call 1-800-387-3445 for general information on driver’s licences. 

Depending on the province, you may be subjected to going through training or a graduated system of testing (most provinces require this). Depending on your country of origin, you may or may not be subject to going through the fullapplication process for a driver’s licence. 

Note that the government does not pay for driver’s training and you may have to go to an accredited driving school in order to learn to drive if you do not know already (or if you do not have a friend or relative with a full licence who can teach you). 

Also note that in order to drive in any province, by law, you must have driver’s insurance from an accredited car insurance company. It’s also wise to keep a record of your car insurance from your country of origin that you will want to present to the insurance company when you apply for insurance, as many will note your experience and if you have a good driver’s record, it can help you get a better monthly payment rate. Yes,car insurance is costly, but know that it protects you and the other driver in case of an accident.

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