What is An Individual Tax Number in Canada, and Why Is It Important?

People born in the United States are given a unique identifier called a Social Security Number, or SSN. This connects each person with the government’s social services system, allowing every person with a social security number to enjoy certain benefits.  Those who move to the United States from another country can also get a social security number through a process called “naturalization.” Those who have a social security number can participate in the income tax system, social security services, and welfare services.

In Canada, the system is similar, only this identifier is called a Social Insurance Number, or SIN.   Perhaps the bigger difference is that immigrants cannot get an SIN; no, in Canada, an immigrant has to get an Individual Tax Number.

Who Can Get An Individual Tax Number?

Not everyone who comes to Canada, of course, is going to need to get an ITN.  If you want to move there—and, more importantly, if you want to participate and take advantage of certain government programs—then you will need one.  But it is not just for immigrants.  Basically, if you want to work and file an income tax return in Canada, you will need an ITN. Also, international students who have received a scholarship (or other monetary award) but are not eligible for an SIN can apply for an Individual Tax Number.  This is important to remember because international students are, technically, temporary residents of whatever country where they are studying. This means there are special rules that apply to them regarding various government regulations and social programs.

Is it Necessary to Have an Individual Tax Number?

Again, it is only necessary to apply for an ITN if you are planning to move to Canada and earn an income there. Specifically, you need an Individual Tax Number if you plan to file income taxes.

Keep in mind, too, that the process for acquiring an Individual Tax Number can be a lengthy one.  Finalizing your application can take as long as 8 weeks. With that in mind, then, be sure to begin your Clearit itn requests process as early as you possible.