SIN in Montreal - where? and campus tours in Montreal universities

Dear All, we are visiting Monreal this summer with my kid for the first time. She is Canadian citizen and I heard we need to issue her Social Insurance Number. Can you advice where to go to start this process. Also can you advice which which univercities are the the best to visit in teh summer ( I booked already Mcgill and I am waiting for Concordia to open the July tours) . My kid does not speak French ( she will probably reach A2 level by the time she applies for univercities), so it has to be English speaking program. Thanks a lot in advance!

My daughters were both born in the US, but were born with dual US and Canadian citizenship because I was born in Canada. One attended university in Canada and therefore needed to get first a Certificate of Canadian Citizenship, then a Canadian Passport, then a Social Insurance Number.

The Certificate of Canadian Citizenship took quite a while. If your child was born in Canada or already has this then you do not need to worry about this.

The passport took about two weeks by mail. We did not need this to apply to Canadian universities, but we did need it when she moved up to Canada to study.

She got her Social Insurance Number the first full day after she went to Canada to study (the day after we drove up). This was perhaps a week or two before classes started. It was also the day before she went to a bank to open an account. We just went to a “Services Canada Centre” and got the Social Insurance Card in perhaps an hour or so. She did take her Canadian passport. I do not remember what else she needed to take with her. I also do not remember whether she needed to make an appointment in advance. I do notice right now that there are several of these in Montreal. Because Services Canada is a federal office, it should be available in both English and French (your choice) anywhere in Canada.

In terms of universities to consider, there are two universities in Montreal that teach in English (not counting courses which are intended to teach a language). They are McGill and Concordia, both of which you know about. They are close enough together that we had no problem staying in a hotel that was right between the two universities, and visiting McGill one day and Concordia the next day. The only other English language university in the province of Quebec is Bishop’s university in Lennoxville, which is either right next to or perhaps part of Sherbrooke. Bishop’s is a small university, similar to what we in the US would call a liberal arts college. Lennoxville is nearly fully bilingual, but Sherbrooke is largely French speaking. This is far enough from Montreal that if you want to visit Bishop’s you would probably want to move to a hotel in Lennoxville (at some point we drove from home to Montreal, stayed a few days, then drove to Lennoxville and stayed two nights, then drove home). In terms of English language universities in the province of Quebec these are the only three universities that there are. I do not think that your daughter will need any French to study at any of these three universities but a bit of French will make living 4 years in Montreal (or Lennoxville) more interesting.

There are lots of other universities in Canada which are worth considering. Let us know if you want any suggestions. We mostly looked in Quebec and further east (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and to a lesser extent PEI). I have known people who have attended university in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. Note that Canada is a really, really large country, and these locations can be very far apart.

Also feel free to ask whatever questions you have about this process. We did go through it not all that long ago.

Thank you so much for your detailed and fast reply. I will be referring to it in the future. Thank you for the link you shared for the Service Center. I am already going through the Application process for SIN now, it seems I can apply also online. My child has Canadian citizenship, because her father transferred it to her (she is born abroad) and she has a valid passport. We will stay in Montreal for a few weeks in the summer with a friend of my husband. I still have a question about the SIN, but I am not sure if you will be able to answer it. We live outside of Canada and the child will finish her high school education here. Does she need this SIN before she starts her university in Canada? I am confused what address I should declare – I can give the address of our friend in Montreal, or the address that we live abroad. I am wondering what are the pros and cons. Can you give me your advice? I made a screenshot of the requirement but I am not sure if I can paste it here ( part of the SIN application).

We will be checking the universities in Canada the next 2 years, your input is valuable for me. I am of course interested in the Quebec residence fees. I got the advice earlier this week from another helpful member of this community- about the Criteria number 8c to request the Quebec residency. I am wondering if it makes sense to send the child during her next year summer vacation to stay with her father for 2-3 months ( from June- September) with his friend and apply for the Quebec residency. I am wondering if there will be an issue, because she needs to go back to her school abroad ( in late September let’s say). So, my question is- if she applies and receives the Quebec residency – is she supposed to stay in Quebec all the time? Do you think its wiser to do this if she is accepted in a university in Montreal, I mean not earlier before?

…I read the title of this thread very differently…#justsayin… :grin: :innocent: :sunglasses:


From what you have said, your daughter is a Canadian citizen. Which province she resides in will matter for getting provincial health insurance, for getting a driver’s license, and for figuring out whether you pay in-province or out-of-province-Canadian tuition. However, she is a Canadian citizen. As such once she establishes residency in one particular province, I think that she might be expected to be in that province for some minimum amount of time each year to maintain health insurance, but she can travel to other provinces just like any other Canadian citizen.

My daughter did not establish residence on one particular province until she had decided which university to attend, and shown up at the university ready to study. This was just as well as we were seriously considering universities in three different provinces. She wanted a small university and ended up needing to decide between Bishop’s (in Quebec), Mount Allison (New Brunswick), Acadia (Nova Scotia), and St Francis Xavier (also Nova Scotia). It was best for her to have health insurance through the province that she ended up in.

I do not recall the part about showing your address for getting a social insurance number. Most likely this is because my daughter (and I) showed up in person at a Service Canada Centre. A social insurance number is very similar to a social security number in the US, and social security numbers can be used for identity fraud. Thus they are probably trying to make sure that it really is your daughter who they are mailing it to. However, this is only my guess. I do not see any reason that you would need to get the social insurance number before you have applied to universities, gotten accepted, picked a university to attend, and showed up on campus. In contrast it is good that your daughter already has her Canadian passport since this will be useful for purposes such as showing the university that she really is a Canadian citizen (and therefore gets to pay Canadian tuition). Her passport will also be needed to enter Canada to study (but a different passport may be okay to enter Canada to visit, for example to tour university campuses).

By the way, of the universities that my daughter applied to, a couple missed the fact that she was a Canadian citizen and along with her acceptance sent information on tuition costs for international students plus information on how to apply for a student visa (and a CAQ for Bishop’s). We called admissions and they had us fax them either a copy of her Certificate of Canadian Citizenship or a copy of her Canadian passport and they corrected the error relatively quickly and easily.

At one point I asked some “there to help visitors” people at McGill about what we would need to pay in tuition. They pointed out that since my daughter was a Canadian citizen who had never lived in any province other than Quebec, she would get Quebec residency and pay Quebec tuition the day that she arrived in the province. This was even given that she had never lived in Quebec either. I later looked through the McGill web page and found the criteria that fits this.

I am not sure that I would be concerned about either Quebec residency or a SIN card until after getting accepted to university and deciding which university to attend.

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Thanks so much! Have a great day!

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Dear all, I just found this community and this thread which is quite similar to my son´s situation. He is Canadian at birth but never lived in Canada (we live in Argentina). We found from Concordia´s website that Situation 8 could apply for him in order to get Quebec domestic fees. So, we were considering, if accepted by either McGill, Concordia or Bishop: A. Arrive at the city during the summer, 3 months before school starts, so that he could meet all requirements and pay domestic tuition since first year, or, B. Arrive just when school starts and pay Canadian tuition during the first year, but start paying domestic tuition starting from the second year. I am not sure if these 2 options are correct, or if there is any other options. Appreciate your comments.

First question: Was your son born outside of Canada? If so, then do you have his Certificate of Canadian Citizenship?

As mentioned above our daughters were born in the US. However, since I was born in Canada, they were born with both US and Canadian dual citizenship. It took us perhaps 8 or 9 months to get the Certificate of Canadian citizenship (once we got around to applying for it). After that getting a passport was much quicker.

If your son was born in Canada, this might change the situation in terms of getting residence in any specific province, but would (if I have this correct) remove the need to get the Certificate of Canadian citizenship.

I think that you should ask the admissions staff at the university (or any of the three English language universities in Quebec). I am under the impression that you do not need to arrive early, but the staff at the universities will know for sure. This may depend upon whether your son was born in Quebec, in a different part of Canada, or outside of Canada.

We did not ask about health insurance until we were quite close to arriving for classes. In our case provincial health insurance kicked in the day that my daughter arrived in Canada to live there and be a student. However, this was not in Quebec, and again might depend upon where your son was born. Again I think that you should ask admissions at McGill and/or Concordia or Bishop’s whether Quebec health insurance is available from the day of arrival.

We arrived perhaps a week before classes started. This gave us time to sort out the social insurance number and health insurance and visit a bit.

Hi! Thanks for your fast reply. I have read many of your posts which have given me much information. My son was born outside Canada, his father used to live in Montreal about 30 years ago. He already has the Canadian citizenship and passport. We just came back from university tours in Ontario and Montreal. Visited McGill and Concordia, but nobody could answer this question. We are applying for 2024, so there´s still time to figure this out. Just trying to gather as much information as possible, as financial issue is quite a pressure for us. At the moment, Montreal seems to be the best option due to the domestic fee. We are looking for engineering programs, visited many of Ontario universities (all the big ones). But I saw you mentioned small universities as an option. Any recommendations for engineering program?

I do not know if any of the smaller universities are particularly good for engineering. I think that engineering will tend to push you towards the universities that are large enough that you have heard of them.

We did notice that McGill and Concordia are quite affordable, particularly if you qualify as a Quebec resident. When we toured McGill they told us that our daughter would qualify for resident of Quebec status based on the fact that she is a Canadian citizen and had never lived in any other province, even though she had never lived in Quebec either. You might want to send them email and ask. When we emailed McGill with a question it took them a while to get back to us, but they did get back with a helpful response.

I also just checked the Maclean’s rankings for engineering. Again they are mostly the larger schools that you have heard of (three of the schools on Maclean’s 2021 list of engineering schools teach in French – the rest are all good as far as I know – the French ones are good also but we don’t speak French well enough).

If money is tight, you might want to note that Vancouver and Toronto are expensive. Montreal is a bit less expensive. When we were looking we also looked in Nova Scotia. Halifax seems to be a bit less expensive (at least compared to Vancouver and Toronto) and we quite liked our tour of Dalhousie, and our youngest was offered very good merit aid at other (smaller) universities in Nova Scotia. I do not know whether Dal is as generous as the smaller universities, but it might be worth checking out.

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Thanks a lot for all the info! I agree. Montreal is much more affordable. We were in both cities Toronto and Montreal, and both are really wonderful cities. I am now checking on universities in Alberta. U of Calgary and U of Alberta seem to be good options too.