As an international student at U of T, you may have a variety of questions that relate to your finances. Check out the helpful links below and continue reading to learn more about income taxes in Canada and Social Insurance Numbers (SIN).
Explore funding opportunities before you come to U of T. In addition to entrance or admission scholarships, you may find some in-course awards that you can apply for during your studies.
- U of T international scholarships: Supported by the Centre for International Experience
- Awards Explorer: Explore diverse U of T funding opportunities
- Graduate students: Information on financing your graduate education
- Other international scholarships: Opportunities from EduCanada
Opening a Canadian bank account is one of the first things you will want to do after you arrive. We have put together a brief video to guide you through some of the key things you need to know about banking in Canada.
You will need to have identification documents (ID) such as a passport and study permit, and proof of enrolment at U of T or student ID if you want to open a student account. Your SIN may be requested if you are setting up accounts that will earn interest or if you want to apply for a credit card. Most major banks and credit unions in Canada have student accounts that may have lower fees or other incentives for students. You can compare different Canadian banks and their account offerings using this tool.
Some Canadian banks may let you start setting up your bank account online from outside Canada but may request to see your original ID in person in order to activate your account. You can explore if a Canadian bank has a branch in your home country or if a local bank has a partnership with a Canadian bank.
- List of Financial Institutions that offer GICs: For students applying for a study permit through the Student Direct Stream
- List of major Canadian banks: A guide to the Canadian banking system
- How to choose and open an account: Government of Canada information and account comparison tool
It’s important to have an idea of what your expenses in Canada will be, make a budget and plan before you arrive on campus. The following resources can help you prepare and manage your money.
- U of T’s Financial Planning Calculator: Budget your finances through the academic year
- Money and Finances in Canada: Government of Canada tips on managing finances
- Financial Literacy Sessions: Offered by the Hart House Finance Committee
As an international student in Canada, working while being a student not only helps you supplement your budget, it also gives you valuable experience and can help you secure full-time employment after graduation.
- Working in Canada How to work in Canada as an international student
- Find a job: Support from Career Exploration and Education
- CLNx: Find On-Campus and Work-Study job postings
Sometimes, despite your plans, the unexpected can happen and you may need some emergency short-term financial support. It’s important to reach out to your Registrar’s Office to let them know about your situation and ask for guidance.
As an international student in Canada, you may have to file a Canadian income tax return.
If you earned any Canadian income (from employment, investments, benefits, etc.) in the past calendar year and you owe tax, you must file an income tax return. You might not know if you owe any tax until you file an income tax return, so it is recommended that you do so. If you are a resident of Canada for income tax purposes, you may also be eligible to receive credits and benefits.
Filing your income tax return
You may consult our checklist to help you file your income tax:
Register for an upcoming information session or webinar to learn about the Canadian income tax system, your responsibilities as an international student and how income taxes are filed in Canada.
Staff from the Centre for International Experience (CIE) or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will discuss the Canadian income tax system and answer general questions.
Winter 2022 CRA Income Tax in Canada Information Sessions:
- January 17th: 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. (EST) – Register on CLNx
- February 10th: 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. (EST) – Register on CLNx
- February 24th: 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. (EST) – Register on CLNx
- March 9th: 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. (EST) – Register on CLNx
- March 23rd: 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. (EST) – Register on CLNx
- April 5th: 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. (EST) – Register on CLNx
- April 13th: 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. (EST) – Register on CLNx
At certain times of the year, volunteers on campus or at community agencies can help you file your income tax return.
The UTSU and APUS Tax clinics also serve U of T Graduate students.
Many volunteer tax clinics are only open during “tax season” which is around March and April. Check the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program to find an organization that may provide tax filing support throughout the year.
If you have a more complex situation, you may also choose to pay a tax preparation company, accountant, or tax lawyer.
For general questions about filing an income tax return, you can call the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA): 1-800-959-8281 (1-613-940-8495 from outside Canada). If you are a non-resident of Canada for tax purposes, you can call the international tax and non-resident enquiry line: 1-613-940-8495.
The CIE does not offer one-on-one individual tax filing support.
Learn more about income taxes in Canada:
- CRA Information for International Students
- CRA Information on Residency Status
- CRA Learning About Taxes Online Course
As an international student who is a resident of Canada for income tax purposes, you may be eligible to receive credits and benefits.
If you did not earn any income and do not owe any tax, you may still be eligible for some of the following benefits and credits if you are a resident of Canada for tax purposes and file an income tax return:
- Tuition Tax Credit – This is a non-refundable tax credit. It can reduce any income tax you owe. If you do not owe any income tax, you can “carry forward” your credits to reduce the tax you may owe in future years.
- Canada Child Benefit (if you are a parent)
- GST/HST Credit – You may be eligible for the GST/HST credit after your arrival in Canada and can apply prior to filing your income tax return.
- Climate Action Incentive Payments
- Ontario Trillium Benefit
You can use the CRA’s Benefit Calculator to see what benefits you may be eligible for.
How you are taxed and what credits and benefits you may be eligible for depends on your residency status for income tax purposes.
Residency status for income tax purposes is based on the residential ties you have in Canada. It does not relate to your citizenship or immigration status. Residential ties may include a home in Canada, a spouse or common-law partner or dependents who move to Canada to live with you and social and economic ties in Canada.
For more information of residency status for income tax purposes, please visit the CRA website.
If you would like the CRA’s opinion about your residency status, you can fill out Form NR74, Determination of Residency Status (Entering Canada). It may take some time for the CRA to respond, so you may want to fill the form after entering Canada. You can also call the CRA: 1-800-959-8281.
The Centre for International Experience cannot determine your residency status for income tax purposes for you.
Income tax returns must be filed by April 30th. Filing and paying by then will prevent you from being charged interest or penalties if you owed any income tax.
The tax year you are reporting on is the previous calendar year (Jan. 1-Dec. 31).
Most employers and institutions will have your tax slips or receipts ready by the end of February, which means you should be ready to file a return in March.
You can still file an income tax return after the deadline has passed. If you do not owe any tax, you will not incur any interest or penalties. If you missed filing a return for past tax years, you can still file online using NETFILE for the previous three calendar years. Some volunteer clinics can also help you catch up on filing for previous years.
Below is a list of the most commonly used documents that a typical international student would require in order to file an income tax return. More complex situations may require additional information not listed here. Be sure to seek support based on your unique income tax situation.
- SIN or ITN
- T2202 Form: Tuition and Enrolment Certificate available on your U of T ACORN account.
- T4 Slips: Employment earnings provided by your employer(s).
- T4A Slips: Other income, such as scholarships, fellowships, or bursaries. Available on your U of T ACORN account.
- T3 and T5 Slips: Mutual funds or investment income. Provided by your banking institution.
- Receipts for other possible expenses and credits:
- Rent paid to a landlord. You can request a letter confirming the amount of rent you paid to your landlord, or provide bank statements in combination with a tenant agreement if the CRA requests proof of rent. University residence fees can only be claimed for credit of $25.
- Childcare expenses
- Union Dues
- Medical Expenses
- Charitable or Political Donations
You do not need to keep receipts for items purchased to be eligible for the HST/GST credit.
Once you have all your tax slips and receipts for the calendar year, you can file your income tax return online using a NETFILE-certified tax software, at a volunteer income tax clinic or by hiring a tax preparation company or accountant.
NETFILE is an electronic tax-filing service that lets you do your personal taxes online and send your income tax and benefit return directly to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
When you file your return electronically, you do not need to mail your tax slips and receipts to the CRA. However, you should keep your documents for six years in case the CRA requests to see them.
Generally, post-secondary school scholarships, fellowships, and bursaries are not taxable if you received them for your enrolment in a program that you were considered a full-time qualifying student for. They will be listed on your T4A slip issued by U of T and can be found in your ACORN account. You should also have a T2202 slip from the University to prove that you were a full-time student.
When you start a new job in Canada, your employer will ask you to fill the federal and provincial TD1 forms. Your employer will use this information to calculate how much tax to take from your employment income to send to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). How you fill the TD1 will not actually impact how much tax you end up having to pay or are refunded. This will be calculated when you file your annual tax return.
As an international student who is earning Canadian income, you should file an income tax return annually before April 30, relating to income made in the previous calendar year. If too much tax was deducted at the source (from your pay cheques) by your employer, you will get a tax return after you file your annual income tax and benefit return. If too little was deducted, you will have to pay the difference after filing your annual income tax and benefit return.
On page one of the form, you can enter the basic personal amount listed in point #1. The basic personal amount (BPA) is a non-refundable tax credit that can be claimed by all residents of Canada for tax purposes, including international students.
If you have more than one employer or payer at the same time and you have already claimed personal tax credit amounts for the calendar year on another TD1 form, you cannot claim those tax credit amounts again. You would then leave the lines empty, enter “0” for your total claim amount and tick the “More than one employer or payer at the same time” box on page two.
On page one of the form, you can add other amounts to the Basic Personal Amount by estimating any other credits you might be eligible for in the calendar year.
For point #5 on page one of the federal TD1, you can estimate the tuition you will pay for the calendar year (which is not the same as the ‘academic year’). If you are unsure of this amount, it’s ok if you do not include your tuition on your TD1 form and leave that line blank. When you file your annual income tax return, you can more accurately report your tuition for the calendar year using your T2202 and you will get an income tax return if too much tax was deducted from your employment income at the source.
Many international students will only have the basic personal amount and tuition amounts to add up as their total claim amount on page one.
If you are sure that your total income from all jobs in the calendar year will be less than your total claim amount, you can tick the box “Total income less than total claim amount” on page two. If you do so, your employer will not deduct tax from your earnings. If you leave that box blank and too much tax is deducted from your earnings, you will get it back when you file your annual income tax and benefit return.
Do not fill the “Non-residents” boxes on page two of the federal form if you are a resident of Canada for tax purposes. Only fill them if you are currently a non-resident of Canada. If you are unsure of your residency status for tax purposes, you can call the CRA’s general enquiries line at 1-800-959-8281 from inside Canada or their International tax and non-resident enquiry line at 1-613-940-8495.
The TD1 forms are given to all new employees, not just international students. They are used to assess how much income tax to take off your paycheque, if any. If you have further questions, you can ask your employer to assist you.
The CIE does not offer one-on-one individual tax support to fill TD1 forms.
The TD1 Federal form explains that non-residents can only claim personal tax credits if “90% or more of their world income will be included in determining their taxable income earned in Canada in 2021”. This means that if your Canadian taxable income will end up being 90% or more of your total world income (for the current calendar year), you can claim the tax credits. Otherwise, non-residents are not entitled to tax credits.
If you need help filing your 2021 income tax return, you can call the CRA at 1-833-995-2341. The CRA agent can help you by directing you to free virtual tax clinics or to online certified tax software products (including a number of free options). In certain situations, the CRA agent may be able to help you do your taxes over the phone. To be eligible for this free service, you must be a resident of Canada for tax purposes and have:
- a modest income;
- a simple tax situation; and
- be eligible to use the CVITP free clinics
This service is available from May-October 2022 (for support filing 2021 income tax return)
A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a 9-digit number that you need in order to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits. You will need a SIN if you want to file an income tax return in Canada.
Read through the info and FAQs below to find out more!
Do I need to get a SIN?
As an international student, you will need to get a SIN if you plan on working for a Canadian employer or if you would like to access Canadian government programs and benefits. If you have not worked in Canada but are a resident of Canada for tax purposes, you will need a SIN to file an income tax and benefit return.
Canadian banks and financial institutions must ask for your SIN if you are opening an account that will earn interest for tax purposes, such as an interest-bearing savings account.
The University of Toronto will also ask for your SIN to put on the tax slips they issue for you.
Although you may be asked to provide your SIN when you are applying to rent an apartment or negotiating a lease with a landlord, you are not required to do so.
Find out how to protect your SIN and who can legally ask for it.
How can I get a SIN?
There is no fee to apply for a SIN. You can apply online, by mail or in person at a Service Canada Centre if you are unable to apply online. If you are applying through the SIN online portal, you can expect to receive the letter containing your SIN in the mail within 15 days.
Applying online is easy. Submit a SIN application online within a secure and protected environment using SIN online and upload digital copies of your documents. Please consult the What do you need before you apply page to ensure you have all the required documents ready before you apply.
You can apply for a SIN online from inside or outside of Canada if you have permission to work in Canada and the required documents. You will need proof of your current address inside or outside of Canada when you are applying online.
Applying by mail:
You can also apply for your SIN by mail. If you choose this option, you must provide a completed SIN application form in addition to your original documents. Your original documents will be sent back once your application is processed.
Applying in person by appointment:
If you require service in-person, please make a request for an appointment by filling out the service request form. A Service Canada officer will call you back within 2 business days. If your request cannot be completed by phone, you will be offered an appointment for service at a Service Canada Centre. Please note that we are not accepting requests for same day bookings.
SIN Clinics at the CIE
At certain times of the year, Service Canada staff come to the UofT campus to issue Social Insurance Numbers to students. Check back here for dates of upcoming SIN clinics at the Centre for International Experience.
Be advised that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Service Canada info sessions on applying to get a SIN are being held virtually.
Who can I contact for more help?
Call Service Canada:
1-866-274-6627 from inside Canada
1-506-548-7961 from outside Canada (long-distance charges apply)
You can also request that Service Canada staff contact you, using the Service Request Form.
In order to apply for a SIN, you will need a physical copy of your study permit or work permit that you receive at the airport or border crossing, your passport and proof of address (if you are applying online). If your permit has been approved but you have not yet arrived in Canada, you will not yet be able to apply for a SIN.
Read all the details about the required documents on the Service Canada website.
Study permit holders
To get a SIN using your study permit, it must include one of the following statements:
- May accept employment on the campus of the institution at which registered in full-time studies.
- May work 20 hours per week off campus or full time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in section 186(v) of IRPR.
- May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186(f), (v) or (w). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria.
If your study permit does not have any of the above-mentioned statements, you need to apply for an amendment to your study permit before you can apply for a SIN.
If your study permit has the above-mentioned statements, you will need the following documents to apply for your SIN:
- study permit
- proof of address (when applying online)
Work permit holders
If you hold a co-op or post-graduation work permit you will need the following documents to get your new SIN or update your current SIN:
- co-op/post-graduation work permit
- proof of address (when applying online)
If you are not eligible to get a SIN, you can apply for an Individual Tax Number (ITN) if you want to file a Canadian income tax return or if the University requests it from you. An ITN is a unique number that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) uses to identify you for tax purposes if you don’t have a SIN. Do not apply for an ITN if you are waiting for a SIN application to be processed.
An ITN is a tax number issued for non-residents who need to file a Canadian income tax return. It cannot be used as a replacement for a SIN in terms of allowing you to work in Canada.
For more information, call the CRA at 1-800-959-8281.
If your confirmation of SIN letter was lost, Service Canada will not issue a new SIN. If you don’t remember your SIN, you can find it on your income tax return, tax slips, record of employment or you can request it from your employer. If you still cannot retrieve your SIN, you can request a confirmation of your SIN from Service Canada using the same documents you need to apply for a SIN.
If your SIN and stolen and you suspect someone is using your SIN fraudulently, follow these steps to protect yourself. Service Canada may issue a new SIN only if there is proof that the SIN was used fraudulently.
Your SIN has the same expiry date as your study permit/work permit. If your permit is expiring, you will need to renew your SIN and request that Service Canada change your SIN’s expiry date. To do so, you will need your new study permit/work permit. Your SIN will remain the same if you remain a temporary resident of Canada but the expiry date will be extended to match your new study/work permit.
If you are on “maintained status” (you applied to extend your initial study permit/work permit with IRCC before it expired) you can keep working with the same employer(s), even if your SIN expired. Due to hiring restrictions, you may not be able to start a new job until you can extend the expiry date of your SIN. Once you get your new study permit/work permit, apply to “change the expiry date” of your SIN with Service Canada.
You should apply for a new SIN and request a “change of status” with Service Canada. When you become a Permanent Resident of Canada, your SIN will not be the same as when you were a temporary resident. Your new SIN will no longer have an expiry date.
When applying for a SIN online, you will need to upload proof of address. This will be a document with your name and mailing address on it. If you do not have any documents confirming your new address yet, you may request a letter from your residence or your department to confirm your mailing address. The Service Canada website includes the example:
- a letter from an organization, institution or employer that:
- attests the mailing address of the applicant, and
- is signed by the organization, institution or employer
Call Service Canada:
1-866-274-6627 from inside Canada
1-506-548-7961 from outside Canada (long-distance charges apply)You can also request that Service Canada staff contact you, using the Service Request Form.
The documents that Service Canada needs to see in order to be able to assess if they can issue you a SIN is your actual study permit and not the letter of approval you received. When you enter Canada by land or air, the border agent will issue your paper study permit, which should have statements on it about your permissions to work in Canada. If your study permit is issued without those statements, you would need to request an amendment.
Once you have your physical study permit (with statements about being allowed to work in Canada) in hand, you can apply for a SIN.
You can apply for a SIN online, but it may take up to 10 business days for it to be sent to you.
Service Canada Centres have resumed drop-in services, so you can receive your SIN immediately.
You can also request an in-person appointment and explain that you urgently need your SIN to start work. You can also call Service Canada to make this request: 1-866-274-6627.
A SIN is confidential and should only be mailed to you directly to your mailing address to ensure it is not lost or stolen.
Service Canada centres have resumed drop-in services, so you can receive your SIN immediately.
You can also request an in-person appointment if you urgently need a SIN. You can explain that because you have not yet secured permanent housing, you do not have the proof of address needed to apply online. You can also call Service Canada to make this request: 1-866-274-6627 (in Canada, toll-free).
If you have the documents required to apply online (physical copy of your study permit or work permit that you receive at the airport or border crossing with statements about being allowed to work in Canada, your passport and proof of address), you can apply online from outside of Canada.
Service Canada will mail your SIN to your non-Canadian address. It is up to you to determine if you feel that the mail system is secure to ensure your SIN is not lost or stolen in transit.
When applying online, the form asks if you are currently residing in Canada. Select “no”. For your mailing address, enter your current non-Canadian address. Then for proof of address, upload a document that confirms your current non-Canadian address.
The information on this page is provided for educational purposes only. Always refer to the CRA or Service Canada for the most up to date information and consult a tax expert for tax advice.