Life annuities

A life annuity provides guaranteed income payments for as long as you live. A joint life annuity provides payments as long as you or your spouse/partner lives.

You have the option to choose a guaranteed period. If you die before the end of that period, your beneficiary will receive the balance of the guaranteed income payments.

Income from a life annuity may also qualify for the federal pension income tax credit (of qualified pension income).

Residency requirements

We'll issue a policy only if the policyholder and annuitant(s) are Canadian residents. There is an exception if the policyholder has an existing Sun Life Financial policy with a contractual right to purchase a payout annuity.

Life annuity types

  • Single life annuity
  • Joint life annuity

Issue ages

  • Registered (including locked-in funds): ages 18 to 100*
  • Non-registered: ages 0 to 100*

*Subject to legislation


  • Minimum amount: $5,000 (combined total from all sources)
  • Maximum amount: $5 million*

*Applications with premiums over $5 million are subject to review. Special pricing may apply.

Premium sources

  • Registered retirement savings plan (RRSP)
  • Registered retirement income fund (RRIF)
  • Locked-in retirement account (LIRA)
  • Deferred profit sharing plan (DPSP)
  • Life income fund (LIF)
  • Locked-in retirement income fund (LRIF)
  • Registered pension plan (RPP) funds
  • Non-registered funds

Payment deferral periods

Payments may be deferred for a maximum of 10 years, subject to restrictions based on the source of premium.

Guarantee periods

  • 0 - 40 years, subject to restrictions based on the source of premium

Payment frequency

  • Monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually

Payment options

  • Level payments.  Payment amount remains the same throughout the payment period.
  • Indexed payments. Income increases yearly by a fixed percentage. You select an increase between 1% and 4% at purchase. Not available for prescribed annuities.
  • Reducing payment (joint life annuities). Income reduces by a certain percentage selected at issue when one of the annuitants dies.
  • Integrated payment. Income decreases when CPP, QPP or OAS payments begin. Not available for prescribed annuities.
  • Registered funds are subject to legislative restrictions.


  • Registered. Income from an annuity purchased with registered funds is fully taxable to the policyholder in the year it's received.
  • Non-registered. Only a portion of the income from an annuity purchased with non-registered funds is taxable. The amount of tax and when it is payable depends on the tax treatment the annuity qualifies for.
  • Withholding tax. Canadian withholding tax is mandatory for annuities purchased with RPP (locked-in and non-locked-in), LIF or DPSP premiums.

Death benefit

Death benefits depend on whether income has started, the source of premium and the guaranteed period chosen.


A payout annuity cannot be partially or fully surrendered and has no cash surrender value.

Essential Care Annuity

If you have a life-shortening condition, we'll consider issuing an enhanced life annuity. This can result in a lower premium or higher income than for someone of the same age and gender without a health impairment. You must provide acceptable medical evidence and special underwriting rules will apply.

To learn more about how payout annuities can help you meet your goals, talk to your advisor today.

Sun Life Global Investments is a trade name of SLGI Asset Management Inc., Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, and Sun Life Financial Trust Inc., all of which are members of the Sun Life group of companies. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada is the issuer of guaranteed insurance contracts including Accumulation Annuities (Insurance GICs), Payout Annuities and Individual Variable Insurance Contracts (Sun Life GIFs). Sun Life Financial Trust Inc. is the issuer of Guaranteed Investment Certificates. ©Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada and its licensors, 2021.