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How to Find Social Security Number in Portugal

By Bernardo Barbosa

Published on 11 January 2024

10 mins read

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The Portuguese Social Security number is known as NISS or Número de Identificação da Segurança Social. There are different official reasons to get (or not get) one, but the bottom line is:

  • If you're Portuguese or expect to live and work in Portugal, the NISS is essential for navigating bureaucracy and accessing certain benefits!

In this complete guide to finding your Social Security number, we will dive deep into what an NISS is, what it is used for, and how you can get one even if you were born outside of Portugal.

What is a Social Security Identification Number (NISS)?

In Portugal, the Social Security Identification Number is known as Número de Identificação da Segurança Social (NISS). It is a unique 11-digit identification number assigned to individuals for social security purposes. The NISS is used to track an individual's social security contributions, entitlements, and benefits.

When you work in Portugal or engage in activities subject to social security contributions, you are typically assigned an NISS. This number is essential for accessing various social security services, such as healthcare, unemployment benefits, and pensions.

How to Find Your Social Security Number in Portugal?

To find your Social Security Number in Portugal, you must have a Citizen Card (Cartão do Cidadão) or other civil identification document issued by the Portuguese Government.

On the back of your Portuguese Citizen Card, you can find three identification numbers: your Portuguese Tax Number (NIF), your Healthcare Number (NSNS), and your Social Security Identification Number (NISS). Represented by 11 digits, your NISS is the number in the middle.

Since the Cartão do Cidadão includes all the fundamental information of Portuguese legal residents, there's no need for a standalone Social Security card in Portugal.

Did you Lose Your Social Security Number?

Portuguese citizens with a valid ID document can find their Social Security Number by visiting their local Social Security office or by calling the Social Security line (210 545 400 / 300 502 502).

Alternatively, you can log into your personal account at the Social Security Portal.

How to Find a Child's Social Security Number?

In Portugal, a Social Security Number is automatically attributed to anyone who's been issued a Citizen Card, and children are no exception. To find your child's SSN, simply consult the back of their identification document.

According to the Portuguese Social Security Administration, all parents must request a Citizen Card for a newborn baby in the 20 days following his or her birth.

What is Portugal's Social Security System Like?

The Social Security system in Portugal is managed by the Social Security Institute (Instituto da Segurança Social or ISS). The ISS is a public organization responsible for implementing social security policies and managing various social protection programs and benefits in Portugal.

Key Aspects of the Portuguese Social Security System

1. Programs and Benefits: Including old-age pensions, disability benefits, unemployment benefits, family allowances, healthcare, and maternity/paternity benefits.

2. Mandatory Contributions: Made by both the employer and the employee.

3. Availability: Social Security services are available online via the Social Security Portal and throughout the country via regional social security centers known as Centros Regionais da Segurança Social.

4. Coordination with Other Entities: Collaboration with entities such as the Portuguese Tax and Customs Authority ensures accurate tracking of contributions and coordination of benefits.

Differences Between the Portuguese Social Security System and the Social Security Administration (United States)

Portugal's Social Security Institute is equivalent to the Social Security Administration in the United States, but there are a few fundamental differences between the two:

1. Coverage: Portugal's Social Security system covers individuals who are employed, self-employed, and certain categories of beneficiaries, such as retirees and people with disabilities. The U.S. Social Security system, on the other hand, covers a broader range of individuals, including workers, retirees, survivors, and individuals with disabilities.

2. Contributions: Social security contributions in Portugal are mandatory for both employers and employees. Contributions fund various social security benefits, and the amount is based on earnings. In the U.S., workers and employers make mandatory contributions to the Social Security Administration through payroll taxes. The funding supports retirement, disability, and survivor benefits.

3. Pensions: Portuguese Social Security includes a pension system for retirees, whereas the U.S. Social Security Administration provides retirement benefits based on an individual's highest 35 years of earnings, with the benefit amount adjusted for the age at which the individual chooses to start receiving benefits.

4. Documents: While Social Security numbers in Portugal are included in the Cartão do Cidadão, the Social Security Administration in the United States issues a dedicated Social Security Card.

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Social Security Numbers for Foreign Citizens

In Portugal, all foreign nationals who want to have a Social Security number can request one. However, they must request a Portuguese Tax Identification Document (NIF) first.

To get an NIF, foreign nationals must submit their request with the help of a legal representative based in Portugal. They must also submit a valid ID, even if they're citizens of the European Union.

Once you've met this basic requirement, you have everything you need to request your Portuguese Social Security number.

Step-by-Step Guide to Getting a Portuguese Social Security Number as a Foreigner

To request a Social Security number in Portugal as a foreigner, you just need to:

1. Apply for the Social Security Identification Number (NISS)

Before requesting an NISS, you need to make sure you're eligible to get one. To do so, you need to have a valid NIF and access certain documents.

If you're a citizen of the European Union, European Economic Area, or Switzerland, all you need is a valid identification document issued by your country of origin.

If you're a national from a third-party country, you need all these documents:

  • Passport.
  • Valid residence permit.
  • Temporary or permanent residence authorization.
  • Additional civil identification document.

All applicants can request an NISS online. If you have an employment contract in Portugal, your employer can request the NISS on your behalf.

2. Request the Social Security Identification Number (NISS)

Now that you have collected all the necessary documentation, all you need to do is fill out the Request for a Social Security Identification Number.

You'll need to submit the following information in this online form:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Full name of both parents
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Country of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Nationality
  • Civil identification documents
  • Taxpayer number
  • Country of residence address
  • Mobile phone number
  • Email

In case you're using a legal representative for the request, you must also provide proof of the legal representation.

3. Collect the Social Security Identification Number (NISS)

After submitting the Request for a Social Security Identification Number, you will receive an email confirming the application.

The next step is to wait for a formal letter stating that you can collect your Social Security number. You can pick it up at a local SSA office yourself (by presenting a valid ID card) or via a legal representative.

Social Security Benefits in Portugal

Having a Social Security number in Portugal offers several benefits to both Portuguese and foreign nationals, including:

1. Social Protection: Social Security in Portugal provides a safety net for individuals, offering financial support during various life stages, including retirement, disability, and unemployment.

2. Universal Coverage: The system aims to provide coverage to a broad range of individuals, including employees, self-employed workers, and specific beneficiary groups, ensuring a more inclusive approach.

3. Healthcare Services: Social Security payments in Portugal also contribute to healthcare services, ensuring that individuals have access to medical care and treatment.

4. Family Allowances: The system includes family allowances, providing financial support to families with children to help cover the costs of raising and caring for children.

5. Online Services: The availability of online services facilitates easy access to information, application processes, and account management for social security benefits.

Portuguese NISS Number: What NOT to Do

Once you've been given your Portuguese Social Security number, it's time to take into account some of the things you should NOT do to stay safe and avoid complications such as identity theft:

1. Share Sensitive Information: Avoid sharing your NISS with individuals or organizations that do not have a legitimate need for it. Keep your Social Security Number confidential to prevent identity theft or misuse.

2. Use it Incorrectly: The NISS is primarily intended for social security-related matters. Avoid using it for transactions or activities unrelated to social security, as this may expose you to potential risks. Remember to use your NIF, not your NISS, for everything related to tax documents, financial statements, and business tax records.

3. Neglect Security Measures: Take appropriate security measures to protect your NISS. Use secure online platforms when accessing Segurança Social online, be vigilant against phishing attempts or fraudulent activities, and refer to your local office as soon as possible in case there's an issue.

Key Takeaways

  • Portugal's Social Security number can be requested by anyone, including citizens from outside the European Union.
  • Unlike the NIF, which is used in tax documents and financial statements, the NISS is exclusively used for social security purposes.
  • In Portugal, a child's SSN is attributed when the child is born and included in his or her Cartão do Cidadão.
  • To obtain an NISS as a third-party national, the necessary documents are a passport, additional identification documents, and a residence permit and authorization.
  • There's not one official way of getting an NISS: you can do it online, in person, and even at a distance, via a legal representative.
  • You don't need a Social Security Card in Portugal: the Cartão do Cidadão contains all the necessary legal information of a person, acting as a replacement card.
  • Social protection, universal coverage, healthcare services, and family allowances are some of the most important benefits of Segurança Social.
  • Don't share your NISS with anyone to avoid identity theft and other issues!
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How much does a Portuguese Social Security number cost?

Getting an NISS in Portugal is cost-free for both foreigners and Portuguese nationals.

What are the necessary documents to request an NISS as a foreigner?

If you're an EU/EEA/Switzerland citizen, you just need a valid ID and proof of legal representation. If you're from a third-party country, the required documents are a passport, an additional ID, a residence permit, and a residence (permanent or temporary) authorization.

Do you need to have a work contract to get an NISS in Portugal?

While being employed can speed up the process of obtaining an NISS in Portugal, everyone from unemployed to self-employed individuals can request it. You can also request an NISS as a self-employed freelancer.

Do I need an NISS to pay taxes in Portugal?

Even though legal persons in Portugal are expected to make contributions to the Segurança Social, these don't really qualify as tax contributions. The NISS is mainly used for welfare purposes, while the NIF is mandatory for everything from signing tax documents, opening a bank account, and even qualifying for an NISS!

Does an NISS protect in cases of work-related accidents?

Yes. The Portuguese Government helps workers with subsidies in cases of work-related accidents and illness.

Does an NISS qualify as a residence permit in Portugal?

No. Unlike a Cartão de Cidadão, an NISS doesn't give you the right to reside in Portugal.

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Written by Bernardo Barbosa

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