Your important social security number in Portugal
Moving to a different country is not for the fainthearted and moving to Portugal is no different. A country known for its dreamy beaches and sublime climate, you may well be thinking about how you can fulfil your dream of living in Portugal. However, alongside the excitement of experiencing a new culture, embracing a slightly different way of life, and trying to decipher the language, you will also have to jump through some administrative hoops – an important one being how to get your social security number in Portugal.
In this article, we’ll provide you with the information that you need to make the process as smooth sailing as possible to attain your social security number in Portugal. This will include the benefits of having social security and how to navigate the tricky arena of bureaucracy if you are considering moving to Portugal.
What is the NISS Portuguese social security number?
Your NISS (Número de Identificação de Segurança Social) is your Portuguese social security number. You can only get your NISS if you are working in Portugal and have a job here. Also, as a self-employed freelancer you will also need to have this number.
Your employer will get your number for you if you are working in a company, although you will still need to provide them with the documents that they will need (outlined below). You will need to complete the process yourself if you are self-employed.
With your all-important NISS number, social security contributions are paid to the Portuguese government. This is based on the nature of the work that you will be carrying out in Portugal. The rates generally applicable are 23.75% for employers and 11% for employees.
How to get your social security number in Portugal
Since January 2020, the Portuguese Government has made the process easier to obtain your social security number. Working in Portugal, if you are employed or self-employed, you will be able to get it by hand as soon as you meet the requirements and provide the correct documents to Segurança Social (Social Security Department). As of late, it may even be possible to email Segurança Social to obtain your number, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Requirements to get your social security number
You will first need to have a valid residence permit. You can see our article on how to get a Portuguese residency here, which includes the process and options if you are an EU citizen or a non-EU citizen. If you have at least six months of tax contributions paid to the state, you can also request the number.
You will need to go to the Segurança Social that is closest to you, complete one of the two social security applications, depending on your employment type and provide the documents listed below.
- Employees must complete Form RV1009/2009 (Download Form RV1009/2015 for employees in Portugal (PDF only in Portuguese). This is the document you will need to give to your employer.
- Self-employed workers must complete Form RV1000/2007 – DGSS (Download Form RV1000/2007 – DGSS for self-employed/freelancers in Portugal (PDF only in Portuguese).
- A residence certificate
- A copy of the employment contract certified by the hiring company or a self-employed activity/company formation documents
- Passport or identification card
- Portuguese tax number (Número de Identificação Fiscal – NIF) or national insurance number from home country
- Proof of address in Portugal
- Form duly completed as per the nature of work
Note that you should have all these documents ready to show. However, it may be that you will not have to present all of them.
Social security benefits in Portugal
Social security benefits are applicable to Portuguese nationals, qualifying EU nationals, and legal residents in Portugal. This includes their spouses and dependents.
The social security system provides a contributory scheme for employed or self-employed individuals and their families for sickness, birth or adoption, retirement, unemployment, death, work-related accidents, illness, or disability. A non-contributory scheme for those who do not meet the minimum income requirements is also applicable. A comprehensive guide from the European Commission can be viewed here.
Healthcare in Portugal is covered once you have social security. The country has a very good healthcare system that is ranked the 13th best in Europe by the Euro Health Consumer Index in 2018 and as the highest in terms of patient’s rights, overall health outcomes, and waiting times.
Bureaucracy in Portugal
It is quite common to hear that bureaucracy in Portugal is a hassle. However, living in Portugal, you will quickly come to terms with the process. Of course, it can be a little slow in some cases and there can be lots of paperwork but the process should not be too cumbersome.
How to navigate bureaucracy in Portugal
The very first thing that should always be in your mind when navigating the rocky road of administration, is to carry more paperwork than you think you will need. What is the harm in taking a document that you, in the end, do not need to show the authority? It may just be that on that day, the one document you thought they surely would not want to see, is the one that you left behind in the drawer at home.
You will also need to be aware that what is applicable in one location or with one official may not apply in another location or with a different official. For example, the documents that you will need in Lisbon may differ from what you will need to show authorities in Coimbra. Within cities, you may also experience the same issue. One branch of the city may accept your documents, but in another branch they may want some other document.
A professional advisor who is helping foreigners move to Portugal will be able to help you. They will be aware of the process and the hoops that you will need to jump through.
Navigating bureaucracy can be an aggravating and time-consuming process. However, if you are patient, organized, and bring all the documents necessary (even the ones you may think you will definitely not need) then you may even be pleasantly surprised by the ease with which you navigate the process.