Updated: May 31, 2024

Your 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 and are shared by the employer and employee. The rates generally applicable are 23.75 percent for employers and 11 percent for employees. These payments cover pension, family, and unemployment benefits. 


How to Get Your Social Security Number in Portugal

The Social Security Number is for both local and foreign residents 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. 

  1. 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.
  2. Self-employed workers must complete Form RV1000/2007 – DGSS (Download Form RV1000/2007 – DGSS for self-employed/freelancers in Portugal (PDF only in Portuguese).

Documents required:

  1. A residence certificate
  2. A copy of the employment contract certified by the hiring company or a self-employed activity/company formation documents
  3. Passport or identification card
  4. Portuguese tax number (Número de Identificação Fiscal – NIF) or national insurance number from home country
  5. Proof of address in Portugal
  6. 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 Portugalhealth benefits of having social security 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

Social Security Number in PortugalThe 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.

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Get Your Social Security Number in Portugal:

To get a social security number in Portugal, you must visit the Segurança Social and provide them with the Social Security Application and the necessary documents, such as a residence certificate and tax number.

Your employer will likely provide you with your social security number. You will just need to provide them with your Social Security application. If you are working in Portugal, you will need to have a social security number.

In January 2020, the Portuguese government made it considerably easier to obtain your social security number.

However, make sure that you have all the required documents ready to give to the Segurança Social and have completed the Social Security application. 

Working in Portugal there can occasionally be a catch-22. This is where you may need to show your contract to get the social security number, and you need your social security number to get a contract. If this happens, simply have your future employer write a formal letter stating that they intend to hire you. However, this should not be the case in most circumstances. Your employee will ask you to fill in the Social Security application and then complete the process themselves. They will then provide you with your social security number.

To move to Portugal, alongside the Social Security number, you will need to have a Residence permit and tax number.

You can get your tax number from the Tax Office. You should also ensure that you are signed up with your closest healthcare center (Centro de Saúde). 

The Portuguese Social Security system protects citizens’ fundamental rights and gives fair access to opportunities by providing them with a range of benefits and assistance in the event of a medical emergency, disability, unemployment, parenthood, and other circumstances. Both Portuguese and foreign nationals who make donations in Portugal are covered by the system.

A Portuguese social security number is called a NISS (Número de Identificação de Segurança Social), and you can only obtain one if you are employed in Portugal. Also, you will require this number if you are a freelancer working for yourself.

You need to present a work contract evidencing your tax and other social security payments in Portugal if you want to apply for a Portuguese social security number as a foreign national. However, employers are unable to fill positions as long as workers do not provide the NISS.

You need to go to the Segurança Social in Portugal and submit the Social Security Application along with the required paperwork to receive a social security code. Your social security code will probably be given to you by your employer. All you have to do is give them your Social Security application.

Contact Social Security services by telephone. The Social Security Line (+351 210 545 400 / +351 300 502 502, working days from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) provides general information on benefits, allowances, pensions, employees, employers, contributions, etc.

Your NISS number (Social Security Identification Number) is an identification number assigned by the Portuguese administration. Foreign citizens applying for the allocation of a Portuguese NISS number must be legal residents in Portugal.

You can discover more in this exclusive chapter of our new e-book Your Expert Guide to Buying Property in Portugal that you can download for free right now.
Download here