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Expat Exchange - How to Get Your Portuguese NISS Number (Social Security)
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How to Get Your Portuguese NISS Number (Social Security)

By Betsy Burlingame

Portugal Residency Advisors
Portugal Residency Advisors

Summary: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Portuguese NISS Number (Social Security Number) including how to apply online and in person, frequently asked questions, necessary documents and more.

Who Needs a Portuguese NISS Number and When

The Número de Identificação de Segurança Social (NISS) is the Portuguese Social Security Identification Number. It is essential for anyone who intends to work, live, or access social security benefits in Portugal. This includes expats, digital nomads, retirees, and anyone who plans to engage in any activity that requires social security contributions or benefits. You will need a NISS before you start legally working in Portugal, as it is required for tax purposes and to access healthcare and other social services.

Obtaining a Portuguese NISS Number Online

As of my knowledge cutoff in 2023, the process of obtaining a NISS number can be initiated online, but it may require in-person follow-up depending on your situation. The online service is available through the Social Security Direct (Segurança Social Direta) website. Here is a step-by-step guide to obtaining your NISS online:

  1. Visit the Social Security Direct website at https://www.seg-social.pt/seguranca-social-direta.
  2. Register for an account if you do not already have one. You will need your Portuguese tax number (NIF) to do this.
  3. Once registered and logged in, navigate to the section for NISS application.
  4. Fill out the application form with your personal details, including your NIF and residence information.
  5. Submit the form and any required documents. Typically, you will need to provide a copy of your passport, proof of address in Portugal, and your work contract if applicable.
  6. After submission, you will receive a provisional NISS number. The final NISS will be issued after your documents are reviewed and approved.

The online process is generally faster and more convenient, but it may not be available for all applicants. If you encounter issues or if your situation requires a more detailed review, you may need to complete the process in person.

Obtaining a Portuguese NISS Number In Person

If you are unable to complete the process online or prefer to do it in person, you can visit a local Social Security office. Here's how to proceed:

  1. Locate the nearest Social Security office (Segurança Social) to your residence in Portugal.
  2. Prepare the necessary documents, which typically include:
    • Passport or ID card
    • Portuguese tax number (NIF)
    • Proof of address in Portugal (such as a utility bill or rental contract)
    • Work contract or proof of professional activity (for workers)
  3. Make copies of all documents. It's advisable to bring at least one copy of each document in addition to the originals.
  4. Visit the Social Security office. It's recommended to arrive early as queues can be long. Some offices may require you to schedule an appointment in advance.
  5. Fill out the NISS application form provided by the office and submit it along with your documents.
  6. The office will process your application and issue your NISS number. The processing time can vary, but it is typically completed within a few days to a few weeks.

There is no cost associated with obtaining a NISS number. However, be prepared for potential delays or requests for additional documentation.

Possible Issues and Solutions

Some common issues that applicants may encounter include language barriers, long waiting times, and requests for additional documentation. To mitigate these issues, consider the following tips:

  • If you do not speak Portuguese, bring a translator or ask for assistance from someone who speaks the language.
  • Ensure all your documents are up to date and accurately reflect your current situation.
  • Be patient and plan for the possibility of multiple visits to the Social Security office.
  • If you are unsure about the process or required documents, seek advice from a local expat community or a professional service that assists foreigners in Portugal.

FAQs Related to Obtaining a Portuguese NISS Number

Q: Can I work in Portugal without a NISS number?
A: No, you need a NISS number to work legally in Portugal and to make social security contributions.

Q: How long does it take to get a NISS number?
A: The processing time can vary. Online applications may receive a provisional NISS almost immediately, while the final NISS and in-person applications can take from a few days to a few weeks.

Q: Do I need a NISS number if I am a retiree?
A: If you are a retiree and do not plan to work in Portugal, you may not need a NISS number. However, if you want to access certain social services or healthcare, you may be required to have one.

Q: Is there a fee for obtaining a NISS number?
A: No, there is no fee for obtaining a NISS number in Portugal.

Q: Can I apply for a NISS number before moving to Portugal?
A: Generally, you need to have a Portuguese address and tax number (NIF) to apply for a NISS, which means you would need to be in Portugal or have arrangements in place before applying.

For the most current information and any changes to the process, always refer to the official Portuguese Social Security website or contact a local Social Security office directly.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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Portugal Residency Advisors

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Portugal Residency Advisors

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