How to Get a NISS (Social Security) Number in Portugal

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Written by: | Last updated on February 29, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes
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You’ve probably come across other important personal identity numbers in Portugal, such as the NIF (fiscal number) or numéro de utente (healthcare number). One other number that you might need is the NISS, which stands for Número de Identificação de Segurança Social. It’s also called a social security number.

The NISS ensures social security payments are collected on your behalf. This is important because it’s a requirement but also because it entitles you to segurança social (social security), for example if you lose your job or are unable to work due to sickness. 

Unlike the NIF, which everyone living in Portugal needs, not everyone needs a NISS. You typically only need a NIF if you’re working in Portugal, for example as an employee or a freelancer.

  • Employees: Your employer will normally request the NISS on your behalf.
  • Self-Employed/Freelancers: You will normally need to request your NISS yourself, either in-person or using an online service.

For Freelancers 

There are two ways to get a NISS:

  1. Use a lawyer or online service to request one remotely.
  2. Visit Segurança Social and request one in-person.

The following companies all offer a service where you can request your NISS number online.

CompanyTimeframeCost
Anchorless14 Days€74.25 with code PORTUGALIST25
Bordr10 Days$140
E-residence14 Days€113 with code PORTUGALIST
Get Sortd3 Weeks€89 with code PORTUGALIST
Novomove7-14 Days€140 with code PORTUGALIST
Visas.pt2-3 Weeks€140

The second option is the do-it-yourself option. You will need to visit your nearest Segurança Social office and give them the application form and other required documents. 

You can find your nearest social Segurança Social office at seg-social.pt or by using Google Maps.

You will typically need the following documents:

  • Your passport (or ID card).
  • Your NIF number (this is your personal Portuguese tax identification number).
  • Your residence permit.
  • Proof of address (such as a rental contract, deeds to the property if you own it, or an atestado de residência).
  • Application form (for self employed/freelancers).

Note: Freelancers often need six months of tax contributions registered with Finanças before they are able to register for a NISS at a Segurança Social office. 

For Employees

If you’re an employee working at a Portuguese company, your employer will most likely help you obtain the NISS. However, double check this is the case as you will want to make sure you are making social security contributions. 

One challenge people moving to Portugal often come across is that their employer may ask for a NISS in order to provide a contract. However, if they do not have the NISS yet, it’s not always as easy as asking your nearest Segurança Social office to provide one – they’ll ask for a work contract. To get around this bureaucratic dilemma, many companies will provide a letter of intention to offer a work contract (rather than the actual work contract) which seems to satisfy Segurança Social. 

If you do not yet have a work contract you can technically get a NISS, but it seems to be more complicated.  

For Children

Somewhat surprisingly, children also need a NISS number in order to go to school. As blogger Alicia writes,

“You must get a NISS number,” said the teacher, standing in the sunlight and showing me a piece of paper with a list scribbled on it. “We need a NISS, and a vaccination certificate for your son. Also a health card.” All that? Where do we start?

Written by

James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.