Getting a NISS (Social Security) Number in Portugal

/ Last Updated: July 24, 2023 / 5 Comments

The small print: Portugalist may generate a commission from mentioned products or services. This is at no additional cost to you and it does not affect our editorial standards in any way. All content, including comments, should be treated as informational and not advice of any kind, including legal or financial advice. The author makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or damages arising from its display or use. Links to external websites do not constitute an endorsement. [More Info]

There are several numbers that you typically need when you live in Portugal. The most common of these, the NIF, is asked almost every time you make a purchase or register for something. Then there’s the numéro de utente or SNS number, which you will need to use the public healthcare system. One other number that you may need is the NISS (Número de Identificação de Segurança Social) or social security number. 

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

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, for example if you lose your job or are unable to work due to sickness. 

For Freelancers 

There are two ways to get a NISS. The first is to use a company or law firm to obtain the number for you. E-residence, for example, can obtain a NISS in 5 days and at a cost of €150 or €140 on Novomove when you use the code PORTUGALIST. The entire process is done online and you only need to upload your NIF and passport. 

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 will typically need:

  • Your passport or ID card
  • Your NIF number (E-Residence also offers this as a service, as does Bordr. More info about getting a NIF here)
  • Your residence permit
  • Proof of address
  • 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.

You can contact James by emailing or via the site's contact form.

Originally published: July 2022 & Last Updated: July 24, 2023.

There are 5 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.


  1. I have a temporary residency in Portugal and I am retired. I was told by a few people that having an NISS is beneficial with regard to medical insurance reimbursement if I need medical care while visiting another European country. The exact details regarding this were never explained to me. Can someone please elaborate on this and explain it to me?
    Thank you

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.