Expat Essentials

The definitive guide to Portuguese bureaucracy, Pt. 2: Getting your SNS number and NISS

(Editor’s noteThis post on getting the SNS number and NISS in Portugal is the second in a two-part series explaining the processes for getting essential documents. You can see Pt. 1 here on getting your NIF.)

The NISS is mandatory and very important if you’re going to declare taxes in Portugal because it identifies you for any social security related matter. The SNS number is one of the most important types of identification, even more nowadays in the middle of a pandemic. Even though it’s not mandatory, it is definitely a relief to know that you can count on a public health system during times like these.

What is a NISS?

NISS stands for Número de Identificação de Segurança Social, so it’s your Social Security number in Portugal. You can only get it once you have a job or if you’re registered as a freelancer. In the first case, your employer must get it for you; in the second case you can do all the process by yourself.

Take into account that in order to get a job, you need to have an NIF and that’s why the NISS is the second step.

NISS requirements

If you’re an employee, your employer will need:

• Mod RV 1009-DGSS

• Mod RV 1006-DGSS

• Passport (if you’re a third country national)

• ID (if you’re a citizen from the EU, EEA or Switzerland)

• Work contract

If you’re an independent worker:

• Mod RV 1000-DGSS

• Mod RV 1006-DGSS

• Passport (if you’re a third country national)

• ID (if you’re a citizen from the EU, EEA or Switzerland)

• Declaration of the start of independent activity from Autoridade Aduaneira e Tributária

Finally, if your employer is doing it for you, just send them all the documents and they will sort it out. If you’re a freelancer, send the requirements to: ISS-Pedido- [email protected] and wait for their answer.

If everything is in order, they will send you your NISS number which you can use to access the social security website to keep track of all your contributions: Seguranca Social Direta.

What is a SNS number?

It’s a number you will need to do anything that involves the SNS, which is the Servico Nacional de Saúde (National Health Service), such as getting appointments, exams, and obtaining medicines if you want to use the Portuguese public health system. This is a number that just residents or people that are in process of getting their residence permit * can get and having a NIF is one of the requirements.

Before Covid19, you just had to go to the Centro de Saúde (Health Center) in the area where you live with all the requirements and get it on the spot.

Currently, this process is made online, and you have to call or go to your Centro de Saúde to get the email address you’ll need to send the requirements to.

First, write the following information about the beneficiary:

• Name and last name

• Date of birth

• Phone number and email address

• Address

Then, attach the SNS number requirements:

• Valid ID or passport

• Residence permit** or European Union Citizen Registration Certificate


• NISS (in the event you have it)

**In case you don’t have a residence permit yet, but are in the process of applying (Despacho nº 3863-B/2020) include in the email proof of appointment or any other proof/receipt that you have submitted your documents to SEF.

After sending the email, you’ll have to wait some days to get the response with your SNS number. If you don’t know where your Centro de Saude is, you can find it here.

Since this whole process could take some time depending on the town where you live, try to be patient. Please remember, as a resident in Portugal, you have the right to all these identification numbers, and there’s no need for you to pay anyone to get them for you and even less to provide you with information unless you are in a special circumstance.

I hope this guide makes your life in Portugal a bit easier!

About the author:

Mónica Da Silva was born in Venezuela but her parents and grandparents are Portuguese. She’s a teacher and translator. Mónica lived in Bonn, Germany for 6 months and has been in Lisbon for a year and a half.

She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, English, French and a bit of German.

Read more about Lisbon and Portugal in our Dispatches archives.

Website | + posts

Mónica da Silva is half-Venezuelan, half Portuguese and has lived in Venezuela, Portugal, Spain and Germany. She has studies linguistics and has a Bachelor’s Degree in European Studies. Besides contributing to Dispatches, she works remotely as an English teacher, which allows her to be on the move as often as she wants. 

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