New NISS application process in Portugal creates challenges for global hiring

New NISS application process in Portugal creates challenges for global hiring

Andreia Mendes
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Companies seeking to hire international talent in Portugal face new challenges due to recent changes in the process of obtaining a Social Security number (NISS). Previously, foreign workers could request a NISS in advance, sharing only personal information and ID. This allowed companies to begin employment shortly after their employee’s arrival. But now, stricter requirements are causing delays and confusion, impacting both employers and employees.

What is the NISS?

The NISS is a social security number mandatory for anyone legally working in Portugal. It allows access to social security benefits and enables employers to deduct social security contributions from salaries.

What changed on the 2nd of July? 

As of 2nd of July, to request a NISS, applicants must now provide:

1. Proof of employment status (contract, company registration, freelancer confirmation)
2. Proof of immigration status (residence permit, application for residence permit, application for residence visa for CPLP countries, or residence permit certificate for CPLP citizens)

Who’s affected by this change? 

CPLP (Community of Portuguese Language Countries) Citizens: Unaffected, as NISS can be requested upon visa issuance.

TPS (Temporary Protection Status) Holders: Unaffected, as proof of protection request is accepted for manual requests, even though the NISS is usually automatically granted.

EU Citizens: Unclear, as one of the required documents, the work visa, doesn't exist for EU citizens. Additionally, the requirement for extra documents violates the right to move, reside, and work freely within the EU.

Third-Country Nationals: May need to complete relocation before applying for NISS.

Family members: The process for obtaining a NISS for family members accompanying workers is still unclear.

What challenges do new regulations present? 

These changes create a dilemma for companies hiring international talent. Companies must now choose between immediate onboarding, risking fines, or waiting for NISS allocation, which can cause onboarding to be delayed by 6 to 8 months.

Most companies will likely hire as soon as most documents are ready and notify authorities of the hiring decision 15 days in advance, using only the tax number (NIF). However, a declaration with NISS is required on the employee's first day of work. Without this, the Comunicação de vínculo de trabalhadores (communication of employment relationship) might be rejected by the Social Security services, and businesses risk fines ranging from €50 (1 employee affected) to €1000 (50 or more employees affected). Additionally, employers must also withhold social security contributions until the NISS number can be communicated to Social Security.

Although a procedure exists for companies to request the NISS on behalf of their employees, the required documents remain the same, and so does the outcome.

What follows? 

Portuguese Social Security Services haven't addressed legal implications or provided clear explanations, leaving employers and employees without clear guidelines on how to proceed.

We recommend companies hiring international talent in Portugal stay on top of the situation and adjust procedures as it develops. It's crucial to maintain open communication with relocating employees regarding potential delays and changing procedures.

These changes highlight the importance of partnering with experienced immigration and global mobility service providers like Jobbatical. Our expert team can help you stay informed, plan ahead, and offer guidance for both your HR and Mobility teams and your relocating employees. Learn more about our services here.

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