PPS Number - Code of Practice


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Your Personal Public Service Number Logo

If you have a query regarding your PPS Number please contact:
Client Identity Services,
Department of Social and Family Affairs,
Social Welfare Services,
Shannon Lodge,
Carrick-on-Shannon,
County Leitrim

Telephone: Lo Call 1890 927999
Email: cis@welfare.ie

DISCLAIMER

Use of the Personal Public Service Number is governed by law. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information in this document is accurate and complete, no liability shall attach to the Department of Social Protection for any errors and/or omissions.

Prepared by
Client Identity Services
of the Department of Social Protection.

Edition: January 2011

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Section 1

1.1. Introduction
1.2. Purpose of the Code
1.3. Terms and Acronyms used in this Code
1.4. Statement of Objectives
1.5. Who this Code is aimed at
1.6. Comments on the Code

2. Section 2

2.1. Legislation regulating the use of the PPS No
2.1.1. Who can use the PPS Number?
2.1.2. Who can not use the PPS Number?
2.2. Transfer and disclosure of data

3. Section 3

3.1. Key concepts
3.1.1. "Public Service Identity"
3.1.2. "Unique Identifier"
3.2. General Principles
3.3. The Data Protection Principles

4. Section 4

4.1. Responsibilities of The Department of Social Protection
4.2. The individual's responsibility
4.2.1. Examples of common documents and cards that display the PPS Number
4.3. Responsibilities of public bodies

5. Section 5

5.1. Enforcement

6. Section 6

6.1. Code Review and Amendment
6.2. Last Updated

7. Section 7

7.1. Frequently asked questions about the PPS No

 

Appendix A

Bodies authorised to use the Personal Public Service No

Appendix B

Most Frequent Users of the PPS Number


Section 1

1.1 Introduction

The Personal Public Service Number (PPS No.) was introduced in the 1998 Social Welfare Act as the unique personal identifier for transactions between individuals and Government Departments and other agencies (referred to hereafter as "public bodies") specified in the Social Welfare Acts.

In 2002, the concept of the Public Service Identity (PSI) comprising the PPS No. and associated identity data was introduced [Section 12, Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2002.] Other relevant legislation includes Section 262 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, Section 32 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2007 and Section 8 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2010.

Since 1998 the number of public bodies entitled to use the PPS No. has been extended.

1.2 Purpose of the Code

The purpose of this Code of Practice is to promote and facilitate the proper use of the PPS No. in accordance with legislation.

1.3 Terms and Acronyms used in this Code

Public Body - A body entitled by law to use the PPS No.

PPS No. - Personal Public Service Number

DSP - Department of Social Protection

CIS - Client Identity Services - the section of DSP responsible for managing the PPS No.

PSI - Public Service Identity

The Minister - The Minister for Social Protection

1.4 Statement of Objectives

As a result of the initiatives and developments outlined above, the PPS No. will become a feature of an ever-increasing number and type of transactions between individuals and public bodies.

This Code aims to ensure that both individuals and agencies are aware of their rights and obligations regarding the use of the PPS No, including when it should be used, and indeed when it cannot be used.

1.5 Who this Code is aimed at

This document is intended to be of assistance to:

  • Public bodies or persons or bodies authorised to act on behalf of a public body
  • Persons or organisations who have dealings with public bodies
  • Anyone seeking to ensure that their PPS No. is being properly used
  • Any person or body unsure as to whether, or in what circumstances, they are permitted to use the PPS No.

1.6 Comments on the Code

Comments and queries on this Code may be directed to:
Client Identity Services,
Department of Social Protection,
Shannon Lodge,
Dublin Road,
Carrick-on-Shannon,
Co. Leitrim.

E-mail: cis@welfare.ie

Further information about the PPS No. can be found on this site.

Section 2

Legislation

2.1 Legislation regulating the use of the PPS No.

  • The legislation governing the use of the PPS Number is contained in the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, the Social Welfare Law Reform and Pension Act 2006, the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2007, and Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2010.
  • The PPS No. can be used either by the public bodies named in the above Social Welfare Acts (see Appendix A for a full list of these bodies), or by any person or body authorised by these public bodies to act on their behalf.
  • The PPS No. can also be used by any person who has a transaction (see definition below) with a public body e.g. an employer making Income Tax/PRSI returns on behalf of an employee.
  • Under Social Welfare legislation the PPS No. cannot be used by the Defence Forces for anyone other than their own members.
    The Immigration Act 2003 provides that the PPS No. can be used by An Garda Síochána in respect of non-EU nationals. An Garda Síochána cannot use the PPS No. for anyone else other than their own members.
  • While the PPS No. can only be used by public bodies, equally it can only be used by such bodies for particular transactions as follows:
    - an application
    - a claim
    - a communication
    - a payment
    or
    - a supply of a service
    where the transaction relates to a public function of a public body.
  • It is an offence for any person or body to request or hold a record of a PPS No. unless they are permitted by law to do so. See Section 5.1 below. It is therefore the duty of all bodies to ensure that they are specified in law as being so entitled, before they request or hold a record of any person's PPS No.
2.1.1 Who can use the PPS Number?

The PPS No. replaced the Revenue and Social Insurance Number (RSI No.) that was only used in relation to transactions with Revenue and the Department of Social Protection. The PPS Number can be used by:

  • Any organisation listed in legislation, e.g. a Government Department or Health Service Executive.
  • Any person or body authorised by a public body to do so.
  • Any person who has a transaction with a public body
2.1.2 Who can not use the PPS Number?
  • Private companies or bodies, other than in transactions with public bodies.
  • Any person or body not authorised under legislation to do so.

Where it is unclear as to whether a particular body or person is entitled to use the PPS No, queries may be addressed to:

Client Identity Services,
Department of Social Protection,
Shannon Lodge,
Dublin Road,
Carrick-on-Shannon,
Co. Leitrim.
Ph: Lo Call 1890 927999

Email: cis@welfare.ie

2.2 Transfer and disclosure of data

Social Welfare legislation [1] sets out the purposes for which sharing of information between public bodies, using the PPS No. as a unique identifier is allowed. The Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 also impose conditions, as outlined in Section 3.3 , regarding transfer and disclosure of personal data.

The areas of Social Welfare legislation dealing with this issue are:

  • Sec 14, Social Welfare Act 1998 - sets out the initial list of "specified bodies", - permits data sharing for the administration and control of certain Health Service Executive schemes (including Medical Cards), Higher Education Grants, Civil Legal Aid and Local Authority Housing subventions.
  • Sec 27, Social Welfare Act 1999 - extended the list of "specified bodies" to include the General Medical Services Payments Board and 28 voluntary hospitals
  • Sec 32, Social Welfare Act 2000 - further extended the list of "specified bodies" to include the National Breast Screening Board and, (for the purposes of the Education Act 1998 only), schools, universities and other designated educational institutions.
  • Sec 10, Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2003 - added
    - The Central Statistics Office
    - The Central Applications Office
    - The National Cancer Registry Board
    - An tÚdarás um Árd-Oideachas
    - National Education Welfare Board
    - a body established by the Minister for Education and Science under Section 54 of the Education Act 1998.
  • Sec 11, Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004 – added
    - the Companies Registration Office
    - Enterprise Ireland
    - the Private Residential Tenancies Board
    - Coillte Teoranta
  • Sec 15, Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2005 - added
    - the Mental Health Commission to the list of "specified bodies"
  • Sec 35, Social Welfare Law Reform and Pensions Act 2006.
    - the National Educational Welfare Board
    - the Teaching Council
    - the Private Security Authority
    - Commission for Taxi Regulation.
  • Schedule 5 amendment, Social Welfare and Pensions (No2) Act, 2009
    -Health and Social Care Professional Council
    -Road Safety Authority

Other legislation containing provisions relating to the transfer and disclosure of data for such purposes includes:

  • Health (Provision of Information) Act 1997 - permits data sharing for the purposes of cancer screening programmes
  • Education (Welfare) Act 2000 - for the purposes of recording and/or monitoring a person's education or training history and for carrying out educational research.
  • Finance Act 2001 - for the purposes of administering the Special Savings Incentive Scheme
  • Teaching Council Act, 2001 - added the Teaching Council to the list of "specified bodies".
  • Pensions (Amendment) Act 2002 - added the Pensions Board to the list of "specified bodies".
  • Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 - added the Personal Injuries Assessment Board to the list of "specified bodies".
  • The Immigration Act 2003 - permits data sharing for the purposes of that Act.
  • The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 permits data sharing with the Private Residential Tenancies Board.
  • Taxi Regulation Act, 2003 - added the Commission for Taxi Regulation to the list of "specified bodies".
  • Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 added the National Council for Special Education to the list of "specified bodies".
  • Private Security Services Act 2004 - added the Private Security Authority to the list of "specified bodies".
  • Health Insurance (Miscelleaneous Provisions) Act 2009- permits the collection of relevant information of an insured person including the PPS number
  • S.I. 136 of 2008- Obligation to provide and seek Tax Reference Numbers

Section 3

Key Concepts and General Principles

3.1 Key concepts

3.1.1 "Public Service Identity"
  • The Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2002 introduced legislation defining a person's Public Service Identity [PSI]. Other relevant legislation is the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005, Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2007 and Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2010.
  • A PSI consists of a person's PPS No, surname, forename, date of birth, place of birth, sex, all former surnames [if any], all former surnames [if any] of their mother, address, nationality, date of death in the case of a deceased person, photograph of the person except when the person is deceased, the person’s signature except when the person is deceased and such other information as may be prescribed by the Minister.
  • A person who is under 18 and who has a transaction with a public body shall also furnish the PSI of his or her mother and father.
  • Where relevant, as required for a transaction, a married person shall furnish the PPS No. of his or her spouse and children.
3.1.2 "Unique Identifier"
  • The PPS No. is a unique personal identifier for individuals - no two people have the same PPS No.
  • As a unique identifier, the PPS No. facilitates speedy and accurate identification of individuals accessing public services. It is particularly useful where there may be a number of people with similar or identical names and/or addresses.

 

3.2 General Principles

  • The PPS No. is designed for use in transactions between the individual and public bodies.
  • The PPS No. may only be used by persons authorised to do so under Social Welfare legislation.
  • Data may only be shared using the PPS No. as a common identifier where the sharing is authorised by law e.g. Data Protection or Social Welfare law.
  • Data protection principles (See Section 3.3 ) must be upheld with regard to the PPS No. and all reasonable security steps should be taken with regard to the storage and handing of the PPS No. and associated data.
  • The PPS No. is intended to be used for the purpose of accurately identifying the individual in the administration of public services. It should only be given to and used by public bodies and should not be randomly disclosed.
  • As a unique identifier for individuals the PPS No. is a valuable piece of personal information that should be respected and safeguarded against misappropriation or misuse.
  • A PPS No. is not proof of identity. Neither a PPS No. nor a Social Services Card should be accepted as such. Additional evidence of identity should always be sought, as appropriate.
  • Public bodies that collect a person's PSI have a duty to keep the individual's data up-to-date.

3.3 The Data Protection Principles

A data controller shall, as respects personal data kept by him, or her comply with the following provisions:

(a) the data or, as may be, the information constituting the data shall have been obtained and the data shall be processed fairly.
(b) the data shall be accurate and complete, and where necessary, kept up-to-date
(c) the Data;
(i) shall have been obtained only for one or more specified, explicit and legitimate purposes.
(ii) shall not be further processed in a manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes.
(iii) shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they were collected or are further processed.
(iv) shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes.
(d) Appropriate security measures shall be taken against unauthorised access to, or unauthorised alteration, disclosure or destruction of the data, in particular where the processing involves the transmission of data over a network, and against all other unlawful forms of processing.
(e) A data controller, (a person who controls the content and use of personal data of a living identifiable individual) must also comply with an access request from a data subject for personal data held by a controller.

The full versions of the Data Protection Act 1988 and Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003 can be obtained from the Data Protection Commissioners website at www.dataprivacy.ie

Section 4

PPS Number - Code of Best Practice

4.1 Responsibilities of The Department of Social Protection

  • The Minister for Social Protection is responsible for the allocation and issue of PPS Numbers.
  • Client Identity Services [CIS] of the DSP manages the PPS No., the Social Services Card and the Public Service Identity [PSI] on behalf of the Minister.
  • CIS is responsible for ensuring that:
    - The PPS No. is only used by public bodies,
    - Public bodies only use the PPS No. in accordance with legislative provisions.
  • PPS Numbers are issued by DSP following a controlled allocation procedure, involving a personal attendance at the office, the completion of a written application form, the submission of appropriate identity documents and the proving of identity.
  • PPS Numbers for children newly born in the state, are issued immediately following birth registration. This is provided for under the the Social Welfare [Miscellaneous Provisions] Act 2002, and establishes public service identity (PSI) for newborns at the time of registration of the birth.
  • DSP, as manager of the PPS No., is committed to Privacy and Data Protection and will only disclose an individual's number to the person themselves and/or to a third party with the individual's permission, except as may otherwise be permitted by law.

4.2 The individual's responsibility

  • Documents such as Social Services Cards issued by the DSP, tax documents (e.g. P45, P60) and certain payslips contain the person's PPS No. and as such, should be safeguarded and should not be left around for others to see or misappropriate. [See Section 4.2.1 for a list of common documents that display an individual's PPS No.]
  • The PPS No. is intended for use in connection with public services. Individuals should satisfy themselves that anyone who requests or holds a record of their PPS No. is entitled to do so. In any case where there is doubt as to whether a body is legitimately entitled to request or hold the PPS Number, enquiry should be made of Client Identity Services in the Department of Social Protection who will provide answers to any such request. (see Appendix B for some of the bodies using the PPS No.)
  • Parents, guardians and persons acting "in loco parentis" may need to know childrens' PPS Numbers when transacting on their behalf with public bodies.
  • Individuals may also be asked for their spouse's/partner's PPS Numbers for the purposes of transactions with public bodies.
  • An individual under 18 may need to know their parents PPS Numbers for the purposes of transacting with public bodies e.g. when claiming a Social Welfare benefit.
4.2.1 Examples of common documents and cards that display the PPS Number

A PPS No. can be found on:

  • A Social Services Card
  • Most Social Welfare pension or payment books
  • A P60
  • A P45
  • Payslip/counterfoil from employers as long as it contains the employee's name
  • A PAYE notice of Tax Credits (formerly "Tax Free Allowance Certificate")
  • A tax assessment
  • An item of correspondence from either Revenue or the Department of Social Protection
  • Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS) Card
  • Temporary Payment Card (issued by the Dept of Social Protection)

4.3 Responsibilities of public bodies

  • It is the responsibility of any public body to only use the PPS No. where properly empowered to do so and in accordance with the law.
  • A PPS No. is an item of personal data. Personal data is defined in Data Protection legislation as "data relating to a living individual who is or can be identified either from the data or from the data in conjunction with other information that is in, or is likely to come into, the possession of the data controller." Public bodies have a legal responsibility to observe the Data Protection Principles (See Section 3.3 ) in their use of the PPS No.
  • A public body must not disclose a person's PPS No. to anyone unless they have satisfied themselves that the person making the enquiry is entitled to that information.
  • Third parties, authorised to act on behalf of a public body for a specific purpose, must not use the PPS No. for any other purpose.
  • Use of the number by employers should be confined to interaction with a public body (mainly Revenue and the DSP). Where, on commencement of employment, a new employee advises their employer of their PPS No., the employer should be satisfied that the number relates to that person (additional identification should be sought, if necessary.)

Section 5

5.1 Enforcement [2]

The legislation governing the use of the PPS No. makes it an offence for anyone to use or request the PPS No. of a person other than

  • the person to whom the PPS No. refers (or somebody acting on their behalf and with their knowledge and consent)
  • a public body or agents authorised to act on their behalf
  • a person who has a transaction with a public body where the PPS No. is relevant to the transaction

Any person who believes or suspects there is improper use of the PPS No. in any circumstances should contact Client Identity Services , Department of Social Protection, Shannon Lodge, Dublin Road, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, Ph: 01-7043281, or by email to cis@welfare.ie

In any case in which it is found that the legislation is not being adhered to, action will be taken to remedy the situation and to secure compliance with the legislative provisions.

Section 6

6.1 Code Review and Amendment

This Code of Practice will be regularly reviewed to reflect any legislative changes and any new best practice considerations.

6.2 Last Updated

This version was last updated in January 2011.

Section 7

7.1 Frequently asked questions about the PPS No.

Q1. What is my PPS No.?

A1. Your PPS No. is your Personal Public Service Number. It is a unique identifier for use in any transactions you may have with public bodies or persons authorised by those bodies to act on their behalf. Use of the number eliminates the possibility of confusing one person with another and makes it possible for public bodies to deal in a faster and more efficient manner with their customers.

Q2. How do I find out what my PPS No. is?

A2. Your PPS No. can be found on tax documents and it is often on correspondence from a social welfare or tax office. It may also be on your payslip. See Section 4.2.1 for a list of some of the places you would commonly find a record of your PPS No.

Q3. I've looked for my number and I still can't find it - what should I do?

A3. You should contact your nearest or most convenient Social Welfare office. To find the address of your local offices consult the green pages of the telephone directory, or consult the DSP website List of Local Offices .

Q4. I have just arrived in Ireland and don't have a number. How do I get one?

A4. You should contact your designated Social Welfare Office who will assist you with the registration process. You will be asked to produce documentary evidence of identity and residence in this country. The complete list of documents required can be found on the DSP website at HowToApply.aspx

Q5. What is the format of the PPS No.?

A5. A PPS No. is always 7 numbers, and followed by either one or two letters.

Q6. What am I supposed to use my PPS No. for?

A6. Your PPS No. should only be used in transactions with Government Departments and Agencies or persons or bodies that they have authorised to act on their behalf. (See Appendix A )

Q7. Who can ask me for my PPS No.?

A7. You can only be asked for your PPS No. by one of the agencies listed in Appendix A or by an authorised agent of one of these bodies. Your employer will also use your PPS No. for the purposes of advising Revenue and DSP of your tax deductions and PRSI contributions.

Q8. What should I do if someone asks me for my PPS No?

A8. You should provide them with your number once you are satisfied that they are entitled to ask for it. In this regard you may find it helpful to refer to the list of agencies in Appendix A . In any case of doubt, you should contact Client Identity Services in the Department of Social Protection for clarification.

Q9. What do I do if someone who is not entitled to use the PPS No. asks me for it?

A9. If you believe that a person asking for your PPS No. is not entitled to do so, do not give them your number until you have contacted Client Identity Services , Department of Social Protection, Shannon Lodge, Dublin Road, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, Tel: 01 704 3281 for advice. You can also email us at cis@welfare.ie

Q10. When should I not use my PPS No.?

A10. You should not use your PPS No. or Social Services Card in ordinary commercial transactions. For example, the number or the Social Services Card should not be requested by or given to a retailer as proof of identity or for any other reason when making a purchase, availing of a hiring service etc.

Q11. Can the Gardaí ask me for my PPS No.?

A11. Social Welfare legislation provides that members of An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces are only entitled to use the PPS No. in respect of their own members. However, under the Immigration Act 2003 the PPS No. can be used by An Garda Síochána in respect of non-EU nationals.

Q12. Am I obliged to provide the number if a public body asks for it?

A12. Yes. Once an agency is entitled to use the number, a person who has a transaction with that agency must provide the number on request.

Q13. Can a bank or building society or any other financial institution ask me for my PPS No.?

A13. Yes. These would be where an account holder has a loan on which they are claiming tax relief on the interest paid, for example a mortgage or home improvement loan. In order that the Revenue Commissioners can correctly apply the Tax Relief at Source (TRS) provisions to such a loan, some Financial Institutions notify the interest details to Revenue using the PPS No. as a unique identifier. Note that not all Financial Institutions use the PPS No. in this regard.

The Regulations implementing the EU Taxation of Savings Income Directive require Financial Institutions (Banks, Building Societies, Credit Unions etc.) to establish the identity of prospective customers. In order to comply with the document retention requirement contained in the Regulations, Financial Institutions may retain a manual record or a photocopy of a document containing the PPS Number. The PPS Number must not be recorded on the bank's computer system and the PPS Number must not be used by the bank for any other purpose.

Q14. Is it possible for me to get a new number?

A14. No. Once a PPS No. is allocated it is never changed. If you cannot find your PPS No. you should contact your nearest or most convenient Social Welfare Office for assistance.

To find the address of your local offices consult the green pages of the telephone directory, or consult the DSP website List of Local Offices .

Q15. Is the PPS No. a National ID?

A15. No. The PPS No. is not a national identity. It is designed to be used as a service enabler for the purposes of public service administration. The number forms an essential element of your Public Service Identity (PSI) which provides a speedy efficient means of establishing identity for the purposes of access to and dealings with all public service bodies. The PSI comprises the PPS No. and a defined set of personal data. Your PSI is to be used exclusively in dealings with public bodies or with agents acting on behalf of public bodies.

Appendix A

Bodies authorised to use the Personal Public Service No. under Social Welfare law.

A full list of these bodies can be viewed in our Register of Users

Appendix B

Most Frequent Users of the PPS Number

The following are some of the most frequently encountered public bodies who have adopted the PPS No. as a unique customer identifier to date:

  • Department of Social Protection
  • The Revenue Commissioners
  • Department of Education and Skills
  • Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
  • Local Authorities
  • National Cancer Screening Service
  • Government Special Savings Incentive Scheme
  • Department of Health Immunisation Programmes
  • The General Register Office
  • General Medical Services (Payments) Board
  • The Public Appointments Service
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
  • Health Service Executive
  • Garda National Immigration Bureau.

Client Identity Services of the Department of Social Protection are currently involved in the process of compiling a formal Register of Users of the PPS Number.

The current edition of this Register is available at
Personal Public Service Number-Register of Users.


[1] The full text of these acts is available at www.gov.ie and www.gov.ie/oireachtas

[2] Section 262(9) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005

Last modified:24/01/2011
 

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