Personal Public Service Number

Personal Public Service Number

The Personal Public Service Number (PPS No) (Irish: "Uimhir Phearsanta Seirbhíse Poiblí", or "Uimh. PSP") is an identifier issued by Client Identity Services, Department of Social and Family Affairs on behalf of the Minister for Social and Family Affairs in Ireland.

The number was previously known as the Revenue and Social Insurance Number (RSI No) until 1998 and was issued first in April 1979 as a replacement for the separate "PAYE Number" and "Social Welfare Insurance Number" which had been used for income tax and social welfare purposes respectively until then. The PAYE Number was issued by the Revenue Commissioners and these numbers were transferred to the RSI No system as a basis for the unified system.


The format of the number is a unique alphanumeric in the general form 8765432A. The number is assigned at the registration of birth of the child and is issued on a "Social Services Card" often when a child reaches the legal age of employment, currently 16, otherwise a "Letter of Entitlement" is issued. The same format was used by the Department of Education and Science as the "Pupil Number" since 1994 and this caused some concern and confusion as it was in the same format and used the same check character formula, but more often different from the PPS No. In August 2000 the department instigated a program to remove the Pupil Number and replace it with the PPS No in future on records.

The [ format] is 7 numeric characters (including leading zeros), a check character and sometimes a second letter, which if it exists, will be a W. This extra letter was used for women - "W" from "wife" - who married and automatically adopted the same number as their husband, though this practice stopped in 1991 chiefly due to equal rights concerns. The present policy is that these W numbers are eliminated when the bearer comes in contact with social welfare or tax offices and are replaced by the original number. Alternatively a new number is issued when none is traceable. Sometimes, an extra character (either a T or an X) may be used to relate to specific employment or welfare situations such as a husband & wife being employed by the same company, or an employee being employed twice by the same company (where two separate PPS numbers would be needed for reporting purposes) or in a welfare situation, where a separated spouse receives some of the customer's payment on their own behalf.

The Social Services Card also contains a number called the "Primary Account Number" (PAN), this is the long main sequence embossed near the centre of the card. This consists of the issuer number of the International Organization for Standardization, the PPS number and a card issue number; any letters are converted to numbers using the standard convention of A=01 and so forth. Basic personal information is encoded on the magnetic stripe on the rear of the card such as date of birth and sex.

Check Character

The format of the PPS number is seven digits plus a check character. A second character may be used. If so it is always a 'W' [cite web |url= |title=Frequently Asked Questions on the PPS No. |accessdate=2008-04-01 |work=Department of Social and Family Affairs website |quote=A PPS No. is always 7 numbers, and followed by either one or two letters. If there are two letters, the second letter is always a letter 'W'.] .

The check character is calculated using a weighted addition of all the numbers and modulus calculation. It therefore checks for incorrectly entered digits and for digit transposition (digits in the wrong order will alter the sum due to weightings).


In reverse order, each digit is multiplied by a weight, 2, 3, and so on until the first digit is multiplied by 8. Add up each result. Divide by 23 and the remainder (modulus 23) will indicate the character position on the alphabet.

Thus the PPS number 1234567 will be calculated as the sum of 7*2, 6*3, 5*4, 4*5, 3*6, 2*7 and 1*8. This 112 when divided by 23 leaves a remainder of 20. The twentieth letter of the English alphabet is 'T'. The correct PPS number is therefore 1234567T.


The number is currently used for a number of public services including education, health, housing, social welfare and tax however the net is widening but this has not raised concern about functionality creep yet as occurred in other countries. The number is underpinned in legislation by the " [ Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 1993 (Section 223)] " and a number of amendments, including data protection, has expanded its legal use as well as defining improper usage.

The number has already been issued automatically to everyone born in the Republic of Ireland since January 1971 and those who commenced or were in employment since April 1979 - the primary trigger today for the numbers issue is a birth registration. A number of people continue not to be issued with the number, these are primarily homemakers and those who were born or worked prior to the commencement dates - numbers can be applied for at social welfare offices on production of the required documentation which typically involves proof of identity and employment.


External links

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