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Personal Public Service Number
The Personal Public Service Number (PPS No) 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 the Republic of 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 resectively 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 1234567A 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 confussion as it was in the same format and used the same check character formula, but more often different to 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.
In a few cases the PPS No is in the format 1234567AW, where the final digit is always "W", this is termed a "Level W" number. The latter code 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 Level W numbers are eliminated as as when 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.
The Social Services Card also contains a number called the "Primary Account Number" (PAN), this is the long main sequence embossed near the center of the card. This consists of the issuer number of the International Organization for Standardization, the PPS No 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.
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 occured 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.
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