How to get a Codice Fiscale in Catania, Italy.
Congratulations! You have decided to move to one of the most beautiful and historical countries in the world. There will be plenty of great food, laughs and good times; but also one of the most kafkaesque bureaucracies in the world.
I just moved here from China so trust me, I know a thing or two about paperwork.
What is the Codice Fiscale?
I don’t really need to explain too much about what the Codice Fiscale is, if you’re reading this, then you already know that. It’s that pesky little number you will need for everything from getting a proper SIM card, using the vending machine, signing contracts with utility companies (e.g. gas, internet, phone company) and even buying concert tickets online, so basically for everything! It is issued by the Agenzia delle Entrate (the Italian Revenue Agency) and it is a plastic card the size of a credit card with a unique 16-digit, alphanumeric code.. Italians pretty much get it at birth but for us new comers, we gotta go through the process.
You must do the application in person at your nearest Agenzia delle Entrate office, which you can find here. To apply you must bring your passport or a ‘stay permit’ if you are from outside of the EU (Permesso di Soggiorno) and copies of both.
Then you must get your queuing number, fill the forms they give you and just wait. When it’s your turn, just ask if you could get the codice fiscale, show your documents and filled forms and that’s it! You will get the card later in the mail and then you are ready to buy your first vespa or villa on the Adriatic coast. Now you are one bureaucratic adventure richer!
According to Italian Laws and regulations as of this writing (Early 2020), anyone can get it and it’s pretty fast and simple. You could even technically reach out to the Italian embassy in your country and get it from them. Sounds easy, right?
Not so fast, you’re in Italy!
Our codice adventures started online reading as much as i could about from others who shared their experience getting this lovely number and mentioning how easy it was. One particularly well written resource is by Giovanna at Limonata Lounge. She documents the whole process from her experience.
We set out to the Agenzia on the 17 of January in the morning after calling them to make sure we could just show up (pro-tip: Call ahead as much as possible in Italy to confirm things). We got in quickly, took our number at the desk, the application form and we started waiting. It was a little over an hour if memory serves well but we got in to the specified cubicle.
My wife explains that we’re here for the Codice Fiscale and the lady asks for my Permesso di Soggiorno, also known as the PdS. We Explain that we don’t have it yet as we’re just starting the process. Not possible… that’s the answer.
We explain that we called ahead and confirmed that we were able to get the Codice without a PdS. The lady at the counter had no idea and asked us to come back the following week when the capo (boss) was there. She didn’t know what to do.
Which day?… Not sure, start calling from Monday to check…
OK… Bureaucracy 1 Badr 0…
We left fuming and called everyday to confirm whether the boss was in or not to get this thing out of the way. Finally, on the 22nd of January, the boss is back in. We rush over to the Agenzia.
Same as before, take a number, wait in line. Then it’s our turn.
We go in, explain that we’re here for the Codice and we’re told… you guessed it… NO. Hello Kafkaesque bureaucracy.What about the capo? Not here….
What? we called..
At this point, we’re somewhere between amused and angry so we explain to the teller that we’ve already been here, we were told to come back when the boss was in and that according to the ministry of foreign affairs, this was an easy simple procedure. And did we ever insist.. It felt like playing chicken, really.
Eventually, the lady gave up and started looking through her computer for a way to get this done. And may she be blessed, she found that way!
Within 5mn, i was issued my own Codice Fiscale, giving me access to a wide range of goods and service in our new country.
I got the temporary paper right away:
Bureaucracy 1 Badr 1
This first match ends in a tie!
Bottom line, it’s a long frustrating journey to deliverance here! Keep in mind that it’s not personal, do your homework and just keep trying. Also remembers that locals can’t always really help because they don’t know what a new expat needs to go through. So, smile, get a coffee at the kiosk, and live to eat another arancino.
You should get your card within 10 business days after that in the mail that looks like this:
The immediate benefits are getting a phone number in your name, being able to use vending machines for tobacco products when everything else is closed, just to name a few things. Some websites also will ask for it when buying goods/services online.
Cheers & Welcome to Catania