Government & Law

The codice fiscale: ID numbers in Italy

Find out why you need a codice fiscale when moving to Italy, including what this identification number is used for and how to apply.

Codice fiscale

By Stephen Maunder

Updated 8-1-2024

When moving to Italy, you’ll need to get a tax identification number (codice fiscale). This number acts as a form of identification for government departments, businesses, and services such as banks and utility companies.

Conveniently, the codice fiscale can be obtained either in Italy or from your home country, though the application rules vary depending on whether you’re an EU or non-EU citizen. Read on to find out more about obtaining a codice fiscale, including information on the following:

The codice fiscale in Italy

The most important ID number in Italy is the codice fiscale. There are a number of names for it, including tax identification number, personal identification number, and fiscal code. It’s necessary for all manner of services, such as registering for tax and providing identification for social security, healthcare, and employment.

A woman holding a phone and using a laptop

The Italian Revenue Agency (Agenzie delle Entrate) issues the codice fiscale. Italian nationals are given a number at birth, and non-nationals moving to Italy can request one at any point. Internationals who apply for a codice fiscale receive a plastic card specifying their number within a couple of weeks of the acceptance of their application.

How the codice fiscale is calculated

The codice fiscale comprises 16 letters and numbers, which follow a fixed pattern. This means that, theoretically, you can work out your own number or use an online generator to find out what it’ll be. One word of warning – while it might be possible to calculate it, only numbers officially issued by the Italian Revenue Agency are valid. Codici fiscale use the following pattern:

  • Six letters: the first three consonants from your surname, followed by the first three from your first name. If you run out of consonants, vowels are used to fill the gaps. If you don’t have enough vowels in your name, an ‘x’ is added.
  • Five numbers and letters: two numbers signify the year of birth (so 1980 would be 80). These are followed by a letter indicating the birth month. Each month has its assigned letter, but these are not always predictable – for example, January is A, but October is R. The final two numbers correspond to your date of birth, with each day of the month assigned a two-digit code.
  • Four letters/numbers: these signify your place of birth. Every Italian municipality and foreign country has its own four-digit code starting with ‘Z.’
  • One letter: a ‘control’ value generated by the Italian Revenue Agency.

Identification cards in Italy (carta d’identita, CIE)

The codice fiscale is the most important ID number for people moving to Italy, but you should also apply for an electronic identity card (carta d’identita, CIE). The CIE acts as an identification document and allows you to access online government services. All foreign nationals registered as Italian residents and non-EU citizens with a residence permit can get an ID card. To apply, you’ll need to book an appointment with your local municipality. You’ll need to provide your codice fiscale, alongside an identity document and two passport photos, and pay a fee of €16.79. You can either have your card delivered to you or sent to your registered address within six working days.

Residence permit in Italy (permesso di soggiorno)

If you’re planning on living in Italy for more than three months, you’ll also require a permesso di soggiorno, an Italian residence permit. There are many types available depending on the purpose of your stay, for example marriage, business, or study. While the codice fiscale is for day-to-day services, your residence permit shows you have legal grounds to remain in Italy.

To apply, you’ll need to visit an Italian post office and collect an application form called the ‘kit.’ You’ll be required to pay an application fee and provide documents, including your passport and proof of address. You will also need to attend a police station to have your fingerprint scanned. The Italian Immigration Portal and Interior Ministry provide full details of how to apply for a permit (websites in Italian).

What information does the Italian Revenue Agency keep about me?

Your specific 16-digit codice fiscale number is generated based on your name, and date and place of birth, and is totally unique to you. This use of your personal information means the Italian Revenue Agency and official government bodies can easily identify you when you carry out legal actions such as commencing work and paying taxes. The unique number can also be cross-referenced by other organizations, such as banks and companies.

Using your codice fiscale

The codice fiscale is required to carry out many activities in Italy. This includes access to vital services such as the following:

  • Employment: to work in Italy, you’ll require a codice fiscale. Without it, you won’t be able to sign an employment contract or register to pay taxes.
  • Social security: the codice fiscale is required as identification for social security contributions.
  • Healthcare: you won’t be able to get a healthcare card (tessera sanitaria, SSN) without a codice fiscale, as your healthcare documents include your tax number. You can, however, access emergency care at public hospitals in Italy without a number.
People working in an office

The codice fiscale is also required for many day-to-day activities in Italy, so you should keep it with you at all times. You can use it for the following:

While it might theoretically be possible to live in Italy without a codice fiscale, in practice it isn’t really an option, as you won’t be able to earn any money, open a bank account or obtain healthcare without it.

Who needs a codice fiscale?

Technically, a codice fiscale is required by anyone planning to stay in Italy for longer than three months. In practice, anyone who lives in Italy for a meaningful amount of time will need one. This includes students moving to the country to study and children relocating with their parents.

How to apply for a codice fiscale

You can obtain a codice fiscale either in Italy or your home country. If you wish to apply from outside Italy, you can do so at your country’s Italian embassy. However, if you’ve already arrived in Italy, the application rules vary depending on whether you’re an EU or non-EU citizen.

One crucial thing to be aware of is that applying for a codice fiscale is free. However, there are some companies in Italy who’ll charge you a fee to carry out the process on your behalf.

EU citizens

EU citizens can apply at any Italian Revenue Agency office. You’ll need to fill out an application form, available at the tax office. You may require the assistance of a translator if you don’t speak Italian. Before your application can be processed, you’ll need to show a valid form of identification, such as your passport or ID card.

Non-EU citizens

Non-EU citizens planning to work in Italy must apply at their local municipality’s immigration desk (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione). Those who also require a residence permit should apply for their tax number at an Italian Police headquarters.

A woman paying a machine with a credit card

A completed application form and some identification will be required. Valid forms of ID include passports, ID cards issued by an Italian municipality, and residence permits. Ultimately, non-EU citizens need to show evidence that they have the right to stay in Italy before they can receive a codice fiscale.

When do you get your ID number?

When applying in person, you’ll be given your codice fiscale immediately, in the form of a letter. You’ll receive your plastic card in the post a couple of weeks later. Once you’ve successfully obtained your number, you can apply for a health insurance card.

If your codice fiscale card contains the wrong details, you’ll need to attend your local tax office with a form of identification and request a new one. If you lose your card, you can apply for a replacement online (in Italian).

Business ID numbers in Italy

When setting up a business in Italy, you’ll need to apply to the Italian Business Register, which is part of the Chamber of Commerce (Camera di Commercio). This will allow you to obtain a company codice fiscale. Rather than being based on a specific pattern, the corporate version of the codice fiscale is a randomized series of numbers and letters.

The number will be included on the Company Registration Report, which contains a variety of legal and tax information. It’s also mandatory to register for a VAT number when setting up a business in Italy.

Taxes for freelancers are slightly different. If you’re working as a sole trader or freelancer, you’ll usually pay tax on your profits rather than corporate tax. If this is the case, your personal codice fiscale will be used. Depending on the nature of the self-employed work, some sole traders must register with the Chamber of Commerce and obtain a VAT number.