What is it and why do I need one?
A codice fiscale is a personal identification number similar to a Social Security number in the US or National Insurance number in the UK.
But it's not just for paying tax. Whether you'll be working or not, the code is essential for everyday life in Italy.
Is it difficult to get?
The good news is that it's relatively easy to get hold of. You can get your own codice fiscale even if you don't speak much of the language – and even if you're not in the country.
How do I apply?
If you're in Italy, go to your local Agenzia delle Entrate (tax office) armed with a photocopy of your ID and an application form. Some offices even have them available in English.
The all-important application form. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
Non-EU citizens may also need to show a valid passport with visa and a valid residence permit.
You can also apply from outside of Italy, either by visiting the Italian embassy in your country or having a legal professional in Italy obtain the tax code on your behalf.
When will I get my codice fiscale?
You should be assigned your code immediately if you're applying in person. The tax office will print out a piece of paper with your number.
A plastic card carrying the same information will be posted a few weeks later to the address you wrote on the form.
If you later apply for a tessera sanitaria, or Italian state health insurance card (and you should if you're going to be here for more than three months), your codice fiscale will also be printed on the back of that.