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INTERNET

Italian government unveils plan to tackle smartphone addiction

Italian government ministers have drafted a law aimed at preventing and treating the rising phenomenon of addiction to mobile phones and the internet, particularly among young people.

Italian government unveils plan to tackle smartphone addiction
Photo: DepositPhotos

The bill seeks to treat the fear of not having access to a mobile phone – so-called “no-mobile-phone phobia” (also known as “nomophobia”) – and anxiety over not having access to social networks or messaging apps.

It proposes education programmes for parents to detect excessive mobile phone use in children.

The bill also lays out plans for “education towards for a conscientious use of the internet and social networks” in schools and universities.

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Nomophobia particularly affects young people, often preventing them getting a good night's sleep.

Half of Italians aged 15-20 consult their mobile phones at least 75 times a day, Italian media on Monday quoted research by the National Association of Technological Dependance as saying.

Around 61 percent of Italians use their tablet or mobile phone in bed, according to another report published in June, with the figure rising to 81 percent among 18-34 year olds.

However some 21.6 percent of Italians have no internet access at all, with the figure rising to 42.5 percent among over 65s, according to the most recent figures from Italian poll company Censis.

The ruling M5S said in its draft that mobile phone addiction is comparable to gambling addiction, causing “interference with dopamine production”.

80 percent of Italian children aged between three and five are allowed to use their parents' smartphones, according to the Italian Pediatric Society, which also found that 30 percent of Italian parents use smartphones to “distract or quieten” babies under 12 months old.

READ ALSO: Gondolier despairs as tourists spend ride glaring at phones 

 

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Beat the queues: 19 bits of Italian bureaucracy you can do online

While Italy isn't ready to swear off paperwork just yet, there are a growing number of official matters that you can get done online.

Beat the queues: 19 bits of Italian bureaucracy you can do online
Doing admin online is getting easier in Italy - slowly. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Dealing with the patchwork of national, regional and municipal offices that make up Italy’s public administration is without a doubt one of the downsides of daily life here.

And for foreign residents, the extra immigration procedures, language barriers and unfamiliarity can make the whole thing that much harder to navigate – especially if you don’t live in Italy full-time.

The good news is that Italy is trying – slowly – to move more of its administration online, a task more urgent than ever amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

While we can’t save you from the admin itself, we’ve looked for ways you can save yourself a trip in person by doing basic Italian bureaucracy over the internet. 

Make appointments for essential visits

Ok, so there are still many things you can only do in person in Italy – like registering your residency for the first time, requesting an ID card or applying for an Italian passport.

But that doesn’t mean you have to turn up when the office opens and settle in for a long wait. Check online booking system TuPassi to seek if you can make an appointment for the service you need. 

To apply for an ID card, book an appointment at your comune via the Interior Ministry’s website. Or if you’re an Italian citizen and you need a passport, you can book an appointment here to drop off your application and give your fingerprints at the local police station.

Get a digital ID (SPID)

Italy’s ‘Public Digital Identity System’ or Sistema Pubblico di Identità Digitale (SPID for short) is the digital equivalent of a passport: a personal, verified ID that you can use to identify yourself when doing anything official online.

You’ll need it to login to many official websites as well as the government’s public services app IO, so it should be one of the first things you tackle if you plan to do admin remotely. Alternatively you may be able to use your electronic ID card (CIE) plus your smartphone to login: find out how here.

Getting your SPID involves applying via one of the companies accredited by the government to provide it, and while the process varies by provider, some allow you to do the entire verification process from home. Click here for a full guide.

READ ALSO: What’s the IO app and what can you use it for?

Photo: IO.italia.it

Get a certified email address (PEC)

You’re probably familiar by now with Italian officials’ fondness for requesting that important correspondence be sent by registered post. But you can save yourself trips to the post office by using the digital equivalent: ‘Electronic Certified Mail’, or Posta Elettronica Certificata (PEC).

It’s basically an email account that you have to show official ID to set up. Messages you send from it are certified with a date and time stamp to show when you sent it and when it was received, and they have the same legal value as a physical lettera raccomandata (registered letter).  

You can get your own PEC address – for a monthly or yearly fee – from one of the official providers listed here.

Get a digital signature

While some bureacrats will no doubt insist on handwritten signatures until the end of time, Italian law recognizes electronic signatures on several important legal documents, including employment contracts, commercial agreements, certain public deeds, and others. 

Several companies are accredited to provide legally valid digital signing services in Italy, which add a two-step verification process when you sign a document electronically. Find a list here

Calculate your codice fiscale

Your codice fiscale or tax code is a personal identification code you can be asked for in Italy for all sorts of things, from opening a bank account to paying bills or even shopping online.

READ ALSO: Codice fiscale: How to get your Italian tax code

If you don’t already have one you’ll need to go to your local tax office, if you’re in Italy, or your nearest Italian consulate if you’re overseas. But in the meantime, since the code is generated according to your name, gender and date and place of birth, it’s possible to work out what it will be. Use an online tool like this one to figure out yours.

Note that you’ll still need to ask the Revenue Agency (Agenzia delle Entrate) to assign you a code, even if it ends up being identical to the one you calculated. A codice fiscale calculated online is not official and may be incorrect.


You can’t always avoid a trip to the Italian tax office, but you can at least make an appointment. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Change your residency within Italy

If you move to Italy from overseas, the first time you register your residency will involve visiting the anagrafe (registry office) in person. 

READ ALSO: Italian residency: Who needs it and how do you get it?

But it gets easier from there. If you’re moving within Italy, many comuni now allow you to notify them of your new address by email (in fact, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, this is the only way some registry offices are accepting residency requests).

Check your local comune‘s website for a dichiarazione di residenza (‘declaration of residency’) form and send a completed copy, along with scans of the necessary proof of address and ID, to the email address indicated. In some cases you may be required to send the application by PEC.

Request official certificates

Italy is gradually digitalising its vast database of official records and, depending on how advanced your local registry office is, you may well be able to request certificates of residency, marriage and birth or other important documents online.

Visit your comune‘s website to find out if they offer you this option. If so, you’ll probably need to login securely using either a SPID or CIE, then request the certificate, pay the marca da bollo (stamp fee) if you want a version that includes an official stamp of certification, and download the document as a PDF.

Apply for Italian citizenship

Once you’ve gathered all the documents you need to apply for Italian citizenship, you can apply online via this official portal, attaching scans of the relevant documents along with the application form and a receipt for the application fee, paid by bank transfer to the Interior Ministry.

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If your submission is accepted, you’ll be summoned to your nearest police headquarters (if you’re in Italy) or consulate (if you’re abroad) to show the original documents and sign the application in person.

Log back in to the same website to check the status of your application.

Apply for a nulla osta for a work or family reunification visa

Employers who want to hire a non-EU national, or non-EU residents in Italy who want to bring over their dependents, can request an entry authorisation called a nulla osta from the Interior Ministry using this website. The nulla osta then allows the applicant to request a visa from their nearest Italian consulate. 

You can use the same website to apply to convert a student visa into a work visa, or to book the language test you need to pass to apply for a permanent residence permit. 

Check on the status of your residency permit application

If you’ve applied for a permesso di soggiorno, you can check how your request is advancing by entering the file number or registered mail code on the State Police’s website

Access your healthcare records

If you’re registered with Italy’s national health service, the SSN, you can consult your own records online via what the government calls a fascicolo sanitario elettronico or ‘electronic health record’. You’ll find the details of care you received at both public and private facilities, if they’re connected with the regional health system.

The service is available in every region of Italy: find a link to electronic records in your region here. Most require a SPID or CIE to log in.

READ ALSO: Who can register for national healthcare in Italy?

Since Italy’s regions each control their own health systems, it varies considerably which other healthcare services you can access online. Eventually the goal is to allow every patient in Italy to book doctors’ appointments online and/or via app, switch GPs and pay medical bills over the internet, get prescriptions in electronic form and consult doctors remotely.

Several regions offer at least some of these services already: try searching “Servizio Sanitario Regionale” + the name of your region to find out what is available where you are. If you’re looking specifically for an online booking service, search “Centro unico di prenotazione” or “CUP” along with your the name of your region.


Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Replace a lost health card

You can’t apply for your tessera sanitaria online, nor can you renew it online once it expires – more’s the pity.

READ ALSO: Tessera sanitaria: How do you apply for or renew your Italian health card?

But if you’ve mislaid or damaged your card while it’s still in date, you can order a replacement via the Revenue Agency’s website. You’ll need to log in using a SPID or CIE, or your existing credentials if you have them.

Register for social security, check your records and apply for benefits

All contributors to Italy’s welfare system can check their social security records by logging in to the National Social Security Institute (INPS) website using a SPID or CIE.

If you’re not registered with INPS via an employer but are eligible to pay social security contributions on income in Italy, you can register yourself online here.

You can also apply for a number of benefits online, including:

Find a full list of INPS services available online here

Declare and pay your taxes

Register on the Revenue Agency’s website and you should be able to calculate, declare, pay, check and claim back your taxes online. You can use a SPID or CIE to log in.

Find a full list of online services available here. If what you need isn’t available, you can book an appointment to speak to your nearest tax office in person.

If you’re an employee in Italy and file a pre-filled income tax return (Form 730), you can also access a dedicated portal here

Cancel your TV licence fee

The TV licence fee is automatically added to electricity bills in Italy, so if you don’t own a TV or are exempt (because you’re over 75 and have very little income, for instance), you’ll need to opt out. 

READ ALSO: How to pay or cancel your Italian TV licence fee

That involves filling out a form and submitting it to the tax office – which you can do online, if you’re registered on the Revenue Agency’s website. You can also use the service to request a refund if you’ve been wrongly charged the licence fee. 

Calculate and pay your vehicle tax

Car owners can find out how much regional or provincial vehicle tax (bollo auto) they owe using this online tool from Italian drivers’ association ACI. 

Most drivers can pay it online too, though the service isn’t yet available in every region: register on ACI’s website to get started.

ACI also offers a number of other online options to check records, order certificates and calculate costs that are useful if you’re buying or selling a car, or driving for work: find a full list here.

Sign up for cashback from the government

As a way to boost consumer spending and encourage electronic payments, the last government launched a cashback scheme that allows shoppers to earn 10 percent of their spending back if they pay by card.

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You can register for the scheme using either one of Italy’s payment apps or the government app IO – though purchases will only count if they’re made in person, not online. Find our full guide here.

Check property registry records

If you’re buying, selling or paying tax on property in Italy, you might find yourself in need of cadastral records – a register of property ownership and value.

These are available online via the Revenue Agency’s website, where you can request information on  ownership, boundaries, building plans, classification, mortgage status and more. You can also order certificates and apply to correct any errors in your property’s cadastral records. Learn more here.

Access company records and send electronic invoices

Registered business owners can store digital copies of all their company records on the Italian Chambers of Commerce’s Impresa.Italia website. The Chambers also have a separate website you can use to send, receive and store electronic invoices. Both services are free, accessible using a SPID, and can be linked up.

If you’re looking for another company’s records, meanwhile, you can search the Chambers of Commerce online database (access basic information for free, or pay to register for complete records). 


Save yourself a wait at the Post Office by doing more admin online. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

For any services managed by regional or municipal authorities, like health care and schooling, more options are available in some parts of Italy than others: it depends what your regione or comune has transferred online.

Check your local authority’s website to find out what you can access where you are. 

Is there an important online service we’ve missed? Let us know and we’ll update this list. 

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