Italian bureaucracy: What is a SPID and how do you get one?

There is a way to get more of your Italian admin done online, and getting a SPID is the first step.

Italian bureaucracy: What is a SPID and how do you get one?
Doing your paperwork online? It is becoming possible in Italy - slowly. Photo: Mario Laporta/AFP

If you’ve ever found yourself queuing outside a government office to file some basic paperwork and wished there was a way to save yourself the trip, there’s good news: some public services in Italy are available online.

READ ALSO: Why Italy is struggling to launch its planned 5G network

Italy has long lagged behind other European countries when it comes to sending bureaucracy digital: in 2019, just 23 percent of people in Italy used the internet to interact with public authorities compared to the EU average of 53 percent, according to EU statistics agency Eurostat, while a mere 14 percent submitted a completed official form online, putting Italy roughly on a par with Serbia, Croatia or Bulgaria.

But efforts are underway to reform. Since 2016, Italy has had an electronic ID system that allows residents to access public services online – though some local authorities have proved slower than others at making them accessible.

Italy’s e-ID is called SPID, the Sistema Pubblico di Identità Digitale or ‘Public Digital Identity System’. 

Here’s what you need to know about it.

What is a SPID?

For individuals, your SPID credentials are a single username and password that you can use to access Italian government services online, without having to go to an agency in person or show physical ID.

It substitutes other forms of electronic ID such as the chip-and-pin National Services Card (CNS), Regional Services Card (CRS) or Electronic ID Card (CIE), which also allow you to login but require you either to have a card reader that you can plug into your computer, or a smartphone plus a government app that allows you to scan your card’s microchip. Find out more about that option here.

An example of an Italian electronic ID card provided by the Interior Ministry.

Why do you need a SPID?

By April 2019 around 4 million people had requested a SPID, a small fraction of the total number who use public services in Italy. 

Given the slow pace of digital reform in Italy, there’s no danger of public services going online-only anytime soon. You’ll still be able to access them the traditional way – in person.

But for those who prefer to use the internet, the government is seeking to make the SPID the standard way of doing official admin digitally from 2021, either via the web or its IO public services app.

Certain services have already phased out other forms of login, with a SPID now required to file online requests with your nearest Immigration Desk (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione – SUI), or submit an application for Italian citizenship via the Interior Ministry’s website.


In a so-called ‘Simplification Decree’ issued earlier this year as part of plans for post-pandemic reform, the government said all branches of public administration would have to enable access via SPID from March next year.

There’ll be a transition period until September 30th 2021 during which you can continue to use your old credentials, but after that it will only be possible to access public services online using either a SPID or a CIE plus card reader/smartphone app.

Who can get a SPID?

Any adult living in Italy can request a SPID, so long as they have a codice fiscale (tax code) and a valid Italian ID card.

All Italian citizens can request one whether they’re resident in Italy or not.

You must be 18 or older to create a SPID.

Business owners can request a SPID to use for their company (in the name of a legal representative), while there’s also a ‘SPID for professional use’ that employees or freelance professionals can hold for work purposes separately from their personal SPID. Find more information here.

How do you get a SPID?

It’s not as simple as choosing your username and setting a password. To try and prevent identity theft, getting your SPID involves a verification process that you may be able to complete online or that might require a trip to an office in person.

The first step is to choose a provider, since the SPID isn’t managed by the Italian government but provided by accredited private companies.

There are currently nine approved providers, including the Poste Italiane: find a full list here.

READ ALSO: Foreigners rank Italy ‘worst in Europe’ for internet and paying without cash

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Once you’ve chosen a provider, go to their website and get started by entering your details and generating your login. 

Then you’ll have to confirm your identity using government-issued ID and either a certified digital signature, a card reader or app, by completing a short interview via webcam or in person. The exact procedure varies by provider.

Requesting your SPID is free: every provider offers at least one basic way to do it without payment, but they may charge for certain options such as verification by webcam. 

What documents do you need?

You’ll need a few basics:

  • an email address;
  • a mobile phone number;
  • a valid identity document (e.g. ID card, passport, driving license)
  • either a tessera sanitaria (health card) or a codice fiscale card.

The final document is required to provide proof of your codice fiscale. According to the the Agency for Digital Italy (AgID), which is responsible for managing the electronic ID system, if you live in Italy you’ll need to show a tessera sanitaria, which logs your codice fiscale, while if you’re an Italian citizen applying from overseas you can just show your codice fiscale card itself.

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

If you live in Italy but don’t have an in-date tessera sanitaria, for example because it has expired or you’re not registered with the national health service, you may run into complications. Ask different providers exactly what documents they’ll accept before you apply.

How do you use your SPID?

Find a full list of public administration services accessible with a SPID here.

On their websites you’ll find the option ‘Entra con SPID‘ (‘login with SPID’), which will prompt you to enter your credentials.

Depending on the service and how much security is required, you may also be asked for a randomly generated code either sent to your phone or generated by an authenticator app, or prompted to put your CIE in a card reader and enter its PIN.

Find more information about the SPID on the Agency for Digital Italy’s website.

Member comments

  1. Kgomes46 I was able to Libby's pumpkin filling for pies on Amazon and a lovely cranberry sauce meant to be served on cheese.  - 

    It would be very helpful to include a link to the website where the process begins. Thanks. You are providing a great resource to your members! We love you!

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REVEALED: The cities in Italy with the highest crime rates

From robbery and vehicle theft to cyber fraud and blackmail, where are you most likely to be a victim of crime in Italy? Here are the country’s latest crime figures.

REVEALED: The cities in Italy with the highest crime rates

While Italy is among the safest countries in the world – it ranked 32nd out of 163 in the latest Global Peace Index by the Institute for Economics and Peace – crime is a concern in many parts of the boot, especially in big cities. 

Milan is by far the Italian city with the highest crime rate, according to data from Italy’s Department of Public Security collated in a report by financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

Altogether, as many as 193,700 crimes were reported in the city in 2021 – that’s nearly 6,000 reported crimes for every 100,000 residents. 

But while Milan takes the unenviable title of Italy’s ‘crime capital’, things aren’t much better in other major cities as Turin (3rd overall), Bologna (4th), Rome (5th), Florence (7th) and Naples (10th) all figure in the top 10. 

Italy's crime map in 2021

Milan is Italy’s ‘crime capital’, followed by Rimini and Turin. Image: Il Sole 24 Ore

The top of the table is completed by smaller and, perhaps, slightly unassuming Italian cities, namely Rimini (2nd), Imperia (6th), Prato (8th) and Livorno (9th).

READ ALSO: What happens when a foreign national gets arrested in Italy?

That said, while the overall crime rate ranking shows us Italy’s crime hotspots, it doesn’t provide any insight into the types of offences committed, which is why it is worth looking into single-offence rankings. 

For instance, Milan, Rimini and Rome are the top Italian cities when it comes to theft-related offences, with all three locations registering well over 2,000 reported thefts per 100,000 residents in 2021. 

Crime card for Rome, Italy

Italy’s capital city, Rome, has the fifth-highest crime rate in the country. Image: Il Sole 24 Ore

But while these cities remain the country’s overall theft capitals, other Italian cities seem to have their own ‘theft specialisation’. 

For example, Ravenna ranks first for home burglaries, while Naples and Barletta are first for motorcycle and car thefts respectively. 

As for other types of offences, the northern city of Trieste is first for sexual violence (as many as 25 reported crimes per 100,000 residents) and attempted murder, whereas Gorizia is the worst Italian city when it comes to cyber fraud and online scams. 

Finally, Biella ranks first for blackmail and extortion, while La Spezia is Italy’s ‘drug-dealing capital’.

Trieste's crime card, Italy

Trieste is the worst Italian city in terms of sexual violence offences. Image: Il Sole 24 Ore

Il Sole 24 Ore’s report however shows that Italy registered far fewer crimes in 2021 than it did in 2019, especially in big cities.

Notably, in Florence and Venice the number of reported crimes was down by 24.6 and 17.8 percent respectively.

READ ALSO: Rome shooting: What was behind attack that killed friend of Italy’s PM?

It should be pointed out, however, how the presence of Covid-related social restrictions throughout the first half of 2021 likely contributed in some measure to the overall drop in reported crime. 

It’s also worth noting that, in spite of such measures, some smaller Italian provinces still experienced significantly negative trends, with Piacenza, Isernia and Rieti all registering higher crime rates compared to 2019.