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BUREAUCRACY

How to use your Italian ID card to access official services online

Italy's public administration is gradually moving more of its services online - but how do you access them securely? Your ID card and a smartphone might be the key.

How to use your Italian ID card to access official services online
Italy's public administration is slowly getting online. Photo: Anna Monaco/AFP

With so much of Italy’s administration under regional, provincial or municipal control, in your daily life here you’ll likely have to deal with a patchwork of different agencies.

Mercifully, more and more of them are giving the option to do basic bureaucracy online instead of schlepping round offices in person, whether it’s downloading a certificate of residence, logging into your social security account or paying your vehicle tax.

READ ALSO: How Italy just made it easier to access essential paperwork online

Previously, you might have been able to access these services by simply creating a username and password for each website. But the Italian government is on a push to standardise the way you log in.

It created an electronic ID system, SPID, that serves as a kind of digital passport – a secure personal login that works across multiple official websites.

The government mandated that all branches of public administration had to enable access via SPID from March 2021.

But what if you don’t want to go to the trouble of creating a SPID, which involves registering with a private provider, verifying your identity either in person or via webcam, and depending on which service you choose, may require a fee?

The good news is that you may already have everything you need for online admin. Here’s how to use your Italian ID card and your smartphone to log in.

What you’ll need

  • Electronic ID card (carta di identità elettronica – CIE)
  • PIN for your ID card
  • Smartphone

You’ll need a plastic ID card (not one of the paper ones), which all legal residents of Italy are entitled to apply for via their local anagrafe or registry office. Italian nationals can also apply from outside Italy at their nearest consulate. Find more information about how to apply here (in Italian).

Within the card is a microchip, which contains your personal details, photo and fingerprints in digital form.

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

When you apply for your CIE, you’ll be given a receipt with the first four digits of two important codes: your card’s PIN, which you’ll need in order to use it as a login device, and the PUK, which you’ll need to unblock it if you accidentally enter the wrong PIN too many times.

The final four digits of each code will arrive when your card is delivered to you around a week later.

READ ALSO: What is a SPID and how do you get one?

Keep hold of the receipts and/or make a note of both full eight-digit codes. If you no longer have your codes, you’ll have to request them in person from your anagrafe.

Assuming you have your CIE and PIN to hand, the next thing you’ll need is a smartphone equipped with NFC or “near-field communication”, which basically means it’s capable of sharing data contactlessly. Can you swipe your phone to pay for things? Congratulations, it’s NFC-equipped! (If you’re not sure, find a list of compatible models here.)

Using the CieID app

Until recently, the only way to access the microchip within your ID card was to plug it into a card reader and connect that to your computer. That’s still an option – but if you don’t own a card reader and don’t fancy buying one, there’s now a way to use your smartphone instead.

Download CieID (available for both Android and iOS), a free government app allows you use your smartphone to scan your ID card.

To register, open the app and select ‘Registra la tua carta’. You’ll be prompted to enter your eight-digit PIN and then scan your ID card by holding it firmly up to the back of your phone, towards the top (if you’re struggling to get your card to scan, trying rubbing it clean, placing it on a flat surface, or moving it slowly behind your phone until it connects). Keep it there for several seconds until the app says ‘Registrazione carta terminata con successo’ (‘registration successful’).

If your phone has a fingerprint scanner, it will give you the option to enable your print to identify yourself next time you use the app. Alternatively, you’ll just use the last four digits of your PIN from now on. 

READ ALSO: 

Now you’re registered, open the website you want to access, either on your computer or directly on your smartphone. Important: make sure you’re using Chrome, as for the moment it’s the only browser that CieID is compatible with.

Click ‘Entra con CIE’ (‘login with ID card’) and follow the instructions. If you’re on your phone, you’ll be automatically prompted to open the CieID app, identify yourself with your fingerprint or the last half of your PIN, scan your card, and authorise the use of your data.

Watch a demonstration here:

If you’re using a computer, click ‘Prosegui con smartphone’ (‘proceed with smartphone’) and enter your ID card’s serial number, a combination of nine letters and numbers starting ‘CA’ that you’ll find in the top right corner. 

That will bring up a QR code. On your phone, open the CieID app and select ‘Scansciona codice QR’, then scan the QR code with your phone.

You’ll be prompted to identify yourself on the app using either your fingerprint or the last half of your PIN, as well as scanning your ID card again. Once that’s completed, the app will generate a temporary four-digit code (OTP or “one-time password”) that you should type into your browser. 

Finally, you’ll be asked to authorise the website to access the personal data stored on your ID card. Click ‘Autorizza l’invio dei dati’ to consent and, once it’s processed, you should be logged in.

Watch a demonstration here:

Using the IO app

You can also use your ID card and PIN to log into IO, the government’s app for accessing public services as well as consumer bonuses like its cashback scheme.

READ ALSO: How to earn cashback from the government for shopping in Italy

Once you’ve downloaded and installed IO, open the app and choose ‘Entra con CIE’. You’ll be prompted to enter your eight-digit PIN, then hold your card to your phone to scan it and authorise the app to access the data stored on it.

What services can you access using your ID card?

It depends where in Italy you live and how tech-friendly your local authorities are.

Several Italian regions, including Lazio, Tuscany, Piedmont and Puglia, allow you to log into any of their online public services using your ID card, as do a number of individual municipalities. Some national agencies, including the tax office Agenzia delle Entrate, social security service INPS and drivers’ association ACI, have also enabled CIE access. Find a full list here.

Ultimately, the government wants all public administration websites to be accessible either by SPID or ID card. All of them have to enable these options by March.

There’ll be a transition period until September 30th 2021 during which you can continue to use your old credentials, but after that, SPID or ID card will be the only way to access public services online.

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ITALY EXPLAINED

Why the great autumn wardrobe switch is serious business in Italy

Some of Italy’s foreign residents may still be wearing t-shirts, but Italians are preparing for the most stressful style-related event of the year: the summer-to-autumn wardrobe switch. Silvia Marchetti explains what it’s all about.

Why the great autumn wardrobe switch is serious business in Italy

People have always said to me that Italians stand out (particularly abroad) because of the way they dress, the style of their clothes, the designer labels, the gorgeous bags and shoes. 

But it’s not because they really do dress better than others, rather they are extremely picky about what they wear, and when they wear it, at which precise time of the year. 

Italians are dead serious about adapting their dress code to the different seasons in response to dropping or rising temperatures. The ‘wardrobe switch’ is a major event that consumes entire days of a family’s weekends or spare time. From the kids to granny, all must change their apparel. I remember my grandparents used to mark it on their calendar, a bit like when you have to take the car for the annual check called the tagliando

There are four major wardrobe switches, as many as the seasons. The most tiring is the summer-to-autumn one, which usually occurs mid-September when the summer heat abates. 

Summer clothes are taken out of the closet and laid on the bed, then autumn apparel is plucked out from an upper closet space and neatly laid on the other side of the bed to be scrutinized. 

READ ALSO: Pumpkin risotto and the great wardrobe switch: How life in Italy changes when autumn arrives

It’s then time to do some clearing out: the switch is the time to try on autumn clothes and see if they still fit or are no longer wanted or liked (meaning you’ll be shopping for new ones). 

This stage can take hours, if not days. Jackets, which usually take up more space and are kept in the cellar or attic, are also cleaned of dust and tried on. 

Photo: Dan Gold/Unsplash

The summer apparel is then packed away and replaced by the autumn clothes, which are laid out in the same spot where the t-shirts and shorts once were. The same goes for shoe switches. Back in the box with those flip-flops, which are a major no-no after September 20th, and back on the shelves for boots and sneakers. 

When an Italian decides that summer is over, summer is over even if it’s still 25 degrees outside. My boyfriend just switched from shorts to trousers, even though he’s sweating most of the time. 

And it may seem that there’s a particular dress code that everyone follows. Autumn calls for ‘camicette’ shirts, light leather jackets, jeans, and bright little stylish scarves in silk or cotton to protect against the first potential cold air. Rain coats and casual jackets dubbed spolverini (dusters) are also taken out of storage.

The motto is ‘vestirsi a cipolla’, meaning ‘to dress like an onion’, with layers of shirts and sweaters that can be peeled off throughout the day depending on temperature swings. 

READ ALSO: Ten Italian lifestyle habits to adopt immediately

It’s a way to avoid sweating at noon or getting too cold in the evenings. But it’s also a stylish dressing habit to show that we are fully equipped, including financially, to cope with the changing seasons. If you don’t buy at least one new item of clothing per season, that’s just ‘not cool’.

A ‘booster’ wardrobe switch happens again in December, when the piumini, or hardcore winter ‘duvet’ coats, and knitted wool sweaters are taken out to reinforce the autumn apparel. 

Even if it never gets that cold in Italy compared to some countries, Italians still like to wear wool hats, gloves and some even wear furs, heavy boots and mountain-climbing uniforms – perhaps just for the sake of showing off some of their cool skiing apparel. 

Whether in autumn, winter, spring, or summer, the wardrobe switch is also an excuse to go shopping. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

Then when spring arrives, winter clothes disappear and autumn attire starts mixing with some t-shirts, sleeveless jackets, and lighter cotton pants. 

But it’s still too early to wear shorts for men or skirts without stockings for women: showing off white bare legs is so unstylish.

Alas, when it’s finally summer, flip flops and sandals pop out again and the switch is an occasion to throw away unwanted summer clothes from the previous year and buy new bikinis, skirts, tank tops and fancy colorful shirts. This can be quite painful if you happen to have gained weight during the cold months. 

Italians are serious about wardrobe changes given their reaction even to just slight temperature drops or hikes.

I know that for foreigners seeing Italians wearing coats now in September even if it’s not yet so cold can be quite shocking in the same way it is for Italians to see Americans or Germans wearing t-shirts in December. 

READ ALSO: ‘Five ways a decade of living in Italy has changed me’

But climate change is disrupting the traditional wardrobe switch. My granny used to say that the so-called ‘middle seasons’ in Italy which are those between summer and winter (she meant autumn and spring) were luckily very long and pleasant. But nowadays even Italy has very short springs and autumns. In recent years there’s been a sudden jump from hot summers to half-winter seasons. 

This affects the way Italians are dressing, as I see fewer leather jackets around or raincoats unless it’s actually raining. The other day I was swimming in a pool and in the afternoon when I came back home there was a strong wind and I had to put on my piumino (long duvet coat) plus a hat. 

Luckily I have a huge walk-in closet so the left part is for winter, the right part is for summer and in between are all those items that used to fall within my granny’s ‘middle seasons’. So I always have everything at hand to cope even with the uncontrolled effects of climate change.

Friends of mine are already going into depression because they’re planning the wardrobe switch for next weekend – but they already miss the summer and don’t want to give up on the sexy shorts and elegant sandals. 

There’s no doubt about it: when it comes to clothes, most Italians can be very fussy indeed.

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