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Italy’s ‘baby bonuses’: What payments are available and how do you claim?

Italy's 'baby bonuses': What payments are available and how do you claim?
Will Italy’s baby bonuses encourage you to start a family? Photo: AFP
As Italy's birth rate continues to plummet amid economic turmoil, the government has extended and increased benefit schemes in the hope of encouraging a baby boom.

Italy’s precarious economy and the added impact of the pandemic saw the birth rate continue to drop last year, prompting concerns for the nation’s financial future.

In 2019, Italy recorded its lowest birthrate for more than 150 years, as births fell to 435,000 according to the national statistics body, Istat. This trend continued in 2020, with a 1.57% decline compared to the previous year.

READ ALSO:  Italy's low birth rate 'plunging further due to coronavirus crisis'

With fewer and fewer births, the Italian population is ageing fast. To answer the question of how the country can halt a shrinking working population of the future, the government is increasingly looking at the financial support avalable for would-be parents.

The Budget Law 2021 (Legge di Bilancio 2021) introduced a package of measures across health, employment and family life totalling around 40 billion euros.

A section of this law provides bonuses to support families with children. There are two notable benefits available for new parents: the ‘Bonus Mamma Domani’ (premio alla nascita) and the ‘Bonus Bebé’ (assegno di natalità), which have been extended through 2021.

The government has also introduced a raft of measures designed to support families further, such as lengthening paternity leave. Italy has long ranked at the bottom of the EU paternity leave table and was set most recently at seven days. In a bid to support families, this has now been boosted to ten – meeting the recommended EU minimum.

Help for caregivers, assistance for mothers getting back to work after having children and a single child allowance are also included in the package.

Here, we navigate you through the red tape and break down the standout bonuses you could be eligible to claim.

The Mamma Domani Bonus 

This is a one-off cash payment of €800 for expectant mothers and can be claimed from the seventh month of pregnancy.

You can apply through INPS, the social security and welfare system, for the birth of your child or if you are adopting or fostering a child. This payment was first introduced in 2017 and has been included in this year’s Budget again.

The funds can be paid via various means, including directly to your bank account. INPS has also scrapped the previous form and you can now apply directly online.

Photo: AFP

New mother Shirin Georgiani from the UK has lived in Italy for nearly three years and had her baby in November 2020.

She advised others not to wait until the seventh month of pregnancy to start the process of applying for the Mamma Domani bonus, as it can take time to jump through the bureaucratic hoops. She began the process at around three months into her pregnancy.

For Shirin, she had to wait months for her PIN number, which allows you to start the claim. Since October of last year, though, INPS has been phasing out the use of PINs and will not issue new ones.

Instead, you now need a SPID, a Carta di Identità Elettronica (CIE) or a Carta Nazionale dei Servizi (CNS).

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Once they completed the form, however, Shirin and her partner were pleasantly surprised that the one-off payment arrived in their bank account in a matter of days.

Who is this allowance for?

Italian citizens, EU and non-EU citizens can claim, as long as you are a resident in Italy.

To prove you are eligible, that is, to show you are pregnant, you must provide a certificate from your doctor of either the State or Local Health Authority (SSN, Servizio Sanitario Nazionale or ASL, Azienda Sanitaria Locale).

Shirin told us that her doctor entered this information into INPS directly and in fact, you have to be with the doctor in person to get this certificate; it can’t be done remotely.

READ ALSO: Ten things you need to know about giving birth in Italy

If you already had your child, you can still claim this benefit by self-certifying with the child’s date of birth and their personal details, including their tax code (codice fiscale).

If you went down the fostering and adoption route, you would need to speak to the governing authorities for proof.

This is a one-off payment and isn’t dependent on your income status.

The Bonus Bebé

The Bonus Bebé is a little more complex. But yes, you can access both payments.

They are both available concurrently and form part of the Family Act package, introduced last year.

New parents can claim this monthly stipend until the child reaches one year old.

Although it was due to be abolished and merged into a universal child benefit, the government has in fact rolled this subsidy over into 2021. It’s available for each child born or adopted from 1st January 2021 to 31st December 2021.

You could receive a monthly allowance of between €80 and €160 per month, depending on your economic circumstances.

The wording is crucial here, as it doesn’t depend solely on your income, but your assets too.

What you receive depends on your ISEE (Indicatore della Situazione Economica Equivalente, i.e. Equivalent Financial Position Indicator). Essentially, you are means-tested to find out how much allowance you are entitled to.

It’s calculated by combining your income and 20 percent of your assets, such as your house and your car, for instance. From there, your ISEE is derived from the ratio between this value and the number of household members.

There are three bands, defined as follows:

  • 1,920 euros per year (160 euros per month) for families with an ISEE of up to 7,000 euros.

  • 1,440 euros per year (120 euros per month) for families with an ISEE between 7,000 and 40,000 euros.

  • 960 euros per year (80 euros per month) for families with an ISEE of over 40,000 euros.

For subsequent children, the bonus increases by 20 percent as follows:

  • 304 euros per year (192 euros per month) per year per child subsequent to the first, for families with an ISEE of up to 7,000 euros.

  • 728 euros per year (144 euros per month) per year per child for families with an ISEE between 7,000 and 40,000 euros.

  • 152 euros per year (96 euros per month) per year per child for families with an ISEE of over 40,000 euros.

To find out what your ISEE is, you need to fill out a declaration form of your income and assets, called the DSU (Dichiarazione Sostitutiva Unica).

Who is eligible to claim this?

The application must be submitted by a parent who has residency in Italy and has either Italian citizenship, citizenship of a European Union State or an EU residence permit for long-term residents. You also qualify if you have a residence card as a family member of an Italian or EU citizen.

Therefore, if you or your partner is Italian or comes from the EU, you’re covered.

READ ALSO: What's the difference between Italian residency and citizenship?

If you’re both not from Italy or the EU, you need a long-term residence permit (carta di soggiorno permanente), which can be acquired after living legally in Italy for five years.

For British nationals post-Brexit, it's important to note that this is distinct from the new biometric residence card.

If you tick the boxes for eligibility and once you’ve submitted a successful claim, you can expect payment to be made from the following month, according to INPS. There’s a 90-day window from the birth or adoption of your child to send your application.

How difficult is it to claim?

As a mum to a three-month-old baby, Shirin found applying for this bonus much trickier than the Mamma Domani benefit.

“Becoming a mother is demanding and the first three months are a challenge. Trying to juggle a newborn with meeting the application deadline is really tough,” she said.

She added that the language element is also considerable. The technical jargon in Italian is testing and the online forms aren’t user-friendly.

Still waiting for a reply to her claim, Shirin admitted she felt “lost” through this process and advised to get help if it becomes a struggle.

READ ALSO: Italy's building bonus: Can you really claim back the cost of renovating property?

One source of help is to go to a Patronato, an employment and citizen service. If your spoken Italian skills are up to scratch, they can hold your hand and fill out the forms with you. If you have an accountant (commercialista), they may also be able to help

Like the Mamma Domani Bonus, there are several ways to receive the allowance, including directly to your bank account and you can also apply online. Alternatively, you can call the Contact Centre on 803 164, free of charge from landlines, or on 06 164 164 via mobile.

What if you already have children in Italy?

You can claim the single child allowance (Assegno unico figli), which comes into force from 1st July 2021. It can be claimed in conjunction with the other benefits mentioned.

It will be available from the seventh month of pregnancy until the child turns 21 years old – or 25 if they go to university and you are a low-income family.

Between 200 and 250 euros are granted monthly, which increases by 20 percent for successive children.

Those who can apply include Italian parents, EU parents and non-EU parents with long-term residence or those with work or research permits, who have been resident in Italy for at least two years, even if not continuously.

The latest legislation encompasses further bonuses, such as the nursery bonus (bonus asilo nido) and allowances for families with at least three children. Gradually, these will all be phased out and rolled into one universal allowance.

See more of The Local's guides to dealing with Italian bureaucracy here.


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