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EXPLAINED: What is Italy’s PEC email and how do you get one?

EXPLAINED: What is Italy's PEC email and how do you get one?
How do you use 'certified email' in Italy? Photo: Sigmund/Unsplash
If you're looking to save time, paper and postage costs, swap registered mail for registered email. Here's how you can use PEC, or certified email, to send your most important messages in Italy.

What is PEC?

PEC (pronounced “peck”) stands for Posta Elettronica Certificata, or Electronic Certified Mail.

It’s essentially an email account that gives you proof your message arrived.

Messages sent between PEC accounts are certified with a date and time stamp to show when you sent them and when they were received, with a record of receipt automatically emailed to you as an attachment. Within in Italy – though not outside it – they have the same legal value as a physical lettera raccomandata (registered letter).

As of early 2021, according to the Italian government’s statistics, there were around 12.8 million PEC addresses and nearly 4 million messages exchanged by PEC.

Who needs a PEC?

Anyone over 18 who lives in Italy can get a PEC, as well as Italian nationals who live abroad.

For some people it’s compulsory: as of October 2020 all businesses registered in Italy are required to have a PEC account by law, including self-employed professionals and ditte individuali (sole proprietorships) – basically anyone with a partita IVA, or VAT number.

Even if that’s not you, you can chose to get a PEC in order to get more Italian admin done online. If you need to send important documents or an official request, for instance to change your registered address or register a contract, you can do it via PEC from home without having to print forms or go to the post office.

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In some cases PEC may be the only way to send something online: if you’re writing to a PEC address, messages from a regular email account usually won’t get through. (You may be able to configure your PEC to receive messages from ordinary email accounts, and you can always write from a PEC address to a regular one, but in either case the messages won’t be certified.)

That’s a hurdle UK nationals in Italy have run into as they try to make appointments with the police immigration office, or questura, to apply for a post-Brexit residence card, or carta di soggiorno. Booking involves emailing the questura‘s PEC address, which has to be done from another PEC account.

If you only need to use PEC occasionally and don’t think it’s worth opening your own account, ask someone else with a PEC – e.g. your employer, accountant or lawyer – to send the message on your behalf: it doesn’t necessarily have to come from an account in your own name. 

How do you get a PEC?

PEC accounts are managed by government-approved private providers, with the Poste Italiane, Aruba and InfoCert (Legalmail) among the most used.

Find a full list of authorised PEC providers here. You can find the details of their services, as well as how to apply, on each company’s website. 

The exact procedure for opening an account varies depending on which company you choose, but most providers allow you to do it entirely online. It usually involves entering your personal information (including your codice fiscale, or tax number), choosing a username and password, signing a contract, and showing a copy of your official ID. 

In most cases you’ll also have to pay for a PEC account, with fees usually charged on an annual basis. 

How much does a PEC cost?

It varies by company and what level of service you choose: Aruba‘s basic package starts at €5 plus VAT per year, rising to €40 plus VAT for a “premium” option with more storage and an option to get notifications via SMS.

The Poste Italiane charges €5.50 for one year, €9 for two years and €10.50 for three years (not including VAT), with the option to add storage for an extra fee.

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It’s worth shopping around to find the deal that suits you best, especially as providers regularly run promotions offering discounts or free trials

You might also find that a PEC comes included for free with certain bank accounts, particularly business ones.


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