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What is an ISEE number in Italy and how do you get it?

Giampietro Vianello
Giampietro Vianello - [email protected]
What is an ISEE number in Italy and how do you get it?
The ISEE is a parameter used by Italy’s government to assess the overall economic situation of a certain household. Photo by Andreas SOLARO

There are plenty of Italian acronyms new residents need to be familiar with, and this is one of the most important. Here’s what it means and why you’ll need it.

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If you've lived in Italy for a while, you might already be familiar with the ISEE. But to everyone else, it's no more than a mysterious-sounding acronym seen in reports about Italy's various government 'bonuses', benefits and subsidies.

ISEE stands for Indicatore della Situazione Economica Equivalente, which roughly translates into English as 'Indicator of equivalent financial position'. In typically Italian fashion, the full name doesn't tell us much more than the acronym.

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Basically, the ISEE is a number used to rank your household's financial position in relation to others, and it's used (by social security offices, for example) to work out how well off a family is, or isn't - and therefore what help they may be entitled to.

Various factors are taken into account when calculating this nymber, though it is for the most part based on the ages, annual income, assets and any physical disabilities of the members of a household. 

You could think of the ISEE as a sort of ‘financial ID card’ which quickly shows your household’s level of wealth and financial security.

When will I need an ISEE?

Sooner or later, all Italian residents end up crossing paths with the ISEE, usually when accessing means-tested government financial subsidies.

For instance, recently-extended discounts on gas and electricity bills can only be claimed by households with an ISEE of up to 12,000 euros. 

ISEE thresholds are also set for Italy’s universal single allowance, nursery bonus and most exemptions in the public healthcare system.

However, a household’s ISEE status is not automatically calculated by the Italian public administration. So those looking to access a state subsidy must go about claiming their own ISEE certificate independently. 

When claiming means-tested benefits, you may be able to access the minimum payment (usually the amount payable to households in higher income brackets) without providing an ISEE rating.

How do I get an ISEE certificate?

It may not come as a surprise to hear that getting an ISEE certificate isn’t nearly as straightforward as it should be. For this reason, even Italian nationals tend to need the help of private professionals. 

Claiming the certificate revolves around completing the ‘Dichiarazione Unica Sostitutiva’ (Single replacement declaration, or DSU); a form asking claimants about their income, assets and size of their household.

Customer speaking with employee in a tax office in Italy

The ISEE system takes into account a variety of factors, including the age, annual income and assets of any given household member. Photo by Andreas SOLARO

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You can complete this form yourself, or have your commercialista (accountant) or another professional do this for you.

INPS recently launched a new online service allowing residents can ask to receive a pre-filled DSU form – some questions are automatically answered based on records held by INPS and the Agenzia delle Entrate – and then proceed to complete the document by themselves. 

Once completed, the form must be submitted either to your local Centro di Assistenza Fiscale (Fiscal Support Centre, CAF) or via the National Social Insurance Agency’s (INPS) website.

A DSU form can be submitted either to your local Fiscal Support Centre (CAF) or via the National Social Insurance Agency’s (INPS) website.
 
More Italian bureaucracy:

It can be submitted at any time of year, with the resulting ISEE certificate valid until the end of that same year.

The ISEE certificate is usually available within 10 days of submitting the form, though there might be delays if the info given through the DSU doesn’t match the records kept by the Agenzia delle Entrate (Revenue Agency) and INPS. 

Once the certificate is ready, residents can choose to either have it delivered online in downloadable format or pick it up in person. 

The following INPS web page allows users to work out whether or not they might be eligible to claim certain state subsidies by ‘unofficially’ calculating their ISEE status.

Further info about how to get an ISEE certificate is available on the Italian Ministry of Labour and Social Politics’ website (in Italian only).

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