Obtaining my Codice Fiscale

Living, Working & Studying in Italy has proved a valuable resource, covering all the bases from the codice fiscale to residency to working freelance.

I’ve slacked again. I know, I know. But in my defense, I had encountered a few stressful hiccups as I’ve been attempting to make my way down the residency path. While I’m not officially a resident, I’m back on the straight and narrow (I think!), and should hopefully have everything ironed out over the next few months or so–because that’s how long it takes to accomplish a lot of things here. And I’m not complaining. I swear! That’s just the way it is and I’ve accepted it.

Today I jumped what I had originally classified as a major hurdle, but it wound up being quite simple: obtaining my codice fiscale. In a nutshell, the codice fiscale is a taxpayer’s ID; its closest U.S. equivalent would be the social security number. I practically made myself sick with worry/fear/anxiety about applying for this, but since it wound up being a piece of cake, I thought I’d share my experience in case it could be helpful for anyone looking to obtain a codice fiscale so they know it’s really not that terrifying. Here goes….

To start, I had different people telling me different things, but the truth is that you do NOT need residency to obtain it. If you’re a U.S. citizen, there is a chance–albeit a small one, but still a chance!–you might  have to show a permesso di soggiorno-which is sort of like a long-term visabut since I have dual citizenship, I was good to go with my Irish passport. My friend Gina had clarified that I wouldn’t need residency, despite what other people were telling me. “Jackie, they’re not going to give you a hard time about it,” she said. “They want you to pay taxes here.”  That mollified some of my uneasiness, but there was still a tiny knot in my stomach that wasn’t going to disappear  until my codice fiscale had been signed, sealed and delivered.

Since the wait was comparable to that of the DMV, I had been advised to arrive at the Agenzia delle Entrate right when it opened which was 8am. Yeah, that wasn’t happening.  I got there at around 10:15 and waited on a line for about ten minutes to get my “number” then stepped back outside to visit the conveniently located photo copy/fax/printing/paper store next door to make a copy of my ID (I didn’t know it was necessary, otherwise I would have brought one), and then took a seat, joining approximately 100 other people waiting for their number to show up on the big screen. (Yes, the agenzia was air conditioned. Thank God.) My number was EB–00075. They were on number EB–00032, but that didn’t mean that I had only 43 people to go. There were several other number groups that began with different two-letter combinations such as “JA”, “EA” and “AB” , to name a few, and heck, there was a second group of “EB” numbers that were then followed by an “*” and a number in the 100’s, that were thrown into the mix and called before mine. Not sure what that was all about. Anyhoo, I digress….

Overall, I waited more than two-and-a-half hours, but I came prepared and managed to make a serious dent in my book. (Yes, I’m still reading the same book but that’s my “Italian book.” I supplement with other materials such as magazines and newspapers–both in English and Italian–as well as an English book or two. Also, this particular book is heavy which usually limits how often I can tote it around so my Kindle tends to prevail.)  I chatted with the nice Italian man sitting next to me, who was also behind me on the preliminary line and one number after me (EB–00076). He was there to obtain a new copy of his healthcare card which was stolen from him in a laundromat in Sicily. I got to practice my Italian as we commiserated together about the ridiculously long wait time not only for this, but for just about everything in Italy in general.  “Queste cose sono piu’ facili negli stati uniti, no?” he asked me.

Si,” I responded. Of course there are some matters in Italy that should be done in person–such as applying for your codice fiscale for the first time–so I totally get it, but it’s a shame that he couldn’t handle his ordeal online or via phone since he wasn’t a first-timer. He just needed a new version of something that he already had.

My mind began to race during the last couple of moments leading up to my turn. What if he asks to see both my passports? What if he looks at my Irish passport and notices it’s stamp-less? Do I tell him I entered with it but it was never stamped?  What if he asks me for proof of residency? What if he asks me when I arrived? What if he looks at my U.S. passport and sees my arrival date and asks me why I didn’t apply for this sooner? What if the fake codice fiscale they gave me when I got my SIM card comes up in the system and then I’m screwed because that was assigned with my U.S. passport? What if he somehow manages to see my phone contract and he asks my why I have a Milan address on it? What if I get deported? Oh lord.

My turn! I was summoned to counter 20 and sat across from a man who couldn’t have been nicer. I handed him the completed application form–first name, last name, address, country of birth, etc.–along with the copy of my passport (never asked to see my original even though I had placed it down in front of me). He cross checks the passport copy with my form and he gazes up at me with a trace of panic in his eyes. Oh no, I thought. This is it. He then tells me, in Italian, that I forgot to write “Marie” (my middle name) on the form, which, by the way, didn’t have middle name indicated anywhere. However, I should have wrote it next to my first name to match how my name appears on my passport, but he filled it in on my behalf. Phew.

Honestly, the entire procedure probably took no more than five minutes. He gave me my official codice fiscale stamped form and then I was on my merry way home. Since it was lunch time and I hadn’t eaten for hours, I couldn’t resist stopping at Roscioli to indulge in some some celebratory suppli’ and pizza–a slice of mozzarella and a slice of pizza bianca.  Partita IVA, I’m almost there….but first, residency! I’ll get there. I’m sure of that.

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