A codice fiscale (or fiscal code) is an Italian tax identification number similar to the social security number in the United States and the National Insurance number in the United Kingdom. It is issued free of charge to Italian people and migrants alike.Not only is a codice fiscale required to purchase a home or land in Italy, it is also necessary if you want to obtain a mortgage, open an Italian bank account, get a cellphone number, or even sign a long-term apartment rental contract. In Italy, most financial transactions you can think of requires one, including putting utilities in your name, getting insurance, taking a job, or buying and registering a car. The list goes on.
Given the essential nature of a codice fiscale, it is one of the first documents you should obtain when you start planning to live or stay in Italy. Below are several different ways you can go about getting one:
Go to your local tax office: You can apply in person at your local community tax office (Agenzia delle Entrate) by filling out an application form and providing a copy of a valid identity document (passport or National Identity card). If you’re using a passport, include a photocopy of the page with the photo and signature, as well as the page that states which authority has issued the document. The codice fiscale number is usually issued to you on the spot, while the card is sent in the mail later.
Apply through your country's Italian embassy or consulate: You may also contact the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country. Download and fill out the application, attach copies of relevant identification documents (see above), and either post or email them to the address on the website. If emailing the application, the codice fiscale number will usually be issued to you via email in less than an hour. The original card will be posted by mail to the address you provide.
Fiscal code generator tools: You can find various fiscal code generator tools on the internet. However, names and birthdates can sometimes cause confusion and could render the code inaccurate and unofficial. In addition, some online code generator sites are suspected to be fronts for ‘phishing’ your personal information. We suggest you steer clear of these types of platforms and use one of the two other solutions. Better safe than sorry.
Once you’ve received your codice fiscale, you are ready to begin the home-buying process.
Below are some factors you might need to know before taking on the arduous and bureaucratically heavy task of purchasing a home in Italy.
Keep in mind that having a codice fiscale in and of itself does not obligate you to any Italian tax duty. However, you will be subject to Italian taxes if:
• you are a resident who owns assets in Italy such as homes, property, vehicles, or businesses, and/or
• your income is taxable in Italy.
We suggest consulting with an accountant (commercialista) who specialises in expatriate tax law.
Estate agents (agenti immobiliari) are often hired by both the buyer and the seller to represent their individual interests. Each side pays commission to their respective representatives – usually between two and a half and three percent of the purchase price. In Italy, it’s not uncommon to work with more than one agent at a time, stacking the deck with a team that can help you search for the right property.
If you wish to avoid high agency fees, you might consider purchasing a property directly from the owner without using a middleman. To be successful at this type of transaction, you should have a rock-solid knowledge of the local area and a good command of the Italian language. Having nerves of steel and plenty of patience doesn’t hurt either.
Once you have made an offer (proposta d'acquisto) and it has been accepted, the next step will be putting down a deposit – typically between 10 to 20 percent of the sale price – as a sign of your good faith and serious intent. In most cases you will have 30 days to do a title search, make certain all the permits are in order, and ferret out any hidden structural problems that could stop the sale going forward.
At this point, we recommended you hire a trusted geometra (licensed surveyor) to guarantee that the property you’re about to sink your hard-earned cash into is structurally sound, has a clear title, and has boundaries that are not encroaching on your neighbor’s land (or vice versa). If the property does have issues, you could be looking at months if not years of delays, so it is crucial to find a geometra who is respected and has a good rapport with the local planning officials and builders. Paying a little more for a competent professional can prove to be money well spent down the road.
Once everything checks out, you’ll move on to the final steps: signing a purchasing agreement (compromesso) and making a down payment (20 to 30 percent of the sale price). At this point, a notaio (legal notary) acts as an impartial official, making certain all the documents are in order and the property is ready for sale. On closing day, all parties meet at the notaio‘s offices with their representatives – plus translators if one or both parties don’t speak Italian fluently.
After the final deed of sale is signed and witnessed, funds have been transferred to the seller, and fees/taxes have been paid – this is where the codice fiscale comes into play – you can declare that you are now a proud owner of an Italian property. Complimenti!