Italy’s new Electronic Identity Card is an innovative, secure, state of the art ID. Here’s how to apply for one and avoid waiting

Simone Piunno
Jun 18 · 8 min read

by Simone Piunno and Valerio Paolini

Questo articolo è disponibile anche in italiano

Photo by Jeshoots on Unsplash

In 2016, version 3.0 of the Electronic Identity Card (CIE) was released. In little over two years, this cutting-edge document has replaced paper IDs in the pockets of over 8 million Italians. A process of rapid change, with roughly 6.5 million new cards released in the last year.

It doesn’t look like much: we went from a bulky, flimsy document to a convenient card that fits neatly inside a wallet. In reality, the new Electronic Identity Card represents a small revolution in terms of both security and digital innovation.

In this post, we will talk about the innovation process initiated by the Digital Transformation Team, together with the State Mint and Polygraphic Institute, to facilitate the release of the new cards. We will also provide a small guide on how to obtain your own CIE.

Advantages of the Electronic ID Card

The most important aspect of the new CIE is that it is a secure document. This guarantees protection of the physical and digital identity of its owner using the most advanced security and anti-counterfeiting standards available. These are implemented through:

  • Specialized inks and security elements (i.e. holograms);
  • A radiofrequency chip containing the cardholder’s data, a digital image of their face and images of two fingerprints. These data are digitally signed by the Ministry of the Interior and cannot be changed.

The paper version of the Italian identity card was among the most falsified documents in Europe and one of the very few still issued in paper format. The new CIE, on the other hand, is a major step forward, a security vanguard at both the European and world level.

A higher level of security also guarantees better protection of citizens’ data. For example, the idea of taking fingerprints, which must be provided in order for a citizen to obtain a card, generates a certain amount of fear. The fingerprints, however, are only saved in the card’s internal memory where they are protected by secure access mechanisms, which the Ministry of the Interior issues only to those authorized to verify a cardholder’s identity through fingerprints (for example, airport security).

Photo: Ministry of the Interior

In addition to the CIE’s immediate advantages, the card also represents various other opportunities, which may be taken advantage of when the card comes into wider use:

  • The CIE can be used as an immediate recognition tool. A simple device (i.e. a smartphone) can “read” the CIE and associate it with the holder’s tax identification number. This means that the card could be “swiped” at turnstiles upon entering a stadium (instead of a fan card). The CIE could also be used as a library card, a company name badge, or even to check in at a hotel reception without having to make photocopies of an ID. This is a revolution capable of reducing modules and bureaucracy.
  • The CIE can be used as an online authentication tool. To authenticate yourself, just place the CIE near to a designated reader connected to a properly configured computer, or to an Android phone with an NFC system (available for many of the Android smartphones currently on the market). This can be done in public or private, in Italy or in wider Europe. We’ll talk about this in the upcoming weeks, in a new post.

The New CIE Agenda

Today, nearly all Italian municipalities (7,639 total) have the capacity to provide their residents with an Electronic Identity Card. However, the time it takes to get a card is still a major concern. In some municipalities, citizens have to book an appointment at the registry office weeks or even months in advance. This situation is quickly improving.

Once they submit their application, citizens will receive their card within six working days. During this time:

  • the citizen applies at the local counter;
  • the municipality transmits the data (via the Ministry of the Interior) to the State Printing and Mint Institute, where the cards are printed;
  • the institute sends the card to the address provided by the citizen.

Producing the identity cards in a centralized location makes it possible to use advanced machinery capable of implementing the most cutting-edge anti-counterfeit techniques available. These tools require specialized personnel to operate them and are too complex and expensive to be installed in each individual municipality.

Issues surrounding the timely delivery of cards are generally due to the difficulty that some municipal offices have with managing application appointments. To deal with this, the Digital Transformation Team has joined the State Printing Office in developing a new online booking system for citizens who want to renew their identity card. The purpose of this system is to make life easier for both users and Public Administrations.

Caption: A screenshot of the New CIE Agenda

The new CIE Agenda is an easy-to-use wep app. This is how it works:

  • To request an electronic ID card, simply browse https://www.prenotazionicie.interno.gov.it/;
  • Enter the name of your municipality into the textbox to see if you can use the CIE Agenda online appointment system;
  • If the answer is “yes”, the program will display the available appointments and you can book the appointment that best suits your needs without having to log in.

You can also use the CIE Agenda to make applying in person more efficient. As soon as you’ve booked your appointment, you can:

  • enter your data directly online;
  • upload your photo (photos taken with a smartphone camera are accepted). The CIE Agenda system will automatically verify that your photo meets the requirements (defined internationally by ICAO). Doing this beforehand will help you avoid inconveniences, errors and wasted time during your appointment;
  • read the statement online about becoming an optional organ donor. A declaration will need to be signed during the appointment.

The next version of the system will allow payments to be made in advance through pagoPA.

This system allows municipalities to:

  • better manage their appointments;
  • accelerate the ID issuing process: with the data, photo and payment (coming soon) already submitted, officials will only have to take fingerprints and get the request form and the organ donor consent form signed.

The CIE Agenda system is available to all municipalities free of charge (municipalities who aren’t already participating can send a request to the Ministry of the Interior by writing to cie.comuni@interno.it). Using the CIE Agenda is not exclusive: many municipalities, like Florence, provide the online booking service but citizens can also go to the office without an appointment and immediately sign up for the card.

This “mixed system” has proven itself to be very effective because it optimizes the time and effort of municipal offices and tries to make use of empty appointment times. It also makes the card available to people who are not able to use online booking due to lack of familiarity with digital technologies.

How to Request an Electronic Identity Card

We leave you with a guide on how to request an electronic ID card from your municipality. The first step is to either book an appointment (through the CIE Agenda or other system) or go directly to the municipal office (in municipalities that do not require a reservation).

Only individuals in the following situations can apply for a card. Those who:

  • have never had an identity card;
  • have an expired identity card or whose card is nearly expired (less than 6 months before the expiration date);
  • have a lost or damaged ID card;
  • have changed their personal information (eg. name or surname; a change in residence does not apply).

Applicants whose request for an electronic identity card is valid must present themselves at the municipal counter with one of the following alternate identity documents:

  • the old identity card;
  • a license;
  • a passport.

If an applicant does not have another valid document, they must be accompanied by two witnesses. All applicants must also bring:

  • a recent photograph, if it hasn’t already been uploaded online (see all photo requirements here);
  • the national health card;
  • the renewal fee: 22.21 euros for a new identity card or to renew an expired card, 27.90 euros if the new card is being requested because the previous card was lost or damaged (exact amounts may vary from municipality to municipality). Although many municipalities do not use POS for payments made by debit or credit card, by law, this amount can be paid electronically.
  • theft or lost reporting, if the previous card was lost.

Once at the counter, applicants will need to:

  • verify their data;
  • provide fingerprints using a special reader (one fingerprint from each hand);
  • sign the organ donor consent form. Consent is optional (you can also leave the declaration blank);
  • sign the CIE request form.

Once all steps have been completed, the clerk will provide the applicant with a receipt. The receipt contains the first half of a PIN code that serves as an authentication tool for online services. The receipt also contains half of the PUK code, which can be used to unlock your CIE if you entered three times a wrong PIN code (exactly like in a SIM card). The remaining half of both codes will arrive with the card at the listed address.


Notes

[1] What’s the difference between CIE 3.0 and CIE 2.0?

The Electronic Identity Card 3.0 replaced the earlier CIE 2.0 at the beginning of 2016, as per the ministerial decree of December 23, 2015, which defines the technical rules. The previous version of the card had an optical band and a contact chip (like the current health card) and could be printed directly by some municipalities. However, it did not guarantee adequate safety and was terminated accordingly.

FAQ

[A] Why is the old website agendacie.interno.gov.it still operating?

At present, the new “CIE Agenda” (available at this link https://www.prenotazionicie.interno.gov.it) is temporarily operating in parallel with the old one, so as to allow municipalities to change their configuration and start the new system without any service interruption.

[B] Why is login also allowed with an alternative system besides SPID (Public Digital Identity System)?

To obtain SPID an identity document is required. Thus, If SPID were compulsory to obtain the new document, a vicious circle would be established.


Team per la Trasformazione Digitale

Blog del Team per la Trasformazione Digitale - Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri

Simone Piunno

Written by

CTO @ https://teamdigitale.governo.it — Digital manager, geek, technology enthusiast, agilist, gospel singer.

Team per la Trasformazione Digitale

Blog del Team per la Trasformazione Digitale - Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri

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