The Codice Fiscale is the Italian tax ID number, and is used for a variety of purposes in Italy, including obtaining health insurance and opening a bank account. Anyone who has legally entered Italy can obtain a codice fiscale – you don’t need to have signed a lease or filed a tax return.
If you are seeking an Elective Residency visa and don’t already have property in Italy, you will need to present a signed copy of your lease or rental agreement at your consular appointment, together with proof that your lease has been registered with the Agenzia delle Entrate. To register the lease, even if your landlord does it for you as is usually the case, you will need to obtain a Codice Fiscale.
To obtain a Codice Fiscale you should go to the local office of the Entrate. You will need your passport (or residence permit or Carta d’Identità if you have them already). You can generally complete the application and be assign ed a number on the same day as your visit. (If you are working with a local realtor, they can help you with this process). The Entrate will eventually send you a plastic card evidencing your number, but you can start using the number right away. (According to the official website, the Codice Fiscale can also be obtained at the Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione at the Prefettura. We haven’t tried that.)
The Codice Fiscale is actually computed using an algorithm applied to your name and birthdate and place of birth. Merchants can verify the data you enter, for example to a website, to check if the codice you entered is correct. For this reason, if you need to enter a Codice Fiscale anywhere in addition to your name, be sure to enter the same exact name, including middle name, that you used for registering for the Codice Fiscale.
Important Note: In order to apply for the Codice Fiscale, you will need to demonstrate that you have legally entered Italy. The easiest way to do this is by showing a passport stamp issued by an Italian border official. If you entered the EU through another country (e.g., Germany) you will not have an Italian stamp in your passport, because there are no border controls within the EU. The Entrate will not accept a passport stamp from another EU country for this purpose, and you will have to first register your entry into Italy at the local questura (police station). To avoid this frustrating additional step, we strongly advise arranging your trip such that you enter the EU through Italy.