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Italian electronic identity card

The Carta d'Identità Elettronica (Electronic identity card, CIE) is a personal identification document that replaced the paper-based identity card in Italy. The first Italian electronic identity cards were issued in 2001 and are now available to all Italian citizens from 15 years of age.

Italian electronic identity card
(Carta d'Identità Elettronica)
Italian electronic ID card.png
Front of the card
Italian electronic ID card (back).png
Issued by Italy
Valid in Italy and for travel to:
Europe (except Russia, Belarus, Moldova (old version) and Ukraine)
 Montserrat (max. 14 days)
 Tunisia (organised tours)
Type of documentIdentity document

The CIE is intended for both online and offline identification. The information is printed and stored on a chip as well as a laser band. Specifically, the chip contains a digital certificate for online authentication and (optionally) a certificate for digital signatures. The CIE is designed to give access to e-government services and will become the standard for access to online services offered to Italian citizens by public authorities. The technical specifications for the Italian identity card have been developed by the Italian Ministry of Internal Affairs in collaboration with the University of Rome Tor Vergata.

After more than 10 years of trials, the use of the electronic card was, as of 2011, still limited to relatively few municipalities, and the online features had not been implemented;[1] as per decree of 25 May 2016, every classic identity card with expired validity must be replaced by the electronic version.[2]



Italian citizens are entitled to request an identity card, issued by the municipality in which they live. The card lasts ten years and is a valid document to leave the country when travelling to another EU country.[3]

It is not compulsory to carry the card itself, as the authorities may ask for only the identity of a person, not a specific document. However, if public-security officers are not convinced of the claimed identity, like from a verbally-provided identity claim, they may keep the claimant in custody until the identity is ascertained.[4] Such an arrest is limited to the time necessary for identification and has no legal consequences.

A classic Italian identity card (now in the process of being replaced by a newer template) has four pages containing the following:

  1. Issuing municipality, card number and owner's name and surname;
  2. Owner's name, surname, birth date and place, citizenship, city of residence, address, civil status (optional) and profession; in addition, physical features such as height, hair and eye color, and any other particular feature not visible from the photo (like having a twin or being an amputee) can be noted;
  3. Photo and signature of the owner, date of issue and stamp of the issuing municipality.
  4. Expiration date and card number.

A field for fingerprints has been present for a long time at the bottom of the third page but is rarely used. Also, physical features are normally not measured rigorously but are just verbally asked to the applicant (such as height) or quickly ascertained by administrative personnel on the spot, with no checks for hair dying or cosmetic lenses.

The classic Italian ID card is made of paper, not plastic, and its lamination with plastic pouches is explicitly forbidden, as that would interfere with the anti-forging heat sensitive pattern on the back of the card (see reference).[5] Lamination of ID cards was popular and widely practised until the current prohibition was introduced because of the low quality of the employed paper, which tends to break apart after a few months in a wallet. Removable pouches are often employed to limit damage, but the odd size of the card (about 1 cm larger than a plastic credit card in both directions) makes it difficult to store it easily in a wallet.

Furthermore, the usage of paper makes the card easy to forge, and foreign countries outside the EU sometimes refuse to accept it as a valid document. The common criticisms were considered in the development of the Italian electronic identity card, which is in the more common credit-card format.

All foreigners in Italy are required by law to have identification with them at all times.[6] Citizens of EU member countries must be ready to display an identity document that is legally government-issued in their country. Non-EU residents must have their passport with customs entrance stamp or a residence permit issued by Italian authorities; while all the resident/immigrant aliens must have a residence permit (otherwise they are illegal and face deportation), foreigners from certain non-EU countries staying in Italy for a limited amount of time (typically for tourism) may be required only to have their passport with proper customs stamp. Additionally permanently resident foreigners may ask to be issued an Italian ID card by the local authorities of their municipality of residence.

Issuing systemEdit

As for the paper version, the EIC is distributed locally by the Italian municipalities. The Ministry of Internal Affairs supplies the required network infrastructure, software updates and security architecture so the required issuing system is more complex than the centralised ones that are used by other countries or for other electronic cards. However, the system allows smaller municipalities to collaborate with nearby larger ones, to reduce printing costs.


The EIC contains the following fields:

  1. Issuing municipality
  2. Last name
  3. Given name
  4. Place of birth
  5. Date of birth
  6. Sex
  7. Number of birth registration
  8. Height
  9. Municipality of residence
  10. Address
  11. Issuing date
  12. Expiration date
  13. Nationality
  14. Fiscal code
  15. Signature
  16. Validity to travel

The card also contains the following items:

  • Emblem of the Italian Republic
  • Unique identification number of the card
  • Photo of cardholder
  • Security hologram
  • Laser strip
  • The microchip

The chip contains the information in all the fields printed on the card and a digital version of the photo. It can hold X.509 digital certificates issued by the Certification Authority of Ministry of Internal Affairs. On the chip are optional fingerprint templates and the infrastructure required for digital signatures. The card complies with the ISO/IEC 7816 standard.


According to the Law 133/2008, the validity of Italian Identity Cards has retroactively been extended from 5 to 10 years.

EIC and CNSEdit

There are two cards that Italian citizens may use to gain online access to public services, the EIC and CNS (Carta Nazionale dei Servizi). The CNS is not an identity card and may be used only for online authentication and, optionally, digital signatures. Furthermore, there is still the option of gaining access by other means of authentication, like the username and password; it was supposed to be abolished from 31 December 2007, but it still remains active and will likely be so for some time.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Che fine ha fatto la carta d'identità elettronica?". Wired. 31 May 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
  2. ^ Gazzetta Ufficiale. "DECRETO 25 maggio 2016". Retrieved 2018-02-02.
  3. ^ Testo unico delle leggi di pubblica sicurezza ("Single body of laws on public security"), also known as TULPS, article 3; see for example here "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 July 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-03..
  4. ^ Testo unico delle leggi di pubblica sicurezza ("Single body of laws on public security"), also known as TULPS, article 157; see an example here "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 September 2009. Retrieved 2011-05-03..
  5. ^ On lamination of ID cards, Web site of the municipality of Villa Cortese.
  6. ^ "On identification of foreigners in Italy". Retrieved 2013-11-11.
  • IDABC programme report, eID Interoperability for PEGS: Update of Country Profiles study, Italian country profile, 2009

External linksEdit