Qualified elettronic signature, PEC, SPID and CIE

Feb 05, 2020

If you need help to obtain a SPID/ PEC/ CIE / Digital signature for contacting Italian Public Offices electronically during the COVID-19 lockdown, contact us by filling out the Contact form, or drop an email to info@mazzeschi.it, you will be receiving a response with a free quote within 24 business hours.


Qualified electronic signature

      – Your legal signature –

If you want to exchange documents online with full legal validity, you will need the qualified electronic signature, also known as “digital signature”. We are talking about an IT procedure of validation of a document, which guarantees the authenticity, integrity and non-rejection of any electronic documents. All natural persons can have a digital signature (citizens, directors of a company, public administrations…) and, in order to have it, you will need to contact a qualified trust service provider authorised by the AgID (Agency for Digital Italy). This guarantees the identity of those who use a digital signature.

Now, what digital signature is and how it really works?

Digital signature is not a simple electronic signature. As stated in the Cad, Codice dell’amministrazione digitale (eGovernment Code), in art.24, dlgs 82/2005, “digital signature must refer only to one subject, which is the document or the series of documents on which digital signature is affixed. It can also substitute the affixation of seal, stamps or other equivalent marks needed by current regulation”. Therefore, digital signature has the same legal value of the handwritten signature.

Digital signature is the result of an IT procedure that is based on three fundamental concepts:

  • Authenticity: the person who signed the document accepted to bear the responsibility of its content in order to guarantee his/her engagement;
  • Integrity: this is an important condition because it shows that the document has never been modified from the moment it has been signed to the moment in which you are using it;
  • Non-rejection: this means that the person who signed a document with digital signature cannot disclaim it.

Another important innovation is represented by the Electronic Seal, which is similar to the digital signature. On the contrary, this seal is affixed by a legal person or entity, in order to guarantee the authenticity and integrity of data linked to it. There are two types of this seal: Advanced Electronic Seal and Qualified Electronic Seal. In other words, the main difference between a seal and a signature is that a signature is meant for individuals/natural persons, whereas a seal is used by a legal entity (business or organisation).

So, in a nutshell, digital signature is an electronic tool that allows to certify that an IT document you sent or you received is true and not counterfeit. You can use digital signature to sign:

  • Balance sheets and corporate deeds
  • Electronic invoces
  • Enrollment in the Register of Auditors
  • Financial operators’ notices to the Income Revenue Authority (Agenzia delle Entrate)
  • Notices between the company and the Public Administration
  • Change of residence notifications or statements
  • Documents with individuals such as contracts, minutes of meeting, purchase order etc.

How to obtain digital signature?

To obtain the digital signature you must address to one of the certified providers included in the list of each EU Member State. There are different type products of digital signature, usually composed by a smart card, which contains a renewable certificate of digital signature and a device used to read the smart card. Furthermore, in the last years, it is possible to find a kit composed by an USB key, which includes the certificate of digital signature. There are also remote digital signature devices that allow signing documents, even a large number of them, thanks to Cloud solutions.

Every provider has a different procedure and a personal installation kit. It is important to bear in mind that to obtain digital signature, the citizen must appear personally in front of the provider, which will ask for the ID card of the person to verify the identity. So, in a nutshell, what should you do to obtain a digital signature is:

  1. Finding a provider and buy a kit;
  2. Once you have bought the digital signature, you need to be recognized by a Public Officer or by the Post Office, or also via web, by showing your ID card, which need to be still valid;
  3. Start the kit, with the respective procedure;
  4. Start the program that allows you to use your digital signature, after having verified the presence of driver and software uploads;
  5. To sign a document, choose the file you want to affix the sign to and choose the format (PDF, XML…)

Talking about costs, the prices are variable and depends from market supply and other elements. However, the prices go from Euros 30 to Euros 80-90.


What is PEC (Certified email)?

Talking about authenticity and acknowledgements, certified email (known as PEC in Italian) is an important instrument. It has the same legal value as a registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt. The email manager will send a receipt as a legal proof of the transmission of the message and of any attached documentation. Similarly, the manager sends the receipt of successful (or failed) submission with a time stamp to the sender.  A PEC is like a traditional email with the difference that it guarantees legal certainty of the sender’s identity and the date and time of sending and receiving the email, as well as its content. It is a tool that is usually used to write and send documents to the Italian public administration, citizens, private companies etc.

What are the advantages of having a PEC address?

There is no obligation to have a PEC address for people in general, but if you are a businessman, a company or a professional (lawyer, notary…) you should have one.  It gives you many advantages especially if you are abroad and we will see why.

First of all, you will not have to print your letter, prepare the envelope and go to the post office. If we think about a registered letter (lettera raccomandata), it usually takes a long time before reaching its destination or it could be addressed to the wrong person or office. With certified emails, you can send an email that has legal value directly to the destination you choose (person or entity), which will receive it immediately. Moreover, being just like a normal email, you will not need to pay anything to send it. You will also receive faster answers from the addressees, because, for example, in many cases Italian public administration have an obligation to answer within thirty days from when they received the message.

With your PEC address you can do many things: sending messages with legal value, as if it was a registered letter; formally request documents or information from an Italian public administration; protect the copyright of a text; respond to a call for bids and much more.

To obtain it you will need to visit the provider’s website and follow the instructions to open a PEC account. You need to insert your personal data and upload a copy of your ID card and your Italian tax code (if necessary). Lastly, you need to choose an address and a password, just like any other email address. Several companies that offer PEC accounts usually ask for a monthly/annual subscription. Costs start from a few euros per year for a basic PEC account, which generally includes a limited space (for example 1 GB) and antivirus. Obviously, the more services you want, the higher the price (for example 25/40/60 euros etc.).


SPID (Public Digital Identity System)

What is it?

SPID means Public Digital Identity System and it is a tool that guarantees both to citizens and businesses a single, secure and protected access to the digital services of the Public Administration. SPID consists of a user name and a password that are issued to the users so they can access to all online services. Documents such as your ID Card or your health card are necessary to guarantee the correspondence of the data you used and avoid any ID theft.

How to obtain your Italian SPID?

To obtain your SPID as previously stated you will need a valid ID document (ID Card, driving license or also your residence permit) and health card, plus an email address and the phone number of your personal mobile phone. To have your SPID credentials you will need to contact an identity provider such as:  Aruba, Infocert, Intesa, Namirial, Poste, Sielte, Tim or Lepida. Once you choose your provider, you will have to register on their website. Registration consists of three steps: entering your personal data, creating your SPID credentials and performing recognition. Remember that Digital identity issue times depend on the individual Identity Provider. Each Identity Provider has a different registration method for free or for payment depending on the security level offered.

Another way to obtain your SPID

There is also another way to get your SPID that involves the use of digital signature, electronic identity card (CIE) o national service card (CNS). First of all, you will need a smart card reader to connect to a computer and your CIE and CNS must be enabled if you want to use online services. If you have CIE, CNS and digital signature, you can complete the procedure online with Aruba, Infocert, Poste Italiane, Sielte, Tim and Lepida. In case you have CNS or digital signature, you can also choose between Namirial and Register. If you have digital signature, you can choose Intesa.

Who can request SPID?

You can request SPID, if you are an Italian citizen or you have a residence permit and you are resident in Italy. You need also to be 18 to request SPID. In case of Italian citizens residing abroad if they want to have SPID they have to contact one of the Providers listed on this website https://www.spid.gov.it/richiedi-spid. They will need to provide them: their phone mobile number, their email address and a valid identity document.


CIE (Electronic Identity Card)

What is it?

CIE is the Italian electronic ID Card, which has replaced the paper-based ID Card. It has the format of a credit card, it contains a photo and personal data of a citizen printed onto it. It is also provided with a microchip containing:

  • Personal data, a photo and fingerprints of a citizen, which are protected by mechanisms that want to avoid counterfeiting or improper reading;
  • Information to consent online authentication of a citizen, in order to access to Public Administration or Corporate online services;
  • Further information on value-added services in Italy and Europe

How to apply for CIE

If you want your CIE, you must apply for it in your Municipality of Residence. You can apply for it any time and it has a different time validity in relation with age groups:

  • 3 years for minors under 3 years old
  • 5 years for minors between 3 and 18 years old
  • 10 years for people above 18 years old

To apply for it, you must present a passport photo, on paper or electronically through USB, and your tax code or health card to speed up the registration process. Before that, you need to pay a sum of 16.79€ (be sure to keep the receipt of your payment).

The citizen will receive the CIE within 6 work days from the application directly at his/her domicile.

CIE: why do you need it for?

With your electronic ID card, you can:

  1. Access to Public Administration digital services (INPS social security services; medical services or registry office services offered by regions or township)
  2. Do check-in in hotel facilities or make a registration with mobile providers, financial institutions or operators etc.
  3. Access to public transport (bus, subway, tramway, car/bike sharing) replacing tickets and bus passes
  4. Access to events without needing tickets
  5. Access to your workplace with no need to use a key card (badge). It is useful to check your accesses and presence at work


Furthermore, from April 6th, 2020 all citizens that hold this ID Card can access to Public Administration digital services right from their home. This solution was conceived to ease Public Administration procedures during the Covid-19 emergency period.

To identify himself/herself, the user must click on “Entra con CIE” or download the app “Cie Id” on their mobile phone and access directly from it. Once you have downloaded the app, you need to register your electronic ID Card by typing the eight-digit code and bring the card closer to your mobile phone.


If you need help to obtain a SPID/ PEC/ CIE / Digital signature for contacting Italian Public Offices electronically during the COVID-19 lockdown, contact us by filling out the Contact form, or drop an email to info@mazzeschi.it, you will be receiving a response with a free quote within 24 business hours.

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This article is posted by Mazzeschi Web Content Manager. Should you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact at info@mazzeschi.it. Follow us on social media @StudioMazzeschi to receive latest updates.

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