- In Italy you need to ask for a ‘Certificato della Camera di Commercio‘
(Certificate of the Chamber of Commerce)
About the Certificate of Good Standing
The Certificate of Good Standing confirms that the company has current legal status in Italy. It usually provides the basic information of the company as well, such as the company number, the registered address, the VAT tax number, etc. In some countries could be also named Certificate of Existence.
This certificate is usually requested by the authorities of a foreign country, where the Italian company is going to operate (i.e. to setup a foreign branch), and sometimes by Italian banks and providers.
Certificate of Good Standing in Italy
In Italy the Certificate of Good Standing is NEVER a stand alone document, but part of the Certificate of the Chamber of Commerce (‘Certificato della Camera di Commercio‘) together with the Certificate of Incorporation, the Certificate of Incumbency and a few other information.
This document is issued by the Chamber of Commerce of the city where your company is based. It means the city where you company has its primary registered address, in fact a secondary office is not enough.
Unfortunately the Italian Chamber of Commerce has no public online system. If you want the certificate, be prepared to go there in person and line up early in the morning, in major cities the line could take a few hours. As an alternative you can pay a Chartered Secretary (‘Società di Servizi Autorizzata‘) or a Chartered Accountant. They will queue on your behalf, and for many certificates they have direct access to the system.
In the last years the online bureaucracy is improving, lawyers and a few websites can provide official certificates as well. So if you need this sort of stuff regularly, make your own online search to check for updates (unfortunately they are usually in Italian). Or drop me an email. Selling certificates is not my business, but maybe I can point you in the right direction.
Legalized Certificate of Good Standing
The Certificate of the Chamber of Commerce can be legalized with Apostille to be used in foreign countries. A legalized Certificate is usually required when you need to setup a branch of your company outside Italy, and in general when you have to make major operations (i.e. a letter of credit, a secondary bank account, etc.).
The Chamber of Commerce or a Chartered Secretary (‘Società di Servizi Autorizzata‘) can help you with the appropriate legalization, if your country is a member of the European Union or a member of the Hague Convention on Apostille, an international agreement between States to use certificates among different countries.
A special mention to China and a few other countries
China is the most important country that it’s not a member of the Apostille Convention and has no direct agreement with Italy on the subject of certificates. I deal with China since 1996 and I have seen its importance rise every year, still there is no convention to improve the reciprocal business. I have underlined this issue to our politicians more than once, especially when I was working with political parties or public companies. The gap is still there, anyway, like any problem, there is always a solution.
The same solution can be used for any other country in the same situation. Where no Apostille is allowed, and there is no direct convention with Italy, the Consulate of the target Country can still certify the document.
This process could be annoying and time consuming. Usually you have to pass through two different Italian offices before the certificate is ready for your Consulate. This is a typical case where is best to outsource the process to a Chartered Secretary (‘Società di Servizi Autorizzata‘), however if you have few money and plenty of time, you are allowed to do it by yourself.
Image source: tomylees at Flickr.com
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