For residents in towns or villages with population under 150,000 the deadlines are already past: 31 December for the smallest comuni and 31 January for those with a population between 20,000 and 150,000. But for residents of the 27 comuni with a larger population, the forms must be handed in – or submitted on line – by 29 February.
Brescia and Prato have so far proved the most virtuous, with over 90 per cent of forms submitted by 3 February, the most recent date for which results are available. At the end of the table were Messina with 70 per cent and Rome with only 69 per cent.
Every household should have received a questionnaire by post, but if you didn’t receive one – or have lost or spoiled it – you can pick up a new copy from your town hall or from any of the collection centres set up around the country: call the toll-free number 800 069 701 to find out where your nearest collection centre is (or indeed to obtain any other information about the census).
The most convenient way to complete your form is online at the official site www.censimentopopolazione.istat.it – well over 8 million households have already filed their return this way, says Istat, the government statistical institute in charge of the operation. There are explanatory videos and guides on the site to help you fill in the form, as well as translations of the form into 20 languages (although it is the original Italian version which must be filled in and submitted). But if you prefer the human touch, staff at the collection centres are trained to talk you through the questionnaire in person.
Official interviewers are campaigning door-to-door to help residents who haven’t yet filed a completed form. If you have already done your civic duty and handed in your form (or filed it on line), you can show them the receipt. But beware: there have already been cases of criminals claiming to be census interviewers to obtain access to homes, generally of the elderly or the credulous; a genuine interviewer will be able to show you an official identification, and if you are not convinced you can always call the toll-free number for reassurance.
More details available here and on official census website on the left hand side of this page.