In Italy, if I am asked by police for an ID or driving license, would it be lawful to give them a copy of the document (ID or driving licence) crossed and written over with "not usable for utility opening, subscription or any kind of profile"?

I'm asking because a series of events and power abuses towards me made me think to take these extra-precautions, and I fear my IDs might be taken picture of with one excuse or another and used to open any account or utility of any sort and facing the consequences afterwards.

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    What would I do if one of the unfortunate circumstances stated in the question come to occur?
    – abdul
    Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 14:17
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    It is very unlikely that the identity theft you alluded to was done by the police when they checked your drivers license. And even in the unlikely case it really were corrupt police officers who used the guise of checking your documents to open an account or subscription in your name, just scribbling "don't do that" won't stop them from doing it.
    – vsz
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 6:38
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    @vsz it won't stop them from trying, but it might stop the company or utility with which they are trying to open an account.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 10:12
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    @phoog : if the police have the time to make a copy, they also have the time to look it up in their system and print it. Those documents were issued by them in the first place.
    – vsz
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 15:04
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    @vsz since we're talking about the possibility of identity theft by corrupt police officers it is not necessarily correct to suggest that the police who are processing the traffic stop are an equal security risk regardless of whether they have access to the original document. Police systems I'm familiar with do not in fact allow police officers to print copies of driver's licenses -- they only have access to the data, not a printable image of the document itself.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 15:52

3 Answers 3


Official identity documents have security features that would be missing from a copy. When a government agency is entitled to check your documents, they are also entitled to check the security features of your documents.

Think about it -- if you could get away with handing over a copy, then someone else could hand over a photoshopped copy with your name in it.

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    Which, ironically is what OP wants to prevent the "someone else" from doing. I guess some places do accept photocopies though but I'm not sure that would fly for anything important like opening accounts.
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 0:25
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    @DKNguyen, the OP asked about a police check. If I don't like the document handling procedures of a bank, I can walk away and go to the competition. With a traffic control, no such choice.
    – o.m.
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 5:42
  • Logical though this appears, it doesn't actually answer the question ("is it lawful [in Italy]?").
    – JBentley
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 10:53
  • The fact that they can cross-check through their database is an assumption for me.
    – abdul
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 11:33
  • @o.m. I did specify that I would have no choice when it comes to open a bank account, before my question was drastically and badly edited.
    – abdul
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 11:36

No, you must give the police the original documents.

Photocopies are allowed only for the car registration certificate, and only in very specific cases (road code, article 180, paragraph 4):

"Per i rimorchi e i semirimorchi di massa complessiva a pieno carico superiore a 3,5 t, per i veicoli adibiti a servizio pubblico di trasporto di persone e per quelli adibiti a locazione senza conducente, ovvero con facoltà di acquisto in leasing, la carta di circolazione può essere sostituita da fotocopia autenticata dallo stesso proprietario con sottoscrizione del medesimo."

"For trailers and semi-trailers with a total mass at full load exceeding 3.5 t, for vehicles used for public transport of persons and for those used for renting without a driver, or with the option of leasing purchase, the registration certificate can be replaced by a photocopy authenticated by the same owner with signature of the same."

The Italian traffic police answered the same question in their official website.


Legaly, an ID (or passport, drivers licence etc.) is, in most countries, the property of the government that issued it.

Domestic laws states who and under what conditions these documents must be shown to the (in legal terms) representatives of the owner.

To put it bluntly: it is not for you to determine under what conditions a document, that doesn't belong to you, is to be used.

What would I do if one of the unfortunate circumstances stated in the question come to occur?

Do what the domestic laws says that you are required to do.

For any misuse, charges must be made against the person that commited that misuse.

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    "In most countries..." But is that true in Italy itself?
    – nick012000
    Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 20:16
  • Is it even true for the driver's license in any EU country?
    – pipe
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 0:46
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    @MarkJohnson There's a difference between "the document can be revoked by the state" and "the document is the legal property of thr state".
    – nick012000
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 2:25
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    @MarkJohnson Most likely "possessing illegitimate documents is illegal", I imagine.
    – nick012000
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 7:42
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    That said, I do see a lot of Europeans using "buy" with documents such as passports and driver's licenses. This isn't the right word to use in English, and I don't know whether they use it because they just didn't know or couldn't think of the right word or because their own language uses the same word for commercial transactions and government license fees or service fees.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 10:29

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