The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is providing a new, avant-garde IT tool for Italian citizens living abroad, to allow them to receive information and services without having to visit our consular offices in person. The new online consular services portal, SECOLI, was launched in Belgium on 12 November 2012. In line with the Italian and European Digital Agenda, the new application exponentially expands the range of services available online, and offers our fellow citizens living abroad a comprehensive range of multi-channel content.
In many cases, citizens will be able to obtain the service they need, or complete their application, without having to visit the Consulate in person. When they do need to attend in person, they will be able to make an appointment and “speak to” consular staff online so that they can collect all the information they need (documents to be submitted, fees, expected timescale for completion of the procedure, etc).
As many as 70 online services
The services will gradually be made available on the portal, with 70 identified so far for inclusion. They come under the following categories: register office and voting for Italians living abroad; marital status; notary services; documents and certificates; assistance for Italian nationals; Consulates and Institutions; and Italian communities. A “guide to consular services” will also be included. The portal will be rolled out in two, parallel stages: in the rest of Europe, in the coming months, and by the end of 2013 in the rest of the world.
Easy, smart and intuitive
Easy, smart and intuitive, the new site is intended to reach Italian citizens everywhere and to make their dealings with our diplomatic-consular offices as easy as possible. SECOLI can be used on all personal devices (smartphones, tablets…), thus exploiting all the potential of mobile computing.
The portal is completely accessible: the technologies used are compatible with voice-reader applications and braille devices. To ensure that the portal is as user-friendly as possible for citizens who are less familiar with computers and other IT devices, the focus is on intuitiveness and ease of understanding. Each page of the portal has the same design and look, with “buttons” and text clearly highlighted in bright, clear colours. Multi-language support is also planned, to ensure that the content can be as widely-used as possible.
The next stages
So far, about 1 million users (Italians and foreign nationals) have booked a consular appointment online. All Italians who have done so will receive an email inviting them to get to know SECOLI and exploit its potential. This substantial pool of previous “customers” testifies to the high expectations of our users, who will have an innovative, advanced instrument at their disposal. More advanced that those of our European partners: in France, for example, “MonConsulat.fr” only offers information services, while Great Britain has no dedicated portal and consular services are, in some cases, provided by private companies.
The SECOLI portal follows the most recent guidelines from the Digital Government Code, thus enabling a more rational use of available resources and the delivery of more efficient services for citizens and businesses. The structure underlying the site is cloud-based, in line with the latest technology, and has been produced entirely within the MFA: the fruit of our in-house expertise.