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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.3 National strategy on youth volunteering

Last update: 27 June 2024

Existence of a national strategy

The national strategy on volunteering, which is also aimed at young people, is contained in the dispositions of Title III of the Legislative Decree 117/2017 (Code of the Third Sector), where the subjects and modalities  for the “promotion of the culture of volunteering” are identified. 

As for youth volunteering for the age group 18-28, the national strategy is contained in Legislative Decree 40/17, which reorganised the Civic Service transforming it into the Universal Civic Service

Scope and contents

The Code of the Third Sector (Legislative Decree 117/2017) has provided for the reorganisation and the overall revision of the current regulations, both civil and fiscal, defining, for the first time, the Third Sector and the entities that are part of it. It is in force since 3 August 2017. The Code establishes a Single National Third Sector Register (art. 45) and regulates relations with public bodies for co-planning and accreditation. It establishes a Third Sector National Council (art. 58) and local voluntary service centres. The Code also provides that public administrations promote a culture of volunteering especially among young people, organising promotional initiatives in the premises of schools and universities, also involving Third sector entities. To encourage voluntary activities, it provides for the certification of acquired skills and the possibility of applying for work permits.

Legislative Decree 40/2017, in force since 17 April 2017, establishes and regulates the Universal Civic Service, the national volunteer program open to young people living in Italy aged between 18 and 28 years, managed by the Department for Youth Policies and the Universal Civic Service of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. The LD 40/2017 regulates relations with public and Third sector bodies that, after registration in a special register, participate in the program by submitting projects through public notices. It also governs relations with volunteers, their duties and allowances granted during the placement that varies between eight and twelve months. 

The Universal Civic Service aims at supporting young people in the transition between education and access to employment. The projects in which young people are engaged offer opportunities to develop life skills and sectoral skills. The programme offers special support to young people with fewer opportunities. At the end of the placement, a certificate of acquired competence is issued, which may also be valid as a credit at university level and in public competitions (Cf. 2.4).

Responsible authority

The Ministry of Labour and Social Policies has among its competences the promotion, development and support of activities and projects carried out by Third sector organisations, with particular reference to voluntary organisations.

The Department for Youth Policy and the Universal Civic Service is the responsible Authority for volunteering in the framework of the Universal Civic Service.


In 2000, Law 331/2000 established professional military service and, since 2005, compulsory military service has been suspended. In 2001, Law 64/2001 established the National Civic Service on an exclusively voluntary basis, in which women can also participate for the first time. Finally, in 2017 Legislative Decree 40/2017 transformed the civic service from “National” to “Universal” (Cf. 2.1).