How to get a “Permit to Stay” in Italy
For non EU citizens:
- You need a visa first. You apply for that at the Italian Consulate in your jurisdiction in your home country. See the website for the consulate in your jurisdiction for more info.
- Upon arrival in Italy apply for a permit to stay. (permesso di soggiorno)
- Within 20 days of receiving the permit, go to the Anagrafe (vital statistics bureau) where you reside, to apply for a “certificate of residency.” This is different from permanent residency which we’ll talk about in later posts.
My process and what you can learn from it:
Back in February I was granted a visa to reside in Italy. Obtaining this was no easy feat. I gathered documents for months, and struggled mightily at times when the Italian Consulate silently received my emails and did not grant me any responses. Using the expat forums for information I managed to be well prepared and the consulate granted me the visa.
But my slog through the process of becoming a legal resident in Italy had only just begun.
The next step was to present myself at Lucca’s police office within 8 days of my arrival.
I dutifully presented myself at the questura (police station) to a man in uniform who had exceptionally deep green eyes. I tried not to be mesmerized as he explained to me that I needed to go around the corner to the immigration office.
In the small immigration office (which seemed too small to deal with the amount of hopeful African immigrants in there) I repeated my objective to a man behind a window. He went to his computer, typed out a sentence, printed it, and handed it to me.
“deve fare richiesta di permesso di soggiorno utilizzando kit postale da ritirare negli uffici postali.”
(Go to the post office and ask for a “kit”)
He told me there was nothing else I needed to do, and just to be sure to apply for the permesso before my 3 months was up. (The 3 months that Americans are granted in Italy via the Schengen Agreement.)
As is often the case, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing because in fact you are supposed to apply for the permit to stay within 8 days of arrival.
Now, a word about filling out this “kit” which is only in Italian:
I had looked at blog posts that provide instructions for filling it out, and even watched a you tube video about how to fill it out. But still, I was unsure in a few places due to my particular station. (Like what was the port of entry? I had landed in Zurich before flying on to Firenze and it was in Zurich where my passport was stamped, not in Firenze, so which was the port of entry?) A few particulars like this were not answered by the blog posts and the video.
Then were was a pesky receipt attached to the kit where I was supposed to fill in an amount. But I had no idea what the amount might be.
The kit was supposed to be turned in at the post office so I went there, and after waiting in line, I explained that my kit was almost all filled out but… I did not get very far as the woman immediately told me she could only accept a completed kit and could not provide any answers, nor could she tell me what amount I needed to write on the receipt.
She then said something that turned out to be extremely useful.
“Go to INAC and get help from them.”
“Huh? What’s INAC?”
“A place that helps immigrants.”
I found an INAC location and despite my lack of appointment, I was seen, and helped.
This guy took one look at my “filled-in-by-hand” kit and said, “I’m going re-do all this on the computer.”
He proceeded to copy of all it into an online form, and he knew the right answer for the port of entry and he knew the amount to write on the receipt.
He told me that when I turned in the kit at the post, I’d be given a date for my permesso appointment at the questura. He warned me to keep the appointment receipt as I’d need to present it at the appointment. He went over the documents I’d need to bring with me to the questura and told me to bring 4 passport sized photos.
This service is brilliant! It is not only free, but it takes all the worry out of your hands.
I was stumped as to how I had not heard of INAC– no blog post I’d read about the mystifying process of the permesso di soggiorno and the filling out of the forms had mentioned this service.
I’m telling you, once you get the kit, google INAC, find your local office, and use their services! It takes a ton of stress out of the process!
When I turned in my kit at the post office, they asked for 30.50 Euro (the amount on the receipt that goes to the ministry of economy and finance) and an additional 30 Euro as payment for the kit.
The appointment I got for the permesso was only 3 weeks away. In a larger city it will probably be longer. There is something to be said for moving to a smaller town– the questura will be less inundated, and the people working there will probably be more friendly.
The take away from this post:
INAC is your friend and you should use them for filling out the “kit”
For more info on becoming legal in Italy go to post #2