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An Expat Guide To The Permesso Di Soggiorno
This is a permit of stay not to be confused with an entry visa (which must be arranged separately if necessary and ideally prior to your arrival in the country).
The document is legally required by the Italian state for all foreign citizens who wish to reside in Italy.
The Permesso di Soggiorno will give you a right to reside in Italy until the expiration date. Some permits will allow you to work with a contract and others may not.
It is possible to be fined or even extradited if you are caught in Italy without a Permesso.
Types of Permesso
Some of the main types of Permesso are as follows.
Permesso di Soggiorno per turismo.
Anyone staying in Italy for over 3 months is considered a “resident”; technically if you are a tourist in Italy for over a week and you are not staying in a hotel or official campsite then you would need to apply for one, although most people do not. This is non-renewable and valid only for up to 3 months.
Permesso di Soggiorno per lavoro.
This Permesso is a work permit for an employee under contract.
Permesso di Soggiorno per lavoro autonomo/Indipendente.
This is also a a work permit Permesso but for independant/freelance workers.
Permesso di Soggiorno per coesione familiare.
This Permesso is for the foreign spouse or dependant children of an Italian citizen moving to Italy together.
Permesso di Soggiorno per ricongiungimento familiare.
For the spouse, dependant children or dependant parents of foreigners married to Italian citizens as well as family members from overseas who come to join them in Italy.
Permesso di Soggiorno per Studio.
For students coming to Italy to study.
Permesso di Soggiorno per dimora.
This Permesso is for foreigners who plan to reside in Italy without the intention of working or studying.
Permesso di Soggiorno per Soggiornanti di Lungo Periodo.
After five continuous years of residency this Permesso can be applied for. It gives permission to stay for a longer period of time and is required to be renewed less frequently.
Other types of permits to stay include those for refugees, asylum seekers and people on religious missions. They will need to be applied for differently to the above.
What does this entitle me to?
The Permesso entitles you to legal residency in Italy until the expiration date.
For nationalities outside of the EU, you can travel to other Schengen countries without a visa and stay for up to 3 months as a tourist.
For reference, Schengen countries are as follows:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, Hungary.
How do I obtain a Permesso?
Paying a lawyer will not automatically grant you a Permesso, and in fact there are many associations that will help you free of charge.
“I highly recommend finding a local Patronato, such as INAC. They will fill everything out for you for free, and make sure everything is in order. You don’t even have to go to the post office to get the kit first!” - Dee Schaffer - Expats in Italy member.
Permits are released by the Questura in the province where you have residence.
Unfortunately, the way the process works in Italy is that getting a Permesso prior to arrival can be difficult. You will need to apply for your Permesso within 8 days of arriving in Italy.
“If you come to Italy with a US passport and without a visa, you have to wait the 90 day visa free period before even starting the process. And there was no need to go to the questura, you have to go to the police station if in this category.” Ro Lee - Expats in Italy member.
You can pick up the forms from the Sportello Amico located in your local post office (ask for a “kit”) and fill them out at home. Obtain four passport sized photos, make a photocopy of your passport and visa and any additional paperwork pertaining to your purpose of being in Italy (such as school enrolment paperwork or employment contracts), and a copy of your health insurance details and financial paperwork.
“If there is one underlying lesson in our experience, it is to be fully prepared with all the documentation reportedly wanted, and anything else that you can think of that might be relevant.
We submit our application, with full detailed supporting information to the local PO, get our receipt and initial appointment slip (almost always 2 weeks later), and show up with correct photos, US passports, Italian Carta d'Identita, Codice Fiscale, and expiring PDS (after the first application). We make copies of each cycle's application (and keep it) for consistency in the next application. We also include: a photocopy of every page of our passport; a copy (1 page) of the Agenzia Entrate record of our house ownership (others would want a copy of the registered rental contract); a letter from our banker attesting to our financial circumstances, a copy of our pension status, a copy of our Social Security status, copies of our US medical insurance cards (Medicare Advantage - not just Medicare card) and a copy of confirmation letter that we are provided coverage outside of the US. Simply put, this has always worked.” - Jim Burke, Expats in Italy member.
It is important to note: Do not sign or date the forms until you return to the post office.
Go to a local Tabaccheria (Tabbachi/tobacco shop; will usually display a T sign outside) and purchase a Marca da Bollo “stamp”, then take your completed forms, photocopies, other documents and stamp back to the post office along with your passport in person and pay the Permesso fee.
You should be given an appointment receipt at the post office for immigration at the Questura. Make sure you keep this somewhere safe, and after that it is a matter of waiting!
Once at the Questura for your appointment, there may be a quick security screening and then you can pick up your documents with your receipt. You will then have a short interview, and the officer will check your documents and take your finger prints.
“If you dont speak Italian, you will need a representative to communicate on your behalf as there is no language help unless you apply in one of the major cities where there may be bi-lingual officers or translators.” - Susan Evermore, Expats in Italy member.
You will then be asked where you would like to pick up your Permesso from, and then it is back to waiting. The time frame for all of this can vary from just a few weeks to a few months. In some cases, often with your first Permesso, it can take quite a long period of time to process, as some of our members can attest.
“I had an appointment for fingerprints on the 14th of December 2016. I was told the processing takes about 2 weeks and to check my status online. We are currently in May, so basically 5 months and still processing. There is no way to go online to make an appointment at Polizia di Stato, you have to go there in person, write your name on an unofficial list, and wait and see if you will be seen that day. If you are not one of the first 20 on the list, you probably won't be called that day.
The list doesn't carry over until the next day, so you need to be there earlier to get your name on the list.” - Daniel Jasoni - Expats in Italy member.
However, other members assure us that this is not abnormal in the process and that there should not be any issues.
“My first Permesso took about 9 months. As long as I wasn't flying in and out of the country, it didn't matter...The receipt was adequate. The next 4 took anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months. Don't sweat it!” - Dee Schaffer - Expats in Italy member.
It is important to remember though, that there can be a variance in consistency depending on the region of your residency.
“I think it is important to emphasise that each region in Italy handles the “PS” in different ways. For example, in Bari (in the region of Apulia), we had to go to the Questura a few times and had to call them, as the website link didn’t reflect anything but in the process they actually wanted an extra copy of our visa. Each commune handles a temporary PS differently too. We had to wait to have our official card in order to register with the city. Some cities accept the temporary PS with registering at Anagrafe.” Lena Grace, Expats in Italy member.
Travel while your Permesso is processing
According to the Poliza De Stato website, foreigners awaiting renewal of their residence permits can leave and re-enter Italy if they hold:
1. the receipt issued by Italian Post offices (Poste Italiane S.P.A) certifying the submission of the application for renewal of their residence permit or EC residence permit for long-term residents;
2. the expired residence permit;
3. their passport or other equivalent travel document.
“If we leave Italy between the time of our application (i.e receiving the application receipt) until having a new card, we may take our application receipt with us as well as our US passport and our Italian residency information. We’ve never been asked, but with Schengen countries, we’ve never had to go through any border customs / immigration check.” Jim Burke - Expats in Italy member.
First time applicants:
The same facilitated procedure is granted to foreigners who have submitted their application for their first residence permits for employment, self-employment, or family reunification, provided that:
1. They leave and re-enter Italy through any Italian external border crossing point.
2. They show their passport or other equivalent travel document, along with the entry visa specifying the reasons of their stay (employment, self-employment, or family reunification ) and the receipt issued by Italian Post offices (Poste Italiane S.P.A.).
3. They do not transit through other Schengen countries, as this is not allowed.
Foreigners who have children under the age of 14 may request the Questura to issue a temporary residence permit with limited validity. This document will contain the personal details of the children who will then be allowed to leave Italy temporarily.
We hope this guide has provided you with all the information you need to sail through the application process of your Permesso Di Soggiorno with minimal stress!
How was your experience with paperwork in Italy? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!
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