Entry into Italy for non EU nationals

Important information

Non EU nationals may enter Italy provided that they hold both a valid passport and, if required, an entry visa issued in their country of origin.

As soon as foreign nationals enter Italy they should apply for a residence permit based on the same motivations specified on their entry visa.
A residence permit is not required for business, tourism, short visits or study, provided that the stay does not exceed 3 months.

Non-EU nationals who wish to enter Italy must:

  • enter through an official border crossing point;
  • hold a valid passport or equivalent travel document authorizing them to cross the border; hold an entry or transit visa, if required;
  • not be listed in the Schengen Information System as an inadmissible person;
  • not be considered to be a threat to public order, national security, public health, or international relations;
  • have sufficient means of substistence to cover their intended stay and return to their country (showing a return ticket is sufficient proof)

Foreigners seeking to enter Italy are subject to checks by border, customs, currency, and health authorities.

Entry may be refused at the border, even if a valid entry or transit visa is held, if all of the above requirements are not met. Foreigners who stay in Italy for visits, business, tourism or study for periods not exceeding 3 months are not required to apply for a residence permit. If foreign citizens have arrived from non-Schengen states, they should report their presence to the border authorities when entering Italy and the border authorities will put a uniform Schengen stamp on their travel documents.

If foreign citizens have arrived from other Schengen states, they should report their presence to the local Questura (central police station in the province) filling out the relevant form within 8 days of their arrival in Italy. For foreigners staying in a hotel, evidence of their presence is the registration form submitted to the hotel management and signed by the foreign guests on arrival. The hotel will provide a copy of this form to the foreign guest who can show it to police officers, if requested.

As from 8th August 2009 a new bill (Law no. 94 of 15 July 2009) makes it a crime to enter or stay in Italy illegally. Therefore, foreign nationals caught entering or staying in Italy without permission commit the offence of illegal immigration, which is punishable by a fine ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 euros, and they are brought before the justice of the peace (Giudice di Pace) and given immediate expulsion orders in summary proceedings.

Entry Visa

An entry visa is the authorization which enables you to enter Italy. It is a printed visa sticker that is attached to your passport or other valid travel document. Your visa application form must include a recent passport-size photo, a valid travel document and, where applicable, supporting documents depending on the type of visa you are applying for.

You are required to specify the following:

  • purpose of your journey;
  • means of support both for your stay in Italy and return to your country;
  • accommodation.

A visa is issued by the Italian Embassies and consular posts in your country of origin or permanent residence. You cannot apply for a visa or an extension of its validity while you are in Italy. A visa is not required if you are a national of one of the countries whose citizens are exempt from any visa requirement for short-term stays not exceeding 90 days on the following grounds: tourism, mission, business, invitation or sporting events.

A visa is required if you are a national of one of the countries whose citizens are subject to a visa requirement. Schengen uniform visa for short stays not exceeding 90 days. The uniform visa issued by a Schengen State authorizes entry for short stay in or transit through the Schengen area for a period not exceeding 90 days. If you hold a residence permit issued by a Schengen State you are entitled to enter Italy without a visa for a short stay not exceeding 3 months on grounds other than employment, self-employment and training.

National long-stay visa

If you wish to stay in Italy for a period exceeding 90 days, you are subject to a visa requirement even if you are a citizen of a country exempt from any visa requirement for transit or short stay.

Long-stay visas are valid for a period exceeding 90 days and for one or multiple entries into Italy and may include transit through the territory of the Schengen States (the length of transit may not exceed 5 days).

Types of visa

There are 20 types of entry visa: adoption, business, medical treatment, diplomatic, accompanying family member, sporting events, invitation, self-employment, employement, mission, religious grounds, re-entry, elective residence, family reunification, study, airport transit, transit, transport, tourism, and working holiday.

  • Visa type A: Airport transit visa
  • Visa type B: Transit visa
  • Visa type C: Short-stay visa or travel visa valid for one or more entries and for a period not exceeding 90 days
  • Visa type D: Long-stay visa valid for more than 90 days.

Residence Permit

If you are a non-EU national and plan to come to Italy for a period exceeding three months, you must apply for a residence permit.
If it is your first time in Italy, you have 8 days to apply for a residence permit.

To obtain the issue of a residence permit you need:

  • The application form;
  • Your valid passport or any other equivalent travel document bearing an entry visa, if required;
  • A photocopy of your passport or another valid travel document bearing an entry visa, if required;
  • 4 recent and identical passport-size photographs;
  • A €14.62 electronic revenue stamp;
  • Documents supporting your request for the type of residence permit you are applying for.

If you are already in Italy and your residence permit is close to its expiry date, you must apply for renewal at least:

  • 90 days before expiry date if your residence permit is valid for 2 years;
  • 60 days before expiry date if your residence permit is valid for 1 year;
  • 30 days before expiry date in all other cases.

The validity of your residence permit is the same as that indicated on your visa, i.e.:

  • Up to 6 months for seasonal work or up to 9 months for seasonal work in the specific sectors requiring this extension;
  • Up to 1 year if you are attending a duly documented course of study or a vocational training course;
  • Up to 2 years for self-employment, open-ended employment and family reunification.

If you are planning to come to Italy for short visits, business, tourism or study for a period not exceeding 3 months you are not required to apply for a residence permit.

Foreigners awaiting renewal of their residence permits can leave and re-enter Italy if they hold:

  • the receipt issued by Italian Post offices certifying the submission of the application for renewal of their residence permit or EC residence permit for long-term residents;
  • the expired residence permit;
  • their passport or other equivalent travel document.

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:

  • they leave and re-enter Italy through the same border crossing point;
  • 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.);
  • they do not transit through other Schengen countries, as this is not allowed.

The circular letter of 27 June 2007 states that 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.

EC residence permit for long-term residents

Since 8 January 2007, the permanent residence card ("carta di soggiorno") has been replaced by the EC residence permit for long-term residents.

The new permit is permanent. You are entitled to apply for it only if you have been legally and continuously resident in Italy for five years. You can present your application either at the Post Office ("Uffici postali") or at the designated Municipal Office ("Comune") or at other authorized offices ("Patronati"): in the last two cases you do not need to use the postal "application kit".

Your application must include:

  • a copy of your valid passport or equivalent travel document;
  • a copy of your income tax statement bearing evidence that you have a minimum income higher than the social allowance ("assegno sociale"). For domestic workers and caregivers: INPS (National Social Welfare Institution) payment receipts or INPS itemized statements;
  • criminal records and pending charges;
  • evidence of appropriate accommodation, if the application being submitted includes family members;
  • copies of pay slips for the current year;
  • residence and family certification;
  • postal receipt for payment of the electronic residence permit (€27.50);
  • a €14.62 electronic revenue stamp.

The cost of the recorded delivery is €30.

EC residence permit should not be issued to those who are considered a threat to public order and State security.
Your application may include your spouse and your children under 18 years. Your parents and your children aged 18 or over may also be included, but only if they are your dependants.

In order to obtain long-term resident status for your family members, your application must also include the following additional documents:

  • Evidence that your annual income support is sufficient to maintain yourself and all the members of your family. If you apply for two or more children aged under 14, our annual income must be twice the annual amount of the social allowance ("assegno sociale").
  • Certificates attesting your family relationship. All foreign documents must be translated into Italian, legalized and certified by the competent Italian Consulate in the country of origin or residence of your family member or members.

EC long-term residence permit entitles you to:

  • enter Italy without a visa;
  • work;
  • enjoy social benefits and social services supplied by the Italian government;
  • participate in local public life.

If you hold an EC long-term residence permit issued by another member State, you are entitled to reside in Italy for a period exceeding 3 months on the following grounds:

  • regular employment or self-employment;
  • attendance of courses of study or vocational training;
  • residence, provided that you prove to have stable and sufficient funds (your income must be over twice the minimum wage exempted from national health care contributions) and that you are covered by a private health insurance for the duration of your stay in Italy. In this case, you obtain a residence permit valid for Italy, while your family members obtain a residence permit for family purposes.

Exclusions and refusals

You cannot apply for an EC long-term residence permit on the following grounds:

  • study or vocational training;
  • temporary protection or other humanitarian grounds;
  • asylum or when awaiting a decision for recognition as a refugee;
  • if you are a holder of a short-term residence permit;
  • if you hold a diplomatic, official and service passport, or hold laissez-passer issued by international organizations of a universal character.

Your EC long-term residence permit may be revoked in the following cases:

  • You have acquired it fraudulently.
  • An expulsion measure has been adopted against you.
  • You no longer fulfil the requirements set for its issue.
  • You have been absent from the territory of the European Union for a period of 12 consecutive months.
  • You have acquired long-term resident status in another European Union member State
  • You have been absent from Italy for a period exceeding 6 years.

This article has been submitted by The Studio Legale Di Cocco & Duval. Contact them on +39 06 546 479 37 or +39 06 546 479 39 for comprehensive legal advice.

Further reading

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