To obtain a residence permit ( certificato di residenza) you require a ‘suitable’ address. Although all addresses are potentially suitable for residence, some rental contracts forbid you to use an apartment’s address for this purpose. Such rental contracts are mainly used with foreigners, so that landlords can regain possession of their property more easily should they wish to do so. Eviction of any person from their legal residence is almost impossible in Italy and landlords don’t want to take any unnecessary risks with foreigners.
To apply for a residence permit you require the following documents:
- A valid passport;
- A valid permit to stay;
- A completed declaration of residence ( dichiarazione di residenza) form, which is available from your town hall ( comune);
- A consular declaration ( dichiarazione consolare) from your country’s consulate in Italy containing your name and surname, father’s name, mother’s name, place and date of birth, civil status (with name of spouse if married), along with the date and place of the wedding, or the date of your spouse’s death if you’re a widow(er), nationality, and details of other members of your family.
Once your application has been received, you’re given a certificate stating that you’ve applied, which is valid for three months and can be renewed if necessary. A decision on whether to grant your first residence permit must be taken within six months of your application.
A city police officer ( vigile urbano) will visit the address that you’ve given as your habitual residence ( dimora abituale) to ensure that you actually live there. When your permit has been granted you receive a notification that it’s ready for collection from the ufficio anagrafe.
A residence permit for an EU national is valid for at least five years and is automatically renewable, while a student’s permit is valid for one year only but is renewable. Members of your family are issued with a residence permit for the same period as the principal applicant.
A residence permit remains valid even if you’re absent from Italy for up to six months or if you’re doing military service in your country of origin. If you change residence within Italy, you must declare it at the police headquarters of your new residence within 15 days of moving home. Your new address is entered on your residence permit.
Despite the hassles, having the right of residence ( il diritto di soggiorno) entitles you to ship your personal effects from abroad without paying duty or VAT, buy land or property, buy and register a car, open a resident bank account, apply for an Italian driving licence, obtain an identity card ( carta di identità), obtain health care from the local health authority, and send your children to a state school.
When you’ve been granted resident status, you’re entitled to most of the rights and privileges accorded to Italian citizens, apart from the right to vote in Italian parliamentary elections.
For anyone planning to stay in Italy for more than a few months, applying for residence is likely to be highly desirable. Unlike most other EU countries, anyone staying in Italy for longer than 183 days per year isn’t legally required to apply for residence.
When you’re resident in Italy (with a resident permit) you need to provide a ‘certificate of residence’ for certain transactions such as converting your driving licence and obtaining a residential electricity contract.
Foreigners who have obtained residence can, if they wish, obtain an Italian identity card from their local registry office.
Renewals, Rejections & Cancellations
All foreigners must renew their residence status within 60 days of renewing their permit to stay and may be subjected each time to a visit from the vigile urbano. You may renew your residence permit by carrying out the same formalities as when you first applied (indicating any change in status), except that this time you don’t need to produce a visa, medical certificate or proof of your ascendants’/ descendants’ relationship to you if you’ve already provided it.
If, at the time of renewal, you’ve been involuntarily unemployed for more than 12 months in succession, your residence permit may be renewed for a limited period, which may not be less than 12 months. The authorities may refuse to renew your permit again if you’re still unemployed when it next expires. The fee for the issue or renewal of a residence permit is the same as that for the identity card issued to Italian nationals (currently €5).
If your application for the issue or renewal of a residence permit is rejected or if a deportation order is served on you, you must be notified of the relevant decision and the reasons, except where considerations of state security prevent this. You cannot be refused a residence permit purely on the grounds that the identity documents with which you entered the country have expired.
If you’re leaving Italy permanently, you must cancel your residence permit at the sala dei certificati section at the local police headquarters and receive confirmation. This permits you to export your personal effects from Italy without problems with customs or paying taxes.
This article is an extract from Living and Working in Italy. Click here to get a copy now.