How to apply for permits to stay


Applications for permits to stay can be made at the local police headquarters (questura), or by using the "yellow kit" at a post office. The validity of permits varies from a minimum of six months to indefinite and they may or may not be renewable, depending on the original purpose.

An initial permit to stay for an EU national should be valid for five years. The documents required vary according to your particular circumstances and nationality, therefore you should check in advance and obtain a list – don’t believe anything you’re told unless it’s written down (and even then it may be wrong)!

All applicants require the following:

  • A valid passport, with a visa if necessary, and a photocopy of the information pages, including a visa if applicable;
  • A completed application form – IPS 209 (blue) for first time applications or IPS 210 (green) for a renewal – available from the local police headquarters;
  • Your previous permit (permesso) if you’re renewing one;
  • 4 (white background) passport-size photographs;
  • A tax stamp (marca da bollo) to the value of €30 (non-EU nationals only);

The following are required for certain people, depending on their status (or at the whim of post office or questura officials):

  • A birth certificate (estratto di nascita dell’Anagrafe) for each minor child under 18 to be included on a permit;
  • Proof of residence, which may consist of a copy of a lease or purchase contract or an electricity bill. If you’re a lodger, the owner must provide an attestation (attestazione) that you’re living in his home.
  • A photocopy of spouse’s permit if he is a foreigner or a photocopy of spouse’s identity documents if he is Italian;
  • Health insurance or a medical certificate (e.g. students), if you aren’t covered by Italian social security (or another country’s social security system);
  • Students require an admission letter to an educational institution;
  • Non-employed or retired persons need proof of their financial resources.
  • A family-status certificate (stato di famiglia), available from your town hall (comune) in Italy or your marriage (certificato di matrimonio) or divorce certificate (sentenza di divorzio) or other papers relating to your marital status. If you were married abroad you also need a consular declaration (translated and authenticated) to the effect that you’re married;
  • A criminal record (fedina penale) certificate – many countries don’t issue these, although you should be able to get the police or a government bureau in your home country to issue a ‘statement of good conduct’, which may satisfy the Italian authorities;
  • Employees require a declaration from a prospective employer stating his intention to hire you (or that you’ve started work, if permitted) and describing your professional capacity, and a nulla osta for work;
  • Autonomous workers require a VAT number (partita IVA) or a letter of exemption and a chamber of commerce registration certificate (iscrizione all camera di commercio) or a letter from the company where they’re accredited;

If you don’t have all the required documents you’re sent away to obtain them. Certain documents must be translated by a notarised translator (traduttore autenticato) and authenticated (vidimato). It isn’t recommended to have documents translated in advance as it’s expensive and the requirements often vary according to the area or office and your nationality. Certain documents must be notarised by a public notary (notaio) and all copies should be stamped ‘official copy’ (copia ufficiale) at the town hall or questura. Original documents must always be presented with official copies.

Once your application is accepted you will be issued a reciept. This form allows you to return to the post office or questura whenever you like to check the status of your application. Note, however, that just because you are "allowed" to check your application status does not mean that the process will be quick or pleasant. Expect to wait.


An application for the renewal of a permit to stay (made on a green form) must be made well before its expiry date. When you renew your permit to stay, you must reconfirm your status and provide the same documentary evidence as for the original application.

If you’re self-employed, you need a photocopy of your latest tax return and the receipt for payment. If you’re working in Italy, a renewal will be vaild for two years, or even indefinitely (a so-called permanent permit to stay – tempo indeterminato), depending on how long you’ve been working there and other factors. There’s a fee for the renewal of a permit to stay and fines for late renewal or failing to renew your permit to stay.

Moving House

When you move house, you must inform the questura with jurisdiction over your new place of residence and produce proof of your new address. Your permit to stay is updated with your new address. This is particularly important if you’re in the process of renewing your permit to stay, as the change of address must be recorded before a new permit can be issued.

This article is an extract from Living and Working in Italy from Survival Books.

Further reading

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