Residence permits & permits to stay

Declaration of presence & permanent residence cards

Residence permits & permits to stay

Anyone planning to stay in Italy for more than 90 days is considered a resident. Whether you are a student or seasonal worker, if your stay exceeds this amount you must make sure you are in possession of the required documents since failing to acquire these can lead to expulsion from Italy.

Declaration of presence

As of 2007, the Italian residency permit has been replaced by a declaration of presence (dichiarazione di presenza) on Italian soil. A declaration of presence can be obtained by filling out a form at the police headquarters (Questura) and you should usually apply for one within eight days of arriving in Italy. You will receive a stamped receipt which should be kept safe in case you are asked to show proof of it in the future.

If in possession of a short-stay visa (Uniform Schengen Visa) you do not need to make a declaration of presence since this is satisfied through application of the USV sticker.

However, EU nationals and anyone else who does not possess the USV sticker on their passport and intends on staying for a period of more than three months must file for a declaration of presence in Italy.

Types of permits

Foreigners require different permits depending on their national status and on how long they have lived in Italy.

  • Permit to stay (Permesso di soggiorno): required by non-EU nationals and is valid for a limited period of time. There are several types and most can be renewed. They can be issued for the first 5 years of residence in Italy.
  • Non-EU permanent residence card (Carta di soggiorno): required by non-EU nationals after residing in Italy for more than 5 years.  Valid for an indefinite period of time.
  • EU citizens permanent residence card (Carta di soggiorno Cittadini U.E.): required by EU nationals and their dependents that are staying in Italy for more than three months.

Permit to stay

In Italy, a permit to stay (permesso di soggiorno) can take more than three months to obtain and can be issued only for the purpose stated on your visa.  As of December 2006, an application "kit" can be requested from one of 14,000 national post offices (Poste Italiane). The kit must then be returned to one of 5,332 designated Post Office acceptance locations. It is important you keep a copy of the receipt issued by the Post Office. There are several types of permits to stay, the most commonly issued ones are:

  • Permesso di soggiorno per turismo – for tourists. Technically anyone visiting Italy for over a week who isn't staying in a hotel, boarding house or an official campsite should apply for one, although in practice this rarely happens;
  • Permesso di soggiorno per coesione familiare – for the foreign spouse and children of an Italian citizen when they move to Italy together;
  • Permesso di soggiorno per lavoro – a work permit for an employee;
  • Permesso di soggiorno per lavoro autonomo/indipendente – for independent or freelance workers; 
  • Permesso di soggiorno per studio – for students;
  • Permesso di soggiorno per ricongiungimento familiare – for the spouse, children (under 18) and dependent parents of foreigners married to Italian citizens and also for family members from overseas who come to join others already in Italy;
  • Permesso di soggiorno per dimora – for foreigners establishing residence in Italy who don’t intend to work or study.

Other classes of permits to stay include refugees and employees of religious missions. If you’re a non-EU citizen and haven’t obtained a specific visa, the local police headquarters normally would issue you a permit for tourism (permesso di soggiorno per turismo). This is nonrenewable and valid for only three months. You may not apply for residence with this permit,  nor study,  and you can’t take up employment or establish a business.

Permanent Residence Cards

The EC residence permit for long-term residence (Permesso di Soggiorno per Soggiornanti di Lungo Periodo, SLP) was introduced in 2007 and, unlike the old residence permit, is now permanent. If you have been living in Italy continuously and legally for more than five years, then you are entitled to apply for an EC residence permit. EU citizens can and should apply for one if they intend on staying in the country for more than 90 days.

The application must be presented either at the Post Office or at your local Municipal office (comune). Some documents and information needed for the application include:

  • a copy of your valid passport
  • a copy of your income tax statement with evidence that you have a minimum income higher than the social allowance. For domestic workers and caregivers: INPS (National Social Welfare Institution) payments and receipts or INPS itemised statements.
  • criminal records and pending charges
  • residence and family certification
  • postal receipt for the payment of the EC residence permit
  • a revenue stamp

Note that you may require additional documents and that any foreign documents should be translated into Italian, legalised and certified by the Italian Consulate in the country of origin. The cost of the delivery should be around €30.

The application can also be submitted for the following family members: your legal spouse, minor children (including children of the spouse or children born out of wedlock), dependent children over 18 with health conditions resulting in permanent inability to earn their living, and dependent parents.

In order to obtain long-term resident status for these, the application should also include:

  • Evidence that your annual income support is sufficient to maintain yourself and all your family members.
  • Certificates which confirm your family relationship. Foreign documents should be translated into Italian, legalised and certified by the Italian Consulate in the country of origin or residence of your family member(s).

Since the end of 2010, it is now necessary to pass an Italian language test in order to obtain the EC residence permit.

It is worth noting that Italian immigration law changes quite often, therefore you should double check any information before sending out your applications. Make sure to contact your local immigration office to make sure you are aware of ALL the necessary documents.

Further reading

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