HOW TO GUIDES

Our comprehensive guides provide essential information and advice to help you throughout your life as an expat.

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Non-EU Nationals


Non-EU citizens' visa

Many non-EU citizens (cittadini extracomunitari) require a visa to enter Italy and all non-EU citizens intending to stay in the country longer than 90 days need one. There are many different types of visa depending on what the applicant wishes to do in Italy. Note: the application must be made in the country of origin or residence.

Applications can be submitted at the Italian Embassy in the applicant's home country:

Entry requirements vary depending on the person's country of origin and residence.

For non-EU/EEA citizens, a Schengen Visa simplifies travel throughout Europe. This visa allows for travel throughout the 25 countries in the Schengen Area, without the need to obtain separate visas for each country. The Schengen Visa allows the holder freedom of movement between the Schengen countries, but does not allow for a stay of over 90 days.

Non-EU citizens' permit to stay (permesso di soggiorno)

Non-EU citizens in Italy for over 90 days require a "stay permit" (Permesso di Soggiorno). This is a permit to stay in the country and not a residence card; it is not obligatory for a foreigner to have residency in Italy provided they have a valid stay permit and are therefore registered in the commune.

There are a variety of permits, each specific to individual circumstances. It is important that the permit type correlates with the intentions of the permit holder; if the applicant has a visa, the two must correlate (student, not working, employed and so on). Valid permit holders are entitled to the same benefits as nationals including access to schools, healthcare and social assistance.

Once issued, the ‘permit’ comes in the form of a credit card style card with a microchip containing the holder’s personal details, photograph and fingerprints.

The Permesso di Soggiorno has a limited period of validity which matches the purpose for stay. Permits can be renewed. The following are the most commonly-issued stay permits:

  • Permesso di Soggiorno per coesione familiare: permit for the foreign spouse and children of an Italian citizen
  • Permesso di Soggiorno per lavore: work permit for employees
  • Permesso di Soggiorno per lavoro autonomo/indipendente: permit for self-employed workers
  • Permesso di Soggiorno per turismo: permit for tourists (anyone visiting for more than a week, who isn't staying in a hotel, official campsite or boarding house)
  • Permesso di Soggiorno per studio: student permit
  • Permesso di Soggiorno per ricongiungimento familiare: permit for the family and dependent parents of foreigners married to Italian citizens
  • Permesso di Soggiorno per dimora: for foreigners who are establishing residence in Italy and who are not planning on working

Application for the Permesso di Soggiorno can be made at the local Sportello Amico counter at the post office, trade union (Patronati) or municipality office (until mid-2007 this was done at the local Police Headquarters, or Questura) in person, within eight days of arriving in Italy. The application can take up to three months to process. The Questura emails or sends a text message to the mobile number of the applicant informing them if the date they are required to submit photos and be fingerprinted. The same procedure applies when the residence permit is ready for collection.

Stay permit application

The following are generally required to make the application:

  • Completed application form (form is available from the Police Headquarters)
  • Valid passport, plus photocopy of the photograph page and visa page if applicable
  • Four identical recent passport photographs
  • Tax stamp (marca da bollo); available at tobacconists and post offices

In addition to the above, the applicant should supply further documents specific to the reason for stay:

  • Tourism (retired, not active):
    • Proof of health insurance
    • Proof of financial resources
  • Job seeker:
    • Proof of registration with the employment centre
  • Study:
    • Proof of health insurance
    • Acceptance letter from the school or university
  • Employed:
  • Self-employed:
    • VAT registration number
    • Authorisation from the Chamber of Commerce (proof of appropriate licence and registration if it's a regulated profession or proof of commercial registration if appropriate)
    • Detailed information from the State Police
  • Family reasons:

Official translations may be required for certain documents, it is suggested to confirm this in advance.

Renewing stay permits

How far in advance to renew a permit to stay depends on the duration of the validity of the permit.

Applications for the renewal of residence permits should be made:

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

The documents required may be the same as for the initial application including a new batch of recent photographs. Renewals are made the post office, trade union (Patronati) or municipality offices that are authorised to process applications. The cost of the permit varies from €80-€200 depending on the length of its validity.

Renewals may be valid for different lengths of time depending on how long the person has been in Italy. After five years of residence the foreigner may request an EC Long -Term Residence Permit which is a permit allowing the holder to stay for an indefinite period.

EC residence permit for long-term residents

Foreigners who have been resident in Italy more than five years are entitled to apply for an EC Long-term Residence Permit (Permesso di Soggiorno per Soggiornanti di Lungo Periodo, SLP). The permit replaces the former Residence Card (Carta di Soggiorno). Applicants must prove sufficient financial means not lower than the annual welfare benefit amount. This was €5,749.90 in 2013.

The application can be made at the post office, the Municipality office, or at special authorised offices. Although valid indefinitely, in order to remain valid as personal identification, it must be subsequently renewed every five years by submitting new photos. A fee of €200 is charged for the EC residence permit. Once in possession of the permit it is no longer necessary to prove sufficient financial means to stay in Italy.

The application must include:

  • A copy of the passport
  • Four identical passport-sized photos
  • A copy of the income tax statement (as evidence that the income is higher than the social allowance, assegno social
  • Current stay permit and copy
  • Criminal records and pending charges
  • Evidence of accommodation within Italy for the last five years
  • Copies of pay slips for the current year
  • Residency and family certification
  • Postal receipt for payment of the electronic residence permit
  • A2 Italian language certificate
  • Electronic revenue stamp

Note: extra paperwork is required if the applicant is self-employed.