Any non-EU national who wants to stay in Italy for longer than three months needs to apply for an Italian long-stay visa as well as Italian Residence Permit (Permesso di Soggiorno). You have to apply for a residence permit for Italy regardless of the reason you want to live there, like work or study.
Permesso di Soggiorno translates to “permission to stay”, because it is the document that you need to obtain in order to be allowed to stay in Italy long-term.
The Italian residence permit card is electronic, and it contains a microchip and magnetic stripe (similar to a credit card) which can access your digitally-stored personal information.
This article is a guide on how a non-EU national can apply for Italian residency.
Who is Eligible for Italian Residency?
Technically, anyone who fulfills the entry requirements into Italy can apply for Italian residency.
If you are a non-EU national, you need to apply for an Italy long-stay visa in your home country which allows you entry to Italy.
You need the long-stay visa because the Italian residence permit can only be applied for when you are already in Italy.
However, if you are in Italy for tourism purposes (with an Italy short stay visa or without a visa if you are exempt), you cannot apply for Italian residency. You can only apply for a permesso di soggiorno if you have received an Italy long-stay visa beforehand.
How to Apply for an Italian Residence Permit?
You must apply for an Italian residence permit within 8 days of entering Italy. The application process for the permesso di soggiorno is separated in two parts: the post office and the Questura.
Get an Italian residence permit application kit
Within eight days of arriving in Italy, you have to pick up the application kit for Italian residency at a local post office. More specifically, at the Sportello Amico of a post office (ufficio postale or Poste Italiane) of where you want to live.
However, not all post offices offer application kits for Italian residence permits. You have to find a post office with a Sportello Amico counter.
The application kit is an envelope with the required forms that you must fill out.
Complete and submit the Italian residence permit application kit
After you pick up the application kit, you can leave the post office and head to somewhere quiet so you can complete it. The forms will be in Italian, so come prepared.
Next, you have to buy a Marca da Bollo stamp, which you have to attach to your application before submitting. This is a “duty stamp” which you can find at a tabaccheria.
You have to buy the kind of Marca da Bollo stamp which is stated on your application kit. This costs around € 16.
Once you have your completed application kit as well as all other required documents you have to submit them at the Sportello Amico where you first received them. You won’t have to submit the originals of any documents, but bring them just in case they need to see them, along with photocopies for each.
Make sure not to sign the application or close the envelope, since the officers handling your application have to review them first. If they find that everything is in order, they will give you your appointment date for when you have to appear at the Questura (local police headquarters) for the second part of your Italian residence permit application.
They will also give you a receipt, which will serve as a temporary residence permit because the Questura appointment is usually 1-2 months away. You must keep this receipt with you in case someone asks to see your residence permit, to let them know you are in the process of getting one.
Go to the Questura (police headquarters)
On the date of your appointment at the Questura, you must bring the originals of all the documents that you need (see below), along with the receipt and the letter containing your appointment date that you received at the post office.
There, they will take your fingerprints, and may ask you some questions.
They will also let you know when you can come back in order to pick up your Italian residence permit card.
Requirements for Italian Residence Permit
When you submit an application for a residence permit, both at the post office and Questura, you need to have several supporting documents.
The requirements for an Italian residence permit include:
- Four passport-size pictures
- Your valid passport
- Documents related to the reason you are in Italy, such as a work permit or enrollment in school.
- All the documents that you submitted when you applied for your Italian long-term visa in your home country. See:
- Proof of health insurance. In some cases, you may be eligible for free health service, while in others, you may have to pay an annual fee. You can get started in obtaining Italian health insurance by registering at your Local Health Agency (Azienda Sanitaria Locale).
Keep in mind that all the required documents must be in original and photocopy. You will submit the originals at the Questura and the photocopies at the post office.
Types of Italian Residence Permits
The type of residence permit you receive depends on the reason you want to live in Italy, meaning, on the type of long-stay visa you have.
As such, you can apply for an Italy residence permit for working, studying, or family reunification.
There is also an Elective Residence Permit, which allows the holder to remain in Italy without working if they have an alternate source of income, such as from property, retirement, etc. this is also known as a Retirement Residence Permit.
Otherwise, if you want to work in Italy, you will need a separate work permit, which your employer will have to apply for prior to your travel to Italy. See the Italian Work Visa article for more information regarding work authorization.
Validity of Italian Residence Permits
Italian residence permits can be issued with a validity date of six months, one year, or two years, depending on the type of permit you have. For example:
- The Italian residence permit for seasonal work is valid for six months.
- The Italian residence permit for seasonal work in specific sectors is valid for nine months.
- The Italian residence permit for studying is valid for one year.
- The Italian residence permit for family reunification, employment or self-employment is valid for two years.
Can I Renew an Italian Residence Permit?
Yes, you can renew your Italy residence permit.
Depending on the type of permit you have, you have to renew it:
- For Italian residence permits up to six months: At least 30 days before it expires.
- For Italian residence permits valid for 1 year: At least 90 days before it expires.
- For Italian residence permits valid for 2 years: At least 90 days before it expires.
The Italian residence permit renewal process is the same as when you first apply. So, you have to get an application kit from the post office, complete it, submit it, and then wait for your Questura appointment where you will receive your new Permesso di soggiorno card.
You cannot leave Italy while your residence permit is in the process of being renewed.
Italian Permanent Residence Permit
After living in Italy for more than five years with a temporary residence permit, you can apply for an Italian Permanent Residence Permit.
This grants you similar rights to Italian citizens, such as being able to live and work in other EU countries without a visa or work permit. You also become eligible to receive state benefits, like maternity or disability benefits.
In addition, after living with an Italian permanent residence permit for ten years, you can apply for Italian Citizenship.