No matter your situation upon entering Italy, when you plan to stay, you will need to apply for the famous Permesso di Soggiorno – your Permit to Stay. This is an essential document that allows you to remain in Italy, and is renewable so you can stay beyond your original visa. Here is a comprehensive guide on exactly how to apply for your Permesso in Italy.
Within 8 days of arriving in Italy, you must pick up a “Kit Permesso” from the post office. This is the very first step in how to apply for your permesso. If you are attending a university, double-check with your student life before you go through as they might already have things set up for you.
At the post office, you will need to get a number and wait in line. Sometimes when you take a number there will be different buttons to get in different lines. If you aren’t sure which number to grab, usually it is under the list “servizi cittadini” or “tutti servizi”.
Once it is your turn, ask for a Kit Permesso, and they will hand you a big yellow and white envelope.
How to Apply for your Permesso – filling out the kit
Back at home, take out everything and have a look. You might find it useful to keep your phone with Google Translate nearby because there is a lot of information in this kit. You’ll find two packets of forms in red to be filled out, a packet of papers that gives a description of all the permessi and what you will need for each, then you will also find a few other papers that explain different abbreviations you might run into on the forms.
Follow the instructions for the permesso you need, add all your copies into the envelope (never put in your originals!), and fill out the forms. Use a black pen, and all uppercase, however, wait to fill out “21. Sezione 2” on the front page until you turn it into the post office.
The last thing you will need is a marca da bollo (postage tax stamp) for €16. This can be purchased in most tobacco shops, but be sure to ask for the correct one for €16.
Once you have everything ready, put it back into the envelope, but do not seal it. Head to the Post Office again, bringing your passport, and extra copies with you.
Handing in your Application
At the post office, they will give a quick check of the documents and forms, then you can fill out “21. Sezione 2” with the information on how many papers are in the envelope and sign.
The Post Office will seal it for you and send it out. At this point, you will have to pay the fees for the permesso, including the shipping, and electronic permesso fees. To always be prepared I recommend having cash and card on hand. The fees will depend on the type and length of the permesso you are applying for. Apart from the €16 marca da bollo, you will pay €30 for shipping the kit to the questura, €30.46 for the physical permesso card, then:
- € 70.46 for a permesso valid from 3 months to 1 year;
- €80.46 for one that is 1-2years
- € 130.46 for long term permesso like the carta di soggiorno.
Your envelope will be shipped out, and the post office will give you a copy of your receipt with a letter stating when your Questura appointment is. A Questura is a larger police office, a public security office. There may be more than one in the city, but usually only one is specific for immigration. The address of the exact office will be on the letter given to you by the post office. Make sure to make a copy of this letter and receipt, and keep it with you. Do not lose the original.
Your Next Appointment
The next step in how to apply for your permesso will be attending an appointment at the Questura. Your appointment at the Questura will be several months from when you handed in your kit, this is normal. Before you get there you will need to get four passport photos taken. These can be done at kiosks found around the city- often near train stations, or at a photo store.
When the date comes around, you must go to the Questura for fingerprinting, and for your documents to be double-checked.
What if you aren’t in Italy at the time of your appointment?
If you’re not in the country for your appointment, skip it, but the second you are back you must go to the questura with your receipt and documents. Tell them you missed the appointment and need a new one, and they will reschedule.
During this limbo in which you have only the receipt from the post office, you need to guard that receipt with your life. You technically should not travel during this time unless it is directly to your home country.
At Your Appointment
The time written for your appointment on the receipt is most likely for in the morning, but timing means nothing at the questura. I always recommend getting there an hour early, taking a breath, settling in with a book and just taking your time.
The questura makes appointments in groups, so you and approximately 70 other people have an appointment at 10:00 am. They only call one group at a time and don’t start calling the next group until the previous one has finished. It is a slow process. Some of the different questura might have you instead get in line first thing in the morning and take a number to enter in order.
Once you get in front of the officer, they’ll grab your packet, look over the papers, ask for your photos and passport, have you do the fingerprints, then it’s done!
Receiving your Permesso
You will have to go back in about 3 months to pick up your new permesso. The turnaround time on a permesso is long.
In theory, if you provided an Italian number, they will text you when it is ready to be picked up. If about 3 months pass and you still haven’t received any notification you can check the status at this website. Enter the number found in the top right of your receipt, and this will tell you if it is ready. If it doesn’t say it is ready, trust that it isn’t. Have a little patience, 3 months is usually the minimum.
Some cities do pickup every day, other cities might do just certain last names on certain days. Double check with your local questura when you go for your fingerprinting. In some cities, you may do everything at one questura office. Instead, in Rome, you will only need to do fingerprinting at the large questura, and instead of picking up your card, they will direct you to the closest police station or commissariato to the address you provided on your application.