The Permesso Receipt – What to do between renewals

After finally understanding the importance of the permesso di soggiorno, and getting psyched up to apply, you’ll feel just a relief when you hand in that kit to the post office. But wait, all that, and what you get back is this flimsy piece of paper? That’s it? For now yes, you’ll have to wait months for the actual permesso di soggiorno to be in your hand, but this permesso receipt is very important, and you won’t want to lose it.

I know the limbo between handing in the kit and getting the card in hand can be one of the most stressful times in an expat life in Italy. It’s a time we are filled with questions: What can we do? Can we travel? Can we apply for jobs? Can we get health insurance? When will my permesso ACTUALLY be ready?! And as usual, the answers are tough to find. So this blog is to answer a lot of those questions and finally get clear about living with a permesso receipt.

What is this receipt and where is my permesso di soggiorno?

The permesso di soggiorno process is a long one. While applying might take 20 minutes (not including your wait time at the post office of course). That’s only the first step. A few months after you hand in that kit, you will have an appointment with the Questura. Wait another few months and then finally you’ll have your actual permesso di soggiorno.

In the meantime, you will be given an official receipt. This is a piece of paper with your data on it, and two bar codes. It is simply that – a piece of paper, so be careful not to rip, lose, or damage it otherwise.

It will be often stapled to your proof of payment for the permesso and also the letter stating when your appointment with the questura is.

This receipt will be valid as proof that you are regular in Italy and that you are in the process of renewing or receiving your permesso. The information on the receipt will also help you check if your permesso is ready for pick up down the line.

As soon as you get the receipt, make photocopies, carry one with you at all times, and leave the others someplace safe.

Permesso Receipt FAQ

I often get a lot of questions about this permesso receipt and so I want to share some answers with you. Here are some of the most common questions I get.

Can I travel with my permesso receipt?

Yes and no. Let’s first talk technicalities, then I can share my experience. According to the rules – you can only travel directly between Italy and your home country with this paper.

Why? Because technically this permesso receipt is only valid for Italy, not for the wider EU or Schengen. It is not recognized outside of Italy. Therefore if someone stops you and asks – you have no legal validation for entering Italy or the EU.

Yet – if your first visa is still valid, you are ok. You can travel anywhere that visa allows you to (usually within the Schengen zone). At this point your visa is more powerful than your potential permesso, so feel free to take connecting flights or take a little trip if you’d like.

If your visa is expired, therefore your permesso is the only legal document you have attesting to your legality in the EU. With an expired permesso, and only the receipt, Italy allows you to remain, but other countries may not see it that way. On their system, it results that you are overstaying your visa.

This means they may and can stop you at the airport.

So the official rule is no. You cannot travel beyond your country and Italy with this paper.

In practice? The majority of expats have traveled on it…. but we’ve run into different issues, and the risk is up to every individual. Personally, in my 12 years of having a permesso, there was very little time I actually had a physical card in hand thanks to the slow Italian bureaucracy.

I’ve traveled with connecting flights, and to foreign countries on my permesso receipt – but I have been stopped and delayed. In Canada, Switzerland, Greece, and Nepal they all delayed me in order to contact an Italian authority to confirm that this paper was official permission. The only time I was concerned was in Nepal, where it was tougher to get in contact with an Italian official, and it took a long time to be approved. I was scared they wouldn’t let me get on the flight to return.

So there was quite a risk, and it has made my heart race. Now that I have a longer permesso di soggiorno validity, I don’t worry about it. But when I was a student – I’ll say I tried to avoid travel when I could, but at the same time…you got to do what you got to do. If you really have to travel for some reason, or if you had a trip pre-booked thinking your permesso would be in hand and it didn’t arrive in time. It’s up to you, but don’t stress yourself out trying to rearrange everything,

How can I check when my permesso is ready?

You can use the barcode on your receipt in order to check if your next permesso di soggiorno is ready. Head to this website and enter the code found on the top left of your permesso receipt. Then it will tell you if your permesso is still being checked, if it is ready, or if there is a problem and something is missing.

Most likely you will also receive an SMS from the Questura when your permesso is ready, telling you when you can come to pick it up.

Don’t bother checking until at least 3 months after your Questura appointment. That is the minimum time it will take. If it still isn’t ready don’t get worried.

If you haven’t received an SMS but the website says it is ready. Head to the Questura during opening hours and you can let them know. They will often let you through, as it happens from time to time.

If you have no message, and the website says it is still being processed after 5-6 months, you can check in with the Questura but it is likely they will just tell you to still wait.

If it gets closer to 9-10 months, you can start making noise and seeking out legal help if the Questura proves to be unhelpful.

What happens if I lose the receipt?

If you don’t have the receipt you cannot pick up your new permesso. Don’t lose it. Have a photocopy always and leave the original somewhere safe as home.

If your receipt is stolen or lost, you may want to file a report with the local police, as valid proof to show the Questura. They may accept this and provide you with your permesso.

Is my receipt considered valid as a permesso?

Yes and no. Italian authorities consider it valid in the sense you can continue to remain in Italy. If you already had a job, healthcare, etc. it won’t be taken away under this receipt, you will be allowed to continue your life.

However in certain cases – converting your permesso for example – it is not valid and you will need to wait. If you had residence or were on a voluntary tessera sanitaria, you will need to bring a copy of your new permesso when it is ready.

Can I convert my permesso with the receipt?

No. Unfortunately in order to convert your permesso, you need a valid permesso di soggiorno. You can only convert it if your permesso still has time before it expires.

Be aware here – converting not renewing. For example, if you had a study permit to stay, and you can now obtain a attesa di occupazione, you don’t need to convert it. You renew it as a new permesso. But if you are converting a study permit to a work permit – with the decreto flussi, then you need to convert it with a still valid card.

Can I apply for jobs with the permesso receipt?

Yes! you can feel free to apply, just know it depends on your current permit-to-stay situation. For example, if you’ll need to convert the permit to stay, you won’t be able to do so with the receipt so you will have to work out with HR starting dates.

Can I get healthcare with the permesso receipt?

If you already had national healthcare due to a lavoro autonomo or lavoro permesso, then it won’t be revoked and it will continue without problems. They just ask to provide a new card when it is available.

If you are on voluntary healthcare, then you should still be allowed to, but they will give you a shorter validity for your TS. You’ll need to show them proof of your future permesso in order to extend it.

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