Maybe you’ve looked into Moving to Italy and you’ve heard this “Permesso di Soggiorno” mentioned a bit. But what exactly is that? The Permesso di Soggiorno in Italy translates to your Permit to Stay. It’s essential if you plan on staying in Italy long term. Let’s get into why this is different from a visa and what you might need for your permesso di soggiorno in Italy.
Difference between a Visa and A Permesso
An entrance visa is issued by the consulate in your home country and allows you to enter the country. Meanwhile, a Permesso di Soggiorno is your permit to remain in Italy. One opens the door, and the other lets you kick off your shoes and get settled.
Truth is, for anything other than a tourist visa, you will need to do both processes. First you apply for the visa back in your home country at the nearest Italian Consulate. Then you apply for the Permesso di Soggiorno in Italy during your first 8 days here.
Just a note: you have to apply for the visa in your HOME country. You cannot apply for it in another third country, except on very particular occasions.
Say you are coming to study at a 4-year program, the visa issued at the consulate will be valid for one year. The Permesso di Soggiorno Italy issues you first will also be valid for only one year. However, when you complete your first year of studies you will only need to renew your permesso, not your visa! Therefore everything is taken care of right here in Italy.
The only overlap between the visa and the permesso is that they will be issued for the same reason.
What kind of permesso are there
Studying is one of many examples. A Study visa will offer you a Permesso di Soggiorno per Motivi di Studio, a permit to stay for study. However, there is one for every other type of visa: Work, Freelance, Religious Missions, Research, Internships, Elective Residency, and Marriage or Family reasons.
Now, it’s also important to note that just because you started with one, doesn’t mean you are restricted to that permesso forever. For example, let’s say you graduate from your 4-year program and find a job. You would no longer be able to have a permesso for studying, but one for work. In this case, you can convert and renew your permesso di soggiorno, again in Italy. You won’t need to return home for a new visa.
If you’d like to find out more about the different types of permesso di soggiorno Italy has, start with this blog. Then if you are looking for information on how to renew, or convert you might want to check out my Moving to Italy Guidebook which has all the details you’ll need to stay in Italy long-term!
What will you need for a permesso di soggiorno
Every permesso differs in the required documents, but each goes through a similar process. To start, you will need your visa to obtain your very first permesso. As mentioned, the visa lets you in, which then lets you obtain the permesso di soggiorno.
The only exception is through marriage to an Italian, where you technically do not need to obtain a visa beforehand.
Then the process usually follows the same path. First, within your first 8 days of being in Italy, you will need to get a “Permesso Kit” from the post office. You’ll need to include the required paperwork and photocopies, and fill out the forms inside. (For details on how to fill these out and the documentation required, see my Moving to Italy Guidebook).
You’ll hand this back into the post office and pay a fee. A few months afterward you will then have an appointment at the Questura, the police headquarters. Note: you’ll want to bring photocopies and originals of ALL documentation you included in the original packet, you’ll also need your passport with you and 4 passport photos.
This appointment is to check your documents and take your fingerprints. After they see everything is in order, you will then wait, coming back in another few months to pick up the physical permesso di soggiorno.
Depending on which one you applied for, you will need to renew the permit every year, for two years, or five years. Be sure to start the renewal process two months prior to expiration, if possible!