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Legal requirements to live in Italy

Non-EU residents

To obtain the “permesso di soggiorno” (residency permit), first of all, you need to come here with a Visa type D, a long-stay visa. Moreover, you will need to have proof that you have an owned or long-term rented home here and that you can financially support yourself.

Please note that a “Permesso di soggiorno” is NOT a prerequisite to buying a property. If you plan to stay here for shorter periods than three months, you come with a normal visa – whether you own a property or not. The Permesso di soggiorno is relevant for you who want to live permanently and have your residency here.

The process of getting the “Permesso di soggiorno”

You will need to submit the application within 8 days after moving here.

The first thing to do is to pick up an application kit for the “permesso di soggiorno” at a post office. Just a warning, the forms to fill out are quite complicated (Italian bureaucracy is no joke!). If you find it overwhelming, you can get help from a Commercialista (a kind of accountant) – it might save you some headache. Once filled out, don’t sign the application, this has to be done at the post office when you are back there to submit your application.

Here is a list of documents you will need to provide with the application:

  • a copy of your valid passport or equivalent travel document;
  • a copy of your income tax statement bearing evidence that you have a minimum income higher than the social allowance (“assegno sociale”);
  • criminal records and pending charges;
  • copies of payslips for the current year;
  • residence and family certification;
  • postal receipt for payment of the electronic residence permit;
  • copy of valid health insurance (the cost for that is usually around 800 euros/year and it covers all basic medical care);
  • your Italian fiscal code (codice fiscale);
  • a €14.62 electronic revenue stamp (that you buy in a tobacco store.

Now it is time to go to the post office with all your documents and the application. At the post office, you will have to pay different fees for the application, the total amount is around 200 euros.

After a few weeks, you will be called at the “questura” (police headquarters) for an interview. Bring your receipt from the post office, copies of all documents, passport, and four passport photos. They will require that you have some basic knowledge of the Italian language (practice!), they will go over your documents and take your fingerprints.

After a few weeks, you will be able to pick your “permesso di soggiorno” up at your nearest police station.

You could say that the visa allows you to come here, but that it has to be converted into a permesso di soggiorno that allows you to stay.

Apart from your going to the police, the police will also come visit you to make sure that you really live where you say you do.

The validity of the “Permesso di soggiorno”

For the first five years, you will have to renew your “Permesso di soggiorno” each year. After five years you can apply for the EC Long-Term Residence Permit (“Carta di soggiorno”).

If you are an Italian resident, you are also an Italian tax subject. All your incomes will have to be declared and taxed in Italy.

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EU residents

For EU residents, the process is quite simple. In EU there is free movement of labour, meaning that as long as you can show that you can financially support yourself, you are free to live in any EU country.

You can basically stay for one day less than half a year in another country without doing anything at all. Should you instead like to live here permanently, you should change your residency.

You register your change of residency at the municipality Register Office (Anagrafe) in which you have your home – whether it is a rented or owned property. You need to bring with you a few documents:

  • a document showing your current residency, provenance and family status;
  • a valid passport;
  • documents proving your income;
  • your Italian fiscal code.

Also for EU residents, the police will come knock on your door to make sure you really live where you say you do.

When the registration is done, you go to the Register Office with 4 passport photos, and you get an Italian ID. You will also need to go the provincial health agency (ASL – Azienda Sanitaria Locale) to get a health card. The health card will need to be renewed every year.

Please note that if you are an Italian resident, you are also an Italian tax subject. All your incomes will have to be declared and taxed in Italy.

From a geographical point of view, Sicily is actually closer to Africa than to the Italian capital of Rome. In fact, Sicily has got most annual sun hours i [more]
I would lie if I said I love to renew the residency each year. But it's part of the game, and; Hey, I live in Sicily!
Michel Ashmore
US citizen, Italian resident

Finally just a quick note about something people tend to forget about… Within one year after you have changed your residency, you must replace your driver’s license with an Italian license. Don’t worry, you do not have to do the test again. It is just an administrative procedure.