Preparing for the Diversity of Italian Bureaucracy

questura, Italywise

The office of the immigration police.

If you’re planning on moving to Italy you’ll be dealing with bureaucratic processes that are significantly different from your home country – especially if you’re coming from the States. So, at a basic level, I believe it’s important to wrap one’s head around this and prepare accordingly. I’ve found many Italian newbies are caught unawares by the added layer of complexity and confusion of Italian bureaucracy in the different provinces.

Before bringing my life to Italy, I understood the country was only recently unified (1871). I anticipated language (dialect) and cultural differences by region, but I wasn’t fully prepared for the diversity of Italian bureaucracy. Thankfully everything worked out, but I certainly would have tackled this differently if I had it to do all over again.

Many bureaucratic requirements are consistent nationwide, but how they are administered can vary considerably.

I urge you not to zoom past this fact of Italian life and decide to “wing it” when you get here. Otherwise, you may be setting yourself up for frustration, and kicking yourself for not having done an additional layer of research about the region in which you intend to reside.

For instance, if you thrive within a bureaucratic process that is more buttoned up and predictable, you may want to consider

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The Ins and Outs of Italian Residency

Italian residency, ItalyWise

The carta di identitá.

Okay, I’m letting you know up front that this isn’t going to be a glamorous or creative post. But, it IS highly practical, so if you’re serious about living in Italy for more than ninety (90) days, you’d better be prepared to address what is involved in getting your Italian residency permit, and your Italian residency card.

Permits for Italian residency – The Permesso di Soggiorno.

People who’ve come to Italy with the visa allowing a year’s stay (for an elective residency visa), are required, for stays over ninety (90) days, to make application for a permit to stay, or a permesso di soggiorno (read my post about it here). The process is pretty straightforward, and already you’ll have pulled much of the required documentation for the process of getting your Italian visa (read my post about the visa process, but check with your Italian consulate for the latest checklist).

Depending on where you live in Italy, the residency permit processing times are vastly different. In Perugia, permesso di soggiorno elective residency permits have been taking up to six months. Other places turn around the permits in just weeks. So, research what to expect in your area and plan accordingly.

Read more about residency permits requirements (including renewal guidelines) here from the Polizia di Stato.

Getting your Carta di Identitá – Your Italian Residency Card

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Living in Italy, Italywise

Living in Italy – The Integration Agreement

I’ve just received formal notification that I have met the terms of the Italian Integration Ageement I signed as part of my first permesso di soggiorno application process. If I were coordinated enough, I’d do a few cartwheels, now that I am able to check this important “to-do” off my list.

What is the Italian Integration Agreement? If you plan on living in Italy, you’d better bone up on this one!  An American, or other non-EU person applying for a stay permit (permesso di soggiorno), and subsequent residency, is required by the questura (the immigration police) and the immigration offices to meet important criteria demonstrating they are doing certain things to become part of the Italian culture. When I went to the questura during the interview and fingerprinting part of my first permesso di soggiorno application, I was presented with the Integration Agreement, and asked to sign it. Thankfully, this multi-page document had been given to me in English so there would be no mistaking the terms to which I had agreed. 

The Integration Agreement was only put into place a few years ago. People who have been residents here before the enactment of this immigration law already are “good to go”. If you are planning on living in Italy for several years, be prepared to do what it takes to satisfy the terms outlined, or you will risk being sent back home.

Don’t fret. Meeting the terms of the Integration Agreement is very doable. From what I understand from having navigated the immigration system here, you pretty much have three years to get your act together. For me, after I secured my third permesso di soggiorno renewal, I received notifcation from the immigration office in Perugia that the formal process of tallying points had begun, and I had ten days to submit any documentation that would add points into my file. “Points?”, you may be asking. Let me explain…

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