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

With your permesso di soggiorno in hand, the next step is a trip to the anagrafe in your comune. This is the comune office of official residency registration and records. You might be asking why you need to take this step since you already have your permit to stay. Good question. And, here are three important reasons:

1. You cannot buy a car in Italy unless you are an Italian resident and have an identity card.

The permesso di soggiorno will not suffice by itself. When I bought my car, it all hinged on having my carta di identitá in hand. If someone tries to tell you otherwise, be wary. Your car has to be registered with the comune, and this is impossible if your name and details aren’t on file there.

The odd, and seemingly unfair, thing about this is that you can buy a house in Italy without being a resident. Go figure.

2. Italian residency is required to sign up for Italy’s national health plan.

Technically this is the case, but I’ve heard some pretty interesting stories of people getting signed up with just their permesso. I can’t vouch for the veracity of these stories. From my personal experience, I was required to present both my permesso di soggiorno AND my identity card.

3. You’ll pay less for your utilities.

Otherwise, your accounts with the electric, water, and gas companies will designate you as a non-resident, and you’ll pay a higher rate.

What to expect when you go to the anagrafe to register.

You’ll be asked for copies of your passport, your permesso di soggiorno, and your codice fiscale (Italian tax ID). But, don’t expect the office to immediately spit out an identity card and hand it to you. Now, you go home and wait for the police to show up (usually in a three-day window, but it could be longer) to confirm you do indeed reside at the address provided, and that it is a legitimate property. Be prepared to answer a few questions that are intended to confirm, for their records, why you are in Italy. If you don’t speak Italian, and if you don’t have a friend or neighbor close by who can translate, this might be a bit difficult. But, I’ve never heard of a person having a problem with this step.

It can be a little intimidating to have the police show up at your door, but don’t fret. It’s a fairly quick and simple thing. The only frustrating part is being tethered to your home until they show up. I guess keeping the element of surprise ensures you don’t just temporarily camp out at an address at an expected time.

Afterwards you’ll be issued your carta di identitá and you’re good to go.

When you transfer your residency.

We recently moved to Veneto from Umbria, so I just went through this process. I had to provide copies of my codice fiscale, my Italian driver’s license, my license plate number, my U.S passport, my permesso di soggiorno, and my existing carta di identitá. When you transfer your residency, the comune moves all of your records to reside in that office. You’ll be given a temporary certificate stating that you’re now a resident in the new comune, and you’ll keep this with your car registration, in case you are pulled over and your documents are checked. Eventually, you’ll receive, in the mail, a sticker to add to your car registration.

Also, here in Treviso, the comune notifies the office responsible for trash removal. Rifuti (rubbish) tax/fees are calculated on the actual number of people residing at your address.

When you transfer your residency you will not receive a new identity card.

While your records are transferred, your identity card will not reflect your new comune. New identity cards are not issued until the existing expiry date or unless the card is lost. The unique number on your card is all that is needed to access your updated records.

In closing, I’ve heard of people choosing not to register with their comune and get their identity card – primarily to avoid issues with Italian taxes (like the recently implemented IVAFE tax for all Italian citizens and residents on foreign held financial assets) and other bureaucratic hurdles. That might work if you’re not committing to being in Italy more than a year, but if you do want the option of a longer stay, you won’t be able to renew your yearly permesso di soggiorno without it. So, take that into consideration.

I hope you’ve found this information useful. Remember, this is just one person’s experience, and it is incumbent upon you to do your own research to be sure you’re following proper protocol in getting Italian residency.

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