marca da bollo, Italywise

Get used to buying a marca da bolla when you navigate the Italian bureaucracy

This post isn’t glamorous or riveting – that is, unless you find the nuts and bolts of the bureaucratic process fascinating. But, the marca da bollo, or Italian revenue stamp, is a regular necessity in Italian life – especially if you’re a new resident making applications for various things.

The marca da bolla has been in use since 1863

I’ve been asking myself what practical matters have I left unaddressed on my blog. Well, this past week I was reminded of that pesky little thing called the marca da bollo. I had gone to the U.S. consulate to get a particular declaration needed for one a process I’m going through here in Treviso. Even though the document carried the official stamp of the consulate and the officer assured me the city of Treviso had the signature on file, the comune office informed me I needed to go to yet another office in order for them to certify that the consulate certificate was valid. As we entered the office it occurred to me that I might need a marca da bollo to get this certification. Bingo. Eighteen euro, I was told, and we hopped in the car to find the closed tabaccheria (about a five-minute drive). If you don’t what a tabaccheria is, in addition to a marca da bollo, you can buy regular stamps, lottery tickets, bus tickets, cigarettes, stationary, etc.

If you come to Italy to live, scope out your local tabaccherie

You’ll be going there a lot when you start the bureaucratic process. For example, when you go to the post office to submit your permesso di soggiorno (stay permit) application, the clerk will ask you for your marca da bollo to attach to the application. Best to already have it in hand, having researched the specific amount required. Nope, this isn’t a standard amount. It will depend on the particular application or certification.

If you’re like me, you’ll probably end up shaking your head at the perceived unfairness of it all. But, get over it. It’s just part of the wonderfully complex system of living in Italy. Yes, it’s a pretty crafty way of increasing layers of work and additional tax revenue. But, it’s part of the culture. Italy loves is stamps and forms and processes – which many times seem confusing to navigate.

My advice: surrender to the process, and treat yourself to a nice coffee or glass of wine to congratulate yourself each time you achieve success.

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