Permesso di Soggiorno, Permit of Stay or Residence Permit in English is the paperwork most foreigners dread in Italy, it is never done. The first frustration is the language, especially if you have no knowledge of Italian. You need to start looking for information from every nook and cranny of the internet in English.
However, the process is slowly getting better and it remains one of those necessities of life in Italy as a foreigner. A Permesso di Soggiorno will usually last for a year or longer. Hence, you may need to renew yearly or less frequently, for as long as you stay in Italy.
Why do you need to apply for a Permesso di Soggiorno
Italian permit for stays longer than 3 months: Within 8 days of moving to Italy, you have to apply for your Permesso di Soggiorno. This is because you have to convert your visa (which grants you access into the country) to a permit of stay (which allows you to actually stay in the country).
Steps to Apply for a Permesso di Soggiorno
Below are the phases you would encounter during your application, and what you should do.
Phase 1: Go to the Post Office for the Kit
1. Go to the Post Office. You have to go to a Post Office with a special window called a Sportello Amico. A list of these is available on the Poste Italiane website.
2. At the post office, take a number. In Italian Post Offices, you can pay bills, bank and send packages in addition to applying for immigration status. Make sure you take the right kind of number. You want a T ticket.
3. At the post office, you ask for a kit. That’s right, it is called a “kit”. You literally just need to pick it up and leave, then drop it off after you have carefully filled in the required information with black ink and in capital letters.
4. Don’t panic when the post office is out of kits. It happens all the time. Your best bet is probably to go to another post office rather than wait for them to restock.
Phase 2: Gather your documents
5. Get out a dictionary, open the kit, and start filling out forms. The documents are quite complicated but do not panic. No one really knows how to fill them out. Do your best! Leave out the spaces you are unsure of and ask.
DO NOT sign the form. You will do that when you go back to the post office.
6. Copy your passport. Both the data and visa pages.
7. Copy any documents about why you are in Italy. For school? Bring a letter from your university with the dates of your enrollment. Work? Include a copy of your contract.
8. Get proof of health insurance, you can get a yearly plan of 98.00 Euros. You can ask for this at the post office.
8. Go to the Tabbachi and buy a marca da bollo stamp. This is a stamp with a monetary value that they will affix to one of the forms at the post office. The price keeps changing so just show the form at the Tabbachi and they will be able to give you the right version (it costs 16.00 Euros).
Not every Tabbachi has the machine to print the Marca da Bollo, so if you don’t find it at your first strike, just move right along to the next Tabbachi and try again. A Tabbachi usually has a ‘‘T” signage outside above their door.
Phase 3: Go back to the Post Office to get an appointment date
9. Take your forms, photocopies, and Marca da Bollo stamp back to the post office. Make sure to bring your passport with you. Here, you will need to pay the fee for the Permesso (varies depending on the length of validity, but is 107.50 euros for the most common 1-year version), then you will have to pay the post office 30 euro). Then another pay €27.50 because you are applying digitally.
10. Get your appointment! Congrats! Once everything is accepted by the post office, you will get a piece of paper that looks like it was typed with a typewriter and some receipts. Do not lose these. This confirms the day and time that you must be at the immigration office (Questura in Italian). It is also your proof that you have applied, and you should technically carry it with you if you travel outside of Italy before you get your handy Permesso di Soggiorno card.
The waiting time for the appointment at the Questura (immigration office) is not so quick, depending also on when you apply (if it is a peak period). I waited three months for my first appointment in 2016.
Phase 4: Your appointment day at the Questura
12. On your appointment day, take your receipt from the post office, your supporting document copies (school letter, work contract, etc), your passport, and 4 Italian passport-sized photos to the Questura – that is the Immigration office. You can find machines that take photos like these for about €5 all over Milan, especially at metro stations.
13. There is more than one Questura (Immigration office) in Milan, have this in mind and follow strictly the address stated on your printout.
14. When you get the Questura, it is very likely you will stay longer than the stated time before you get attended to, hence don’t schedule anything important for the same day. You will be called upon. However, if you feel you have waited for too long and people arriving after you have been attended to, then you may need to speak up as there may be no order.
17. The interview should be pretty short. Having basic Italian will help you a lot. Mainly, the officer will go over the information with you, check your documents, and take your fingerprints. They will also tell you to wait till you receive a text message, notifying you your Permesso is ready.
18. Go home and wait some more. The Permesso di Soggiorno should be ready in 30-45 days and you can then go pick it up at the Questura. Remember to bring with you your passport and receipt!
19. Revel in glory for a few months until it expires, and then start the process once more.
More information is available on the Portale Immigrazione in Italian.
Don’t worry. It won’t be pleasant but it will be fine.
How can I check if my permesso di soggiorno is ready online?
Simply visit the Questure Polizia di Stato website and check if your residence permit is ready by putting in your Numero Practica (file number) or Assicurata (registered mail code).
Useful video for filling the Permesso di Soggiorno Kit
Next, Apply for your Residence Certificate in Milan