Most Italians have only one given first name and one given last name that appear in passports and other documents. If you have a middle name, you will legally have to use it on any official document, in addition to your first and last name. Be consistent because even the slightest variation on documents can cause snafus in the system.
When processing paperwork, you are usually required to pay a government tax by means of a marca da bollo (tax stamp). These stamps are available in tabaccherie (tobacco shops), where you may also buy postage stamps. European Union (EU) citizens are entitled to live, work, go to school and get health coverage in all other EU countries. For EU citizens, a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) is not required but you are expected to register with the local Ufficio Anagrafe (Register Office). If you are not from an EU country, things can be more difficult. You might find getting your papers in order quite a challenge if you didn’t arrange for a work/study visa in your home country before arriving. Many people from non-EU countries must return home and legalize their status before being able to truly settle down. For information about the types of visas available, contact your country’s embassy or consulate, one of the offices that offers assistance to foreigners, or the Italian consulate back home.
SHORT-TERM STAYS (< 90 days) – see www.poliziadistato.it
Foreigners who stay in Italy for visits, business, tourism or study for periods not exceeding three months are not required to apply for a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno). If you are not an EU citizen, though, you must report your presence in the country, following one of the procedures mentioned below:
- Non-EU citizens arriving from a non-Schengen country must report their presence to the border authorities and obtain a Schengen stamp in their travel document on the day of arrival. So if, for example, you arrive on a direct flight from New York to Rome, the stamp in your passport from Customs is considered the equivalent of the declaration of presence;
- Non-EU citizens arriving from countries which apply the Schengen Agreement must report their presence to the local Questura (central police station in the province) filling out the relevant form (dichiarazione di presenza), within 8 days of their arrival. For those staying in hotels or other reception facilities, the registration form submitted to the hotel management upon check-in constitutes the declaration of presence. The hotel will provide a copy of this form to you, to show to police officers, if requested.
This means that if you’re travelling from New York to Rome with a layover in Frankfurt, Germany – or a stopover anywhere else in the Schengen area (where you will have your passport stamped), and aren’t staying in a hotel, you will have to report your presence to the Questura in Bologna within 8 days of your arrival. They will check that you have legal documents and the means to support yourself while you are in Italy. This could mean just showing you have a valid credit card to use while you are here to cover expenses.
LONG-TERM STAYS (>90 days) – see www.poliziadistato.it
If you are not an EU citizen, the permesso di soggiorno (residence permit) will be your first requirement for legalizing your status in Italy for stays longer than 90 days. You must apply for the residence permit within 8 days of your arrival into Italy, if it is your first time here. The kind of residence permit you need will depend on your reasons for staying in Italy: work, school, family, etc.
To get information on what is required to apply and which kind of permit you need, you should visit the website of the Immigration Office of the Police HQ
Questura di Bologna – Ufficio Immigrazione
Via Bovi Campeggi 13/3
For more up-to-date information on how and where to apply for residence permit, check this page.
For more information on moving to the EU, check the EU Immigration Portal.
EUROPEAN UNION CITIZENS
EU citizens or their family members, depending on the length of their stay, can report their presence to a police office, filling out the relevant form. If they are in Italy for less than three months, they do not have to report their presence, but will need proof of when they’ve arrived.
SHORT-TERM STAYS (<90 days)
European Union citizens have the right of residence in Italy for a period of up to three months without any conditions or formalities other than the requirement to hold a valid travel document (i.e. identity card or passport). These provisions also apply to your non-EU family members accompanying or joining you, provided that they are holders of a valid passport or an entry visa where required, or a valid residence card as a family member of you, the EU citizen.
LONG-TERM STAYS (>90 days)
As reported on the Polizia di Stato’s website, as an EU citizen, you have the right of residence in Italy for a period of longer than three months if you:
- are workers or self-employed persons in Italy; or
- are enrolled at a private or public establishment for the purpose of following a course of study, including vocational training; or
- are family members accompanying or joining an EU citizen who has the right to reside in Italy for more than three months;
- have sufficient resources for themselves and their family members not to become a burden on the social assistance system during their period of residence and have comprehensive health insurance coverage, or any other equivalent means.
EU citizens who wish to stay in Italy for a period exceeding three months are only required to register with the local anagrafe in Bologna (see below).
For stays longer than three months, family members of EU citizens who are not EU nationals themselves can directly apply for the EC Long-Term Residence Permit (formally called the carta di soggiorno) at the local Questura or through the Post Office (using the application kit with the yellow stripe). Designated municipal offices and other authorized offices (Patronati) are available to help applicants fill out the application forms, which must then be sent through the Post Office.
The citizens of the UK who have recently found themselves to be outside of the EU, and therefore may have lost some privileges they had previously enjoyed in Italy, should read this useful document – Vademecum, also available in English. It outlines all the documents and procedures required to obtain the new, electronic residence document (Carta di soggiorno – Accordo di recesso UE/UK), which is now available for the UK citizens who were residing in Italy before January 1 2021 and which should be requested through the Ufficio Immigrazione – Questura di Bologna.
For more details and up-to-date information, check the Living in Italy page.
If you find the legal system to be too complicated for you, or too time-consuming, try contacting one of the Legal Offices specializing in immigration issues that can be found online.