Updated: Nov 28, 2018
There are three categories of people who come to Rome. The first, don’t actually like Rome at all (typically they think it’s dirty) and would much rather spend their time in Florence or some other city. The second, think Rome is great and come back to visit as much as they can but would never live here for an extended time. The third and the group most likely to get the crazy eyes from Italians, are the ones who fell madly in love with this city and decided to actually live here.
Moving to Rome is not for the faint of heart. It takes determination, patience, flexibility, persistence, and a dash of luck but if you know in your gut that this city is your next home you need to be prepared.
The most crucial step of the process is obtaining a Visa and no, before you ask, you cannot get your visa here in Italy. You can only get it at the Italian consulate located in your home country.
There are a few different types of visas that you can apply for (they vary based on which country you are applying from) if you wish to stay in Italy for longer than a designated tourist visa. However, the easiest option for anyone coming here is to get a student visa. A one year language course in Italy is good enough if you're not interested in going to University.
Once you’ve located your local consulate, you MUST schedule your appointment for within three months of your planned departure. I suggest you actually book the date you will visit the consulate an additional 3 months prior because the time slots fill up quickly and you don’t want to risk being unable to book an appointment before your flight date.
You also want to have enough time left to return to the consulate if for some reason your first application is rejected. Which does happen, it happened to me even though I decided to go to Rome anyway, I had to come back after 3 months to go through the application process all over again.
So, final warning…DO NOT wait until the last minute to do this.
The Dreaded Permesso Di Soggiorno
Getting your visa was half the battle, but if you want to be fully legal in Italy you need to finish the process and apply for the Permesso di Soggiorno or “permission to stay”. To help you better understand what all this means, let's break it down. The visa only grants you permission to enter Italy for a certain amount of time, but it doesn’t give you the permission to stay for that duration. This is where the Permesso di Soggiorno comes in.
Once you’ve been given your permesso, it means that you have declared to the Italian authorities that you have arrived in the country and are now a resident of Italy for your requested time period. You will then be allowed to move freely throughout Italy and the remainder of the Schengen Zone.
I’m sure you’ve heard all about Italian bureaucracy and if you haven’t experienced it yet, this will be your first taste. The process of getting the permesso isn’t as intimidating as you’d think, but there are quite a few steps involved.
1. To apply for the Permesso, you need the proper forms, which can be picked up from a local post office. Once you get there, simply ask for the “kit” and take it home to fill out on your own time. Note: If the first post office tells you they don’t have the kit, try a different location. This happens often so no need to panic. Welcome to life in Italy.
2. The application is pretty extensive and entirely in Italian, so either find a friend to help you fill it out or get googling and you’ll find plenty of sources that will walk you through how to fill out each page.
3. Once you’ve filled out the form, you’ll need to head to a Tabbacchi and purchase a "Marcho da Bollo" stamp along with a few copies (actually, lots of copies) of your passport and any documents pertaining to your stay. Then you’ll be ready to head back to the post office.
4. At the post office, you’ll turn in your application and they will give you a receipt stating the time and date of your final appointment at the Questura. DO NOT lose this, this receipt also allows you to legally travel throughout the Schengen Zone while your permesso is processing!
5. So you’ve done all your waiting and it’s time to finally pick up your permesso! Just head to the Questura you were assigned, take a number, and wait to be called. Now you’re officially a resident of Italy!
Oh, and a heads up, this entire process usually takes 4 - 6 months.
You Should Probably Get A Codice Fiscale Too
The last official document you will need to get in Rome is the codice fiscale. This is basically the Italian version of a social security card and you’ll need it if you want to get a cell phone contract, rent an apartment (that’s under a full contract), and if you want to work.
Thankfully though the process for this one is super easy and only takes a couple of hours.
1. You’ll need to find the nearest “Agenzia delle Entrate” or Revenue Agency. No need to pre-book an appointment, you can just walk in but if you’re hoping to cut down the wait time then make sure to get there early.
2. Once you’re inside, you should be able to speak to someone at the front desk. Tell them you need the codice fiscale and they’ll hand you a number along with a short form to fill out.
3. Once you’ve finished your paperwork (trust me it’s easy) and your number is called, it takes about 10 minutes for your card to be printed.
And that’s it you’re all set!
Welcome to your bella vita a Roma, the home of gladiators. This city will test you but if you’re not afraid to hit back, you can do more than survive. You can truly live!
If you're need of additional legal advise and aid while you go through this process. Then, we advise you to reach out to our friends at Futura Business Advisory.