Italian Residence Permit for non-EU citizens
A residence permit, also known as a “permesso di soggiorno” in Italian, is an official document that allows non-EU citizens to reside in Italy on a continuous basis, work in Italy and access a range of services such as healthcare, education, and social security.
All non-EU nationals need to get a residence permit to live long-term in Italy, including US and UK citizens.
There are only a few exceptions.
You find listed below the nationalities that don’t require obtaining a residence permit even if they are extra EU:
- The Swiss Confederation
- San Marino
- Uk Citizens who were already living in Italy on a stable basis before Brexit
Italian residence permit for EU citizens?
On the contrary, EU citizens have the right to free movement and residence within the European Union, which means that they do not need a residence permit to live in Italy. However, if they plan to stay in Italy for more than three months, they must register their residence with the local Municipality. This involves obtaining a “Certificato di Residenza” (Certificate of Residence) from the local “Anagrafe” (Population Registry office of the Municipality).
Discover more on how to register a residency in Italy as an EU citizen.
What are the requirements for obtaining a Resident Permit in Italy?
To apply for a National Visa (long-Term Visa) to enter Italy and reside here legally with a residence permit on a stable basis, as a non-EU citizen you need to fulfill one of the following requirements:
- having a close family member already legally residing in Italy
- being enrolled in an Italian educational institution;
- having a job offer from an Italian employer or client;
- being a corporate member of a company already established in Italy and active for at least three years;
- having an investment plan aimed at the development of a business in Italy;
- having the availability of sufficient resources to start an activity as a self-employed;
- having the economic capacity to invest at least 50.000 K in their own innovative start-Up project, or at least 250 K in someone else’s company;
- having a yearly income of at least 32.000 Euros from non-working activities.
Be mindful that one is not allowed to enter Italy with a simple Schengen Visa or with a simple passport and then apply for a residence permit, with very few exceptions described in the following chapter.
How to obtain an Italian Residence Permit? Procedural steps
To obtain a residence permit for Italy, it is required to go through different steps:
1. Certificate of No Impediment Application, so-called “Nulla Osta”.
This application is usually submitted to the Immigration Desk (so-called Sportello Unico), a territorial office of the Italian Ministry of Interior, by the employer, the family member already residing in Italy sponsoring the Visa or your attorney. However, for certain types of residence permits, the Certificate of No Impediment is issued by the Police Headquarters or by special Committees.
Nevertheless, there are some visas that do not require a prior certificate of no impediment:
- Schengen Visas (for study, family or business), that, contrary to National Visas (also called type D Visa), cannot be converted into a residence permit and only allow a temporary stay in Italy (for a maximum period of 90 days every 6 months);
- Student Visas;
- Elective Residency Visas;
- Mission and Diplomatic Visas;
- Religious Visa;
- Adoption Visa;
- Medical Care Visa.
2. Application for a National Visa (Type D).
This application is submitted in person by the Visa applicant at the competent Italian Consulate in your country of origin. Based on your current place of formal residency, you can click here to find your Italian Consulate.
Does a Non-EU national always need a National Visa to obtain a Residence Permit in Italy?
Yes, with only 3 exceptions:
- Non-EU nationals entering Italy irregularly and then obtaining international protection;
- Non-EU nationals that have a very close family member already legally residing in Italy with whom they wish to reunite;
- Non-EU nationals with already a valid residence permit in Italy that want to renew or convert it into a different type of permit;
Be careful not to mistake a National Visa (Type D), also known as Long-Term Visa, with Schengen Visa (Type C), also known as Short-Term Visa.
Schengen Visas do NOT lead to the obtaining of a residence permit. They only allow a temporary visit to Italy and to the whole Schengen Area, for a maximum period of 90 days every 180 days.
You can find here more information on Schengen visas.
3. Residence Permit application process
- Apply for the residence permit within the first 8 working days after entering Italy by submitting the application (also known as “yellow kit” to the police headquarters of your chosen residency area through an Italian post office. Ensure you have the original passport and bring it to the post office. Adult applicants and minors above 13 years old must be physically present during the application. Pay the required fees for the residence permit application, which vary based on the permit’s duration and the age of the applicant (from 100,46 to 160,46 euros, for adults)
- Attend the first appointment at the Police Headquarters, which will be scheduled automatically by a digital system of Italian post offices. Arrive early, a “first arrived first served” policy is usually adopted. Prepare the necessary documents for the appointment. During this first appointment with the Police, your fingerprints are taken, and you have to show/submit the original passport and documents. No interview is typically conducted. Only basic information about the reasons for your stay may be required.
- A second appointment will be notified to you via text message for collecting the residence permit, provided that no additional documents are required or missing during the first appointment.
The Italian Police dealing with Immigration usually speak Italian and English at a conversational level.
If you do not feel confident in speaking either Italian or English with Italian authorities, our team can help you: we usually deem it appropriate to have a member of our staff, an interpreter or a delegated person accompanying you to the appointment.
Apart from the obligation of attending all appointments with the competent authority for processing the residence permit application, foreign nationals can travel to the country of origin and to the Schengen area with no particular limitations up until the national visa is valid.
After the expiration of the Visa, foreign nationals can still travel to the Country of origin and back to Italy as long as they use direct flights. They cannot have stopovers in other countries other than the one of origin and Italy.
The Yellow Kit is a postal package containing application forms, instructions, and information related to the residence permit application process.
It includes the necessary forms that non-EU citizens need to fill out and submit to the relevant immigration authorities in Italy. This postal kit is provided by the local post office where the residence permit application is processed.
Different types of residence permits for Italy
Based on the type of National Visa one has obtained (and the legal grounds to obtain it), a specific residence permit is granted.
With some level of approximation, we can say that each type of National Visa corresponds to a different type of residence permit. In fact, as explained above, obtaining a National Visa is the required preliminary step before applying for the related residence permit. Therefore, in order to understand what types of residence permits can be obtained in Italy, we advise you to browse the sub-section of this website “Main Long-Term Visas” and “Other Visas”, where many other types of long-term visas are presented.
With few exceptions (such as the elective residency permit), all residence permits enable extra-EU citizens to pursue employment and self-employment opportunities and undertake new professional experiences in Italy for the time of their validity.
Validity (or duration) of the Residence Permit
All residence permits – with the partial exception of the long-term residence permit (also known as “permanent”) – are by definition temporary. Namely, they do grant the permanent right to stay in Italy to the extra-EU citizen.
The period of validity of a temporary residence permit in Italy can vary depending on the type of visa and the purpose of stay.
- Work Visa/Permit: The initial temporary residence permit for work purposes is usually granted for a duration corresponding to the employment contract or job offer, typically up to two years. This permit can be renewed by demonstrating work income or it can be converted into a residence permit for expected employment, in case the foreigner finds himself without a job.
- Seasonal Work Visa/Permit: The initial temporary residence permit for seasonal work is usually granted for a specific period, which corresponds to the seasonal employment contract. The validity can range from a few months to nine months, depending on the nature of the seasonal work.
- Study Visa/Permit: The initial temporary residence permit for study purposes is generally issued for the duration of the study program, with a maximum validity of one year. It can be extended if the studies continue or if pursuing additional academic degrees.
- Family Reunification Visa/Permit: The validity of a temporary residence permit for family reunification is typically tied to the validity of the sponsor’s residence permit. It is issued for up to two years when the sponsor is a non-EU citizen; 5 years when the sponsor is an EU citizen already residing in Italy. This permit is renewable or convertible into a work permit.
- Investment Visa/Permit: These residence permits are based on investment, they are the “Investor Visa” or the “Start-up Visa,” and they are granted for an initial period of two years. They can be renewed if the investment is maintained and meets the relevant criteria.
What is the deadline to renew an expiring residence permit?
The application for the renewal should be submitted before the expiration of the expiring residence permit, up to 90 days before the expiry date.
However, renewal applications are accepted until 60 days from the expiry date.
What are the requirements to renew the residence permit?
Generally speaking, one can renew their residence permit when one still meets the requirements for the first issuance of the permit. For instance, if the residence permit was issued based on employment with an Italian Company, the applicant will have to prove he has received a salary from the Company and that the Company has paid related social contributions and taxes.
In the alternative, if one meets the requirement for another type of permit, he/she can often apply for the conversion of the residence permit into another type.
In any case, proof of stable available accommodation (hospitality, rental agreement or property) is always required.
Is there a minimum time I have to spend in Italy after I apply for a residence permit or after I obtain it?
Generally speaking, with an Italian residence permit you are not bound to live in Italy continuously and make Italy their primary place of residency.
However, by law, foreign nationals with a residence permit with a less-than-2-year validity lose the right to renew their Italian residence permit if they spend more than 6 continuous months outside of the Italian Country.
Foreign nationals with a residence permit of a duration of 2 years or longer cannot renew the residence permit if they spend outside of Italy a continuous period of time that is longer than half the duration of their permit. (eg. a foreign national with a residence permit of 2 years cannot spend outside of Italy longer than 1 continuous year).
Having said the general rule, there is a type of residence permit, called elective residency (“Residenza Elettiva”), that obliges the holder to live in Italy most of the time and to make Italy their primary place of residency. This residence permit can be applied for by people who can live in Italy without working and based on their passive income.
Finally, note that if the foreign national has a residence permit based on an employment relationship in Italy, their work contract should allow them to work remotely if they spend long periods outside of Italy.
Permanent residence permits for Italy
A permanent residence permit, technically called Long Term Residence Permit (“permesso di soggiorno per soggiornanti di lungo periodo”), is issued to those who have been legally residing in Italy continuously for at least five years, can demonstrate a minimum income of around 6000 euros yearly and knowledge of Italian Language (minimum level required is A2). This permit is renewable every ten years with a very simple renewal application.
The permanent residence permit is different from all others because of its duration and because the only legal requirement to obtain its renewal is the submission of updated passport-size pictures, not to ever be away from the Italian territory for more than 12 consecutive months and not to have committed serious crimes.
You can find more information on the “permanent residence permit” on the dedicated page of this website.
What is the difference between holding a residence permit in Italy and registering civil residency in Italy?
It may be counterintuitive, but holding a residence permit in Italy does not mean being a resident of Italy. In fact, having a residence permit in Italy gives someone the right to live permanently in Italy. But someone may well hold an Italian residence permit while living most of the year in another country. Moreover, in order to renew almost all types of resident permits, it is sufficient not to ever be outside of the Italian Country for more than 6 continuous months. So, one could spend in Italy 2 weeks per year and continue renewing the residence permit.
Being a resident in Italy, instead, means spending in Italy most of the year. The status of a resident must be based on the right to live in Italy (namely, for non-EU citizens, holding a residence permit), but it is something more, that triggers also tax residency in Italy and it should be formalized with a registration procedure at the Italian Municipality of one’s home address. Registering residency is a requirement to obtain a permanent residence permit in Italy after 5 years, obtain an Italian ID and access many social services online.
Discover more on residence registration for non-EU citizens in Italy.
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