Monday, June 6, 2011
Permesso di Soggiorno, Part One
When we started our research about living in Italy, among our first stops was the Web site for the Italian consulate, because we were pretty sure we would need some kind of visa from the Italian government. Of the many types of visas listed (university study, fashion model, adoption, religious, work, etc.) only “Elective Residence” fit our circumstances. We had to have airline reservations coinciding with the start of the visa period, document our exact residences during our stay, prove our financial means so we wouldn’t be a burden to the state and demonstrate health care coverage. This took a fair amount of planning and work as well as a couple of hours of standing-in-line time at the consulate in San Francisco. And it cost $120 each in cash.
Our research also turned up a requirement that within 8 business days of arriving in Italy one must “present oneself to the local Questura [police headquarters] and obtain a Permesso di Soggiorno.” It turns out that though the national government issues a visa allowing entry to the country, it is the local police who actually permit you to remain, and the permesso is literally a permit to stay. However, it also turns out that it’s not simply a matter of showing up and getting a thumbs-up.
Others have been this way, of course, and not surprisingly a few have written of their experiences. We found horror stories of hours and hours spent waiting at the Questura only to be sent away for lack of some document or other. But by luck and persistent Googling, Cyndy found a fairly recent write-up that eased our way somewhat, though this little adventure isn’t finished yet.
In an attempt to make things work better all around, the post office is now the first stop on the path to a permesso. There we were given kits that included forms to fill out (black ink only, block capital letters, one letter per box, stay within the lines) and instructions (in Italian, of course) on what additional documentation is required. It turns out that we had to resubmit all the stuff we’d already sent in for our visas except that this time it had to be on A4 paper, and the passport photocopy must include every page, even if blank. Fortunately we have computers, thumb drives and a very accommodating copy service around the corner (which is now about €9 [$13] better off thanks to us). Each application also had to have a special tax stamp (purchased at a local tobacco shop for €14.62 each).
Back to the post office (coming soon: an article on the post office), where a patient woman went through all our paperwork, filled in a few missing details, applied rubber stamps, took €58.83 apiece, and sealed each of our packets with tape. They are now en route via registered mail to a processing facility, I think in Rome. We in turn were given receipts and appointments for 18 days hence for the next phase at the Bologna Questura. In theory the police will also visit our apartment to make sure we really live here.
Part Two coming in a few weeks.