How To Apply for A Visa in Italy
Find out more information on residency, visas and moving to Italy for British nationals looking to move to Italy.
So, you are thinking about applying for residency in Italy? Official processes in Italy can be slow, but once completed, you’ll feel a complete sense of peace! In most cases, the authorities are busy, as Italy is seen as an attractive country in which to reside, so keep your sense of humour, bide your time, and you’ll be sorted out with a residency visa within months. Of course, that depends upon what type of Visa you need in Italy and the purpose of your stay.
Let’s explore the options!
What types of residencies are there in Italy?
It boils down to two types of residence permits to keep things simple. These are the temporary residence permit and the permanent residence permit. It must be noted that in order to obtain permanent residency in Italy, a temporary residence visa must first be obtained.
How has the Application Process changed since Brexit?
Before December 2019, things were a little simpler. As long as you registered at your Commune, provided photographs, proof of funds for the first two years, a business entity, or an employment contract in Italy, you received a paper stamped with your permission to stay. Oh, and don’t forget the fingerprints; they are taken at the same time too. But after Brexit, things got a bit trickier, as expats here only well know.
To keep it simple, that bit of paper heralded the processing of a plastic residency visa for EU citizens to stay in Italy. It arrived about six weeks later. However, after 31st December, 2020, the British became non-EU citizens in Italy. That plastic visa didn’t guarantee your right to stay anymore and the British Embassy helpfully posted updates about the next steps, as we sat back, munching popcorn, watching and waiting.
What’s the Process of Applying for a Visa now?
Moving forwards six months, the British now have a new “permesso de soggiorno”. It’s basically the same residency visa but for non-EU citizens. It costs around 80 euros, you need to go to the police, the Questura, with all your paperwork, stamped by the Commune, and get your fingerprints taken again. Luckily, they are the same!
The card you keep with you wherever you go. It authorizes you to stay in Italy long-term, and if you ever get stopped by officials, you show it, and you are waved on. It’s definitely useful at airports as you don’t get your passport stamped when leaving or arriving in Italy, unlike British non-residents, and you have freedom of movement throughout the EU. Mmm, I think the Munich Beer Festival beckons next year!
Aside from the personal experience, you HAVE to apply for a long-stay VISA if you plan to stay in Italy for more than 90 days. Within eight days of arriving in Italy, you have to pick up the application kit for Italian residency at a local post office. More specifically, at the Sportello Amico of a post office (ufficio postale or Poste Italiane) of where you want to live.
However, not all post offices offer application kits for Italian residence permits. You have to find a post office with a Sportello Amico counter. The application kit is basically an envelope with the required forms that you must fill out.
Whether you want to study, to retire, or to work, you have to apply for the respective visa. Next, you have to buy a Marca da Bollo stamp, which you have to attach to your application before submitting. This is a “duty stamp” which you can find at a tabaccheria. Do ensure you choose the right kind of Marca da Bollo stamp which is stated on your application kit. This costs around € 16. You won’t have to submit the originals of any documents, but bring them just in case they need to see them, along with photocopies for each.
Don’t sign the application or close the envelope, since the officers handling your application have to review them first. If they find that everything is in order, they will give you your appointment date for when you have to appear at the Questura (local police headquarters) for the second part of your Italian residence permit application.
In fact, we followed a slightly different route. We scanned our initial permission to stay from 2019, with the bollo, passport details and our Codice Fiscale (tax code) to the local police office and used a secure PEC email, obtained from an accountant, or available from the Poste Italiane, to speed up the process. The Questura can get all the paperwork ready for your arrival, but that service is not available across the whole of Italy. Check where you live for regional options. You still need the right Bollo for your type of visa.
Then it’s the part where you meet the police who are friendly enough, although it can feel a little intimidating for any first-timers to a police station. They are very busy with processing people worldwide and will expect you to have all documentation ready. Just remember not to be late for your appointment and bring along four passport photos. You’ll be sent away with a paper slip, with stamps over your signature and photo. Okay, I know it wasn’t my best photo shoot!
Keep this with you until your plastic card arrives around six to eight weeks later.
What Visas can I consider?
The residency visa for those retiring is reasonably straightforward as you only have to prove you can fund your retirement. You apply for an Italian Elective Residency Visa in this case however, you cannot take up any sort of work in Italy. Students can apply for the permesso di soggiorno too, if the study period is loner than 90 days.
With self-employment, every year, the Italian government issues self-employment visas for specific professions, usually based on a quota system. Applications have to be made from the UK by applying for a Nulla Osta (authorization to perform self-employed work) from the local Immigration Desk (Sportello Unico Immigrazione – SUI). You then apply to the Italian consulate in the UK to obtain the VISA, and follow the permesso di soggiorno route as already described.
The Visas are:
• The Italy Start-up Visa, issued to foreigners wanting to open an innovative company in Italy, as well as foreigners who want to join an already-existing company in an executive role.
• The Italy Freelancer Visa, issued to individuals who intend to take up self-employed, freelance work and do not have a company who want to hire them.
• The Italy Entrepreneur Visa, issued to foreigners who want to implement an investment plan (of no less than €500,000) that is beneficial to Italian economy.
If you want a work visa, check you can apply before you leave the UK.
The Italian government only accepts work permit applications for a few months every one or two years, depending on Italy’s job market and the state of immigration. If you can find an Italian employer who will hire you and apply for your work permit (they have to apply for your work authorization in Italy) and they are successful, that’s another route. Currently, there are no agreements for working holiday VISAs between the UK and Italy.
We hope this guide will help you with your choices! In all cases, check for up-to-date information, as this does evolve over time!