The 3 Mistakes Expats Make When Navigating Italian Bureaucracy - A New Life in Italy

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The 3 Mistakes Expats Make When Navigating Italian Bureaucracy

January 25, 2022

Samantha Wilson

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January 25, 2022

TRANSCRIPT:

Well, hello there, Samantha here, and welcome to our weekly segment of the five and ten where our experts answer five of your questions in ten minutes or less to help clear up all that misinformation out there and keep you on track.

Today is a good day for all of you who have sent in so many questions about the practicalities of moving to Italy. And you know what I’m talking about?  The dreaded Italian Bureaucracy!

Regardless, if you’re moving as an Italian dual citizen or on a Visa, you’re going to need to go through many steps and processes to establish yourself legally here in Italy. And these nagging things are what usually trips people up.

So today I’ve invited our own residency expert, Tony SARDI, to help answer some of your questions on what to expect when you arrive and how to navigate through some of the more common steps to settling in. Ciao, Tony, welcome to the show.

Tony

Hello. Hello, everybody. Thanks for inviting me.

Samantha

Oh, I’m so glad you’re here, Tony, because I think this is a subject, as you probably see on Facebook and online questions, that people have the same questions over and over again. And there’s so much misinformation out there that in the next five questions, I’m hoping that we can resolve some of them.

Tony

Very good.

Samantha

OK, question number one, What is the process when I arrive with a student visa?

Tony

Very good. Within eight days from when you arrive in Italy, you have to go to the post office to apply for your permit. So, how do you do that and what is the procedure? Basically, the post office will provide you an application kit which is an envelope.

And inside this envelope is the application form and some instructions. So basically, you have to fill out the application form and include all of the required documents for your permesso di soggiorno.  These are copies of your passport, possibly of the pages of the passport, the requested copy of your school documents, and a copy of your visa.

You will also need to include a copy of your health insurance, a copy of the evidence of your bank statements, and a copy of the lease contract of the house that you will live in. These all together you go to the post office, you pay a fee, which is a

You will take all of these, with the envelope and a specific fee (check the current amount on the Kit) as well as a Marco da Bollo which is a tax stamp that you can buy at a local tobacco shop.  You take all of these things and then submit them to the local post office to apply for your permit of stay. 

Samantha

OK, so lots of things to think about there. I know that we have a lot of people coming here on a student visa that miss a whole bunch of those documents and those requirements. Schools should be providing the information to help the student, but often they don’t.

Tony

Exactly, this is crucial because the basis for the application for Permesso di Soggiorno is the school.

Samantha

Right? It’s the authority.

Tony

Are they moving to Italy because they are studying? They should have evidence, absolutely clear evidence that the person is actually attending that specific school.  This is what they need for their Visa and is what they will need for their permit to stay once they are here.

Samantha

OK, question number two, How do I get my health care if I’m a student? This is a big question and often misunderstood.

Tony

Exactly. Now, generally speaking, you’ll need to have your residency registered in the local town hall before you can apply for your health care. The students, however, are an exception. They can apply to have the Tessera Sanataria, which is public healthcare, even without the residency.

Tony

How this application is done depends on the town. Each town has its own policy or procedure. To give you an example. In the city of Florence, the application has to be done online for students.  You must fill out specific forms and attach basically the same set of documents that you have used to apply for your permit.

You will also need to attach the receipt that the Post Office gave you back when you had applied for the Permesso di Soggiorno. Then you must send it via PEC email to a specific email, which will be the address of the ASL Department office in Florence.

But this is Florence, other towns might have different policies, so it’s better to write them first to find out specifically what they need for your request. 

Samantha

OK. And again, as we talked about in another episode, often the officials don’t speak English.

Tony

Exactly that. These are the truth and it makes it very difficult.

Samantha

Question number three, My course has ended. What happens to my Permesso di Soggiorno and my residency?

Tony

Very good. So, generally, when the course has ended, let’s use one year as an example.  Since you are in Italy, already have in your hands Permesso di Soggiorno that is valid until the expiry date. If you are a student, this is usually the end of your course.

In our example, it is after one year. If you are still studying you will need to renew it before the Permesso di Soggiorno will expire.  To do this, you have to present again the same documentation that you did the first time, basically starting the process again from scratch.

Tony

These are the process for the permesso di soggiorno.  Now, about residency. There is a different story.  Your residency has been registered in the local city hall where it remains unless is canceled or deleted.

Samantha

This is really an important point because, as you know, we have had clients that you’ve helped with this problem because they were a student several years ago, and never canceled their residency and now want to return to Italy and take advantage of some of the tax benefits that are residency sensitive.

For example, if they want the benefit, they weren’t supposed to have lived in Italy for five years prior to receiving this benefit. And even though they haven’t been here physically, if they’re on the record of still being a resident, this could cause a problem for them.

Tony

Exactly. Because, of course, this would be an inconsistency or a discrepancy, but there is also something else to say. Sometimes a residency is canceled automatically. There are a number of factors that might make created these exceptional circumstances.

This could be that the police or the City Hall officer come to your house for another reason and can maybe find out that you don’t live there anymore and they notify the local city hall. In this case, the residency is canceled. This may happen.

Samantha

OK, so that would be good if somebody forgot, and subsequently, their residency was canceled. If any of our listeners out there had a residency at one time and forgo to cancel you should check with the comune where you lived, and see if you are still registered because it could cause you some problems in the future.

Tony

Yes.  But the cancelation of residency, ironically, is a very complicated procedure. In most cases you have to go there in person to cancel. Whilst the application for residents can be done online, the cancelation has to be done in person.

Samantha

Right. So it’s Italy again, right? Very, very complicated. And I think nothing is straightforward.

Tony

You cannot. You cannot take anything for granted.

Samantha

No, no. OK, well, let’s go on to question number four. What can I do if I can’t make my appointment at the Questura? Can I change that appointment date? And for listeners who don’t know, that’s the Maine State Police Department and Immigration.

Tony

Let’s clarify this point, the appointment is about the second step of the procedure for Permesso di Soggiorno, which is the fingerprinting. Now, generally, this appointment is generated by the Post Office, where you go to apply for your permit.  They tell you when and where to go to get your fingerprints and collect your permit.

Tony

The first thing they do is generate an appointment in the system. So, you know, when you are going to go to the immigration office.  If you cannot go that day? So that is a big problem, a big problem!  The only way to postpone the appointment is by sending a PEC P-E-C which is a certified email to the email address of the Immigration Office requesting the change of appointment. Sometimes they answer. Sometimes they don’t.  

If they don’t, you have to write again another PEC, another check made, and keep trying until you get an answer. Generally, at this point, they will answer by setting a new appointment for your fingerprint. But it is not easy.

Samantha

So, the takeaway here is when you get your appointment, do not miss it.

Tony

Yes. Please.

Samantha

That’s important, please go when you are scheduled. OK, and the final question number five. And this is a big question. What, in your opinion, Tony is the biggest mistake that foreigners make when they move to Italy in regards to the process, to the bureaucracy?

Tony

Very good. I can just point at three main problems. The first one is a concept problem which is expecting that common sense, and logic will rule..

So, thinking something makes no logic or it doesn’t make sense – doesn’t change the rules. Unfortunately.

Samantha

Great point.

Tony

So, foreigners, have to enter in this frame of mind. Don’t expect logic. Don’t expect common sense. Just follow the rules. This is the first problem.

The second mistake is the confusion between permesso di soggiorno and residency. Many foreigners are confused.

The two are overlapping ideas, and this is creating a lot of confusion and problems. This is due to the fact that many ex-pats call the Permesso di soggiorno a resident permit.

Samantha

Mm-hmm. Right.

Tony

And that is the origin of the mistake of the problem, of the misunderstanding. They have to keep in mind that the permesso and residency run on two different lanes. Immigration, with is the permit to stay runs on one, and the residency runs on another lane, which is administrative registration in the local city.

The two things are connected by separate.

The third mistake, if I have spoken about this in the past, is to lose or misplace documents like the receipt that you receive from the Post Office, where you do the first step of the procedure.

Please keep these documents safe.

Samantha

Yeah, such good points. All three of them are excellent. And especially that last one. Actually, I prefer the first one because it’s always this conflict of what they know and how Italy operates, and it’s always different. If you can change your frame of mind from the very beginning, this will save you a whole lot of frustration.

Tony

Absolutely.

Samantha

Mm-Hmm. OK, Tony. Well, again, thank you very much for your time. These have been excellent answers, and I’m sure they’re very helpful. We will catch up with you again soon.

Tony

Thank you very much.

Samantha

Well, my friends, our time is up. But remember, if you’ve got questions, we’ve got the answers. All you have to do is ask Go to http://www.smartmoveitaly.com/5in10  and send us yours until next month.

Ciao for now.


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