Under the Italian legislation, all foreign citizens are either tourists (turista), if their residence in Italy does not exceed three months, or residents (residente), if their residence exceeds three months. The rights and obligations of foreign citizens in Italy as well as visas and residence permits are governed by Law No. 286 “Main regulations regarding immigration and foreign citizen status” dated 25 July 1998.
Italy is a member of the Schengen Area: certain nationalities must apply for a visa beforehand. There are four main types: A, B, C or D. For more information, check out our Schengen Visa article.
How to get a residence permit
For stays exceeding 90 days, a foreign citizen must get a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno). The application for a residence permit is made in Italy at a local post office or police station (questura). The application needs to be completed and signed in person and accompanied by the following documents:
- passport and copy of all its pages
- four photos
- state duty stamp (marca da bollo) on the application (the stamp can be purchased at the post office or in a tobacco kiosk)
- criminal record check
- proof of property ownership or
a long-termrent agreement
- proof that the applicant has grounds for residence permit issue (originals and notarised translation)
The application process takes three months and the permit can be issued in both paper form and by electronic card (permesso di soggiorno elettronico or PSE). Residence permits in Italy can be prolonged as long as the application is made before the current permit expires.
Validity of residence permits in Italy:
- up to 9 months for seasonal employees
- up to 1 year for students
- up to 2 years for family reunification, permanent employment or business activity
There are several types of residence permits:
1. Employment residence permits:
- for employment purposes (permesso di soggiorno per lavore) the applicant must provide proof from the employing company.
- for business purposes (permesso di soggiorno per lavoro autonomo/indipendente), any entrepreneur intending to establish a business must provide proof of sufficient funds (
€10,000–50,000, depending on the activity) and a statement from the relevant licensing authority.
2. Student and employment residence permit
In order to get this residence permit (permesso di soggiorno per studio), the applicant must be enrolled at an educational institution in Italy. This permit allows employment for up to 20 hours a week.
3. Residence permit without the right to work:
- for residence (permesso di soggiorno per dimora/residenza elettiva), the applicant must own property in Italy and prove sufficient funds to cover living costs (at least
€50,000–70,000in an Italian bank account) as well as proof of annual income of at least €17,800 earned outside Italy.
- family reunification (permesso di soggiorno per ricongiungimento familiare) for close relatives up to third degree of relation with proof linking them to the Italian resident (e.g. marriage or birth certificate, etc.).
Permanent residence in Italy
One can apply for permanent residence in Italy (permesso di soggiorno per soggiornanti di lungo periodo or SLP — previously carta di soggiorno) after five years of legal residence in Italy. The application is made at the local post office or administration office (comune). The documents required are:
- passport and its copy
- income declaration
- Italian criminal record check
- proof of owned or rented property
- pay slips for the last year
- local municipal statement of residence and certificate of family composition
- postal receipt proving payment for electronic residence permit
- state duty stamp
An Italian language test is also required.
Permanent residence in Italy gives foreign citizens the same rights as Italian citizens, excluding the right to vote and be elected. This permit must be renewed every five years.
Permanent residence is revoked if the resident:
- obtained the permit illegally
- is absent from the EU for more than 12 months in a row
- obtained permanent residence permit in another EU country
- is absent from Italy for more than 6 years
Foreign citizens over 15 years old on temporary or permanent residence permits can get an Italian ID (carta d’identita). The application is made to central municipal address office after registering with the population registration office (ufficio anagrafe).
How to get citizenship
Citizenship application is made to the local prefecture or Italian embassy abroad. Citizens have the right to permanently reside in Italy, access social security, employment or engage in entrepreneurial activity in Italy and other EU countries, etc. Italian citizenship is governed by Law No. 91 dated 5 February 1992 (Nuove norme sulla cittadinanza).
Italian citizenship (cittadinanza italiana) is granted on the following grounds:
- born and lived in Italy for more than three years
- child or grandchild of an Italian citizen by birth having lived in Italy for more than three years
- adult adopted by Italian citizens and having lived in Italy for five years after adoption
- civil servant in Italy or having served in the Italian army (including abroad) for more than five years
- EU citizen having lived in Italy for more than five years
- stateless person or refugee having lived in Italy for more than five years
- residency in Italy for more than 10 years
- marriage to an Italian citizen for over 2 years
Citizenship by naturalisation requires a clean criminal record and proof of permanent income. Italy allows dual nationality.
Italian citizenship is revoked for applications using false documents, voluntary submission of incorrect documents and all withheld information that would have affected the decision.