How to Get a Permesso di Soggiorno in Italy

The paperwork in Italy is never done.  No. Really. Never done.

In five years, I have never written about how to get a permesso di soggiornio because just thinking about it gives me chest pains.

However, the process is slowly getting better and it remains one of those necessities of life in Italy as a foreigner.  Many permessi expire on 12/31 (or at least mine always do) so it seems like as good a time as any to try to wade through the process.


Here is how you can get your very own Permesso di Soggiorno (Italian permit for stays longer than 3 months):

Within 8 days of moving to Italy, you have to apply for your permesso. This is because you have to convert your visa (which grants you access into the country) to a permit of stay (which allows you to actually stay in the country).

1. Go to the Post Office (ugh). You have to go to a Post Office with a special window called a Sportello Amico. A list of these is available on the Poste Italia website.

2. At the post office, take a number. In Italy, the post office is used to paying bills, banking and sending packages in addition to applying for immigration status. Go figure. Anyways, make sure you take the right kind of number. You want an T ticket.

Italian post office ticket

3.  If you don’t feel like waiting, and have no shame because like me you have lived in Italy long enough to know that waiting in line is for suckers, you can try to jump the queue and ask for a kit. That’s right, it is called a “kit”. You literally just need to pick it up and leave so the people behind you in line should not be too mad.

4. Don’t panic when the post office is out of kits. It happens all the time. Your best bet is probably going to another post office rather than waiting for them to restock.

5. Get out a dictionary, open the kit, and start filling out forms. Oh my god, the forms! It is almost laughable how complicated it is. Again, do not panic. No one really knows how to fill them out. Do your best! I have never been corrected at the questura (immigration office).
DO NOT sign the form. You will do that when you go back to the post office.

6. Copy your passport. Yes, all of it. Usually, they will throw all the paper away when you have your actual appointment, but sometimes they scowl if you try to put in only the picture and visa pages.

7. Copy any documents about why you are in Italy. For school? Bring a letter from your university with the dates of your enrollment. Work? Include a copy of your contract.

8. Get proof of health insurance.

8. Go to the tabbachi and buy a bollo.  This is a stamp with a monetary value that they will affix to one of the forms at the post office. The price keeps changing so just show the form at the tabbachi and they will be able to give you the right version (it currently costs €14.62). Not every tabbachi has the machine to print bolli so don’t panic if you strike out. You always need a plan B in Italy. Just move right along to the next tabbachi and try again.

9. Take your forms, photo copies and bollo back to the post office. This time you really do have to wait in line. Make sure to bring your passport with you in person. Here, you will need to pay the fee for the permesso (varies depending on length of validity but is 107.50 euro for most common 1 year version), then you will have to pay the post office 30 euro- just because.  Then you have to pay 27.50.  Just because you are applying digitally.

10. Get your appointment! Congrats! Once everything is accepted by the post office, you will get a piece of paper that looks like it was printed in 1988 and some receipts. Do not lose these. This confirms the day and time that you must be at the immigration office. It is also your proof that you have applied, and you should technically carry it with you if you travel outside of Italy before you get your handy PdS card.

11.  Wait.

The waiting time for the appointment at the questura (immigration office) has gotten a lot better. I think I waited two months for the my first appointment in 2010, but the most recent wait between application and appointment was only about 3 weeks this time around.

12.  On the appointed day and time, take your receipt from the post office, your supporting document copies (school letter, work contract, etc), your passport and 4 Italian passport sized photos to the questura.  You can find machines that take photos like these for about €5 all over Rome, and especially at metro stations. Worst case scenario, they also have these photo machines at the main Rome quester.

13. If you are in Rome, you can get the Rome questura by taking Metro B to Rebibbia. When you exit the station, turn right and look for the bus stop for bus 437.  The bus will say Immigration Office and be full of non-Italians.  The drive will take about 15 minutes, and you can exit when nearly everyone else on that bus (also carrying paperwork) gets off. It looks like this:


14.  When you get the questura, be prepared to wait and throw some elbows in line. The officers will call your time and have you line up, but they will likely be running behind schedule.  There are chairs to sit in but wrap up if you are going in winter and bring water/a snack in case you are stuck outside for awhile.

15. Once inside, you will go through a quick security screening.  Upon entering, you will then pickup the folder of documents you dropped off at the post office by showing your receipt.

16. Then you wait some more.  The Rome questura has vastly improved and now has screens that will flash your name and the number of the desk you are meant to approach when it is finally your turn.

17. The interview should be pretty short. Having basic Italian will help you a lot.  Mainly, the officer will go over the information with you, check your documents and take your finger prints.  They will also ask you where you want to pick the permesso up, so be prepared to name a police station near your house.

18. Go home and wait some more. The permesso should be ready in 30-45 days and you can then go pick it up at the police station nearest to your home.  Check online with your id number to see if it is ready, or pass by the police station to see if your name is posted outside. Remember to bring your passport and your receipt!

19. Revel in glory for a few months until it expires, and then start the process once more.

More information is available on the Portale Immigrazione in Italian.

Don’t worry. It won’t be pleasant but it will be fine.

195 thoughts on “How to Get a Permesso di Soggiorno in Italy

  1. April says:

    Excellent! Just wish I had this last week when I went to my Questura appointment. I arrived 15 minutes early and they were 3 hours behind schedule. Fun time freezing, starving and being bored. Wish I had a book.

    • Natalie says:

      The waiting is the worst! Morning appointments tend to be more on time, but by afternoon they are always running behind schedule. I still always go at the appointed time, just in case. A book and a snack are always advised! Hope it all went well!

  2. Sophia says:

    Thanks for the info! Can one travel to other Schengen countries while the permesso di soggiorno is being processed? I would like to make a few weekend trips outside of Italy if possible; however, it seems that it takes forever to receive it. I’ve tried to look for an answer everywhere but seem to be getting nowhere!

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Sophia! I will give the answer as well as I understand it: yes. You should be able to travel, but take all the receipts that you are given at the Post Office as proof that you have applied. PdS are only issued for trips of 90 days or more, and if you do register within 8 days of arriving, you should get your PdS within the 90 days. In that case, you will also still have a valid Schengen visa in your passport for any trips.

      • busra says:

        i am also in same situation and second time i applied for permesso di socciorno..and i want to take a flight from sofia to Istanbul. but i want to be sure about that with receipt from post office, can i go to sofia or not. just for transportation from sofia to Istanbul.
        i from Turkey thats why no need to take visa to turkey just i have a problem for transportation to sofia.

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Emerald, as far as I understand the process – it is the opposite. You would not qualify for national healthcare and so would have to prove that you are covered by private health insurance in order to apply for the visa/permesso.

  3. Pam Saylor says:

    Love this information! Our goal is to live in Italy for a year, strongly leaning towards Rome. If you have any recommendations for best neighborhoods to get in (or stay out of) any tips will be helpful.

    • Natalie says:

      I am biased because I love my neighborhood Testaccio. I would recommend considering public transportation options and connectivity when you think about neighborhoods unless you are going to get a car! So a neighborhood with a metro line- or do you want to be near a train station? Etc. I am sure you will love where you end up! Happy planning!

    • Holly says:

      Garbatella and Monteverde (also Monteverde Vecchio) are quite nice. Monteverde has the added benefit of being on the Tramline which is one of the most reliable forms of public transport in the city! 🙂 Garbatella is on Metro Line B – a few stops on from Colosseo. Also well connected by road/buses (by the Cristoforo Colombo). I used to live in a neighbourhood called Tor Marancia (near Garbatella) – good local character, slightly outside the city wall. Bit quieter but still reasonably connected (though sometimes a long wait for the bus…)

  4. Emily Leaphart says:

    Thank you for this post! Fantastic information!

    I’ve been wondering for years how one can move to Italy (Rome, specifically). Obviously it would help with the paperwork to have a job in the city, but tell me– Is it possible to move to Rome without marrying an Italian or having employment already lined up? To just take the plunge and move there– plain and simple?

    Or, put a bit differently: How lenient are the officials in granting a permesso di soggiorno to someone who is in the process of looking for employment? And how many times can one renew?

    I’m making it sound like I’m looking to be a total loafer or Cosmo Kramer in Italy (I’m not, I promise!), but I’m just trying to gauge the minimum required for a big move from the states. It’s all such a mystery to me, and most expats I’ve known have all married an Italian!

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Emily – so glad you found the blog useful.

      I think they question you are asking is probably more about visas than about permessi di soggiorno. Your type of PdS is tied to the type of visa you get, and you have to get the visa first then within 8 days of arrival you apply for the PdS. It is the visa that will determine if you can or cannot work.

      For student visas, you can work 20 hours/week and you can look for that work once you get here. If you are EU, you don’t need a visa, you simply need to register once to come to Italy and you can also begin looking for work.

      If you are non-EU, you have to get a visa that allows work, or no employers can hire you legally. They might offer something ‘in nero’ or under the table, but that will likely be low wages and might get you both in trouble.

      If you already have permission to work in Europe, take the plunge and you can figure it out and apply in person here. Without permission to work, you will probably need to find the company that wants to hire you first and then apply for the visa through them.

      • Emily Leaphart says:

        Thank you so much, Natalie!!

        (I apologize for my delayed response– I only now saw that you had responded forever ago!)

        That makes things much more clear for me. It turns out I’ll be likely attending school in either Florence or Cremona (post-grad studies for music performance), so it’s good to know that I’ll probably be able to work even a little bit– that is, if I can find a job in either place. And also understanding, of course, that nothing is ever so simple :).

  5. Kaitlan says:

    Hi again
    I’m wondering what you meant at the end of your post by “start the process over again” after a few months. My understanding was the permit could last up to a year, is that correct? I couldnt tell from the tone of your writing if you were just exaggerating a little, or if I’ve been misinformed and it really does only last like.. 6 months ish.

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Kaitlan,
      The PdS is usually valid for 1 year. However, you start the process after one week in Italy, and get an appointment that is about a month in the future, then you have to wait 45 days for the permesso to actually be issued. So by the time you have the permit, you have been in Italy for about 3 months (or more). Then, you have to renew it in advance. So it is valid for one year, but that year is eaten away by many of the steps.

      However, if you only have a visa for 6 months, then the maximum amount of validity of your permesso is 6 months.

  6. Ruthy says:

    Hi Natalie,

    I am in the US and want to move to Italy to work as an English teacher (I am US and TEFL certified). Which visa should I be applying for from the consulate here? Should I start with a student one and take an Italian language course on arrival while looking for a job? Or is there another type of visa I should start with? I am a woman in her early forties just looking to start a new life in Italy with no idea really where to begin. I’ve read all the blogs and can’t quite parse out which visa I need to begin the process with. Any advice would be sincerely appreciated.

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Ruthy – I am not an expert in visas, but I do believe that you can only work 20 hrs/week with a student visa. That might be something to keep in mind if you want more permanent work. Your permesso is tied to your type of visa.

      If you want to work in Italy, the best way is to have an employer sponsor you. Is there any chance you can apply to language schools to teach at before you arrive?

      Sorry I don’t have more info! I just know the permesso process once the visa is taken care of.

      • TonyM says:

        I’ve been reading a bunch of different expat blogs and so happy I found yours! My partner and I are a few years away from retirement and sorta planning the next chapter. We thought that we’d learn as much as we could about the Italian bureaucracy(we lived in London for a while) so that when we do move the transition would be kinda smooth. This posting of yours helps a ton! Thank you for posting!

    • TonyM says:

      Ruthy! I’m very curious about your journey from the US to Italy and hope you’re keeping a blog! Good Luck!

  7. Pingback: 7 Things You Can Do at an Italian Tabacchi – An American in Rome

  8. Igli says:

    Hi Natalie ! I am from Albania and i have found a work contract in Italy . Should i follow the same steps in order to take the permesso and do i have to apply for a visa first to enter in Italy or to travel with schengen? Thank you.

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Igli!

      As far as I know, you need a visa. A visa is what is converted into the permesso di soggiorno. A visa is your permission to enter the country, where as the permesso is the permission to stay.

      Good luck!

  9. Igli says:

    I can enter the country for less than 3 months even thought without a visa. Anyway thank you very much for the information and it would be very helpfull if i i can contact you for more information. I would like to have your email or another form of contact . Best regards!

  10. Nayeem says:

    I’m a political asylum in italy recently get permisso di soggiorno .can i work with it ?
    For work permit how long may i wait ?

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Nayeem– I don’t know about that kind of permesso, but it should be in the booklet. The permesso will say “per motivi di…” and then the working conditions are based on that. Wishing you the best of luck in Italy!

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Denise – tourist visas are for three months or less, and permessi are only for 3.5 months or more, so you cannot.

      • loulou says:

        How are you supposed to get one then? you enter the country as a tourist and then apply right? Assuming you’re not doing this from a consulate in another country not really seeing any other way. Are you sure about you response? Are you qualified to answer the questions?

        • Natalie says:

          Hi Loulou – you don’t enter the country as a tourist. You apply for a visa at a consulate in your home country. Once you have a non-tourist visa, you convert that into a permesso by going through the steps above.

          It’s not possible to arrive as a tourist and then apply for a PdS. Once you have a PdS, you don’t have to keep going through the visa process, but you do need a visa issued by a consulate for your first PdS.

          Hope the helps!

          • Manu says:

            Hi Natalie,
            I’m curiously about the PdS. My husband is American and I am a British Citizen with Italian residency etc. we own a house here and I have the right to live here in italy. He on the other hand entered the country as a basic tourist (I.e without having applied for a visa prior to entering Italy or leaving the U.S.) so applying for a PdS within Italy is a good idea? I am just confused because he doesn’t have a visa to switch from …

          • Natalie says:

            Hi Manu – if you have residency, your husband should be entitled to a carta di soggiorno (motivi familiare)

  11. Sam says:

    Thanks for your post I have a study visa valid for one year as I take my master in Rome however my course is 10 days every 2 months I have took to classy as now I just stay 15 days every time I enter Italy after the 15 days I leave to my home country now I have six months left on my visa my next course start on October also for 15 days but this time I wanted to stay for more than 90 days it’s ok for me to apply for stay pirmet in Italy. Thanks again

  12. Kim says:

    I understand that one needs a non-tourist visa first before applying for a permesso. However, we applied a bit late (for a variety of reasons), and so we will be in Italy up to 6 weeks before we hear about whether we get our visas or not. Obviously, if we don’t get the visas, we need to leave the Schengen area for 3 months and then return to Italy. My question is this: Do you think we should still get the kit and apply for the permesso within the 8 business days just in case we get the visa? My inclination is that we should, but I’m not sure if it’s even possible.

    Also, does anyone know about getting a passport stamped in San Marino (non-Schengen) and using that method as a way to stay in Italy for longer than the 90 days?

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Kim,

      You have to include a photocopy of the visa in your permesso application, so personally I would wait until you have it in hand.

      Leaving Italy does not reset your time, but what it does do is give you those extra days. You can be in Italy as an American (and many other country citizens) for 90 days in a 180 period. So if you are in Italy for 80 days, and leave for 10, you still have 10 to spend over the next 6 months.

    • Amber says:

      Hi I’m amber I came here in last September on a spouse visa mean stay visa I think but when I applied for my first soggiorno after completing the whole procedure of finger prints on my last appointment at questura they asked my husband to change his care status family to work. My husband is not willing to change his because he fears that they might change his permanent status. It’s been 2 months since I submitted my application . I tried to track it online they showing in process. Please tell me will they freeze it if my husband don’t change ?

  13. Sommer says:

    My partner and I have been issued a visa, we didn’t know we had to do all of this when we arrived. We don’t plan on staying in one place for long enough to do the application, have an iterview and so on. We dont have a fixed address. Is there anyway we can still get the visa. We don’t want to work, just stay in Italy for 6 months traveling. We will also travel to other countries during this time.

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Sommer –

      Not sure I understand… you do have a visa? It has been issued? Then you can apply for the permesso. Even for the permesso, you will need a fixed address.

      If you would like to work, the right visa is necessary.

  14. Anik says:

    Hi Natalie, I have come to Italy through a Family Reunion Visa and I have applied for my PSD but I have a single entry visa can I come back to Italy to collect my PSD with my post office receipt?

  15. Sofia says:

    Hi! Thanks for all the info- super helpful! My appointment is in two days so I’m getting everything ready. I just want to make sure that I didn’t have to make copies of every page of the application (modulo1) and that I’ll be fine showing up with just the copies and original copies you mention above and that the receipt of the application from the post office will suffice?

  16. Sofia says:

    Thanks for your quick reply! I have my passport photos ready. Just wanted to confirm I don’t need fotocopie of the modulo 1 that I
    Filled out and sent through the post office? Your post says the receipt will allow you to pick the packet up once you
    Arrive. Is that correct? I didn’t make photocopies of the actual kit and now am freaking out I should have. Also thank you so much for the directions on how to get there- I looked it up on maps and was like how the heck am I going to get there?!
    Thanks again! Also why am I nervous?! Haha

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Sofia – you do not need to copy the module! They will have the copy! You sound like you are all set. It won’t be super pleasant but it has gotten a lot better. Just bring a book because you might wait outside for a bit. Good luck!

  17. Hamadi bah says:

    Sorry how are you guy’s doing, can you travel with your six months permes di sigorrn by flight with your home country passport???

  18. Mario Santorelli says:

    Public transit in Rome is a joke. Don’t get suckered into thinking all of Europe is an orgasmic paradise of wonderful mass transit. Although Rome is trying to improve and expand its subway system, it’s basically a
    “cross” with a fifth arm expressing to Fiumicino airport. Central Train station is a disaster of human depravity. Truthfully, Rome’s subway system is no more expansive that Atlanta’s. Enjoy the culture shock!

  19. David Chan says:

    Hi there, I am a student in Italy, applied the permesso in June and had my fingerprinted in early July. Now I am still waiting for picking up the new one (September, more than 3 months). However, due to my study purpose, I have to move to France now, and my current permesso has its expiry date on next monday. I understand it is useless to show the brown receipt for staying in France (Schengen countries) while under renewing process, but since my passport has a visa -free travel for 90 days in France, in this case, does anyone know if I could use this for staying in France now? or at least I could go back to Italy to pick up my renew permesso after next monday (expiry date of my current permesso). Or this 90 days has a;ready expired once I stepped in the Schengen Area, which is almost 1 year before….

    • Natalie says:

      Hi David – uau. That sounds like a tricky one. To be honest, I am not sure. What I do know is that the visa/permesso is meant to extend the 90 days of visa-free stay. That means the 90 days is technically built into whatever else you have, not hanging around to be used afterwards?

  20. Hillary says:

    This is a great piece Natalie–really thorough and a great touchstone as I wade through paperwork of our third round of permessi…I still feel that, when all is said and done, it’s so worth it, and so I plod onward. Excelsior!

  21. Josh says:

    Hi Natalie,

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    I’m a U.S. Citizen with a temporary German residency that expires this year. I own a property in Italy and was thinking to spend a year there (not working). I’d like to get a permesso, but does that mean I’d have to go back to the U.S. to get a long stay visa before applying for the permesso (or to the Italian Embassy in Germany)? Or does having my German residency (VISA) allow me to apply directly for the permesso somewhow? If so, won’t I need something in my passport (VISA) for when the German one expires?

    Any input appreciated! Thanks

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Josh! From what I understand, if you are living legally in another country, then you can apply through the Italian embassy in that country. So it seems like your german residency should allow you to apply from there?

  22. issa says:

    I applied for my renewal last week and my appointment is on Dec. 14. However, I will be going home on Dec. 09 to spend Christmas holidays. I asked the guy at the Poste if I could request for an earlier appointment date, he said its the computer who automatically gives schedule. But someone advised me to go directly to the office in Rebbibia and personally request. How big is my chance here? I do not speak fluent Italian…

  23. alice morgan simmmonds says:

    Thank you so much!!! I have been looking at doing this recently and dreading it and here is your generous and easy to follow guidelines. I owe you big!!!

    You are the best,


    • Natalie says:

      Hi Derick – you need some kind of ID. WFP, for example, will give you a carta d’identita from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while consultants at FAO have to apply for the permesso. You can check with your protocol office.

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Stacey – when I applied for my first student visa, I was asked to show that I had enough money in the bank to support myself for the duration of my stay. I think back then it was 800 euro/month. However, I was not asked this by the time I got to the permesso application.

      Good luck! You can do it!

  24. Shawnelle Price says:

    This helped me so much – thank you! I went to the post office today and got my “kit” – I seriously would have had no clue without this article!

  25. Claudia says:

    Hi Natalie. I am American. I want to live in Venezia. I have already rented an apartment for 7 months (from febraury 1st – Sept 1st.) I don’t want to work in Italy, neither study, I just want to enjoy the museums and the Venetian life style for those 7 months. I will enter, as always, with my American passport that will be stamped in my entrance to Italy. I know that I only can be in Italy for 90 days. It is possible to apply for the Pemesso di Soggiorno for stay more than 90 days?

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Claudia – to get a permesso, you will have to get a visa from the consulate in your area before you arrive. It is the visa that is converted into permesso di soggiorno.

      Have a lovely Venetian adventure!

      • Sam says:

        Hi Natalie,

        Can you plz tell me is it possible to travel out of Italy while the permesso di soggiorno is being processed and our visa has already expired.
        Actually we are waiting for .It has been a month from the appointment date i.e questura
        but still we havent received it and are planning to go for family reunification.Is it possible.plz reply.

          • Sam says:

            Hi Natalie,
            Thank you so much for the reply. Just enquired yesterday in questura dept in Varese and they told that the
            permesso di soggiorno has been dispatched from Rome from tuesday.Can you please tell me how much time will it take now to be delivered here in Varese.