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Settlement, Residence and Citizenship for Expats in Italy

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: April 2014

There are around 4.5 million expats living in Italy, mostly in the northern half of the country, especially around the Po Valley and parts of Tuscany. Many people have second homes or holiday villas in the more salubrious parts of Italy, where they stay for a short time; this is easy enough to do. How easy it is to settle in Italy depends largely on where you come from.


Citizens of the European Economic Area and Switzerland do not require a permit to stay, nor any other formal documentation to become resident in Italy.  However, like all foreign citizens, they will need to provide proof of health insurance and financial security. In the case of EEA citizens, proof of health insurance is provided by an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card.)

If you are an immigrant or short-term resident from any other country, you must sign a declaration of presence in the municipality (comune) where you are staying. You need to do this within eight days of entering the country, by visiting the local police station, where they will ask you to fill in a form that gives details of your stay. If your stay is for longer than three months, you can also pick up a permit to stay (permesso di soggiorno) application at this time.

To apply for a permit to stay, in addition to a completed application form you will need to supply photos and copies of relevant passport pages and your visa, if applicable. You will also need to buy a €16 revenue stamp (marca da bollo) from a local newsagent; you need to affix the stamp to the permit to stay once you have obtained it. Within 20 days of obtaining your permit to stay, you need to register with your local Ufficio Anagrafe, or Registry Office. To do so, you will need as a minimum copies of your passport, permit to stay and tax identification code.

It is important that the visa you obtain is valid for a year or more, else you will only be able to get a (non-renewable) permit to stay for six months. A permit to stay is not the same as a full residence certificate (Certificato di Residencia). You can only apply for this once you have an abode in Italy and have fully settled in to living in the county


If you are attempting to obtain citizenship by right of Italian ancestry or birth in Italy, the process is relatively straightforward. The amount of time it will take you to acquire citizenship by naturalisation greatly depends on how strong your connection to Italy is. If you are an EU citizen, you need to have been resident in Italy for four years before you can apply for citizenship. Non-EU citizens with no other connection to Italy must be resident in Italy for ten years before they can apply for citizenship.

The typically large pile of documentation you will need (some of them, complete with revenue stamps, that is, contributions to the Italian treasury) include your birth certificate, declaration of income for the last three years and certificate of family status. Dual citizenship is recognised in Italy.



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