Residence Permits in Italy

A residence permit is a document that allows non-EU citizens to legally stay in Italy for more than 90 days regardless of the reason for the stay (e.g. work, retirement, study), and it must be renewed periodically in order to maintain it.

Everyone who fulfills the entry requirements for Italy is eligible to apply for a residence permit. The Italian law on immigration grants non-EU citizens, planning to stay in Italy for more than 3 months, two types of residence permits: Temporary (Permesso di Soggiorno) and Permanent (EC long term residence permit ex Carta di Soggiorno).

Both residence permits provide the holder with several benefits:

  • freedom of travel to other EU countries
  • the right to work, study or retire in Italy
  • the right to apply for and obtain services provided by the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN)
  • the right to partake in pension schemes
  • the right to buy real estate
  • the right to obtain a driver’s license and purchase a car

A non-EU citizen that enters Italy and wants to apply for a residence permit for the first time will have to apply for a temporary residence permit

Only after obtaining a temporary residence permit and meeting the following requirements, the applicant can apply for a permanent residence permit–if they:

  • have renewed their residence permit for at least 5 years
  • possess a valid renewable residence permit
  • prove that they have means of self-sustenance
  • prove that they have a legal address in Italy
  • prove that they have passed an Italian language test
  • prove the absence of criminal convictions and pending charges

This means that it is not possible to apply for a permanent residence permit immediately, as the applicant should be in possession of a valid temporary residence permit that meets the prior 5-year living requirement.

Note: Be aware that there is a category of temporary residence permit holders that cannot apply for permanent residence. For example, if you are a holder of a student residence permit at the moment of the application, you cannot apply for permanent residence even if the 5-year living requirement has been met.

However, previous periods of possession of these types of permits may be useful in the calculation of length of stay.

Permanent residency has more benefits for the holder than a temporary residence permit–holders can:

  1. work in other EU countries without having to apply for a work permit
  2. benefit from all the services provided by the government
  3. participate in local public life

he residence permit for work is issued for workers who enter as part of the (limited) quotas of work permits Italy issues every year according to the Decreto Flussi, and has obtained a work permit authorization issued by local authorities (nulla osta al lavoro):

  • Residence permit for subordinate work
  • Residence permit for self-employed worker

The residence permit for elective residence is mostly used by foreign nationals who wish to retire in Italy and are able to support themselves autonomously, without having to rely on employment while in Italy. Resources must be derived from stable asset-based revenues (such as annuities or pensions), property ownership, stable economic/financial activities, or other sources not related to employment. 

It has a 1-year validity and can be renewed if the requirements still are met.

A residence permit for study can be granted to non-EU citizens that want to study in Italy for more than 3 months. 

For those who have completed an accredited Italian degree, and have signed a contract or have decided to go freelance, the student resident permit can be converted to a work residence permit without having to go through an additional visa application. 

A residence permit for family reunification can be granted only to your: 

  • spouse, if  not legally separated or under  eighteen years of age 
  • minor children, including children born out of wedlock
  • dependent adult children who are not self-supporting due to their health conditions resulting in permanent inability to earn a  living
  • dependent parents that want to join the non EU citizen living in Italy and that fulfill the requirements for the visa application

Are you a foreign citizen holding a EU long-term residence permit issued by another European Union member state and wish to establish yourself in Italy?

Within the context of the so-called “quotas” allocated  through the “decreto flussi”, is it possible for a holder of a “long-term residence permit CE” issued by another EU Member State to apply for the conversion of their residence permit  into a:

  • residence permit for subordinate; employment reasons;
  • residence permit for domestic work reasons;
  • residence permit for self-employment reasons.


Once the type of visa that has been applied for is issued (you will be holding an entry visa Type D for more than 90 days), you must apply for a temporary residence permit within 8 days of arrival in Italy.

  • Pick up the application kit for Italian residency at the Sportello Amico of a post office (Poste Italiane) near you.
  • Carefully fill the application form (MOD 1 or MOD 2) in order to correspond with the entry visa. Do not close/seal the application envelope, because the officer needs to review all the documents.
  • Submit the application form and the following additional documents at the post office:
    • a Marca da Bollo stamp (duty stamp)
    • passport-size photographs
    • a valid travel document
    • a copy of the travel document with entry visa
    • documents supporting your request for the type of residence permit you are applying for (e.g. employment contract or enrollment in school)
    • a copy of a certification attesting your dwelling in Italy
    • your tax code (Codice Fiscale)
    • a copy of your health insurance policy (or payment receipt), valid in Italy and for the entire duration of your stay.

Be aware that the above list contains the general documents that must be submitted for each type of residence permit. Additional documents will need to be submitted, depending on the type of residence permit requested.

  1. The post office will forward the application to the responsible police station, and give you a receipt that serves as a temporary residence permit until the permit is issued. (Don’t lose it!) In the receipt, you will find the summons date to come to the police station for identification (fingerprinting).
  2. Do not miss the day of the summons to the police station (Questura). It takes a lot of time to rebook another date, and the issuance of the residence permit will be delayed.
  3. The applicant will be summoned one last time to collect their residence permit.

Permits can be renewed, provided that the conditions are still met. The renewal can be requested up to 60 days before the expiry date.

The application for a permanent residence permit follows the same procedure as a temporary residence permit. The documents differ.

If you are in Italy for tourism purposes (with an Italy short stay visa, or without a visa if you are exempt), you cannot apply for Italian residency.