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Italian Bureaucracy: RED TAPE

Rome BureacracyShould you find yourself so seduced by the beauty of the Eternal City you can't bear the thought of ever leaving (and who could blame you), you will need to get your papers in order. Becoming "legal" in Italy is a highly desirable state, difficult though it may be to attain. Depending on where you are coming from, you may have a tourist visa giving you permission to stay in Rome for a period not to exceed three months. Or you may have a nine-month student visa, or a short-term work permit. If that is about to expire, you will need to leave the country, go underground, or begin the following process.

The Codice Fiscale
This is the first step towards the Nirvana known as legal residency in Italy. It is your tax code. Without it, you cannot open a bank account, apply for a telephone, sign a lease, buy a refrigerator or manage any number of vital exigencies. Because the Codice Fiscale simply gives you the right to be taxed, it is easy to obtain. You need to present yourself to the nearest office of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, armed with your passport, plus photocopies. At the office, you will be given a form and directed to take a number. Bring a book. When your number is finally called, you will be briefly interviewed by a friendly civil servant, given a receipt and told that you will receive a plastic ID card with your number on it by mail, at the address you indicate as your current residence in Rome. These office locations are:

The Permesso di Soggiorno
Now that you have your Codice Fiscale, you may apply for a permit to stay in the country. These permits are issued for stays of one to five years and are renewable. A first time permit applicant from a non-EU country will generally receive a one year permit, which may be extended to a two year permit on renewal. The laws have recently changed, and after five years of continuous legal residency in Italy, you are eligible for a Carta di Soggiorno without an expiration date. Permessi are now issued through the post office, NOT the police station as in years past. Go to your local post office and ask for a permisso di soggiorno "kit." They use the English word. You may need a friend or a dictionary to help you fill out the forms. You will also need:

1. A valid passport plus photocopies of the your entire passport.
2. Four copies of a recent passport-sized photograph
3. Proof that you have the necessary funds to support yourself throughout the period of stay without becoming a burden on the state. This is what holds many people back from applying for a permit to stay. You don't have to be wealthy, though.You're not expected to be financially prepared to live like a king. You just need to show that you could survive. Bank and brokerage statements or proof of legal employment will do.
4. Proof of health insurance. Your policy or insurance card. Once again, you need to show that you won't be a burden on the state.
5. A bollo, that you've paid the small registration fee, which you can pay at the post office.
Depending on your reasons for requesting a permesso, you may need other documents. Some of the valid reasons include:
Elective residence (you just like it here)
Religious reasons
Scientific research
Seasonal employment
Political exile

Return the completed kit in the original UNSEALED envelope to the post office. If everything is deemed to be in order, you will be given a tiny slip of paper, which is your receipt. Do not lose it! You will need it to claim your permesso di soggioro certificate, which will arrive in two to six months or even longer. The immigration offices are currently so backed up they are having a real crisis. The receipt may also be produced to demonstrate that you have at least tried to get a permesso , so that you can stay in the country while you are waiting for the actual certificate.

Click her for the postal service's permesso di soggiorno guide in Italian

Click here for the official immigration department website in Italian

The Carta d'Identita
With your permesso di soggiorno and passport you can apply for an identity card. You just need four passport photographs and a bollo or stamp to show you've paid the fee. These cards are very handy because they can be used any time you need to show proof of identity for any reason (for example, if you want to get online at an internet café) and it saves you the danger of losing your passport. Apply at the Anagrafe- the hall of records. In the center, which is technically Municipio I, it's on via Luigi Petroselli 50 near the Teatro Marcello, not far from the Campidoglio. It's best to call before you go to check on the hours. tel 06.060606

The Legal Residency
For those who wish to stay here indefinitely, this means you are a resident of Italy, and NOT your country of origin. It entitles you to apply for a ZTL so you can park your car in your neighborhood, and it means you can apply for the ASL, the national health insurance. Residency is not hard to obtain if your Permesso di Soggiorno and passport are in order. Appear at your local Anagrafe, ask for the forms. You'll be briefly interviewed, and within weeks, you can find out if your residency was approved. No further paperwork is involved.

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In Rome Now Travel Guide: Survivng Italian Bureaucracy