The visa application process can vary considerably depending on which country you plan to visit. The requirements you have to meet can likewise differ so it’s important to be sure of exactly what kind of visa you need (and how to get it) well in advance of any trip abroad.
There are different visas to suit different needs and the type you’re issued depends on the duration and purpose of your trip. In Italy visas are issued for reasons of tourism, business, religion, diplomatic service, domicile, joining family, dependent work, self-employment, artistic work, medical care, study, sporting activity, re-entry, transit, airport transit and visiting family.
Citizens from any of the European Union member states don’t need a visa if they intend to stay in Italy for less than 90 days. Furthermore, whilst citizens from most other countries will need a passport to enter Italy EU nationals can arrive in the country with just a national identity card.
Some citizens from non-EU countries don’t need a visa if they’re planning on staying in Italy for 30-90 days whilst other nationals must have a visa no matter how long they plan to stay. If you don’t live in the EU then your local consulate will be able to tell you what rules apply to your country.
EU nationals who plan on staying in Italy for more than 90 days have to apply for a ‘permit to stay’. An application for a ‘permit to stay’ may be denied if you don’t have employment/aren’t registered with an educational institution/can’t prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself.
For non EU nationals it is impossible to stay in Italy as a worker or student if you arrived in the country under a tourist visa. If you wish to work or study in Italy you must return to your country of origin and apply for the correct visa.
If you plan on staying in Italy for more than 3 months you will need to apply for a residence visa. Applications for this must be made in advance of your trip and should be sent to an Italian consulate.
If you do need to apply for a visa remember that the documentation you’ll need to produce does vary (as does the fee you’ll be charged!) – if you are at all unsure ring your nearest Italian consulate or embassy, tell them what type of visa you’re applying for and ask them what documents you’ll need to collate.
Italy is well known for its excessive bureaucracy and some of the documents needed to procure your visa may need to be translated into Italian. Any translator you use to do this must have the approval of your local Italian consulate.
The visa process, from application to issue, usually takes about a month but it can take three times as long if any difficulties arise.
As Italian laws and documentation can be near impossible to navigate at times you may want to engage the services of a ‘document agency’ that can make applications on your behalf.
For more information regarding Italian visa rules and regulations you can visit www.governo.it.
Permits to stay
A ‘permit to stay’ (which isn’t a residence permit but does entitle you to stay in Italy for longer than 90 days) must be applied for within eight days of arriving in Italy and can take up to three months to obtain. They can be applied for at the nearest police station and must reflect the original purpose for your trip (as stated on your visa). Permits can be valid for anything from six months to ten years or more. Depending on the purpose of your stay they may or may not be renewable – this is something you will need to check.
As with visa applications the documents you will need to obtain a permit to stay differs in accordance with your circumstances and nationality so be sure to check.
If you need to renew your permit to stay you must do so long before its expiry date. The same documentation as was needed for your original application will also need to be produced.
In Italy employees (both local and foreign) are required to have a registration card from the Provincial Inspectorate of Work. This booklet is valid for ten years and serves as a thorough record of employment.
As an EU national, family members including spouse and dependents are entitled to live in Italy with you no matter what their own nationality may be.
EU nationals who wish to retire in Italy don’t need a visa but will need to apply for a permit to stay on arrival. They also have to prove that they have adequate means of supporting themselves. EU nationals who have lived and worked in Italy for more than three years have earned the right to remain in the country once they have reached retirement age.
Having a permit to stay doesn’t mean you have Italian residency. If you want to have Italian residency you will need to apply for a residence permit. This can be done at the registry office of your local town hall. Providing a suitable address is a main requirement of the process and you should be aware that some rental property contracts won’t permit you to use the property’s address for that purpose.
Before applying for residency you should check what kind of documentation you need to provide. The following items are usually essential to the process: a valid permit to stay, a valid passport, a consular declaration from your country’s Italian consulate and a completed declaration of residence form.
It should take less than six months for you to find out whether or not your application for residency is approved.
EU national’s residence permits are valid for a minimum of five years and are automatically renewable. The applicant’s immediate family members are issued with a residency permit with the same conditions of validity. A student’s residency permit is also renewable but it’s only valid for a single year.
Once resident status has been attained you will have the same rights and privileges as Italian citizens, barring a few exceptions such as the right to vote. Italian Identity cards are also granted to successful applicants should they wish it.
Italian citizenship applications must reach the Minister of the Interior through your local mayor or an Italian consulate. After paying a concession tax the applicant must swear loyalty to the republic and pledge to observe the constitution and laws of the state.
If a foreign citizen marries an Italian citizen in Italy then they can apply for citizenship within six months. If the couple live abroad then Italian citizenship can only be applied for after three years of marriage.
In other situations EU nationals can apply for citizenship after four years of residency. Non EU nationals must be resident for 10 years before they can apply to become a citizen.