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Applying for Permesso di Soggionrno…

permesso scream

There is one thing about being in Italy that has triggered both despair and frustration – la buracarazia! Specifically relating to the process to obtain a “Permesso di Soggiorno.” This is a permit to stay in the country and is the final step of the visa process. I had no idea the complex, time consuming and costly nature of this process. Where to begin?

Process as advised by the Italian Embassy in Australia:

Step 1. When you arrive in the country, you must present to a police station within 8 days and they will issue the Permesso.

Easy as pie right?

Actual Process:

Step 1. Present at a police office – confusion reigns as you have no appointment. You must get a “welcome* pack” from the post office first.

Step 2. In the confusion fill out 2 copies of the same form to say you have arrived in Italy and leave this with the police.

Step 3. Go to post office – receive “welcome pack” containing two modules which are as lengthy as a tax return, a set of instructions, and a pack of tables which hold codes you must decipher in order to complete each module. Oh, and all the forms and instructions are in Italian.

Step 4. Feel slightly overwhelmed, ask post office if they have instructions or forms in another language. After the blank stares that meet your request, leave the post office.

Step 5. Get google translate and begin to decipher the forms.

Step 6. Assuming this is relatively straight forward, you then need to buy a stamp for the front cover. Ah, back to the post office you might think – incorrect. The post office does not sell all types of stamps. This stamp must be purchased from a Tabbachi (that’s right, a tabbaco shop) and must be paid for in cash. Hand over 17 Euros (even though the form says 14 Euros)

Step 7. Line up at post office to submit your application – bring cash, about 150 Euros will cover it. Without discussion or clarification, you will be given a piece of paper with a date and time about 3 weeks in the future, this is an appointment to go to a police station.

Step 8. If you can make it to the appointment, that’s great, proceed to step 12. Eldad and I could not due to being in London. We went to the police station to try and change the date and were told to come back after the appointment had passed.

Step 9. Come back, wait in line and at a closed door with no signage for at least one hour.

Step 10. Again without discussion or clarification, receive a new appointment (again 3 weeks into the future)

Step 11. Alas, I had a trip planned back to Australia for when the new appointment was made. Do not ask questions, do ask for another date. Just come back again, after that date has passed.  (Proceed to step 16)

Step 12. Attend appointment – line up at door for one hour, then wait in cold, unwelcoming waiting room for your name to be called. (Eldad was able to undertake this step and this is how I came by the information for steps 12 through 15.)

Step 13. Sit with police officer as they review all your paper work against the copies provided in the Permesso application. If all in order, get fingerprinted.

Step 14. Officer advises you they will text you with another appointment date when you can pick up the actual Permesso.

Step 15. Receive text message, pick up Permesso, celebrate.

Step 16. Arrive for new appointment date (ref step 12)

Step 17. Be the last person in the room to be called as you get progressively nervous there is a problem.

Step 18. There is a problem. Only, no-one can tell you what it is. I was advised there was a problem with the application and it was still with the post office. I was advised to get another appointment.

Step 19. I mention I am leaving Italy in two weeks and am not coming back at this stage. “Oh, that’s ok, you don’t need another appointment then. Buon Viaggio”…. Huh? So after almost three months in Italy.. I will be leaving senza Permesso, and senza a little bit of sanity.

As you can see, there is quite a disparity in process expectations.  I love Italy and there are so many wonderful things about this country.. I am happy to be living here, I just wish there was a simpler way to obtain the Permesso!

*loose use of the word welcome

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