PART 2: Getting a Permesso di soggiorno for a spouse of an Italian/EU citizen (motivi familiari)

After 8 months and 7 visits to the Questura di Venezia, I finally have my Carta di Soggiorno. What, you ask? Weren’t you applying for a Permesso di Soggiorno (PdS)?  Yes! I was expecting to receive a PdS (with a shorter expiry date) because that was what I’ve read online and what I applied for, but I was given a longer-term residency permit (valid for 5 years) because I was a family member of an EU citizen.

You can read about how to apply and the documents that you need in Part 1.

To explain it all, I’ll give you a timeline of my experience since there is so little information out there and up until I finally picked up my permesso/carta, I had no idea what to expect.

My experience

November 2017: I moved to Italy from London. We were going to live in Ischia, but we stopped in Venice, where Marituccio is from, so we can do our paperwork, establish residency and get enrolled in the Italian health system.

I went to the Questura di Venezia the day after I arrived and applied in person and without an appointment. According to the Italian consulate in London (read no. 3), you don’t need to apply through the postal kit and wait for an appointment, you can go directly to the Questura and apply on that day.

So, I arrived to the Questura, gave the security guard my passport and he told me to go inside and wait. I waited for about 3 hours until someone called my name and I went to a desk. I gave him my documents and he filled out a form and sent me to another room to get my fingerprints. I waited another hour to get my fingerprints taken and then went back to the desk and he gave me a temporary PdS, a paper version with my picture stapled on it that was valid for 3 months. I had to go back in 3 months to see if it was ready and if it wasn’t, they would stamp my temporary permesso for another 3 months.

With my temporary permesso, I was able to go to the comune to get residency, enroll in the health care system, and open a bank account.

Provisional Permesso di Soggiorno they gave me to keep while I waited for my official Permesso di Soggiorno

December 2017: We moved to Ischia in Naples and got a short-term flat so we could get settled and look for long-term housing.

February 2018: I went to the Questura in Venice two weeks before it was going to expire. I was given a number and waited 5 hours to see someone. When I did, he told me I came to early to see if it was ready and to come back the following week. I went back the following week, it still wasn’t ready so I got a stamp that extended it for another 3 months.

March 2018: The local police, sent by the Questura, visited Martiuccio’s mom’s house, to see if we lived there. This is part of the process for the permesso di soggiorno, but I had no idea. I thought the police only come to check where you live when you apply for residency. My mother-in-law told the police that we were living in Ischia, that Marituccio got a seasonal job in a hotel, and she gave him his number.

They called Marituccio and told us we had to go up to Venice so they can come see us. They were nice about it though and let us fix an appointment with them so we could make work and travel arrangements and fly up there the following week . So we did, the officer stopped by the house, took photographs of our ID cards with his camera and then talked for 10 minutes with my mother-in-law about plumbing.

May 2018: I went back to the Questura on a Wednesday afternoon where they only see people who come to pick up their PdS. I waited an hour. It wasn’t ready, but the guy was perplexed because he said it should have been ready by now since the police had visited the house. He extended my permit for two months.

June 2018: On the Questura di Venezia website, there is a page where you can check to see if your PdS is ready. No one told me about this, I just checked and saw it. When I put in my number, nothing would show up so I figured either 1) I wasn’t in the system, 2) it wasn’t ready or 3) you couldn’t check my type of PdS in the system. I checked in June and suddenly it came up that my permit was ready and that I could go to the Questura to pick it up. Hurray! I could have gone up to Venice, but I decided to wait until July when my temporary permit expired because I had been travelling every single month since I arrived in Italy and wanted to take a break.

applying for a permesso di soggiorno as a family member of an italian citizen
I was expecting this electronic biometric card as my permesso di soggiorno. (Which I received the last time I lived in Italy).

July 2018: I took a flight to Venice, arrived late in the evening and stayed in a hotel across the street from the Questura so I could get there extra early and be one of the first people to enter once it opened. I arrived at 645 am and when I arrived up to the security office at 830, he told me that on Mondays they don’t see people who come to pick up their PdS. I walked away crying many tears of frustration. I went back the next day and waited 5 hours. When I got to the desk, he pulled out a big file with my name on it. I was expecting a Permesso di Soggiorno that was valid for two years, but instead he gave me a Carta di Soggiorno, a long-term residency permit, that was valid for 5 years. I checked that my details were correct and signed two copies. One copy they kept, the other copy was for me, a paper booklet. I was completely surprised because I hadn’t come across online that spouses would receive a Carta di Soggiorno. Everything I read called it a PdS. So I left the questura elated because it meant that I probably would never have to go to the questura again (knock on wood). Since I’ve applied for Italian citizenship via marriage, hopefully my citizenship will come through before the permit expires.

But if it doesn’t, then I will apply again in order to receive permanent residency.



applying for a permesso di soggiorno as a family member of an italian citizen
The Carta di Soggiorno for family members of EU citizens.


Things I’ve learned through this whole process:

• Be resigned to the fact that there is little information and that you’ll have to find out things as you go along. You can get an idea by reading online or talking to others, but your experience may be different than someone else’s. But still, keep an open mind, be prepared to spend hours waiting and bring with you toilet paper, reading material and snacks. Be positive about it all otherwise it’s just going to be even more painful than it already is.
• Check, double check and triple check the hours of the questura. Read all the fine print because it is there where they will tell you that on certain days they only see people with PdS applications and at certain times they only see people who are picking up their PdS.
• Keep all of your documents (marriage certificates and translations, health cards and tax codes, bank statements, car insurance, documents and letters from the comune, EVERYTHING), both originals and copies, in a binder. Bring that binder with you to every bureaucratic appointment because you never know.
• If they send you away because you’re missing a document or that you’ve arrived on the wrong day, try not to take it too hard. By all means, cry or scream in the bathroom to let it out and then move on. The world is not against you, this happens to everyone, and it’s a part of living in Italy and just think that this is the long process of becoming a part of this country, a sort of initiation.
• Don’t think about the time or money that you’ve wasted travelling and waiting. Just don’t. It’s inevitable.

Next steps: Now that I have my carta di soggiorno, we will change our residency to our place in Ischia. I will also go to driving school to get my Italian driver’s license since my US license is not valid in the EU. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Good luck to everyone and congratulations to everyone who has gone through it.

17 thoughts on “PART 2: Getting a Permesso di soggiorno for a spouse of an Italian/EU citizen (motivi familiari)

  1. finally, im so happy that what i am experiencing right now is just normal. i processed my Pds February and even if im married to an Italian National the Questura asked me to process it using the “yellow kit” after 1 month they took my biometrics and now its almost
    September, “SURPRISE!!!” I dont have yet my Pds. i also did’nt get a temporary Pds valid for 3 months like what you had, i only have the receipt from Questura to prove that my Pds is under process, and thats the reason why even if im living in Italy for 8 months now i dont have yet a bank account and i cant travel in other EU countries. While im reading your article i really can feel the frustration of it but yet you are very positive so i want to thank you for sharing you experience. Thank you, now i know that im not alone in this world, whatever im experiencing right now is just normal. and yes the initiation to live in Italy is really interesting especially in the town where i live (Cuneo) that no one seems like know how to speak english. thanks and have a great day!

    1. Hi Mike, I’m so glad you found this helpful and I hear you! The lack of information and the amount of waiting can drive you mad. I expect the worst from any bureaucratic process in Italy, just so I can be pleasantly surprised when things turn out easier. Have you tried checking your permesso status on the Questura di Cuneo? Nothing would turn up when I was checking my status so I had no idea I was in the system, but then one day I checked and it said that it was ready. I hope yours is ready soon! Maybe now that everyone is back from the August holidays, yours will be ready for pick up. x

    2. Hi Mike,

      We are going through this process and are so confused because of the lack of information out there. Many thanks to Giovanna for the in depth information!! I am from San Francisco and he’s from Venice, so very similar situation to Giovanna and we are curious whether I can work once we are married.

      Did you and your spouse marry in Italy? and were you able to work immediately after marriage or do you have to wait for the card?

      Thank you,

  2. Hello Giovanna,

    Great blog, very informative!! thank you very much, I found this part very helpful “The world is not against you, this happens to everyone, and it’s a part of living in Italy” and will take it lighter next time I am sent back home because I was missing some paper, last time e.g. they sent me back because my Italian wife was not with me in Questura but there is nowhere (website, flyers, information desk procedures, really nowhere) the requirement that Spouse has to be present for the application.
    I am in Reggio Emilia and i find the documents they are asking me are slightly different that the ones you post here, e.g. they are asking us also for dichiarazione dei redditi, a tax declaration that we do not have because we were living abroad and are back here just this year will go there soon with my wife and will see what do they say about that document.

    thanks again!

    1. Hi Edison,
      What a pain! I’m happy you found some comfort here, though. I cried so many times during the process. I hope you can get more clarity next time with your wife present and that you can get everything done. It sounds like they’re asking you for the form as if you were renewing your permesso instead of applying for the first time. Is there the latest tax form from where you were living previously that you can bring to the appointment, just so you can show them something with some dates on it in case they give you a hard time? Good luck with everything, you’re almost there!

  3. Hello! You can’t imagine how helpful this is. I’m about to to go through this process as well and I’m trying to understand what application I need to submit and what documents I should prepare. I have one question though, did the Questura hold your passport at any point during the process? Or did they give it back to you on the spot? I’m asking because I will have to travel for personal reasons after submitting the application.
    Thanks a lot for documenting your process!

    1. Hi Feras, thank you for reading! The questura didn’t keep my passport, I showed them my passport and gave them photocopies of the pages. I travelled to London and also renewed my US passport during the time I was on my temporary PdS. I hope your process goes smoothly.

      1. Thanks for the reply Giovanna! I’ve started the process for my residency and seems like they’re doing things differently now. I’m in a similar situation where my partner is Italian and I’m applying for residency as her spouse.

        We went to the Questura and they just looked at the marriage certificate and our ID’s and they then gave me an appointment 4 months later to come and apply with the rest of the documents. No fingerprints or anything else at this stage. The appointment letter had the list of documents required for the application. They said that I’ll then receive my Carta di Soggiorno within 20 days for the appointment date. Apparently they’re doing this to cut down on the long bureaucratic process where they complete the whole process for each person during the appointment, rather than initiate the process for many people at once and then check their documents later. The date is given through a system and you can only appeal to have an earlier date if you can prove you have some sort of emergency.

        The problem with this process is that they do not issue a temporary residency that you can use to set up your life, so you can’t really do anything that requires a residency like registering for healthcare or getting a job. One way around that is to have a family reunion visa which you can then take to the Commune as proof that the residency process has been initiated, and then they set you up as a resident in the commune. But since I was a resident in the UK, I didn’t need to apply for a family reunion visa but I now have nothing that shows that my residency process has been initiated and will have to wait till the appointment date (the appointment letter is not enough for the Commune to register you as a resident).

        So for anyone applying in the future, it might be worthwhile to get a family reunion visa even if you don’t need it, because you can then at least register yourself with the Commune and begin setting up your life (bank account, driving license, health care, etc).

        Hope this helps!

  4. Hi Giovanna,

    Currently I have Pds for study which will be expired this beginning Dec. And I just got married to my Italian husband here in Italy last week, so my trip to the Questura for the Pds or Cds in Treviso will be next. I read that you had applied yours at Venezia, hoping that both Treviso and Venezia require the same paperwork as they are provinces of Veneto (fingers crossed). I have already bought a book to Start reading for the Italian driving school! Wish u good luck in the driving licence process, and really thankful for your shared info on this blog~~~


    1. Hi Ivy,
      Thanks so much for reading and congratulations on your wedding! Fingers crossed that your process goes smoothly and good luck to you on the driving license process. I’m just about to sign up for driving school. x

  5. Hi Giovanna,

    I really appreciate for you to share this information with many of us. You have no idea how thankful I am to find out your post!

    I (Korean passport holder) and my Italian partner have lived in Australia nearly 15 years, and now time to move back in Europe.
    So I was looking for a the most suitable visa type to reside in Europe. According to your experience, obtaining a pds does not seem to be the hardest thing to do, but we are planning to live in Spain for a couple of years after a couple of months in Italy.

    So my questions (it may sound stupid) is that if a pds is only limited to live within Italy or considered as a passport of Italy which allows to travel or live freely between EU countries?

    Or ideally I can travel to Spain (or other EU countries) with a PDS as often as I can?

    It would be so appreciated if you could have a look and give me a idea of this.
    Thank you! Have a lovely night. xx

    1. Hi Cath, As far as I know, as a family member of an EU citizen, you have the right to live with your spouse anywhere in the EU. If you are staying more than three months within any EU country, you’ll need to apply for a residency permit. If you live in Italy and have a residency permit, you can travel freely anywhere in the EU, but if you move to another country, you’ll need a permit for that country. Here’s a website that can give you more information about your rights. Good luck!

  6. Hi Giovanna –

    Thanks for your helpful article. My wife and I are retirees living in the Marche with permessi. Hopefully, my wife’s Jure Sanguinis citizenship application will clear soon. After that happens, I can apply for the “family reasons” Carta that you hold. Similarly to you, I am currently taking driving instruction, and have passed the Teoria exam. It’s a lot of work, especially if your Italian is marginal. Good luck.

    1. Hi Ted, Thanks for reading and congratulations on passing the Teoria exam! I’m just about to sign up for driving school and start the theory lessons. I’ve heard it’s a lot of studying. x Giovanna

  7. Im so glad I found this; Im currently renewing my permesso and the ‘helpful instructions’ are just more confusing. My permesso will expire at the 5 year mark of me moving here; I thought I could apply for the carta but it seems that’s only for, at least, 6 years of continuous living. Also, this may be a dense question, but, which number on the permesso is actually MY number?! There are three that I see on my paper document- top right, another directly above my photo, and another in a box under the header. Any help?! Thanks!

    1. Hi Margaret, I’m not sure what your paper permesso looks like or what kind you have, but my number was at the bottom of the paper and said Numero Pratica: and consisted of numbers and letters. On my Carta di Soggiorno, my number is written at the top and in the barcode. I looked at an old permesso card from 2009 and the number is written at the top right hand corner after ITA. Hope that helps!

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