Step by step process of getting a Permesso di Soggiorno for a spouse of an Italian/EU citizen

I had a difficult time getting the exact information of the kind of PdS I needed and how to apply for one and I needed to search tons of websites online in both English and Italian in order to get the correct information. I still didn’t get it all correct as I couldn’t find a complete list of the documents that I needed and I had to go to the Questura twice in order to get it fully processed.

So I thought I’d write it out here in case it would be useful to others in the same shoes.

What is the Permesso di Soggiorno?

One of the very first things one needs to do when arriving in Italy for a long-term stay is apply for the Permesso di Soggiorno, also known as the PdS. This is the Italian residency permit and all non-EU citizens need to apply for one if they are going to stay in Italy (or anywhere else in the EU) for longer than 90 days.

There are a number of different kinds of PdS one can apply for including: study, work, family reasons, minors, medical care, adoption, voluntary work, elective residency, and more.

How to get a Pds for the spouse of an Italian citizen

This is called Permesso di Soggiorno per coesione familiare (family unification).

Step 1: Entry Visa into Italy or Residency Permit if you are moving to Italy from another EU country

If you’re entering Italy from outside of the EU, you’ll need an entry visa for family reasons and will need to apply through the Italian consulate.

If you live within the EU and already have a residency permit for that country, you do not need a visa. As I am American that lived in London and have a residency permit for the UK, I didn’t need to get a visa. (I wasn’t entirely sure, so I went to the Italian consulate in London just to double check and they reassured me it wasn’t necessary.)

Step 2: Go to the Questura and bring the necessary documents

Once you arrive in Italy, you need to apply to the Questura in the zone where your partner is resident. As both me and D moved from London, he registered his residency at the town hall as soon as we arrived so he could get his certificate of residency.

As a spouse of an Italian citizen, you don’t need to apply with the PdS application through the post office. You can show up at the Questura with your spouse without an appointment and without an application. It seems unreal, but we did it and it worked.

You need to bring with you the following documents:

  • Marca da bollo of €16 (available at any tabaccaio)
  • 4 photos
  • Your passport and photocopy of every page with stamps and visas (no need to photocopy the empty pages)
  • PdS (if you already have one, i.e. you were already in Italy on a different type of PdS and you got married)
  • Marriage certificate and photocopy – if married abroad, marriage certificate must be translated. Both the translation and marriage certificate must each have an apostille for the documents to be valid.
  • Passport or identity card of Italian spouse and photocopy
  • If spouse is an EU citizen, you must have a document to prove that the spouse has been registered at the Anagrafe (registry office)
  • Certificate of residence of the spouse
  • Declaration of hospitality validated by the local Police Department (document signed by owner of the property where you’re staying that declares that you have permission to live there)

If you were married outside of Italy, and you can do it, try to get the marriage certificate and translation both apostilled while you’re within the country of origin. It’s much easier and more cost-effective to do it there. For me, I did it during my last two weeks in London and managed to get the documents certified with an apostille within 10 days.

The first time we went to the Questura of Venezia, I thought I had all of the documents, but I was missing one thing so had to get it and then go back. The administrator gave me a list of the documents that I needed which I’ll show you here. This is like gold to me! I couldn’t find this listed on any of the sites that I looked at in both English and in Italian so I’ll add it for you here.

List of documents for the Permesso di Soggiorno for the spouse of an Italian citizen

I was missing the declaration of hospitality, so I downloaded the form from the town hall website and then went to get it signed by the local police. Unfortunately, our town no longer has a physical police building, but officers have an office set up at the weekly market. We went there to get it signed and had a nice chat with them about life and they wished us luck.

Questura – my experience

I’ve lived in Italy before and had to apply for a PdS at both the Questura di Roma and Napoli, so I was familiar with the bureaucratic confusing hell of the immigration progress and endless waiting at the Questura. The Questura di Venezia wasn’t as bad as the one in Rome, but I was afraid of going there without an appointment. In the end it was okay. We waited a half hour in a queue outside to get in and I left my passport with the guard and was told to wait inside. We waited about 2.5 hours before we saw someone and then they completed the application for me and I signed the papers and then waited some more to get my fingerprints taken. After that, I received a temporary paper version of the PdS that’s valid for three months. I have to go back in February to get the official version, but in the meantime this will let me sign up in the registry office, get residency, and get an ID card.

As comparison, when I moved to Italy back in 2009, I applied for my PdS at the post office in July, got called to the Questura to hand in my paperwork and do my fingerprints in November and picked up my PdS in January 2010. I wasn’t able to get residency until July 2010 (for other bureaucratic reasons that’s too boring to tell here).

I wish you all who are going through this the best of luck and to have a lot of patience. Bring snacks, a book and crossword puzzle with you to your appointment and some tissues in case you need to use the bathroom and there’s no toilet paper.


21 thoughts on “Step by step process of getting a Permesso di Soggiorno for a spouse of an Italian/EU citizen

  1. Hey Giovanna, Thanks for that post, it was really helpful. And congratulations!

    I wanted to ask something because I am in a similar position. I would like to get the permesso di seggiorno for marriage and then citizenship later on.

    One issue is that I might have trouble obtaining the nulla osta required for marriage in Italy. I was wondering if I could get married in Denmark, and if international marriage certificates work if apostiled like you mention.

    Next thing is, were you advised to go directly to the questura with your spouse instead of making an appointment? OR was it just chance that you got your application in so quickly?

    Are you going ahead with citizenship later on?

    Thanks in advance, your post was really helpful!

    1. Hi Wanhee, Thank you!

      I believe your marriage certificate issued in Denmark would be valid in Italy as long as it’s translated and apostilled.

      If you are already a resident within the EU and you get married abroad, then you don’t need an entry visa into Italy (but check with the Italian consulate of the region where you reside). I’m American, but because me and my Italian partner lived in London, I had a UK residency permit as a family member of an EU citizen. I went to the Italian consulate in London to double check with them and they told me I didn’t need a residency permit and that I could go directly to the Questura without an appointment to apply for a permesso di soggiorno. I also found this document online that says that you can either apply directly to the Questura without an appointment or apply through the post office using the kit, who then issues an appointment for you (either on site the same day or through the post). Honestly, I think Italian bureaucracy is a crap shoot, so you may be told one thing and then show up and be told another thing. I’ve lived in Italy before and have applied for other kinds of permessi di soggiorno through the Questuras in Napoli and Roma which were a lot busier than the one in Venice, especially the one in Rome. I had applied through the post office for both of them. For the one in Rome, I had to wait five months before I received a letter with my appointment details. For the one in Naples, they gave me an appointment immediately at the post office for two weeks later. Depending on where you live and how easy it is to get to your Questura, you may want to apply through the post office and receive an appointment.

      For the citizenship, I’ve already applied and had the application accepted through the consulate in London while I was still living there. You can read about it here. I’ve notified the consulate of our new residency in Italy and they will submit the application to the Questura here who will take it over. I don’t know how long it will take, but I’m expecting it will take about two years.

      Good luck with everything!

  2. Great blog! I’m also an American expat based in Italy (Padova). I came here on a student visa and later got permesso di soggiorno per motivi studio for about 2 years. And it just expired this past December 31, 2017. However, my Italian boyfriend and I plan to marry soon in few weeks at the city hall where we live, near to Padua.

    Since our situation is similar, however, I was wondering if, in my case, I can go straight to the Questura di Padova without having to go through the post office and getting an appointment like you did? I’ll rather save the 200 euros + fees/extra cost on a new permesso di soggiorno!

    1. Hi Sheila,

      Thanks for reading and congratulations on your upcoming wedding. I think since you are already in Italy and have a permesso di giorno, you can go to the questura without an appointment. I found this document online that gives you more information: I’m not sure if you’ll have trouble since your permesso is expired, but they can give you more information at the questura. I don’t think you have to pay a fee for the permesso di soggiorno for family reasons, other than the ones for the marche da bollo, whether you apply through the post office or directly at the questura. Good luck!

  3. Hi Giovanna! Very helpful information. My husband is an Italian citizen and I have my permesso (thru marriage) for 5 years but my question is about working with your permesso as an American citizen and an Italian resident. Do you have any clarification if you have spouse visa?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Laura, thanks for reading! As a family member of an EU/Italian citizen, I believe you can work in Italy or wherever you reside in Europe with your spouse. I haven’t found anything online that says what you have to do or what paperwork you need (surprise), but I imagine that once you’ve established residency and have a codice fiscale, you can start.

      1. Thanks Giovanna! Finding your blog a very helpful starting point. We just relocated to Puglia and whew! So many overwhelming hurdles 🙂

        1. Ah thanks Laura! Good luck with your move to Puglia. I know what you mean, we’re riding the wave of everyday madness. Each day is a new ordeal. 🙂

  4. Hi Giovanna,

    I stumbled onto your blog via a Google search looking exactly for this kind of information! Thank you – sharing your experience in this regard is invaluable to others in a similar situation.

    I’m an Italian citizen and my wife and I have decided to live in Italy, starting 1 April 2018. We’ve been married for 10 years, and despite all the intention of applying for her citizenship, we just “never got around to it” – complacency’s a killer! Anyway, now that we’re actually immigrating, since she’s a South African citizen she would require an entry visa. Luck would have it that she already has a multi-entry Schengen visa for family reasons, but it’s the “Short term” type, allowing her 90 days in Italy. That said, she is my wife and can prove it even with an Italian marriage certificate registered in Rome.

    I realise you may not have much information about this particular set of circumstances, but do you think the shengen visa she is already in possession of will be enough for her to get the PdS per coesione familiare?

    The second part of my question was, once you have the PdS, what takes precedence – the term of the visa, or the term of the PdS? I mean once she receives the PdS, does that REPLACE her requirement for the VISA? And if it does, how does leaving / returning to Italy work? Will she then be entitled to an Italian passport, or do they stamp her passport with some kind of special visa, or… ?

    Much appreciate any insights you might have! 🙂

    1. Hi Ruggero,

      First of all congratulations on your move to Italy and thank you for reading! In regards to the entry visa, perhaps you can ask the consulate if her multi-entry Schengen visa is good enough? For me, I wasn’t exactly sure if my UK residency permit was enough to enter Italy to get a family reason PdS, so I went to the visa department at the consulate in London to double check (bringing in all the paperwork for the visa). They assured me that it was fine and that I didn’t need a visa and also told me that I could apply directly at the Questura for a Pds without an appointment. It may be the same for you, but if you’re nervous, the consulate can put your mind at ease.

      Regarding your question about the PdS, the terms of the PdS replace the terms of the visa. The visa is only needed to enter into Italy and apply for the PdS. The last time I lived in Italy, I had a PdS for an elective residency (at the time the consulate gave me that so I could do a post-graduate internship). When I traveled, I showed my PdS along with my passport. I never had any trouble leaving or entering Italy. The UK border control was more vigilant whenever I went to the UK and they took their time looking at my passport and PdS and asked questions.

      Thanks again for reading! Giovanna

  5. Hey Giovanna, Thanks for that post, it was really helpful. And congratulations!
    First sorry for bad English but I need some information from you and I hope you will guide me very good . First I am Pakistani and I got marry with Italian (my wife ) in July 2017 and after long process as you said same i got appointment for PDS . They took my fingerprints in November but still I am waiting for PDS . But they said you will get 2 years family member PDS.
    So my questions are
    1: How much more they will take time for give me PDS ?
    2: what process I need do for get italaian citizenship ?
    3: we want move in England and for that I need visa for England and if they give me 6 months visa for England after if I stay there more and I can be get italaian passport?
    4: if we live in England 6 months after how much time I can apply italaian passport?
    I hope you ll understand my questions
    Waiting for your answers . Thanks

    1. Hi Raja,

      I’ve sent you an email trying to answer your questions, but there’s a lot of information on the Italian consulate websites that explain eligibility and the process of applying. I’m still waiting for my PdS as well and I don’t know how long I will have to wait. Good luck, Giovanna

  6. Hey Giovanna,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It is very informative and helpful. My situation is very similar to yours, and now I’m about to apply for my as spouse of an Italian citizen. Also I’ll be applying my PdS through the Questura in Venice. I have two quick questions, if I may:

    1. Have you received your PdS yet? I wonder how long this process usually takes.
    2. After you submitted your applicaiton, have you experienced Italian police come to your physically address to check that whether you and your husband have indeed been living together? I have some concerns regarding this because I plan to go back to France to move my stuff by car (I had been living in France before I decided to get married and move here in Italy), and therefore I won’t be away for two or three weeks after I apply for the PdS. I don’t know if that would be a problem.

    Thank you in advance for any insights that you could share with me regarding the foregoing.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Welcome to Italy! When I went to the Questura, they gave me a temporary paper PdS on the spot, it had a stamp with a date for 3 months later and they told me I had to come back before it expired to pick up my PdS card. I went back just before it was due to expire but it wasn’t ready, so they stamped it for another 3 months. I have to go back in mid-May and hopefully it will be ready by then. So my answer would be it takes 3-6 months to receive the card. When you go back to the Questura to pick up your card, I recommend going on a Wednesday afternoon. The queue will go by a lot faster as Wednesday afternoons are only for people who need to pick up their PdS. For your second question, the Questura doesn’t come to your residence to verify your address. The dichiarazione is good enough for them. Once you get the PdS (the temporary paper one is fine) you need to go to your local comune where you live and apply for residency. Show them your PdS and either a rental agreement or dichiarazione d’ospitalita and they will then send the local police to stop by and verify your address. (The lady that came to visit actually wanted to see our bedroom and closet full of clothes). Once they come and verify your address, you can then go to the comune and get your carta d’identita’. So if you have to go back to France or a few weeks, then you can go to the comune afterwards to apply for residency. The comune will let you know when you should expect someone to stop by. For me, they came by the following week. But if you live in a big city, it could take a lot longer. x Giovanna

  7. hi Giovanna,
    Thanks for that post, it was really helpful indeed.
    I am an Australian, my spouse works in Milan, and i will have to apply for the permit to stay in Italy.
    I want to know when apply for the permit, do i need to show my birth certificate ?
    I have my marriage certificate apostilled , but not the birth certificate….
    please advice, thank you


  8. what is the processing time for carta di soggiorno familiare ue for spouse and kids of italian citizen

  9. Dear Giovanna,

    I am a non EU citizen married to an Italian. I am awaiting my PS from Ufficio Immigarzione Napoli. I wanted to ask you if you had any specifi problem when you resquested you PS at Napoli that slowed the process? Now, it’s almost 3 months that I went to Questura Napoli to hand in my paperwork and do fingerprints…

    Do you have any suggestion?

    Thank you very much!

    Greetings from Napoli!

  10. Hi thanks for your blog
    I have Italian residency
    Can my American husband also qualify for Italian residency/permesso di soggiorno by being married to me?

  11. Hi Giovanna
    Thank you for taking the time to write all of this valuable information for everyone in need. I am currently based in Le Marche region and unfortunately it is not possible in this region to go to the questura with your Italian spouse and obtain a PdS. Sadly I found this out the hard way and we tried nearly every questura in the region 🙁 in Le Marche you must get an appointment but you don’t have to do this through the post office, there is a number to call here that you book an appointment with (I thought I would just write this comment for others that may be in this region and needing the documentation)
    Nevertheless thank you so much for providing the list of documentation needed, it has been a great help!

  12. Hi thank you for writing this. I’m curious if your kids now if this process also applies to someone like me? I have Italian residency and I’m a British citizen. I’m married to an American who wants acquire residency here too. Do you think we can just go to the Questura as well?

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