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.
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.
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 too 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.
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.
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.