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VISAS

When and how should I renew my Italian residence permit?

Renewing your residence permit in Italy can feel like a headache, but preparing in advance will take the sting out of it. Here's a guide to what you need to do and when you should start the process.

People queue outside a post office in Rome. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP
People queue outside a post office in Rome. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

When should I renew my Italian residence permit?

According to the website for Italy’s Interior Ministry and the government’s migrant integration portal, you should apply to renew your permesso di soggiorno/residency permit “at least 60 days” in advance of its expiry date.

The websites for Italy’s carabinieri police force and immigration portal, by contrast, say that when you apply for renewal should depend on your permit’s duration:

  • 90 days in advance of the expiry date for residence permits of up to two years
  • 60 days for residence permits of up to one year
  • 30 days for residence permits of up to six months

It’s worth bearing in mind that these are all strong recommendations rather than legal requirements. The migrant integration portal notes that there are no sanctions for failing to adhere to its recommended timeframe, because of this next point:

What if I accidentally overstay my residency without renewing my permit?

After your permit expires, you have a 60-day grace period in which you can apply for renewal before you get into hot water. After those 60 days, you will be in Italy illegally and can be expelled from the territory. Bear in mind that it can easily take several months to receive your new permesso after you have applied, so it’s not something you want to leave to the last minute.

There’s a chance that you might not be expelled from the country if you apply for the renewal of your expired permit after the 60 day grace period, if you can demonstrate to the relevant official’s satisfaction that you had a valid justification for letting it slide. But we don’t recommend testing this.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What type of visa will you need to move to Italy?

Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Where should I go and what should I do?

In most cases, you need to start by going to the Sportello Amico window at your local post office, and requesting a ‘yellow stripe’ form kit, or kit a banda gialla (so called because the form has a yellow stripe running down its left-hand side), which you should be given for free. For some types of permit you will need to go directly to the immigration office of your local police headquarters, or questura, to obtain the form. Those cases are listed here.

You will then need to bring to the post office:

  • A completed copy of the ‘yellow stripe’ application form
  • A photocopy of your current permesso di soggiorno
  • A photocopy of your passport
  • A photocopy of an official document containing your codice fiscale, or tax code
  • A €16 marca da bollo tax stamp, which you can buy from any tobacconist’s

You will also need to bring the originals of your passport and your current permesso di soggiorno to show the post office worker, as well certain additional supporting documents that vary depending on the type of permit you are applying for, which are detailed here.

You will need to pay:

  • €30 in postal charges
  • €30.46 flat rate for the issuance of the new card
  • €70.46 if you are applying for a permit that lasts for between 3 months and a year.
  • €80.46 if you are applying for a permit that lasts between one and two years.
  • €100.46 if you are applying for a permanent EC long-term residence permit (formerly a carta di soggiorno).

READ ALSO: Italian residency: Who needs it and how do you get it?

ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP

What happens next?

At the post office, you will be given a slip showing a date and time for a fingerprinting appointment at the questura. This could be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months from the date of your initial application, depending on the size of your town or city.

You will also be given a postal receipt, or cedolino/ricevuta, with a tracking number to check the status of your application, as well as receipts for the payment of the respective fees.

These are all very important documents to hold on to. The cedolino acts as your temporary permit and makes your presence in Italy legal even if your new permesso doesn’t come through until after your old one expires.

When you go to your appointment at the questura, you will need to bring four passport photographs; photocopies and the originals of all the supporting documents you submitted in your application as well as a copy of the application itself; and all the receipts you received at the post office.

After the appointment, you’ll be able to check on the status of your application by visiting the questura website and typing in your tracking number.

When the permit is ready, you’ll receive a text telling you to go to the questura to pick it up.

Italy’s latest law on the matter says that the authorities have 60 days to issue a new permit after the appointment, so if you haven’t received anything by this point, it’s worth checking in.

READ ALSO: How to become Italian: A guide to getting citizenship

What if I need to travel abroad while my permit is in the process of being renewed?

You can travel anywhere within Italy and directly to your home country and back with the cedolino given to you at the post office, which remember acts as your temporary permesso while your old one is in the process of being renewed.

If you want to travel anywhere else (including within the Schengen area), or even if your flight involves transiting through another country, you will need to go to the questura and file an application for a permesso di soggiorno provvisorio.

Andreas SOLARO / AFP

I have a long-term EC permit/carta di soggiorno – when do I need to renew this?

Good news for you – while most permessi di soggiorno are issued for a maximum of two years and then need to be actively renewed in order to remain valid, the EC (European Commission) Long Term Residence Permit – known in Italian as the permesso di soggiorno per soggiornanti di lungo periodo or the permesso di soggiorno illimitata (formerly the carta di soggiorno) – confers a permanent right of residency on the holder and does not expire.

However, if you want to use this card as an identity document, which is something you’re technically required to have on your person at all times in Italy, you will need to renew it every five years. The document itself should be updated every ten years, but failure to do so does not invalidate the holder’s permanent rights of residency.

Individuals who have lived in Italy for a continuous five-year period are among the groups that qualify for an EC Long Term Residence Permit.

Note that the (optional but recommended) permit issued to British citizens who applied for residency in Italy before December 31, 2020 (confusingly named a carta di soggiorno elettronica) is not a permanent stay permit, and will need to be renewed after five years. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are the different documents Italy’s British residents need after Brexit?

Please note that The Local is unable to advise on specific cases. For more information about visa applications, see the Italian Foreign Ministry’s visa website, or contact your embassy or local questura in Italy.

Member comments

  1. I have applied for PdS, have been fingerprinted, so now the wait is on…… However, in discussion with another applicant they mentioned needing some kind of “residence permit”. IS the PdS not a residence permit, what next?

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For members

ITALY EXPLAINED

Reader question: How can I find a good lawyer in Italy?

Finding legal counsel in Italy is often tricky, especially for foreign residents. Here’s some advice on how to track down the right professional.

Reader question: How can I find a good lawyer in Italy?

Question: ‘I need to find a real estate lawyer in my Italian region. Where should I look for recommendations?’

Finding good legal representation in Italy is no walk in the park. Ask any Italian about their past experiences with lawyers and they’ll likely give you enough material to write a book of anecdotes. And looking for a good lawyer in the country as a foreign national can be an ordeal worthy of the best Dario Argento film.

The dearth of information available in English and the poor command of Shakespeare’s language even on the part of many professionals (Italy is the second-worst European country for English proficiency) are just two of the obstacles that can hamper foreign nationals’ hunt for legal counsel.

But if you’re currently searching for a lawyer in Italy, don’t despair (yet). The following resources and advice should aid your lawyer-finding efforts and make your research a more bearable experience overall.

Where to look

Before we get started, it’s essential that you know exactly which type of legal practitioner you need. As with all legal systems in the world, Italian law is divided into different practice areas (immigration law, employment law, real estate, etc.) and it is up to you to identify what legal realm your case falls in. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start looking for the right professional.

There are many avenues one can go down when seeking legal counsel. The most immediate course of action is to consult friends, relatives or business associates. While this option might hold little promise for those of you who have only recently moved to Italy, those who have been living in the country for a while might have a list of trusted contacts they can turn to for help. However, please be aware that each legal case is different and that a lawyer who is right for someone else may not be suited to your needs.

READ ALSO: 13 essential articles you’ll need when moving to Italy

The next best course of action is browsing the web. While a Google search along the lines of ‘best (whatever practice area) lawyer in (whatever Italian region)” might leave you with more questions than answers, turning to online repositories and search engines might help you greatly. 

If you have a basic knowledge of Italian, the best starting point is the Albo Nazionale Avvocati (National Lawyers Register), which holds the names, credentials and contact info of all accredited Italian practitioners and sorts them by region, comune (municipality) and practice area. Unfortunately, the website isn’t yet available in English. 

Woman typing on keyboard

Online databases and search engines are a good starting point for anyone looking for a lawyer. Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

If your Italian is still così così, there are some English-language search engines that might give your research a good boost. Who’s Who Legal is one of the most reputable legal publications in the world and their search tool is one of the best ones out there. Alternatively, you can also check out Best Lawyers’ search engine. Best Lawyers is the oldest peer-reviewed publication in the legal field and their databases include some of the most distinguished practitioners in the world.

You can also consult the British government’s ‘Find a professional service abroad’ tool. However, please note that the lists of practitioners provided by the website are in no way an endorsement by the British government and that the admission criteria for lawyers to be included in the database are not very stringent.

If the above databases do not provide the answers you’re seeking, as a last course of action, you might also ask your home country’s Italian embassy to supply you with a list of English-speaking lawyers working in your area. However, yet again, these lists are not intended as recommendations and the admission criteria are generally rather lax. 

A list of English-speaking practitioners provided by the Italian US Embassy is available here.

How to sift through your options

How do I know they’re the right one? That’s the age-old dilemma that haunts lovers and lawyer-seeking folk alike. With the assistance of Marco Mazzeschi, the founder of Italy’s leading immigration law firm, Mazzeschi Srl, we’ve compiled a list of items that you might want to pay heed to when it comes to picking the best lawyer out of a bunch.

Experience

According to Mazzeschi, experience is one of the most important selection criteria. “In our field, experience matters and, in most cases, it matters a lot,” he says. “Hiring a professional with 30 or more years of experience and hiring one who’s only been working for five years or so are two very, very different things.”

So, the best piece of advice here is to find a seasoned practitioner, ideally with a good deal of experience dealing with foreign clients. The level of experience of a lawyer can usually be found on their professional website or LinkedIn page.

Online publications 

According to Mazzeschi, another key quality marker is the amount of publications one has published or has been cited in. He says: “This is something that clients rarely do but should be done in pretty much any field, not just in the legal world. People should verify whether a specific lawyer has been cited in any legal publication or if they have published anything relevant. If so, it’s also important to see what type of publications they’ve been involved with.”

By running some simple Google searches, clients can ascertain the prestige of the publications one has been featured in. Are they peer-reviewed publications? Are they the top journals/magazines in the legal world? These are the types of questions clients should be looking to find the answer to.

Qualifications, awards and certificates

Qualifications are important but they are not everything. “Qualifications, certificates and membership of specific lawyer associations matter but only to a certain extent,” says Mazzeschi. “They can be a nice add-on but they really shouldn’t be taken as a guarantee that a lawyer is particularly competent or experienced in his area of practice.”

Once again, the best piece of advice here is to go online and verify the reputability of the organisations that awarded the qualifications and certificates in question. Ask yourselves questions like “Are these organisations distinguished in the legal field?” or “What is their national or international relevance?”.

A lawyer’s qualifications and other credentials are usually listed in the ‘About me’ section of their website and/or their LinkedIn page.

Website 

In plenty of occupational fields, a professional website is the most effective tool for practitioners to showcase their competence and experience in their own line of work. Italian lawyers are no exception.

When scoping out lawyers’ personal websites, pay attention to the overall layout and design of the sites and test their navigability. Approximative websites with hard-to-find information are not a very good marker.

According to Mazzeschi, “It’s very important that a lawyer’s website looks up to date and there’s a dedicated section including recent news stories or updates”. “A regularly updated website is a very relevant quality marker,” he adds.

Reaction times 

In closing, reactivity is paramount in the legal world. Practitioners are expected to reply to emails and any other type of message in relatively short times. So, pay attention to the reaction times of any lawyer you might be communicating with.

“Being prompt in responding to clients and seeing to their requests is a must for any lawyer,” says Mazzeschi. “For instance, if you, as a client, send in a request for information and the professional in question takes a couple of days to get back to you, that’s really not a good sign.”

READ ALSO: The five most essential pieces of paperwork you’ll need when moving to Italy

Lawyer speaking on phone

Quick reaction times when communicating with clients is an important quality marker in the legal world. Photo by Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

I think I’ve found the right profile. What next?

Once you’ve identified the right person for the job, contact them as soon as possible to arrange an initial consultation. Note that, while some practitioners offer free consultation appointments, others may charge a fee which is usually between 100 and 300 euros.

Regardless of whether they are free or paid-for, consultations are an essential part of the selection process as they’re a golden opportunity for clients to gauge the legal expertise and professionality of their prospective lawyer as well as their command of English. 

According to Mazzeschi, it is essential that clients do some prep work ahead of any consultation and put together a list of questions that they will ask the relevant practitioner during the appointment. Such questions should revolve around the lawyer’s success rate (i.e. their track record in cases akin to yours), their availability (how soon can they start the job?) and their estimated delivery time, that is how long they expect it will take to complete the task at hand. At least one of your questions should also cover pricing. 

There are three different ways in which Italian lawyers can charge their clients: a flat (or fixed) fee, an hourly fee or a contingency fee, i.e. a percentage of the financial compensation resulting from a court arbitration or settlement.

The fee structure depends on the lawyer’s practice area and the tasks they’re entrusted with by their clients. At any rate, you should ensure that your professional of choice is very clear about pricing and billing starting from the first consultation appointment. 

Once you’ve had your consultation, if you’re satisfied with what you’ve seen and the answers you’ve been given, you can proceed to the signing of a contract (mandato). 

Please be aware that, in Italian law (article 1703 of the Civil Code), the contractual agreement between a client and their legal counsel can be made orally unless the given assignments require the signing of a written document (for instance, for the sale or purchase of real estate and court proceedings).

According to Mazzeschi though, while oral contracts are allowed in Italy under the ‘principio di libertà della forma’ (right to freedom of form of contract), clients are advised to ask for a written agreement.

That’s because “a written contract clears any potential doubt about the nature of the agreement between the parties and prevents any future misunderstanding between client and provider”.

Man signing a contract

Once you’ve found the right lawyer, ask to sign a written contract. This will save you from potential misunderstandings further down the stretch. Photo by Joe RAEDLE / AFP

Useful vocabulary

By hiring an Italian lawyer and immersing yourself in the country’s legal system, you’re bound to come across a number of technical terms that, depending on your Italian proficiency level, might give you more or less of a headache. 

To help you out, here’s a fairly in-depth glossary of Italian legal terms together with their English translation. The list of Italian terms is not in alphabetical order but a simple on-page search (command + F on Mac) will take you to the word you’re looking for. 

Please note The Local cannot advise on specific cases.

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