Residency permits For Members

How Italy's residency permit renewal process has become a 'nightmare'

Jessica Lionnel
Jessica Lionnel - [email protected]
How Italy's residency permit renewal process has become a 'nightmare'
Photo by CJ Toscano on Unsplash

Long waiting times, administrative errors, and double payments are all problems The Local’s readers have encountered when renewing residency permits recently, as the process appears to be getting more difficult.


For most foreigners living in Italy, a residency permit or permesso di soggiorno is a must to stay in the country legally. However, obtaining one isn’t as easy as you might hope.

Earlier this month, we reported how increasingly long waits for residency permit renewals had scuppered people's travel plans - and the process itself is also proving to be a major source of stress for many applicants.

For Mike, a resident in Puglia by way of the USA, not one but two trips to Greece had to be cancelled due to not receiving his and his partner’s permits in time. Once they were received, they had to be renewed just a month later.

Mike and his partner applied were this month given an appointment for the interview for renewal in January - 2025, not 2024.

This means they'll be without valid residency permits for at least 17 months, between the expiration of their last permits and the interview for the renewal. "Then we will wait longer to actually receive the permits," Mike notes.

"It’s hard to believe,” says Mike, who was told by an immigration official at the questura (police headquarters where applications are processed) that he cannot travel abroad without his permesso during that time.

READ ALSO: Can you travel abroad while waiting for an Italian residency permit renewal?

Mike isn’t alone in his disbelief. Emam Hossain Kabul, a 21-year-old bartender who has lived in Italy for the past three years, says he is infuriated with the renewal process.

“To put it bluntly, the situation surrounding my renewal process has left me deeply frustrated,” Emam says. “I initiated the renewal procedure three months before the expiration date, assuming there might be delays. However, the reality surpassed my expectations.

“The post office couldn't provide me with an appointment date initially. When I finally received an SMS, it was to schedule an appointment in July 2024, nearly 11 months later. 


The unexpected delay left him "speechless”, he says. “This situation feels like an endless cycle of delays and uncertainties, hindering my plans for the upcoming year.

“I'm at a loss for what steps to take next. The prospect of being stuck in this country for an entire year due to bureaucratic delays is beyond frustrating.”

Italian residents travelling home for the holidays are often concerned that they could face difficulties at the Italian border on their return if their residency permit has expired. (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Mike also detailed a lengthy bureaucratic procedure for both the initial permit application and the renewal.

After being unable to get an update on the status of their application, despite three trips to the questura, he and his partner were advised by an official that they could submit a request via certified email (also known as PEC).

“I only found this out because I met a woman [at the questura] who seemed to be a manager and explained our concern," Mike says. "She told me to send a certified email explaining our need for the permit in order to travel."

READ ALSO: 'I feel trapped': How long waits for residency permits are affecting people in Italy

“She gave me the email address for the request. She also said that under a new law, the questura had to respond within 30 days.”

“I had to get a scanner in order to establish a PEC account with Aruba using my carta d’identità. Then I drafted a letter and sent it off. More than a month later, we received a response saying that our permit was available at the questura.


The Polizia di stato (state police) website says international residents waiting for their renewals can leave and enter Italy if they have their receipt of application, their expired permit, and a valid travel document such as a passport.

The police guidance makes no mention of not being allowed to travel through the Schengen zone while awaiting a renewal, yet some people are being told they must not leave Italy.

Alicia Wong, a university researcher based in Perugia, also says being left without her permit is like "going through continued travel restrictions after the pandemic."

She’s currently waiting for her new permit, which she applied for in January of this year. Its expiry date is February 2024. Alongside the delays, Alicia also paid twice for her application.

She says: “Make sure the post office doesn't make mistakes with your renewal application. I have an employment contract with the university, but the post office staff indicated it was for studies and sent me to the wrong questura that cannot process permits for employment.

“I re-applied for renewal immediately when I realised that something was not right, so I paid the fees twice. It is ridiculous that one is without the permit card for almost the whole year.”

Whilst there is no right or wrong way to cope with frustrations surrounding the process, Spello resident Ian Nettle, from Australia, says he and his wife have found a positive attitude goes a long way.


His current permesso expires in March 2024, and his appointment is in February 2025, leaving him with a receipt for at least a year.

Ian says: “Rather than stress we believe our receipts show that we are in the system and therefore means all will be well"

"As we all know, world events have clearly led to the Italian immigration system being under much pressure. Also, our local questura used to have two or three staff, now when we attend there is only one official.

READ ALSO: How the rules on renewing Italian residency permits have changed

“When attending the questura we always have a big smile and a genuinely positive attitude. In the end, it is all about treating people with genuine respect. Yes, we have encountered surly officials but my wife in particular has a great ability to turn things around for the better.

"We just think how wonderful it is that two people from Australia are allowed to live in Italy.”

As of yet, no official explanation has been given for the increasingly long waiting times for residency permit renewals. The Local has contacted Italy's interior and foreign ministries for comment.

Please note that The Local is unable to advise on individual cases. For more information on how the Italian immigration rules apply in your situation, consult your local questura or your country's consulate in Italy. See further details on the Italian State Police website.



Comments (6)

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Mark 2024/03/21 20:10
Picked up new 5 year PdS yesterday. 14.5 months after submitting renewal paperwork. On my second year of 5 years, but better than a number of 1 year PdS’s in line in front of me who were horrified to see the card they were just picking up was already expired and being told to apply again at the post. Made 3 trips back to USA without a problem.
Jody 2023/12/23 18:38
It is my understanding that if you have applied for your next permesso and have the post office paper to prove that, you are fine--the ball is in the Questura's court and you are legal until they have either approved you or denied you -- whenever that is. I have traveled in and out of Italy on just the post office slip. An immigration lawyer can confirm my understanding, I think
  • Clare Speak 2023/12/30 15:37
    This is true in some cases, but for others the rules aren't clear or straightforward unfortunately. We wrote a bit more about that here:
Alicia 2023/12/21 11:16
Petition launched by international students in Venice on the very same issue:
  • Clare Speak 2023/12/30 15:35
    Thanks very much for letting us know about this.
Mary Austern 2023/12/19 08:08
I'm just entering the renewal process and am curious as to how many of the persons having difficulties were without attorneys specializing in immigration during their renewal efforts? I too am starting a few months ahead of the expiration of my permesso, but am seeing it seems not to matter. Still, hoping for things to go reasonably well.
Stewart 2023/12/19 04:23
Good luck getting the Questura in Perugia to respond to PEC e-mails. They don't.
William 2023/12/18 19:11
Has anyone had success using an immigration attorney to help reschedule an earlier date at the questura? Also, if one is not allowed to travel to other Schegan countries with just the receipt, where is the point of refusal? Is it in entering the other countries or in returning to Italy? It is indeed infuriating to wait 11.5 months for an appointment at the questura, only to have one’s Permesso already be expired when it is available for pick up.

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