Posted by: debrakolkka | January 31, 2010

Getting a visa for a long stay in Italy, and a Permesso di Soggiorno

Australians are allowed to stay in Italy ( and other countries that are part of the Schengen agreement) for up to 90 days without having to apply for a visa. It is possible to stay in the Schengen countries for 90 days in 180.  Check with your travel agent, or even better The Department of Foreign Affairs, before you travel.

If you plan to stay in Italy for more than 90 days you will need a visa.  There is a Consulate in Brisbane, which is where I went.  Here are some suggestions to perhaps make this excercise not too traumatic.  Please note that this not official advice – just my experience.

1.  Obtain an application form from the Italian Consulate.  The form can be downloaded on the internet at no cost.

2.  You will need originals and photocopies of  –

A.   Return ticket

B.  An address you will be staying at – in our case we had to produce proof of ownership of our house. You will need a letter from your Italian landlord.

C.   Financial statements – to prove you can support yourself.

D.  Travel Insurance for one year.

E.  2 passport size photos of yourself

F.  $167.20

Take your passport with you.

If you do not have originals and photocopies of everything you will be sent away to get them.  Don’t expect pleasant or helpful service.  Good luck.

PS – August 2010

I have just returned to the Italian Consulate office to obtain another visa.  I followed my own advice and had everything I needed gathered together.  I was at the counter for a matter of minutes, my request was handled promptly and cheerfully and I should receive my new visa in a few days – excellent!


You will need to make an appointment by email for the consulate. You may have to book quite a long way in advance. Do not leave it until just before you travel. You will need to try to book a couple of months in advance.


Permesso di Soggiorno

Once again, this is not official advice, just my experience.

It is possible to obtain a kit from the Post Office (not some of the smaller ones) and fill out the forms yourself. That can be tricky so I go to an office in Lucca where they download and fill out the forms for me. These offices are all over Italy. Italians go to them for help with pensions and official business. Ask a local to direct you to one in your town. If you are lucky you will get delightful, helpful people like the young women who look after me. There is no charge for this service but I usually take chocolates.

Once the form is filled out it will be put in an envelope in which you will also put…

A photocopy of every page of your passport, including the cover.

Proof of your address in Italy.

Proof that you can support yourself.

A copy of your airline ticket.

A copy of your insurance.

If you are renewing your Permesso you will also put in a copy of your last Permesso.

They will also need to give you a pay slip with the amount you have to pay for the Post Office. Apparently nobody at the Post Office knows the charges.

Once this is done go to a Tabacchi and buy a Marco di Bollo for a Permesso di Soggiorno. It is currently €16,  but this may change.

Then go to the post office and go to the desk that looks after Permesso di Soggiorno. If you are lucky you will get a helpful person, but don’t count on that. He/she will check your paper work, get you to sign a few things, process your paperwork, stick the Bollo on the front and put your informataion back in the envelope.

You will then pay the fee for the Permesso and the Post Office charge and you will be given receipt for everything and a letter with the date of your appointement at the Questura. Do not lose this or you will be stuck.

On the nominated date go to the Questura with your receipt and originals of whatever  was in the envelope along with 4 passport size photos. You will be given an appointment time. In my experience this means nothing. Go early and wait in line with all the others and hope it takes less than 4 hours.

Good luck.

PS…26th April 2017

I have received my renewed Permesso. My husband has been through the process for the first time this year. He got to the Questura part of the procedure only to be told he needed to attend something (we were not sure what) at a place in Viareggio on 26th April, today.

We arrived at the allotted time, 2.00pm and waited. At 2.15 and important looking gentleman with a puffed up chest inside a bright pink shirt told us all would begin in 10 minutes. I heard him tell someone it would finish at 5.00.

Eventually my husband and a group of others were ushered in and I wandered off. I returned at 5.00pm. Signore pink shirt told me my husband would be out at 7.00pm. I expressed my surprise, so he said he would be out at 6.00. I said, “What is it, 5.00, 6.00 or 7.00?” He finally admitted that it would be 7.00. I asked why he had not told me that in the first place, 3 hours ago. He had no answer, only that my husband had to listen to an audio program.

Jim finally appeared at 7.00pm after almost 5 hours of absolute drivel. Nothing was relevant to our elective residency, but all about children’s services and other things that don’t involve us in any way. To say that we were furious would be an extreme understatement. Why were we not told what was to happen? Turn up at 2.00pm the letter said with no explanation what was going to happen and how long it would take. I think this is unacceptable.

Sometimes (this was one of those times), not often, but sometimes I hate Italy and everyone in it. Luckily I did not have to sit through almost 5 hours of useless information or I would have wanted to punch someone, preferably the miserable skunk in the pink shirt.

Be warned!

My husband also had to show proof of a bank account with at least $70,000 in it.


  1. Worthwhile information to have, we would love to spend an extended period of time in Italy and have even thought of purchasing property in a couple of years. Is it difficult for Australians to buy real estate in Italy?

    • There are no restrictions for Australians to buy in Italy.(As far as I know) We had no trouble buying in Italy at all and we have now done it 3 times.

      • That is good to know, it is only a pipe dream at this point in time because we speak no Italian and would need to be able to make a living if we decided to live there for an extended period of time.

      • A working visa would no doubt be a different thing altogether.

  2. […] Australian friend who lives in Bagni di Lucca, Italy. She explains it perfectly in her post titled: Getting a visa for a long stay in Italy. This link is directed to Australian citizens, please check with the Italian Embassy or Consulate […]

    • Hi, I am a resident of USA, but have been going back and forth for the allowed 3 months. I want to live there. I have Italian heritage, but the embassy always wants more info. I thought I brought everything, but their last request ws for my great grandfather’s citizenship here ( the man of the family came to america to work, but always went back home for visits, then retirement and death). I have not had a good experience with the Embassy. Do you have it printed somewhere that I missed, or can you give me info on the extended stay? I met an American woman who lives in Rome and has for 10 years. I asked her how she attained citizenship…..she said she didn’t…..she just stays and even comes back to America for visits. I am thinking of doing this, but I don’t look good in orange. I just want to stay there without any hassles… that possible. I see you stayed in Bagni di Lucca…I stayed in Fornoli!

      • Hi Caroline, I can’t find a list of what you need anywhere. Things may be different in USA from Australia. I get a Permesso di Soggiorno as an elective resident. This doesn’t allow me to work or access health care. It is possible to stay 90 days in 180 within the Schengen group of countries without a visa. I know that people do stay longer without the proper paperwork, but I don’t recommend this at all.
        We have an apartment in Ponte a Serraglio, which we bought 13 years ago and a house in Vergemoli in the Garfagna. I spend 6 months every year in Italy and the rest in Australia.

  3. ciao, thanks for a very useful blog article! i’m wondering if you know how many times you can apply for this visa? I’ve personally been in italy with a permesso di studio for 2 years and now i’d like to apply for this long stay visa for the next year or hopefully 2. Do you think there are limits to how many times or visa types one can apply for or as long as we have money in the bank it should be approved?
    Any comments would be helpful 🙂 Thanks e buona giornata

    • I have had 4 Permessos and am about to apply for another. My Permesso is an elective resident one, which is different from yours. Just try applying for another and see how you go. It is very difficult to find reliable information anywhere.

  4. I asked some information about a long stay for motivi di turismo and the consulate told me that it’s not a valid motivo for a long stay visa.
    Do you mind telling me more about your elective resident visa? Can anyone apply for this? Or do you have some Italian heritage for example?
    Any help most appreciated. Thank you so much, Amy

    • You don’t need Italian heritage. Several of my friends have received a visa for an extended holiday. Where are you applying?

      • I contacted the Sydney consulate as I will apply from there. I noticed the only thing particular for the rules of an elective resident is that you need money in the bank but also a continuous supply like a pension or rent from property etc.
        I don’t have this, just plenty of savings 🙁 do you know anything about this? I have tried re contacting the consulate but no luck. I will have to wait til next month when I’m in Sydney I guess.
        Otherwise it might be worth the flight to Brisbane 🙂

  5. I an an Australian citizen, retired, and thinking of purchasing a property, in Italy, ideally I would like to live in it 8-9 months per year. I do not qualify for an EU passport. Would I qualify for an Elective residence visa, I have been unable to find any details regarding conditions for obtaining this particular visa. Would I have to prove a minimum level of income if applying to live in Italy on the above basis and if so what level of income would be required ? I am aware that some countries ie Portugal, Spain issue residence visas but they are dependent upon purchasing a property worth a minimum of 500k €, does the same apply in Italy and if so what is the required value. I am currently abroad and have emailed the Italian consul/ embassy regarding these issues but neither has replied so I thought I would see if you could answer any of the above. Any information you can provide would be appreciated. ADAM

    • To get a Visa you need to follow the steps I have listed. You will need to prove that you can support yourself and have health/ travel insurance. If you have a property you will need proof that you own it.
      I am not aware that Italy offers the deal that Spain is offering. Owning a property does not give you any special rights in Italy.
      Be careful about staying more than 6 months a year in Italy. Australia and Italy have a reciprocal tax agreement. You should nominate Auatralia as your principal place of residence for tax. If you stay too long in Italy this could be challenged and you could be taxed in Italy, something you really don’t want.
      It is very difficult to get information from the Italian consulate, but you should persist. Make an appointment and go to speak to them face to face.
      You should be able to get a visa for a long stay, then you need to go to your nearest Questura within 8 days of arriving in Italy to apply for a Permesso di Soggiorno…another difficult process.
      Good luck…it can be done.

      • Hi Mary Louise,
        Interesting to read yr advice re the ability of a Spouse with Australian passport to remain in Italy.
        My wife has a British passport, I have an Australian Passport.
        In the past we applied for and obtained a Visa from the Italian Embassy in Brisbane. That was the easy part!!
        We then had to go through the whole process again in Italy, advise the Police within 8 days of arrival, then lodge our completed application at the Post Office, after that we received advice to attend the Questura Office, more paperwork and fees, then to the Police Station to have our fingerprints taken, back to the Questura.
        Then wait for the Permissso de Sorgorino ( sorry spelling not right)

        As my wife now has her British Passport we would like to pursue the option of me being able to travel accompanying her.
        My question is can we do this.
        Do I still need to obtain a Visa before leaving Australia for Italy?
        Do i need to apply for a Visa -resident card upon arrival in Italy?
        We would like to stay 12 to 18 months.

        Really appreciate any advice you may be able to offer.


      • Mary Louise may not see this comment so you may need to go to her blog…
        Have you tried speaking to the Italian Embassy?
        I renew my permesso every year and I don’t need to get the visa here. I go to an office in Lucca where they download and fill in the form for me and then I head off to the post office to submit it (after buying stamps at a Tabacchi). I then attend the Questur and if all goes well I get my permesso in a few weeks. It does get easier. Call me at 3846 2036 if you want to talk about it.

      • Hi, thanks for the feedback and information/your experience.

        I think from a little more research we have done it may be easier for us this time as my wife will go on her british passport, this makes it make less complex -onerous for me as the spouse of British Citizen.

        Other option is French Visa as we will be spending some time there as well. Same thing, much easier and cheaper being spouse of British Subject.

        The greatest problem we had obtaining our Visa in Italy last time was the Post Office Staff would not accept our application, took our Italian friend in to the Post Office the second time and they still would not accept for some time later after much shouting and arguing. Very strange, even our local professional friend was stunned and embarrassed. The Police and Questura staff could not have been nicer.

        All part of the experience that you look back on and laugh:)


  6. Hi Debra, I found this and am investigating more.

    This agrees with other information I have seen or other forums about marriage to an EU citizen.


  7. This forum has some info,

    but I also have made enquiries with the Consulate in Adelaide. A British Citizen and spouse can enter freely and work in Italy. It does not matter that the British citizen does not reside in UK (in my hubby’s case, resident in Australia over 40 years now).

    • That’s great. I knew that a British citizen was OK, but was not aware that the spouse was covered. I have had different advice, but that happens. I find it difficult to get any advice from my local consulate. That will make it much easier for you.

      • I am taking it all with a grain of salt…keeping expectations low!

  8. I am going to Italy for five months and will be staying with my daughter and son in law. My accommodation will be provided and I have top travel insurance.Does anyone know how money I am expected to have?

  9. Hi this is great. You mentioned you received a renewed Permesso. We currently have a visa for 12 months. We would like to extend our visa for another 12months, and renew our Permesso di Soggiorno do you know if this is a possibility? We are Australian residents with no Italian heritage.

  10. Fascinating post and comments. We have owned a house in Abruzzo for 3 years, but never stayed longer than 90 days each year. This year we are planning to stay 5 months. We have been advised by the Italian consulate in Melbourne that we do not need to get a long stay elective (self funded retirees), just to apply for our Permesso when we arrive.

    • I just read the message from Maggie Gardiner about her owning a house in Abruzzo for three years and never staying for longer than 90 days which I gather means that she is a non-resident. We have just come back from Umbria where we made an offer on a little apartment in the centro storico of a little non-touristy town, had the offer accepted, filled out all the paperwork, went to the notaio, only for him to inform us, in his rather rude manner, that Australian non-residents are not allowed to purchase property in Italy! Well, of course I burst into tears, he left saying he had another appointment to go to, my real estate agents were left in dismay, and no further answers! I have been back in Oz a week trying to research the situation and have not heard any further news from Italy. I am just so anxious and worried that they will sell my darling little appartamento to someone else and never get back to me to tell me. Any help or advice please!?!

      • We have bought 3 properties in Italy over the last several years. I know am Australian who bought earlier this year. I don’t believe your notaio knows what he is talking about unless the law has changed in the last couple of months, which I seriously doubt. Speak to the Italian Embassy in Canberra and the Dept of foreign affairs.
        I am an Australian citizen and get a Permesso di Soggiorno each year.

  11. Thank you so much for your reply. Yes, it seems that all other Aussies have no problems at all, I just stuck with a very unhelpful notaio. I am still waiting on my real estate agents to get back to me with any news. I feel so helpless being back in Australia because I know that Italians are at their best face-to-face. Thanks again for your response. Love your blog!

  12. Hello Debra, just got a response from my real estate agent to tell me that yes, all the notai that they have spoken to say the same thing that Australian non-residents are not allowed to purchase property. You mentioned some other Australians who purchased recently. Would you possibly be able to put me in contact with them so I can get some answers from Aussies who have recently gone through what I am trying to achieve. I will be heart-broken if I am unable to buy as I have been dreaming of having a little place in Italy for years and can’t quite believe it could be all over. Thanks again.

    • I followed the purchase of the recent apartment so I know that it all happened exactly the same as our purchases. Try the Italian Embassy.

  13. […] Australian friend who lives in Bagni di Lucca, Italy. She explains it perfectly in her post titled: Getting a visa for a long stay in Italy. This link is directed to Australian citizens, please check with the Italian Embassy or Consulate […]

  14. Besides showing your husband had 70k in the bank did he also have to show an income?

    • We do have an income, but our tax returns were not required, just this amount of money in the bank.
      When I first applied years ago I just had to show how I could support myself.

  15. I have an Australian passport and I have visited Italy a few times in the last 10 yrs, but I have in the past entered on my EU-British passport.The EU passport will expire during my upcoming trip and since it is now useless I will probably not use it or renew. I am only visiting for 6 weeks this time in September /Oct, but some time in the next 5yrs or so, when I retire, I would like to to stay for 6-9 months, based in Italy and travelling around Europe.
    I do not want to work or own property or move there permanently.
    Can you advise what kind of visa I should apply for ? From my understanding of the information you have provided above, it seems that I would have to purchase a return ticket BEFORE applying for the visa, so what happens if I am not granted a visa and I have a ticket for a return 9 months after departure?
    Grateful for any advice you can give.Thanks

    • You need to talk to your local Italian consulate to get your visa. The rules change all the time. The rule about the ticket is ridiculous and I have no answer for you there. Ask for a visa for 1 year. Some friends asked for a 6 month visa and were turned away without being told they should have asked for 1 year.
      Once you have your visa you need to apply for an elective residence Permesso di Soggiorno once you get to Italy. The process is tiresome, but with patience and perseverance it can happen.
      Good luck!

Leave a Reply