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Postby Italy Info » Thu Oct 26, 2006 6:26 am



European Union (EU) nationals don’t require a visa for stays of up to 90 days.

Citizens of the following countries don’t require a visa for stays of between 30 and 90 days depending on the country (check with your local Italian embassy or consulate):

Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, (South) Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Samoa, San Christopher and Nevis, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, USA and Venezuela.

All other nationalities require a visa to visit Italy for any period.

Citizens of many EU countries can visit Italy with a national identity card, while all others require a full passport. However, while identity cards are accepted at all points of entry to Italy, the Italian authorities may not accept them when applying for a permit to stay. If you’re an EU national and wish to remain in Italy for longer than 90 days, it’s therefore highly recommended to enter with a full passport.

Since 1st August 1998, Italy, along with a number of other EU member states, has issued a new kind of visa for visitors called the ‘Schengen visa’. This allows the holder to move freely between Schengen countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain). To obtain a Schengen visa, you must hold a passport or travel document recognised by all the Schengen member states and valid for at least three months beyond the validity of the visa. You can apply for a Schengen visa, which is valid for 90 days within a six-month period, from the consulate of the country that’s your main destination or the one you intend to visit first.

A Schengen visa isn’t the appropriate visa if you wish to remain in a member state, including Italy, for longer than 90 days, study, take up employment or establish a trade or profession. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, you must obtain an extension of your visa from the local police headquarters, although this isn’t a right and cannot be taken for granted (you need a good reason and proof of financial resources) and must obtain a permit to stay. However, if your passport hasn’t been stamped (which is likely, particularly for EU nationals), the authorities have no way of knowing when you entered the country, so the system is ‘flexible’.

The Italian immigration authorities may require non-EU visitors to produce a return ticket and proof of accommodation, health insurance and financial resources.

When you stay with friends in Italy (rather than, for example, at a hotel or campsite) for longer than three days, you’re officially required to register with the local police, although in practice few short-stay visitors comply with this. Failure to register is punishable by a fine of up to around €220.

EU nationals who visit Italy to seek employment or start a business have 90 days in which to find a job or apply for permit to stay, although if you haven’t found employment or have insufficient funds, your application will be refused. If you’re a non-EU national, it isn’t possible to enter Italy as a tourist and change your status to that of an employee, student or resident, and you must return to your country of residence and apply for the appropriate visa.


EU nationals don’t require visas for visits to Italy but require a permit to stay if they plan to remain longer than 90 days.

Non-EU nationals need a ‘residence visa’ (visto per ragioni di dimora) to enter Italy with a view to staying more than 90 days and may need one for a visit of a shorter duration. Applications should be made at an Italian consulate abroad well in advance of your planned departure date. Visas may be valid for a single entry only or for multiple entries within a limited period. A visa is in the form of an adhesive sticker (not a stamp) inserted in your passport, which must be valid until at least three months after the visa expires.

Visas are issued for many reasons, each of which has its own abbreviation (sigla). These include tourism (A), business (B), religion (C), diplomatic service (D), domicile (DM), joining family (F), dependent work (L-1), self-employment (L-2), artistic work (L-3), medical care (M), mission (MS), study (S), sporting activity (SP), re-entry (R), transit (T), airport transit (TA) and visiting family (V).

The type of visa issued depends on the purpose of your visit and the length of your stay, and determines the type of permit to stay that’s issued after you arrive in Italy. If you plan to stay in Italy for longer than six months, you must ensure that you obtain a visa that’s valid for at least a year; otherwise you will be able to obtain a permit to stay for only six months and won’t be able to renew it.

Some of the documentation you may need to apply for a visa, mainly concerning permission to work, must be obtained in Italy. Although your prospective employer normally handles this on your behalf, your presence in Italy can help to speed up the process.

If you plan to start a business or work freelance, you must also register at the local tax office (intendenza di finanza) and chamber of commerce (camera di commercio) or professional registrar (albo dei professionisti), and present the documents from these agencies together with your visa application. This can be a costly and time-consuming process, as once the documentation is obtained you must return to your country of residence to apply for the visa. Nevertheless, it may be worthwhile.

Another reason you may decide to visit Italy to obtain documents in connection with a visa application is simply to obtain proof that you’ve been in Italy. This evidence may be important, as the Italian government is continually changing the immigration laws. For example, a law passed by the Italian government in October 1998 included a remedy clause (sanatoria) stating that all non-EU citizens who could prove their presence in Italy before 27th March 1998 could apply for a permit to stay without having to obtain a visa from their country of residence. This wasn’t the first time a new immigration law included this kind of clause, nor will it be the last.

Having obtained the necessary paperwork, an application for a visa must be made to your local Italian consulate with jurisdiction over your place of residence. It may be possible to make an application by post, but in other cases you’re required to attend in person. If you decide to apply in person (or have no choice), bear in mind that there are invariably long queues at consulates in major cities (take a thick book). The documentation required for a visa application depends on the purpose of your visit to Italy. All applicants require:

* a passport valid for at least three months beyond the validity of the requested visa with a blank page to affix the visa sticker;

* a number of black and white, passport-size photographs on a white background.

Depending on the urpose of your visit, you may require some of the following (note that some consulates may require both originals and photocopies):

* Proof of residence in the country from which you’re applying;

* Proof or travel arrangements showing your name and exact dates of entry into and exit from Italy (if applicable);

* Proof of financial resources (see below);

* A health insurance certificate if you aren’t eligible for health treatment under Italian social security or through your employer;

* Employees require an authorisation to work in Italy issued by the Italian Department of Labour (see below);

* Students require proof of admission from an approved educational establishment (see below);

* A non-EU national married to an Italian citizen or to a foreigner who’s resident in Italy, requires a marriage certificate;

* Applicants under 18 need written authorisation from a parent or guardian.

Many of the above documents must be translated into Italian. All translations must be done by a translator approved by your local consulate, a list of whom (elenco di traduttori) is provided by Italian consulates on request.

Many documents need tax stamps (marche da bollo) affixed to them, and in many cases requests for official documents must be made on special lined paper (carta da bollo), to which a tax stamp must be attached. The standard stamp (bollo) for administrative documents (atti civili) costs €10.33 and can be purchased from a tobacconist (tabacchi).

Proof Of Financial Resources: Proof of financial resources or financial support may take the form of bank statements, letters from banks confirming arrangements for the regular transfer of funds from abroad, or letters from family or friends guaranteeing regular support. Letters should be notarised. Students may submit a letter from an organisation or institution guaranteeing accommodation or evidence of a scholarship or grant. Retired people should take their pension book or copies of recent pension cheques. Proof of financial resources isn’t required by someone coming to Italy to take up paid employment.

Authorisation To Work: A non-EU national wishing to work in Italy requires an authorisation to work issued by the local Department of Labour office (Ispettorato Provinciale del Lavoro) where the business is registered. This must in turn be authorised by the local police headquarters who stamp it nulla osta (literally ‘nothing hinders’) on the back. This document must be obtained by your prospective employer in Italy and be sent to you in your country of residence for presentation at an Italian consulate with your other documents. Be warned, however, that for non-EU nationals, obtaining authorisation to work is a highly bureaucratic and time-consuming process. It can take a year or more, and unless you’re employed by an Italian company in your own country or are living in Italy already, it’s rare to find an employer in Italy who’s willing to go to the trouble involved.

Proof Of Admission: Students require proof of admission from an approved school or university in Italy indicating when their studies start and end. The letter must either have the seal of the school or be notarised. If your studies are sponsored by an educational institution in your home country (or country of residence), you should also have a letter from the institution concerned confirming this. This must also contain the seal of the school or be notarised.

There’s a fee for a visa, which can vary considerably. It can take up to a month to obtain a routine visa or up to 90 days in ‘difficult’ cases. A visa is usually valid for a first entry within 60 days.

If you require a visa to enter Italy and attempt to enter without one, you will be refused entry. If you’re in doubt as to whether you require a visa to enter Italy, enquire at an Italian consulate abroad before making travel plans.

If you required a visa to enter Italy and have entered the country and obtained a permit to stay, you may still require a re-entry visa to return to Italy after a trip abroad. This must be obtained from your local police headquarters before leaving Italy.
Italy Info
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