Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 20:36 GMT

Italy: Italian residence permits, including the carta di soggiorno (permanent residence card); rights and obligations of holders; whether the holders have access to Italian citizenship

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 23 April 2012
Citation / Document Symbol ITA104045.E
Related Document(s) Italie : information sur les permis italiens de résidence, dont la carte de résidence permanente (carta di soggiorno); les droits et les obligations des titulaires; information indiquant si les titulaires ont accès à la citoyenneté italienne
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Italy: Italian residence permits, including the carta di soggiorno (permanent residence card); rights and obligations of holders; whether the holders have access to Italian citizenship, 23 April 2012, ITA104045.E, available at: [accessed 18 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

1. Temporary Residence Permits

Italian government sources indicate that all non-European Union (EU) nationals who plan to stay in Italy for a period of more than three months must apply for a residence or sojourn permit (permesso di soggiorno) within eight days of their entry into Italy (Italy 12 June 2008; ibid. 18 Nov. 2011). Holders of residence permits are entitled to the same benefits as nationals, including "access to schooling, medical and social assistance," for as long as the permit is valid (Canada 9 Mar. 2012). Residence permits allow individuals, unless specific limitations are imposed, to travel to several European countries without restraint for a period not to exceed 90 days in any 6-month period (Italy 18 Nov. 2011).

1.1 Description and Type of Temporary Permits

According to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, residence permits are issued by the police (questura) (Italy 18 Nov. 2011). The website of the Italian state police describes a resident permit as

a magnetic card similar to a credit card which contains a microchip and a machine-readable magnetic stripe in which the card holder's personal details, photograph and fingerprints are stored in digital format. (ibid. 29 Mar. 2010a)

The following types of residence permits have been identified by Canadian and Italian government sources:

  • Seasonal work (Canada 9 Mar. 2012; Italy n.d.a);
  • Self-employment (ibid.; Canada 9 Mar. 2012);
  • Study (ibid.; Italy n.d.a);
  • Work (ibid.), sponsored by an employer (Canada 9 Mar. 2012);
  • Family reunification (ibid.; Italy n.d.a);
  • Medical treatment (ibid. n.d.b; Canada 9 Mar. 2012);
  • Refugee status (ibid.; Italy n.d.a; ibid. n.d.b);
  • Humanitarian protection (ibid.; Canada 9 Mar. 2012); and
  • Elective residence (ibid.; Italy n.d.a).

1.2 Obtaining a Residence Permit

According to the website of the Italian state police, in order to obtain a residence permit, a non-EU national must provide the following documents:

  • A completed application form;
  • The original plus a copy of his or her valid passport or an equivalent travel document "bearing an entry visa, if required;"
  • Four passport-size photographs; and
  • An electronic revenue stamp in the amount of 14.62 euros [C$19 (XE 20 Mar. 2012)] (Italy 12 June 2008).

The applicant may also be required to provide additional information or documents as evidence in support of the specific permit application (ibid.).

According to the website, applications for some type of permits, such as refugee status, medical treatment and humanitarian reasons (Italy n.d.b), must be submitted to the "central police station set up in every Italian province" (ibid. 29 Mar. 2010a). However, some other types of residence permits, such as renewal of refugee status, employment, family reunification and study (ibid. n.d.a), can be applied for at the following locations:

  • Applicable municipalities (comuni) that process residence applications;
  • "'Patronati'" offices, which provide advice and social assistance to workers;
  • Immigration Desk (Sportello Unico per l'Immigrazione) at the Prefecture (Prefettura) in every Italian province; and
  • Post office [uffici postali], from where applicants can pick up a resident permit kit with the application form (ibid. 29 Mar. 2010a).

2. Permanent Residence Permit

In addition to the various types of temporary residence permits, Italian government sources identified the European Commission (EC) residence permit for long-term residents (Italy n.d.a; ibid. n.d.b), which was formerly known as the carta di soggiorno (permanent residence card) (ibid. n.d.a; ibid. 29 Mar. 2010b). Like the carta di soggiorno it replaced, the EC residence permit is a permanent residence permit (ibid.). It entitles those who have one to government social welfare, health care and employment benefits (ibid.).

2.1 Carta di Soggiorno

The website of the Italian state police indicates that the EC long-term residence permit has replaced the carta di soggiorno since 8 January 2007 (Italy 29 Mar. 2010b). However, an official with the Embassy of Canada to Italy stated in correspondence with the Research Directorate that both the carta di soggiorno and the EC residence permit are in circulation (Canada 28 Mar. 2012). The official further noted that

[a]ll Carte di Soggiorno that have been issued prior to the implementation of the EC long-term residence permit are valid and will not be replaced by the newer EC permit. Also, not every Questura (police precinct) issues the EC permits. Some still issue the old-type Carta di Soggiorno. (ibid.)

The official explained that although the carta di soggiorno "confers permanent residence to its holders," a permanent resident who is absent from Italy for 12 months or more will lose his or her permanent resident status, "regardless of the validity indicated on the Carta di Soggiorno" (ibid. 9 Mar. 2012).

2.2 Obtaining an EC Long-Term Residence Permit

EU citizens do not have to apply for the EC residence permit (Italy n.d.d, 8). If EU nationals want to stay in Italy for more than three months, they must register at "the local Anagrafe (population register of the place of residence)" and provide documentary evidence that they are working or studying in the country (ibid. 31 July 2008).

Foreigners, as well as the "foreign family member of an Italian citizen or of an EU citizen" (Italy n.d.d, 8), may apply for the EC long-term residence permit after five years of continuous residence in Italy (ibid. 29 Mar. 2010b). The application can be submitted at a post office, designated municipal office, or any other authorized office, the list of which s is provided on the state police website (ibid.). The application must include

  • a copy of [a] valid passport or equivalent travel document;
  • a copy of [the applicant's] income tax statement …;
  • criminal records and pending charges;
  • evidence of appropriate accommodation, if the application being submitted includes family members;
  • copies of pay slips for the current year;
  • residence and family certification;
  • postal receipt for payment of the electronic residence permit (27.50 euros) [C$36 (XE 27 Mar. 2012)];
  • 14.62 euro [C$19 (XE 20 Mar. 2012)] electronic revenue stamp. (Italy 29 Mar. 2010b)

According to a news release issued by the Ministry of Interior, starting 9 December 2010, applicants for the EC residence permit must pass an Italian language test (ibid. 12 Jan. 2011).

2.2.1 Grounds for Exclusion or Refusal of Application

According to the state police website, the following grounds are not eligible for application for the EC long-term residence permit:

  • [S]tudy or vocational training and scientific research;
  • [T]emporary protection or other humanitarian grounds;
  • [A]sylum or when awaiting a decision for recognition as a refugee;
  • If [the applicant is] a holder of a short-term residence permit;
  • If [the applicant is] a holder [of] a diplomatic, official and service passport, or [of] laissez-passer issued by international organizations of a universal character. (Italy 29 Mar. 2010b)

The website also indicates that the EC long-term residence permit will not be issued to "those who are considered a threat to public order and State security" (ibid.). Further, the permit can be revoked in the following cases:

  • It has been acquired fraudulently;
  • The state has ordered an expulsion measure against the applicant;
  • The applicant no longer meets the requirements of the permit;
  • The applicant has been absent from EU territory for 12 consecutive months;
  • The applicant has "acquired long-term resident status in another European Union member State";
  • The applicant has been absent from Italy for more than 6 years (ibid.).

3. Citizenship

The Canadian embassy official stated that, "[a]fter 10 years of continuous residence, no criminal record and gainful employment," residents may apply for citizenship (Canada 9 Mar. 2012). Similarly, the website of the Embassy of Italy in Ottawa indicates that a foreigner can acquire Italian citizenship by naturalization if he or she fulfils the requirements, which include:

  • 10 years of legal residence;
  • sufficient income;
  • absence of criminal record;
  • renunciation of original citizenship (where foreseen). (Italy n.d.c)

The period of permanent residence prior to citizenship application may vary depending on whether the applicant is an EU national or has Italian ancestors (Canada 9 Mar. 2012; Italy n.d.c). According to the website of the Embassy of Italy in Ottawa, it can be reduced to five years for displaced persons or refugees, to four years for EU citizens and to three years for descendents of former Italian citizens by birth (ibid.). In addition, a foreigner who is married to an Italian citizen may acquire Italian citizenship if he or she has legally resided in Italy for at least six months after the marriage or after three years of marriage if he or she resided abroad (ibid.).

An application for citizenship and supporting documents must be submitted to the police office (Canada 9 Mar. 2012) or the Prefecture in the province of residence (Italy n.d.c). Processing time can take up to 730 days upon receipt of the completed application (Canada 9 Mar. 2012).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Canada. 28 March 2012. Embassy of Canada to Italy. Correspondence from an official to the Research Directorate.

_____. 9 March 2012. Embassy of Canada to Italy. Correspondence from an official to the Research Directorate.

Italy. 18 November 2011. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "Sojourn." [Accessed 27 Mar. 2012]

_____. 12 January 2011. Ministero dell'Interno. "Italian Language Test: The Online Application System." [Accessed 27 Mar. 2012]

_____. 29 March 2010a. Polizia di Stato. "How and Where a Foreign National Can Obtain a Residence Permit in Italy." [Accessed 3 27 Mar. 2012]

_____. 29 March 2010b. Polizia di Stato. "EC Residence Permit for Long-Term Residents." [Accessed 20 Mar. 2012]

_____. 31 July 2008. Polizia di Stato."European Union Citizens." [Accessed 17 Apr. 2012]

_____. 12 June 2008. Polizia di Stato."Residence Permit." [Accessed 6 Mar. 2012]

_____. N.d.a. Polizia di Stato. " Types of Residence Permits." [Accessed 29 Mar. 2012]

_____. N.d.b. Polizia di Stato. "Types of Residence Permits Which Must Be Applied for at the Local Questura." [Accessed 29 Mar. 2012]

_____. N.d.c. Embassy of Italy in Ottawa. "Citizenship." [Accessed 6 Mar. 2012]

_____. N.d.d. Ministero dell'Interno. Staying in Italy Legally. [Accessed 17 Apr. 2012}

XE. 20 March 2012. "Currency Converter Widget." [Accessed 20 Mar. 2012]

XE. 27 March 2012. "Currency Converter Widget." [Accessed 27 Mar. 2012]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Officials of the Embassy of Italy in Ottawa were unable to provide information within the time constraints of this Response.

Internet sites, including: AlertNet, Amnesty International, Factiva, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, Minority Rights Group International, Migration Policy Group, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, United Nations ReliefWeb.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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