How do I apply for residency in Italy?

Most of you know by now that I just moved from Bologna to Genoa, which meant that I had to go through a whole lot of bureacratic processes and red tape all over again. It’s a been an exhausting move, but also a really fun one, as I am getting to discover a new Italian city and sort of relive the magic that I felt when I first moved to Italy. What’s more is that it’s given me the opportunity to review and understand better a lot of bureacratic processes that I had to do when I first moved to Italy. Going through it a second time – with much better language skills – I’m able to really understand what it all means more clearly and share my experience with you. :thumbsup:

One of those processes is applying for residency in Italy. This is usually a strange thing for foreigners to understand when they move to Italy because it’s not something most of us have to do in our home country. Coming from the U.S. I know that nobody has to officially declare where they live. When you move to a new house, your residency is automatically changed when you sign your housing contract, notify the post office of a change of address, and contact any important services or banks to notify them of where you permanently live. In fact, your “resident” address isn’t nearly as important as much as your Social Security Number, your driver’s license and your vehicle registration.

However in Italy, whether you’re an Italian citizen or not, everybody must apply for residency in Italy. According to the Italian government, “residence is the place where a person has his habitual residence. This means that the residence is the place in which the individual lives with a certain stability, not perpetual but lasting, and which has the intention to establish their homes”. In other words, if you’re planning on moving to Italy for some time, you gotta declare your residency (the only exception might be for someone staying in Italy for less than three months, since they usually don’t need access to public services and live in short-term housing situations). Failing to do so could result in being denied pretty much everything, from enrollment in the Italian public health system to opening a bank account. :O Yup. It’s that serious.


So how do you do this whole residency thing? Fortunately, the process isn’t too complicated, although it might take a little digging at first to understand where you have to go and what forms you need. This is a little guide to help you get started and tell you a little bit more about the general process, although keep in mind that every city and town does things differently, so someone in Florence might have a slightly different experience from someone in Rome!

How to Apply for Residency in Italy

When to apply for residency:

Everybody – Italian citizens, EU citizens, and non-EU citizen – who plans to stay in Italy for more than three months should and can apply for residency in Italy. Once you start renting an apartment and relatively sure  that is where you will live for a while, you can begin the application. If you are in a temporary housing situation (for example, hotel or a one-month rental), wait until you are renting an apartment on a more permanent basis. 

What you’ll need:

  • Original passport and copy of passport
  • Copy of your landlord’s identity card
  • Copy of your apartment contract registration forms
  • Residency form filled out
  • *For non-EU citizens: If you have a permesso di soggiorno, make a copy and bring that as well. If you have already applied for one but are still waiting on it, make a copy of the receipt you received from the post office and bring that.
  • Additional forms from the residency office, filled out and signed (forms vary from city to city, so be sure to check online first – see below for more info)

What to do:

  1. Go online and find out where you need to go to submit the application. You can do a simple Google search like ‘richiesta di residenza [insert city name]’. So for example, if I am living in Bologna I would type in ‘richiesta di residenza Bologna’. Usually, its the local ‘comune’ that manages the request.
  2. After you have found out where to go, double check online what you need to bring. Sometimes there are forms available online for you to complete and other useful information for the application. Check to see if there are any other forms you or your landlord need to complete and sign. If you’re not sure, ask your landlord to help.
  3. Go to the comune or residency office and submit the application. ***I recently found out that you can also submit the application online in some cities, so check for that first. I like to go in person just to make sure I have everything but if you can’t be bothered an online submission is way faster and easier!
  4. The residency office will tell you that the ‘vigili’ (italian police) are going to come to your house some time within the next two weeks to confirm where you live. The vigili can come at any time. If you are not home, they will leave a note with a phone number for you to call to tell them a better time to come. Unfortunately, you can’t make an appointment because it has to be an impromptu visit, but you can tell them better times to come (like before 10 am or after 5pm).
  5. The vigili come knocking on your door. Don’t be afraid. Just put on some decent clothes and answer the door. They might have a quick look around and ask you if anyone else is living with you. They are just checking that everyone in the apartment is legal and has declared residency.  It feels a little bit big brotherish but it’s all a part of the process.
  6. That’s it! Now you can do things like open a bank account (without paying ridiculously high fees), register in the Italian health system and stand in line for many other bureaucratic processes. :D Oh the joy.

8 comments on “How do I apply for residency in Italy?

  1. Hi Sarah, this is very helpful. I have a question: If you move from one residence to another (say you start out renting an apt but later on you buy a house) in the same town, do you need to re-register or do anything?

    • Hello Turner, No I don’t think you have to change your residency. You can if you want to, but most people only change their residency if they change cities. Good question!

  2. Hi Sarah, I just wanted to say that you don’t have to actually go to the office. You can send all scanned documents via e-mail, one click and that’s it (at least in Bologna) ;)

    • Hi Manuela, interesting. I read about that in Milan too. I had to go to the office the first time I did it because I was also applying for a Carta d’identita but that’s cool. I’ll have to add that in. Thanks!

  3. Hello Sarah. I just wanna ask how would I know the years of my residency in Rome and if by any chance, where to look at it? Thank you! :)

    • Hi Marco, You would probably have to go to your local comune and ask them. Did you receive any documents when you applied for your residency? Have you always lived in Rome?

  4. Hi Sarah. When you received your certificate of residency, did it have ID information on it to allow you to open bank accounts, apply for health insurance, etc? Or does one also have to apply for a Carta d’Identita? Thank you

    • Hi Lucia, It’s not uncommon for your to get a Carta d’Identita when you apply for residency, although the residency certificate and the Carta d’Identita are two different things. The residency certificate shows your current residency and you need to show this in order to open a bank account and apply for health insurance. The Carta d’Identita is simply an ID card, although it will list the ‘comune’ where you first applied for residency. So for example, I applied for residency in Bologana and my Carta d’Identita says ‘comune di bologna’ on it. However, I now live in Genoa and so this residency listed on my carta d’identita is no longer correct and cannot be used to show residency. hope that helps. :)