These are notes I took of the process to register as a temporary resident based on my wife’s EU passport, to stay in Italy for more than three months. I had already used 88 Schengen days in Spain by that point, and was relying on the Australia-Italy Bilateral Visa Waiver Agreement to tide me over. You can read about how I was able to use the Bilateral Visa Waiver Treaty here.
No luck with Medicare treaty
Out first foray into officaldom was at Olbia on 19 August. I queried Rita at the Anagrafe at Olbia Commune. She told me I needed a declaration from a Marina to prove my residence. She provided a sample copied from a money laundering declaration. What Marina would sign that!
Also I had no luck proposing to use the Australia-Italy Bilateral Medicare treaty as a substitute for private health insurance. Rita suggested trying another Commune! With plenty of time and some sorely needed additional info that is exactly what we did.
We next asked Mariella at the Anagrafe at Carloforte. She was sceptical at first but very amenable once we showed we had all the documentation. She, unlike Rita, insisted we needed a Codice Fiscale or Tax Registration Number.
We decided not to proceed however as it would have required multiple ferry trips to the Commune and Questura on the mainland at Iglesias two hours one way. Carloforte was a lovely place but felt it would be challenging to spend one or two months there without getting bored. We decided to do it at Cagliari instead.
A this stage we had received conflicting advice on some points, so I vowed to over-prepare for our final attempt at Cagliari.
Proving our Domicile
Absence of an actual domicile was a niggling problem. Italian law requires a resident to have a residence. Police actually check to make sure you live in the place you register.
Apparently a boat at anchor does not cut it. However, there is provision deep in the bowels of Italian legislation to accommodate the fact that some Italians just do not have a conventional residence. Cave dwellers and motor-homers are offered as examples. It is an important issue because without Residency, these folk cannot access even the most basic of social services. And I imagine a cave-dweller is probably someone who might need exactly that.
For those who just wont entertain the idea of berthing at a Marina I have fashioned a formal declaration from various official sources seeking registration with no fixed residence. This declaration seeks to leverage the advice I received from Your Europe Advice lawyers:
‘you may try to ask for your registration with the so called Registro delle persone senza fissa dimora as regulated by Italian law n.1228/1954 and in accordance with the Memorandum adopted by Italian Minster of Interior Circolare n.19 of 17/09/2009’
Its a long shot but in theory could work. Bear in mind the National Register is largely intended for homeless folk, so perhaps waltzing in to the Anagrafe wearing Blazer and sailing club tie may jar.
Anyway, I kept Rita from Olbia on the hook through a series of emails pointing out the incongruence of demanding that my EU Spouse register to stay more than 3 months under ‘EU Freedom of Movement’, but not letting her do so because her choice of domicile was unconventional.
After much web surfing and navel-gazing, I developed a bland declaration form to be signed by a Marina Manager confirming that our boat and us as occupants were in fact berthed at the Marina. No mention of anti-money laundering or Mafia. Rita reviewed, made some typo changes and agreed. Great – now we could say “but we were told this would be OK”.
We arrived in Cagliari on Thursday 6 October. After berthing the boat, we explained to Andrea at Marina Portus Karalis that we needed a simple declaration confirming our presence – nothing untruthful or illegal – and got his agreement to sign.
Actually, we did pressure him a little by saying we needed a signature to get the residency which if successful would mean we might stay at the Marina for an extended period of time. The declaration template, in Italian, is in the Resources section.
To get a Codice Fiscale, Annmaree made an online booking on Saturday 8 October, at Cagliari at the website for Agenzia Entrate.
An automatic email confirmed an appointment on 10th October at the “CAGLIARI 1 – UT” office. This is way out in the burbs near Ikea and also near the Questura for Immigration which becomes important later in the process.
On Monday 10th October we went by local bus to the appointment for the Codice Fiscale at the Agenzia Delle Entrate at Via Cesare Pintus approximately 6km from the Marina in central Cagliari. Finding the correct door in a series of grey monolithic buildings was the biggest challenge
Armed with a written explanation in Italian getting the “Certificato di Attribuzione del Codice Fiscale” proved relatively simple.
Only Annmaree applied. I wanted to avoid any hint of tax residency to maintain our VAT-free status for the boat. Apparently, you are also supposed to get some kind of photo ID card as well. It never proved necessary until we tried to open a bank account. That is a different story.
Registering at the Anagrafe
On Tuesday morning 11th October we went to the central Anagrafe at the Commune in central Cagliari. We discovered that they do not process Residency applications – four suburban sub-offices do this. Each sub-office has different opening days/hours. It proved useful however as Roberto, the only (marginal) English speaker there was able to give us some guidance. The best was “If you have any problem tell them you spoke to me”.
That afternoon we went to the Anagrafe suboffice on Via Montevecchio about 3km away. There were many foreign people queued up and no obvious sequence for being ushered thru the locked front door. When a face appeared to take the next lucky entrant we thrust forward with a written explanation in Italian of what we wanted. No real acknowledgement was forthcoming. But 30 minutes later we were allowed in.
The Anagrafe lady, Alessandra, was sceptical. We quoted our meeting with Roberto and her demeanour changed. Thank you, Roberto!
Alessandra wanted everything: Passports, Apostilled/translated Marriage Certificates, Financials, Health Insurance, Codice Fiscale, Marina Declaration etc.
The next day Alessandra asked by email for a copy of the boat papers as well. The all-important receipt was received by email several hours later. This started the 45-day clock during which police must check that we actually reside at the address as documented. After that the registration automatically defaults to “approved”.
Most importantly, we now had the receipt “Ricevuta di Registrazione del Protocollo” proving Annmaree’s residency which was the key hitherto missing document that allowed me as a spouse to submit the application for Permessso di Soggiorno.
Getting Help from the Patronato
We spent the next two days seeking assistance from the various community help agencies called “Patronato” such as EPAS, CAF and ACLI. Internet booking was effectively impossible because the category “EU Spouse” didn’t exist on the pre-formatted appointment app. So we resorted to cold-calling.
The response to our request was always welcoming BUT there was a huge sticking point. We had no visa. Without a visa, all three offices pondered and concluded that they could not assist. Why? Because Section 47 of the application form “Modulo 1” requires complete details of your visa. Not unreasonable because the EU and Italian law both require that a non-EU citizen seeking to accompany their EU spouse “must have a valid visa if required”.
The tricky bit is that I did not actually “require” a visa. I had a visa waiver by virtue of the Bilateral Treaty with Australia. What to do?
With no assistance from the Patronato, we decided to proceed on our lonesome.
Permesso di Soggiorno
To apply for the Permessso di Soggiorno you must have a local telephone number with SMS. I purchased an Italian SIM card well in advance with lots of data for the internet. A PC and printer were also indispensable
The application form is in a standard package available from the Patronato (fail!) or a Sportello Amico counter
Sportello Amico are special government service counters hosted in Post Offices. Only a select few post offices in larger towns/cities have a Sportello Amico. A spreadsheet list of all Sportello Amico counters is available from the Poste Italiene website.
We confirmed at the Sportello Amico counter at the central Post Office in Cagliari that we could submit there. And they confirmed that they would only count the number of pages not the validity of the content. I asked for the yellow pack being the application form for the Permesso di Soggiorno for spouses of EU residents. The key document in the yellow pack is Modulo 1 (Form #1) which is the application form – all in Italian.
An example, Modulo 1 filled out to reflect an EU Spouse applying for their first Permesso di Soggiorno and accompanying Residents Card having entered Italy under cover of a Bilateral Visa Waiver Treaty is in the Resources section of Schengen-Shuffle.
Believe me – the difficulty rating for this unusual combo of circumstances – is a 9.9/10. The form just does not anticipate this combo so some creative writing becomes necessary.
A useful youtube video explaining how to fill in the Modulo 1 form is here. Note – this is specifically for those who have applied for and received an Elective Residence visa, typically for retirees not seeking work.
I recommend you ignore the advice suggesting that you fill in the number of pages and sign the document. This is best done at the Sportello Amico when you submit the form.
Marco da Bollo
You will also need to buy a Marca da Bollo. Read More
Bollo look like small postage-stamps. The stamps are used as a form of tax collection for public services. The stamps are available in both €16 and €2 denominations. To get a Bollo you can visit selected newsagents and Tabaccheria to buy one. You may need to hunt this down – we tried three Tabaccheria before we found one able to sell us a stamp. Look for signs like this with the words Valori Bollati.
Modulo 1 – the Application
I prepared a written cover letter in Google italian explaining the circumstances. I wrote “Accordo Bilaterale Australia-Italia” in section 47 along with the dates in the Dicharizione di Presenza that we submitted oh-so-long ago. A template for the covering letter is in the Resources section of Schengen-Shuffle.
After a weekend spent preparing and printing all the documentation we took the Application for Permesso di Soggiorno to the Post Office on 14 October. Shock – the Post Office – the same one we visited the other day to confirm the submission process, but a different guy – refused to accept the application without evidence of a valid visa. Remember, we were on a Bilateral Treaty visa waiver so had no visa to show. And no amount of “bilateral blah blah” explanation worked.
I was totally defeated and mentally preparing to high-tail out of Italy before the bilateral visa waiver expired.
At Annmaree’s insistence, and in absolute desperation we then went to another, smaller Post Office at Viale Trieste only 500m away. Here the women behind the counter refused to speak anything but rapid-fire Italian. It could have been Sardinian for all I could understand. And very gruff too.
She counted and recounted the pages and asked for 30 euros for the Post Office, 30.46 euros for the Electronic Residence Permit, and 1.80 euro for I don’t know what. I believe in theory as an EU spouse that I might not have had to pay. But I didn’t care.
I was on tenterhooks as she thumbed thru the pages, repeatedly, looking for god knows what. After 20 minutes of torture she stamped the application. I swear it was in slow motion for dramatic effect! So we got the receipt “Ricevuta per Convocazione per Permesso di Soggiorno”- which allowed me to stay beyond the visa-waiver period legally. The receipt also specified the appointment time and date for the first of three trips to the Questura for Immigration.
I also got a User ID and Password. This allowed me to log into the Immigration Portal to check on progress.
There are many Questura in Cagliari but only one for immigration at Via Gianbattista, 6km by bus, and in an oh-so-seedy part of town. Well-meaning advice from an official had us mistakenly queuing at the Passport Questura seeking additional information. Good thing we found out before our actual appointment.
I had 4 weeks of bliss as I flaunted my new-found legal status as an almost resident. At the appointed time on Friday, November 18th I arrived at the Questura to see the queue extending out the door. Happily an appointment grants near god-like status in the eyes of those who just rocked up without one. But not in the eyes of the gate-keepers who acknowledged our presence but still exercised their omnipotent gate-keeping powers with disdain for the little people.
Finally, I got escorted to the counter opposite a pleasant young immigration police officer who spoke not a word other than Italiano. Really? It is an office for foreigners, no?? So Google translate worked overtime answering questions as he rifled thru the Modulo 1 application form that had done the full circuit from the Cagliari post office to Roma and then back to Cagliari. Many photocopies later he declared “ït appears to be in order”.
I must at this point acknowledge the assistance of the cheerful tri-lingual Lebanese admin lady who flitted from counter to counter helping with some translation as necessary. Actually, I swear she was telling him how to do his job as well. The next step was fingerprinting and we had to beg for an early appointment as we planned to fly out the following week for 4 months. The Lebanese impresario cajoled the policeman into giving me an accelerated but end-of-the-day #22 slot for the following Tuesday.
Tuesday 22nd November was the penultimate step before actually getting the card. It was also the day before I flew back to Australia for the southern summer. I kept debating myself – why bother? I didn’t actually want to be a resident. I had just wanted to stay in Italy a little longer than three months. But curiosity and a sense of civic duty to fellow EU Spouses had me wait three hours until finally, the 40-minute fingerprinting process started.
All very jovial, the police were more interested in sailing and Australia than my bona fides as an immigrant. I told them I would collect in the new year after my Christmas day BBQ in 30-degree Brisbane. No problem the website and an SMS message will let me know when it is ready. Which it is as of 29 December, just 10 weeks after starting the process.
Leaving Italy without the Permesso
Departing from Cagliari airport for London – Immigration flipped thru every page of my passport, and then again, desperately looking for a stamp. I waved the Permesso di Soggiorno submission receipt but she wasn’t interested. Luckily two off-duty immigration officers lounging next to her cubicle observed the situation and said to her “what’s your problem – he has a Ricevuta per Convocazione per Permesso di Soggiorno?”. One miracle was that I actually understood what they said – thank you FluentU! The 2nd was that she shrugged and let me thru
Problems with BIlateral Visa Waiver Days
We took the chunnel from London to Belgium not realizing that French Immigration would stamp us thru at St Pancreas station. Belgium has a bilateral treaty waiver with Australia so I expected to argue and win that discussion if it was to happen. But I wasn’t mentally prepared to enter France with no Schengen days up my sleeve. But the French immigration guy didn’t blink. Same when we departed from Amsterdam for Australia. Albeit Netherlands too has a bilateral visa waiver but hey, shouldn’t they ask/check??
Cancelling my Residency
Anyway, after all of the above, and after leaving for Australia I sent an email to Alessandra at the Cagliari Anagrafe sub-office with a special form declaring I had gone back to Australia and relinquished my residency. Owners of non-VAT boats will understand why. Annmaree remains a registered resident – so not so hard to submit another Modulo 1 application for Permesso di Soggiorno when I need more than 6 months (Schengen + Bilateral) in Italy. Which I may do next year. A copy of the form to relinquish residency typically by moving overseas is in the Resources section.
You can find all the resources mentioned in the text and more here