Getting residency in Rome (as an EU citizen)
(as a non-EU citizen, Jesus would probably have a tougher time getting residency)
After the shock of Brexit, I decided that I really needed to get myself sorted out in Rome. Brexit left me feeling quite vulnerable, as though I might suddenly be kicked out of Italy. Although I knew that realistically, that was unlikely to happen, I felt it was time to let the authorities know that I lived in Rome, and get some kind of document confirming my residency.
So, over the past couple of months, I’ve been going through the slightly stressful and tedious process of becoming an official resident, which culminated in getting my carta d’identita.
Information about the process tends to be lacking, or contradictory. I used this article on the Expats in Rome website as my guide, and asked for advice from various friends and strangers on the internet, before finally taking the plunge and going to my local Anagrafe (Municipio I, via Petroselli) to begin the process.
NB: I’m writing from the perspective of an EU citizen in Rome. If you’re an American in Florence, for example, the process of getting residency may well be different.
1st visit – 20 July
I arrive at the Anagrafe at 8am, already feeling anxious and stressed, and ready to argue my case. (“I’m still an EU citizen! Article 50 hasn’t been triggered yet! I have a home and a job! Give me residency!”) Much to my surprise, there’s no queue. After walking around in confusion, I find a member of staff, explain that I want to apply for residency, and ask him what I need to do. He gives me a form to complete, and books me in for an appointment later that day. Although it’s annoying being told to come back at 3pm, I’m pleasantly surprised by the absence of a chaotic queue, as this goes against everything I’ve read. Has the system been improved, or is it just because it’s the summer and there are fewer people?
Later that day
I arrive early, and discover that they’re already ready to see me. It’s almost too good to be true. The lady at the Anagrafe is, contrary to all expectations, not a stronza. She looks through my form and documents, and says that everything is in order, except for one thing. Bizarrely, I need to supply some information about the floor plan of the flat where I live. I had no idea I needed this.
I call up my landlady, who’s on holiday. She doesn’t have the information, and says she won’t be able to give it to me until next week. I book another appointment at the Anagrafe for the following week.
2nd visit – 26 July
I’d booked the first possible appointment (8.15), but they’re already running half an hour late. I’ve got the information from my landlady, and am feeling as prepared as I can be. I still don’t really understand why they want this information about the apartment size and floor plan. It makes sense to Valeriano, who explains that the Anagrafe want to check that I’m living in a legitimate apartment, rather than some kind of hovel.
The man at the sportello is sitting at a desk surrounded by pictures of saints and popes, and inspirational Catholic quotes. I begin by explaining that I now have the apartment information, but he doesn’t seem to care. As he looks through my documents he points out that I haven’t written the scala number. Some apartment blocks have numerous buildings (so numerous scale – A, B, C) etc. I explain that there’s just one building, so one scala, and he seems satisfied.
He then queries the fact that I claim to be British, even though I was born in Australia. Most Italians have a problem with this. I insist that I’m British and grew up in London, and decide not to tell him about the rest of my family (father born in Canada, mother in Kenya, brother in Singapore).
I wait while he enters all my information on an archaic computer programme. He shows no interest in the apartment information I had to get from my landlady, even though the woman at the Anagrafe the week before insisted that it was essential. Boh.
The man gives me a document known as the fascia (to confirm I’m in the process of getting residency) and tells me to come back in 45 days, making sure to bring my work contract and the marche da bollo (stamps), which cost €16 and can be bought at the tabaccheria. He also tells me to expect a visit from the police within the next 10 days; they need to check my address.
“What if I’m not there?” I ask
“They’ll see if they can find someone in the building to confirm you live there. Otherwise they’ll leave a message in your postbox, and you’ll have to go to the police station in Trastevere.”
I leave the Anagrafe, making a mental note to tape my name to the postbox, tape an explanatory note to my front door (along the lines of: Sorry I’m not here, Mr Policeman – but I promise I live here. Here’s my phone number), and prepare my flatmates for the police visit.
3rd visit – 12 September
Two months have passed, and there’s been no sign of the police. I go back to to the Anagrafe, queue up at the information desk, explain the situation, and am sent to a sportello to talk to the man from my previous appointment, whom we’ll call Carlo (for that is his name).
“The vigile hasn’t come,” I tell him.
“Don’t worry, the vigile will come,” says Carlo.
“You said in July that he would come within 10 days. It’s been two months.”
Carlo checks on the computer, and announces that the vigile did in fact come to check up on me.
“Tutto a posto.”
“Really? But I didn’t see the vigile. He didn’t leave a message.”
“He must have checked with one of your neighbours. Anyway, now you can finish the process and get your carta d’identita. But wait…” He looks down at my document. “Are you Australian?”
“No, British. I was born in Australia.”
Italian bureaucracy really can’t handle the fact that my nationality doesn’t match the country of my birth.
Carlo tells me to make two more appointments at the Anagrafe – one to finish the residency process, and one to get my carta d’identita. I need to bring my last pay slip, my work contract, the marche da bollo and a passport photo. I go back to the information desk, book the two appointments for the following Monday, and walk out into the sunshine, relieved that the end is in sight.
4th visit – 19 September
Back to see Carlo, who remembers me. “Nata in Australia, ma sei inglese.” Then he comments that after Brexit happens, being British will basically be the same as being Australian. He’s right, cazzo. (A big vaffanculo to everyone who voted for Brexit, and all the lying politicians).
Carlo looks through my documents again, but doesn’t bother to check my new work contract, despite having asked me for it last time. (Which is a relief – given that my new contract is British, rather than Italian, I’d worried that it might be a problem). He prints something off, stamps it several times with great force, and tells me to keep it in a safe place. This is my attestato – a document that confirms my residency in Rome, and lasts five years. At last, I’m officially a resident!
I wait an hour for my next appointment, to get my carta d’identita. Apparently I’m going to get one of the new ones – an electronic card rather than the old paper form. I go to a different sportello, show my documents, and get my fingerprints and height checked. They print off a draft copy of the carta d’identita so I can check that the details are correct. But there’s a mistake…
“No, non sono australiana. Sono nata in Australia ma sono inglese.”
The man and woman spend ten minutes trying to enter the correct information on the computer. The computer system, as a product of Italian bureaucracy, is reluctant to accept that my nationality and country of birth don’t correspond.
After they’ve corrected my nationality, I’m sent upstairs to pay an arbitrary amount of money (€22.21), then return to the sportello with the receipt. I’m asked whether I want the carta d’identita to be sent in the post, or whether I’d prefer to collect it at the Anagrafe. I choose to return to the Anagrafe the following week, as I have absolutely no faith in the Italian postal system.
5th visit – 26 September
I arrive at the Anagrafe and pick up my shiny new carta d’identita senza problemi. The card expires on my 36th birthday (in 2027).
I’ve survived this round of bureaucracy. Next step – tessera sanitaria (health card)!
-Be prepared. Do all your research beforehand, and try to bring all the necessary documents to your first appointment. If you turn up to the Anagrafe without your codice fiscale, for example, you’re just wasting your time.
-Don’t obsess over the details of other people’s application experiences. If you talk to someone who applied at a different municipio five years ago, they may well have had a very different experience, and been asked for different documents. Accept that the situation really depends on the municipio, your personal circumstances, and the mood and personality of the Anagrafe employee.
-Make sure you can speak Italian. If you’re applying for residency, presumably you’ve been living in Rome for a while and have a reasonable level of Italian. The application process will be ten times more confusing and stressful if you can’t communicate with the Anagrafe staff. You can’t really count on an Italian friend doing you a favour and accompanying you to every Anagrafe appoinment, so you’re on your own.
-Bring all the documents you might possibly need to every appointment. And photocopies.
-Be patient. Expect to return to the Anagrafe multiple times over a period of a couple of months.
Try to have all of these, but expect Anagrafe staff to randomly lose interest in the documents, having previously insisted that they were essential.
- Codice fiscale
- Work contract
- Letter from landlord confirming your address, and a photocopy of their carta d’identita (obviously if you have a real rental contract, that’s preferable)
- A certificate confirming your civil status. I found a document published by the UK government, written in English and Italian, stating that there is no document to confirm whether a citizen is married or single. I don’t think the Anagrafe ever actually looked at it, but someone on the internet told me they might ask. Don’t worry too much about this one.
- A copy of your last payslip
- A copy of your bank statement, to prove that you have some kind of savings. (I didn’t have enough money in my Italian bank account – I think they want to see that you have at least a few thousand euros – but they accepted a statement from my British bank account. However, I did bring some documents from my Italian bank account, just to show that I had one.)