Settling in Rome: Practical Details for Expatriates

Settling in Rome

Once you have moved to Rome and joined the expat community in Italy, it’s not all about la dolce vita, alas. Before you can – immerse yourself in the Italian way of life, there are some practical aspects to take care of:

  • get a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno)
  • obtain a tax ID (codice fiscale)
  • confirm your local residence (certificato di residenza)
  • acquire a local driver’s license (patente di guida)

We’ll help you get information about living in Rome below.

The “Permesso di Soggiorno”

First things first: some expatriates need to apply for an Italian residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) within a week after arrival. This includes all non-EU nationals who want to stay in Rome for more than three months.

The easiest way of getting a residence permit is going to the nearest Roman post office that features a sportello amico logo. This sign means that you can obtain an official application kit for the residence permit at this branch. Fill in the form as quickly as possible and hand it in at the post office.

read our full guide on how to get a permesso di soggiorno

The “Codice Fiscale”

Next, it’s time for your Italian tax identification number, the codice fiscale. Every expat – regardless of their nationality – should look into that. You don’t need it only for filing a tax return in Italy. No matter if you’re interested in purchasing property or signing a cellphone contract, you’ll be asked for your codice fiscale more often than not.

To be assigned an Italian tax ID, you have to get in touch with the Agenzia delle Entrate, the Italian tax office. This nationwide agency is present in all Italian regions, including Lazio.

The Agenzia delle Entrate del Lazio is subdivided into various provincial departments. The three direzioni provinciali di Roma, in turn, each include several local offices. You need to find out which ufficio territoriale is closest to your new address in Rome, then get your tax number from there.

find more details on what a codice fiscale is, where to get it and the supporting documents you’ll need

The “Certificato di Residenza”

When you have your personal codice fiscale, there’s still some red tape to cut through. Again, the next step is relevant for every foreign resident in Rome, whether they are from an EU member state or not. All stranieri need a residence certificate if they plan on living in Rome for three months or more.

Please note that a residence certificate isn’t the same as the residence permit. The latter allows non-EU nationals to live and work in Italy; the certificato di residenza simply means that you have registered with the local authorities. So, how do you go about doing just that?

The city of Rome includes 19 smaller municipalities. For example, municipio I is the centro storico, the historical center of Rome, and municipio XIII refers to Ostia, Rome’s port and beach resort. Every municipio has an anagrafe, a registry office, to track such demographics as births, deaths, or newly arrived residents. Contact your municipality’s ufficio anagrafico and ask which documents to bring for your registration.

The “Patente di Guida”

For many expats, the bureaucratic hassle is over by now. However, if you prefer driving your own car to relying on the metropolitana, you may have to get an Italian driving permit (patente di guida). Again, foreign residents from EU countries are in luck: as long as they have a valid driving license from their country of origin, they can go on using it in Rome.

However, nationals of other countries should contact the Ufficio della Motorizzazione Civile in Rome. This is the city’s department of transport, where they recognize foreign driver’s licenses. Permits from selected countries, for instance Argentina, Japan, Switzerland, or Taiwan, can simply be swapped for an Italian license.

However, if your driver’s license is from another country, for example Australia or the US, you have to obtain an Italian one. At the Ufficio della Motorizzazione, they are also able to tell you in detail how to kick off this process.

Now that you’re done dealing with Italian bureaucracy, it’s high time for a treat! Just browse the many suggestions for leisure activities on Romeing and enjoy life in the Eternal City to your heart’s content. Buon divertimento!

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  • With regards to the ‘permesso di soggiorno,’ it might be helpful to add that before you can do anything at the post office you need to buy the ‘marca da bollo’ from a tobacco shop. This needs to be affixed to the top of the forms that you turn into the post office. The post office does not sell this stamp. Be sure to get this before you go to the post office and do not affix it to the form until after the postal worker checks that you filled everything out correctly, otherwise you’ll have stuck the tax stamp to an incorrect form and will probably need to get another one.

    The post office at EUR Palasport (linea B) is the best one in the entire city for doing this. It’s never very crowded, and I’ve done my permesso two times now there without any issues. But that’s just from my experiences, of course! 🙂

  • Also, for those who apply for a permesso di soggiorno, if you do not have a codice fiscale, they will assign one to you automatically and put it on your permesso di soggiorno when you pick it up the first time. Also, most consulates are able to issue one, as well, so if you need one before you arrive in Italy, you can get one there (I did at the consulate in Philadelphia in the USA). Just make sure when you fill out the permesso di soggiorno, that you include it on the application form, otherwise, they will assign you a new one, and you will have two of them which can be a pain to correct and explain.

    • This is very true, but likely you’re going to need that codice fiscale as soon as you land in Italy, and won’t be able to wait until you fill out and turn in the permisso — because as I found out, you’ll need one to be shipped almost anything that’s being sent to you by delivery from a different country. You’re smart to have got yours before leaving Philadelphia!

      By the way, for readers who need one, the fastest, easiest Agenzia della Entrate in Rome to get one that I know of is the one on Via Ippolito Nievo 36. The correct building is on the NW side of the street, and its entrance doors are at the SE of that building. Go in and be given a number at the front desk, then sit kind of NE in the building in one of the chairs, watch and listen for your number and sportello to be announced. It was a little bit of a walking hike to locate the building but now in retrospect it’s easy. I waited maybe 15 minutes, went to sportello 9, and received my tax code number in about 4 minutes. The clerk was extremely awesome too. Very friendly guy. Look for him. He’s a bit hairless on top with eyes that look slightly apart from each other, and stands about 5’7″.

      GREAT guy. I don’t know about the other tellers, but judging from the funny, affectionate experience he gave me after finding out I was American, whoever he is, whatever his name is, THAT’S the guy you want 🙂

      • One more thing: be sure to take both your actual passport and a black and white or color printed Xerox copy or printout (stampa) of that passport with you when you go. Take a copy of your apartment lease too. They will want to see both. Do this and the process will fly past in an easy, quick blur. I’ve noticed something: I’m not sure what it is, but the Italian people, at least in the city of Rome, really, really like official documents and copies of them! The more copies of official forms you have with you, for any transaction, and especially if those copies have official-looking seals, insignia and imprinted notary-style impression stamping pressed into them, the easier your acceptance into Italy’s gonna be!

  • It’s also worth noting that you won’t actually get the final document for a few months, at least. First you must go to the fingerprinting appointment (usually a few weeks after your application is accepted), then you have to wait. And wait. And wait. Mine took 7 months, total, but I’m hearing that the average is 3-4 months these days. The good news is that in the meantime your receipt will serve as temporary proof that you’re “in the system.”

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