Friday, February 24, 2012

We're Legal!

In order to be able to come to Italy for nine months we needed to get visas.  In order to be able to stay in Italy we needed to get our permessi di sogiorni – i.e. government id cards.  From previous visitors to Italy we had heard that this bureaucratic process can take anywhere from one day to two years to complete.  This can make life complicated, because technically a permesso di sogiorno is required in order to get an apartment or to set up an account for utilities.   Fortunately for us, our landlord didn’t need this documentation from us (she is infinitely accommodating and flexible), and had arranged for the hook up of the utilities before we arrived.  We’ve been very happy with our supply of water, electricity and heat! 

There are several steps to getting this document.  The web of forms, offices, and procedures would be confounding enough even in English!  Fortunately we had the help of our realtor, Clotlide, who accompanied us on several of these visits.  Even she found it hard to understand everything that was involved.  Following her lead, first we went to the ufficio postale to get the required packet of forms.  Then we went to a special attorney who filled out the forms for us (for free!).  Without Clotilde’s help we would never have known of this resource, nor where to find him. It’s like his office appeared out of nowhere - it was back behind another building - then disappeared again when we left.  There’s no way we could find it again. 

From here we made a trip back to the ufficio postale to pay fees and submit the documents.  Over the next 3 months we visited the questura (the police headquarters) twice to submit more forms and get fingerprinted.

In the meantime, we had to get our codice fiscale (fiscal code, the Italian version of our social security number) which was surprisingly easy with the help of Clotilde.  This number, like our SSN in the US, is required for any interaction with the legal or medical systems. 

Finalmente we have our permessi di sogiorni!!  Given that we’ve already been here for four months (hard to believe!) we’re not entirely sure why we need these permessi, but we feel better knowing we have them.  At this point we’ve got everything it takes to be an Italian…except, of course, for actually being Italian.

Outside the Questura with our Permessi hot off the press!

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