Bologna Inside - Second Edition

[Skip to Page Content]




Most Italians have only one given first name and one given last name that appear in passports and other documents. If you decide to also use your middle name, or a name in addition to your first and last name, be consistent because even the slightest variation on documents can cause snafus in the system.

When processing paperwork, you are usually required to pay a government tax by means of a marca da bollo (tax stamp). These stamps are available in tabaccherie (tobacco shops), where you may also buy postage stamps. European Union (EU) citizens are entitled to live, work, go to school and get health coverage in all other EU countries. For EU citizens, many of the documents required of foreigners living in Italy are simple formalities and relatively easy to obtain. If you are not from an EU country, things can be more difficult. You might find getting your papers in order quite a challenge if you didn't arrange for a work/study visa in your home country before arriving. Many people from non-EU countries must return home and legalize their status before being able to truly settle down. For information about the types of visas available, contact your country's embassy or consulate, one of the offices that offers assistance to foreigners, or the Italian consulate back home.


The permesso or carta di soggiorno is the first requirement for legalizing your status in Italy. The rules governing permits differ depending if you are a cittadino/a extracomunitario/ a (from outside the EU) or a cittadino/a comunitario/a (EU citizen). In either case, your first step should be an in-person visit to the URP of the Questura (Police Headquarters). Here you can ask for an updated list of the necessary documents required to process your specific type of permit.

URP Questura di Bologna

Piazza Galilei, 3
Tel. 051.6401575
Tel. 051.6401111 switchboard (follow Questure Su Web>Emilia Romagna>Bologna>Stranieri)


After visiting the URP for your list of documents, you will need to telephone the Questura call center to make an appointment to deliver your completed application. The call center has specific hours and the number is often busy, but you must keep trying until you get through. You will be given a date, time and protocol number for your appointment, potentially months away.

On the day of your appointment, go to the Sportello Cittadini Extracomunitari (Non-EU Citizen Office) and check-in with the officer at the front door. Unfortunately, the Questura is a very old-fashioned place and little is computerized. Even with a fixed appointment, you will have to wait outside with no restrooms, seating or other services. If all goes well, you will only repeat this experience once every two years. Once you have been a legal resident for six years, you will then be able to graduate to the carta di soggiorno, renewable in five-year intervals.

When you hand in your application you will be given a receipt, indicating a new protocol number. You will use this number to check the city's website at to learn if your permesso is ready for pick up - at least a 60 day wait. If you are a resident of the city, you will then be able to retrieve your document in your local quartiere office. Residents of the province have to return to the Sportello Cittadini Extracomunitari during specific hours.

Sportello Cittadini Extracomunitari

Via degli Agresti, 2
Tel. 051.6401780 (call center active Monday, Wednesday and Friday 13:30-18:30; Saturday 8:30-12:30)
Open Monday-Friday 8:30-13 for handing in documents (with appointment); Tuesday and Thursday 15-17 for picking up documents or inquiring about the status of your permit


EU citizens may apply directly for a carta di soggiorno, a permit renewable every five years. For EU citizens, this paperwork is handled at the Sportello Cittadini dell'Unione Europea (EU Citizen Office). Confirm the documents required for this application with the Questura's URP. If work is your reason for coming to Italy, EU citizens may need to have their employer make a declaration to the CIP - Centro per l'Impiego (Center for Employment). For CIP contact information, see see Chapter 5: Work.

Sportello Cittadini dell'Unione Europea

Piazza Roosevelt, 22
Open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9-13; numbers for turns distributed 8:30-12

The secret to survival in another country is of course patience and a sense of humor but above all - chattiness! It's amazing how people enjoy talking and especially giving advice, so what you do is talk a lot to everyone about everything. That's how I got the 2-for-1 package deal at the post office. I told the clerk I was sending something to my mom for her birthday and she said why not send something also to your sister? She had noticed the same last name for sender and receiver and thought I was sending the package to a sibling. No, I said I am sending it to my mom. That's how I got lucky and got to send 3 kilograms to my sister for Thanksgiving for free.

Peggy Kidney


Getting a codice fiscale (individual tax code) is just about the easiest thing you'll ever have to do here, which is good, as you need it for anything having to do with money, including getting paid legally and opening a bank account. Go to the Ufficio Entrate (Income Office) nearest you with your passport and/or permesso di soggiorno. See UFFICI FINANZARI in the phone book for office addresses and phone numbers. In a matter of minutes you will be given a little card with your own personal tax code stamped on it. If you have any questions about the procedure, call the central information line. The only trick is to make sure that you give your names as written on your passport. There is a website that allows you to calculate your own tax code but you need the official card as well:

Ufficio Entrate

Via Marco Emilio Lepido, 178 (branch offices listed on website)
Tel. 051.4131711
Numero verde 848.800444
central information line


You need to become a resident to sign up your child for school and get official working papers, among other things. You apply for residenza (residency) through an office in your quartiere called the ufficio anagrafe (vital statistics office). Until your residence is official, you will be given a temporary document verifying that you've applied. You can use this document to do things requiring residency, such as applying for health coverage, see Chapter 4: Health.

One or two weeks after you have applied to become a resident, the police will stop by the address listed on your application to verify that you really do live where you said. Put your name by the doorbell, even with a temporary sticker, so they know where to ring. If you're not at home, they will leave a postcard to let you know that they will return. Once the police verify that your paperwork has been completed, notification that your application for residency has been approved will be mailed to you.


EU citizens use their carta d'identità (identification card) to travel from one EU country to another. Non-EU citizens who become official residents are not granted this privilege, but the identification card is still a very handy document to have. Anyone who asks you for identification will recognize it immediately. Get the identity card at your local anagrafe. In Italy, you are required to carry identification with you at all times, and if you don't want to carry your passport, you should at least have your carta d'identità. If you are stopped randomly by the authorities (which does happen on the Italian roadways) they immediately ask for this document. Foreigners must also carry a copy of their permesso di soggiorno.


For information about getting married in Italy, marriage to an Italian citizen and how to apply for citizenship, see Chapter 10: Long Term.