Article written by Mariam Devadze
There is probably nothing else that Italians complain more about than bureaucracy! It is almost terrible (not almost actually), but it is still manageable. One of the first things I realized after my admission was that there is no clear explanation or guide on this particular topic.
After asking several people, lining outside my international admissions office (they were very helpful and resourceful!), digging into the deepest and most unexplored places on the earth like the second page of Google, here is a guide explaining what you need to do after having been accepted at your university in Italy and what to expect in general.
How to successfully apply for a student visa and permit of stay in Italy
First thing first, this article would be more useful for non-EU students since it concerns visa application and permit of stay procedures.
- Check firstly if you need visa to stay in Italy and then look for the Italian Embassy in your country, and submit Pre-enrollment request. Also, make sure you know what are the exact documents you need to have to apply for visa and their format, make a call or check on the webpage of the Embassy. Be careful to check if you need to convert your high school or university diploma to Italian equivalent, as most likely you would need to.
Basic things you need to make sure you possess while applying are:
- university acceptance letter,
- proof of financial means,
- eligible travel documents,
Sometimes, you also need to show if you have an accommodation and a plane ticket reservation, but of course, this depends on the country of origin.
Read carefully what the embassy requires you to do, start preparing documents as soon as you have a place secured at your university. It would take at least 2 months’ of preparation, in case you would also need to translate the documents to English or Italian.
As soon as you make a document, also make a copy! I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have copies in Italy. Also, be ready to go to Embassy more than several times, nothing gets done in one go, if it does you are one lucky person.
Most importantly, do not get stressed about this, if you are well prepared and organised, things will go well.
- After arrival, get your Codice Fiscale (Italian Tax Code) which is a personal code. (A very important combination of numbers and letters needed throughout your stay in Italy). In some cases, you can make it in the embassy of your country, but also you can get it in Italy once you have arrived,;that is what I did.
- Before going to Agenzia della Entrate, you need to make sure you have these documents with you:
- Passport and its photocopy PLUS two photocopies of the personal data/visa information pages;
- Completed green and white form provided at the Agenzia delle Entrate. The official website and shows how to fill in the forms, so do not be afraid of the blank spaces!
- Research where the closest agency is, and find out the working hours; go there as early as possible so you do not have to wait in the long queue. When you enter, make sure you stand in the right line as well!
- Fourth step is probably Get a health insurance, which is probably the easiest step. In my case, the university provided me with a paper that I needed to fill in and present to the Post Office, with a photocopy of the Identification document and of course money to pay. Find out which health insurance is the most suitable one for your needs and the duration which would be most appropriate for you. Your permit of stay lasts as long as your health insurance is valid.
- Apply for the Permit of Stay. This is where all the photocopies you made before come in handy. International Admissions office at my university kindly provided application forms and helped me fill them. I am sure all other universities provide same guidance. Remember: never ever hesitate to ask for help!
Nevertheless, applying for a permit of stay is not a difficult procedure but still needs some explanation. Check out next article about it!
- Making a bank account in Italy is a good idea for students, and it is fairly an easy procedure, just research the branch of the bank you are interested in and ask if they speak English (of course, only if you do not know Italian. Ask what documents they require. Mostly, it is photocopies of receipt for the permit of stay, or the actual permesso (depends on the bank), codice fiscale, identification documents and their photocopies and university enrollment letter photocopy and maybe the original. These are the documents they require in most cases, but it depends, just ask or search online.
General tips on how foreign students can avoid bureaucracy in Italy
- Always make copies and keep documents safe, you never know when they come in handy.
- Be on time, but expect others to be late and gather up the patience to wait in the long queues
- Ask questions everywhere you go and ask for help, especially from your university, Facebook groups or seniors at university.
- Research online before but don’t read too many sources as they might confuse you. Also look at the dates articles are written, things might have changed.
- Remember, it is not as difficult as it sounds and you are not the only person doing these things; we all have been lost fishes in the sea of bureaucracy, just plan well and do not be stressed.
- Don’t complain about bureaucracy in front of Italians! Trust me, they have it worse!