Again, only after you have the visa and are in Italy do you apply for the corresponding permesso di soggiorno. For student visas, you apply for the permesso di soggiorno per studio; the permesso di soggiorno per dimora is for those with a residency visa; and the permesso di soggiorno per lavoro is for those with a work visa. All of the permits are obtained at the local questura (police headquarters). There, you will be asked to fill out an application, which includes three passport photographs plus a marca da bollo (a sort of administrative tax stamp available at the post office). You will also need some proof of health insurance.

If you are applying for a residency permit or student permit, the bureaucracy ends there. In the case of the work permit, upon being presented with your visa, police headquarters will provide you with an interim work permit that is good for 90 days. In the meantime, you acquire a codice fiscale (tax ID number), which you can do at the uf icio delle imposte dirette (local tax authority), to be found in the town’s municipal buildings. It is an important card, as you will also need it for all kinds of purchases, such as a cell phone, a car, or a moped, and when opening a bank account. The documents you will need to show for the codice fiscale are limited to a passport and sometimes a stay permit, although many Americans are not asked for the latter, especially in small towns. The card will then be sent to you by mail.

The final step is to present your signed work contract to the local employment office, the Ispettorato Provinciale di Lavoro, for final approval of your application. (Ironically, that office represents the Labor Ministry, which issued the no obstacle document in the first place.) Once you have all those documents”the temporary permit, the codice fiscale, and the approval of the labor office”the questura will then award your efforts with the permesso di lavoro, available in two-year or five-year permits, or else the time period specified on your work contract, if any. If you lose your job before the permit expires, you will need to find another one quickly. Recently passed legislation now gives employees just six months to land another job, or else the permit becomes void, whereas previously they could ride out its duration. There is a legal alternative to the job hunt if you care for more time, though it’s not entirely convenient. Once your work permit is up, you can apply as an independent worker for the permesso di soggiorno per lavoro indipendente, provided you have all the necessary skills.

Moving with Children The thought of moving to another country with children can be daunting, but thousands of foreign couples raise their families in Italy and usually have positive things to say about the experience. Public education is very good, recreational opportunities abound, and most of all, family”and children in particular”is the number-one priority for Italians. Kids will never want for attention. The most trying period for parents in Italy will usually coincide with their children’s toddler years. There are almost always waiting lists to enroll your child into a public nursery school, and so candidates are assigned priority by a points system. It takes into consideration your financial status, your occupation, and whether there is a grandmother at home to watch over the kids, among other things. For this reason, private nursery schools are also in high demand, and many middle-class or uppermiddle-class families will find that a private nursery school tuition will cost the same as public one; count on about ‚400 per month. Naturally, the price increases the longer your child stays through the afternoon, though some mothers and fathers find that the money spent for the post-nap activities is a preferable alternative to babysitters.


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