Live Florence: Permission to stay

This blog post has been written to provide advice only and is based on my own experience, I recommend consulting the official government site for official advice.

Perhaps this will be the second hurdle you face, second only to actually getting to Florence, but getting your Permesso di Soggiorno – permission to stay – might be one of your biggest challenges when trying to live in Florence.

There are so many blogs out there explaining the excruciatingly difficult process for obtaining your PdS and dealing with Italian bureaucracy. Many describing it as the most difficult challenge of your life.

Perhaps these are just people trying to scare you away so that the lines at the Questura aren’t too long. 

I am going to disagree with most of them, based on the fact that I have received my PdS and feel that it required no more effort than a visa for any other country. Was I just lucky? It is hard to say but I can only comment on my experience and that was that yes… it took a few months, but it was no more difficult than finding an apartment. Advice: follow the instructions and most importantly learn Italian!

I don’t want to go over what you can find on any other blog (see some links below that helped me) but thought I could walk you through the process that I followed, successfully! (Please note that I was applying for permission to stay based on my husband being an Italian citizen. This did not make the process for me any shorter but did add an additional step that others may not necessarily require.)


  1. Before you leave for Italy have all the paperwork you think you might need plus anything that seems like it might just be bonus information, have it translated and apostilled – I wouldn’t want to know how to do this in Italy and found it easier to have it done at home. We carried with us copies of passports, marriage certificates, birth certificates, police checks, name changes and passport photos.IMG_9530-questura
  2. Go to the Questura within 7 days of arriving in Italy to start your application.The process when visiting the Questura is get there early 7am-7.30am, line up outside (15-20mins if early enough), then line up inside (25-35mins if early enough), be given a number from the first window, wait in the waiting area until your number is called (could be anywhere up to 1.5 hours depending on where you are in the queue and how early you were). The PdS window doesn’t actually open until somewhere between 8.15am and 8.30am so you could always skip out and get a coffee at this point. Attend the window when your number is called – don’t miss your number being called – and follow their instructions.

    This can be done at this Post Office too I believe, but we had little luck getting the form and were met with resistance. Not in a bad way but just being told ‘just stay, you don’t need a form‘. If you can’t convince them to give you the form just go to the Questura. Note: You can probably get away without knowing Italian at the Questura but it would make your life a whole lot easier if you knew some. The Questura will register that you are applying for a PdS and give you a form.

  3. This step was only needed as my husband is an Italian citizen, you need to go to the Commune di Firenze and apply for residency in Florence. Note: You will need to have already found somewhere to live and have rental contracts available, as well as proof that you live there such as utilities. Expect a visit from the Commune to prove that you do indeed live where you say you live. The downfall of this step is that you have to commit to staying somewhere and most likely paying before you even know if you are allowed to stay in Italy. You will also need to know which commune you are registered in Italy as it will need to be transferred to Florence – unless you are already in Florence and then I guess you can skip this step. You must know Italian to deal with the Commune, we had many fun times there where perseverance rather than language skills paid off.
  4. Find somewhere to live: This step should actually before step 3 although logically you would want to do it second. We found that booking our apartment for the full length of our stay saved us a considerable – almost a third – amount of money so pre-paying was the way we went. You could probably go month-by-month to avoid any loss should you not be able to stay in Italy in the end, but you would pay more anyway. We found our apartment through Apartments Florence.
  5. Return to the Questura – you will need to follow the same waiting process from step 2 but this time you are dropping off your paperwork. Make sure you have everything as I’m sure you don’t want to have to do this again.If everything goes well you will be given an afternoon appointment for that day to have you fingerprints taken at the same place. You leave and come back in the afternoon – and you guessed it – wait some more until your number is called. At this stage you leave with your fingers crossed. We were told that we would receive a text message when the PdS was ready to be picked up but we never got it and instead just returned to the Questura 30 days later.
  6. Return to the Questura – you will need to follow the same waiting process from step 2 but this time you are hopefully picking up your Pds. I received mine without any problems so did not have to come back, but I am guessing at this stage you might find that yours has been rejected and you might need to submit some more information or possibly will be unable to stay in Italy. This is where having prepaid for you accommodation might become a problem.

What to expect:

  • Waiting! Expect to wait, in queues and in rooms, wait at home while your application is processed. Just learn to be patient. Have another coffee. There is a process that must be followed, you don’t need to understand why, just understand that it must be followed.

Other blogs that might be useful:


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