Obtaining Italian Documents

There are several documents and permissions that you will need to obtain to be able to enter and stay in Italy. The following list will provide information on the steps that you will need to take to receive all of your documentation.


  • First, you need to find out with which consulate you should connect. The consulate will want to see your driver’s license, so whichever state your driver’s license is from is the state that will connect you to your consulate. You can see the mapping of the consulate to the state on this page.
  • Next, go to the website for your consulate and find the visas section. Assuming that you are receiving a religious worker’s visa, find the non-Catholic version and you will see the list of requirements there. Start working on gathering your documents!
  • We highly recommend that all adults be ordained by their church to allow each to have their own visa. You should find that the approval process will work more smoothly this way.
  • You will need to connect with your Search Party supervisor to help connect you with your inviting church or organization and coordinate your invitation letter. The church where you will be based should issue the invitation letter for the exact dates of your arrival for one year.
  • When you are sure that you have completed all of your preparation activities and are ready to make your flight arrangements to come to Italy, you should make your appointment with the consulate. You will need to go there in-person at the day and time of the appointment to submit your documents. Once everything is approved, they will send you the passports with the visas inside in the pre-addressed envelope that you provide to the consulate.

Codice Fiscale

  • One of the first documents that you will need once you arrive in Italy is your Codice Fiscale. This will allow you to transact business in Italy, including signing rental contracts. The codice fiscale is the loose equivalent to your social security number in the US.
  • You should be able to apply for your codice fiscale with just your passport and your visa, but some of the officials ask for the permesso di soggiorno also. If this happens, show them your visa within your passport and they should allow you to complete the process.
  • The agency where you obtain your Codice Fiscale is called the Agenzia delle Entrata. The office for the Agenzia delle Entrata in Catania is located here.
  • More information on obtaining the Codice Fiscale is available here: https://www.idealista.it/en/news/legal-advice-italy/2018/06/22/2223-how-get-your-codice-fiscale-italy

Permesso di Soggiorno

  • Within 8 days of arriving in Italy, you must submit your application for a residency permit, also known as the permesso di soggiorno.
  • You can read a thorough explanation of the entire process on this web page.
  • We recommend going to a patronato to help prepare the documents for your permesso di soggiorno. The patronato helps individuals prepare documents for various government processes. You will likely pay a small fee (referred to as a “donation”) of around €50 depending on the size of your family, but it can be worth it to make sure your documents are well-organized. Your Search Party supervisor can provide you a contact in Catania who has done a good job for everyone in preparing their documents and helping them receive their permesso di soggiorno.
  • You will need to purchase a marca da bollo stamp for your documents. These can typically be purchased at any Tabacchi (tabacco shop – the sign has a “T”) in town.
  • You will then need to submit your documents at the post office. We recommend two locations: city center or near Borgo station.
  • Once you have submitted your documents, make sure that you keep all of the receipts provided to you by the post office.
  • Leaving the post office, you will be given an appointment to come to the Questura, which is the immigration police. In Catania, the Questura is located here.
  • Assuming all goes well at the Questura appointment, you will then be called back within a few months to pick up your permesso di soggiorno cards. In the meantime, you should continue to keep your receipts from the post office as your proof that you are still in process with the Questura. If you want to check the status of your permesso, you can do that online at this website.
  • When it is time to renew your permesso di soggiorno, you should start the renewal process about 60 days prior to the expiration date of your current permesso by returning back to the patronato to resubmit your documentation.

Carta d’Identità

  • The Carta d’Identità is the national identity card for Italy. Your Carta d’Identità will become your primary way of identifying yourself after you receive it and should allow you to leave your passport at home. You will apply for this card once you have received your permesso di soggiorno.
  • The first step to obtaining your Carta d’Identità is to establish residency in your city at the comune, the city’s governmental offices. There are a few locations in Catania, but the main office is located here. You should go there, taking your signed and stamped rental contract along with all of your other identity documentation, and complete the residency application and someone from the police will be sent to your house within a few days to a few weeks.
  • Once you have established your residency, you can then complete your application for the carta d’identità back at the comune, the city’s governement offices.
  • The Carta d’Identità costs about €30.

Tessera Sanitaria

  • The Tessera Sanitaria is used for healthcare requirements, and is generally also requested when someone needs your codice fiscale as it is printed on the Tessera Sanitaria card.
  • You can apply for the Tessera Sanitaria at an Azienda Sanitaria Provinciale (ASL) office. Probably the easiest way to find one of those offices is to search for Azienda Sanitaria in Google Maps and it should bring up the local offices near you. In Catania, we have been able to complete the process at the ASL office located at the San Luigi hospital.
  • Additional details on applying for your Tessera Sanitaria are here: https://www.doctorsinitaly.com/how-to-get-tessera-sanitaria/
  • Note that, despite having this card, you may also need to still carry health insurance while in Italy. We have generally had good luck with finding a policy with Good Neighbor Insurance.

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