Moving to Rome
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What to know if you're moving to Rome
Before you can enjoy la dolce vita as an expat in Rome, there are a few things to prepare. From visas to residence permits, our InterNations GO! guide has plenty of information about the administrative details and practicalities of a move to Rome.
All about Italy
Relocating to Rome
At a Glance:
- The city has a Mediterranean climate, with cool, rainy winters, and hot summers with temperatures often more than 30⁰C.
- Nationals of all countries without visa exemption need to apply for a Schengen visa, even for a short-term stay in Rome. Most expats will need a long-term “National” visa.
- Non-EU national who wish to work on a self-employed/entrepreneurial basis in Rome must first get a nulla osta, which authorizes them to perform independent activities.
- Both EU and non-EU nationals will need to get a certificate of residence upon arrival in Rome, which can be obtained from your local anagrafe (residence office).
For many expats, moving to Rome sounds like a dream come true. Your forthcoming relocation may remind you of Hollywood’s vision of the Italian capital. It’s very tempting to imagine yourself as the dashing Gregory Peck romancing a doe-eyed Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, or as Julia Roberts discovering Italian gourmet cuisine in Eat Pray Love.
As dreamy as these visions seem, in real life, moving to Rome is, in many ways, the same as a move to any other city. Life in Rome brings with it pollution, rising rents, petty crime, and an overstrained transport infrastructure.
In other respects, Rome is certainly not just “any other city”. After all, Ancient Rome was the capital of an empire that stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, from Northern Africa to Northern England. As the center of Catholic Christianity, it has played a key role in European history.
Pleasant Climes by the Tiber River
Moving to Rome sets you right at the heart of Italy. The nation’s capital is located in central Italy, in the region of Lazio, where it forms the core of Lazio’s largest province – also called Roma. The city (comune) of Rome itself stretches along the River Tiber, from the hilly hinterland to the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Due to its location, the city has a typical Mediterranean climate, with rainy winters and hot summers. In July and August, average temperatures range from slightly below 20°C at night to 30°C or more during the day. In fact, the highest temperature ever recorded in downtown Rome is 40°C.
When you prepare for your move to Rome, you should take the climate into account, especially if you arrive in summer. While the city no longer comes to a standstill in August, expats coming to Italy at that time of the year still find themselves in a comparatively quiet city, with most of the local population flocking to the mountains or the beach.
A Multicultural Melting Pot
Rome is not only Italy’s capital, but also its most populous city. In 2015, the comune of Rome boasted a population of around 3.7 million. The municipality extends beyond the unofficial “city limits” marked by the ring road Grande Raccordo Anulare and includes a lot of unused marsh land.
The population of Rome is an ever increasing one, with thousands of Italians and migrants moving to Rome every year. According to the last official census, about 364,000 foreign-born residents are registered in the municipality of Rome. There are huge immigrant communities, especially from Albania, Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, Poland, Romania and the Ukraine.
There are also sizeable communities of German, French, and British expats in Rome. According to the latest available figures from the Italian Bureau of Statistics (Istat), 2,400 Germans, 3,800 French expats, and 2,500 Brits lived in the comune of Rome, in addition to a smaller expat community of around 2,000 US citizens.
Common Sense Guarantees Safety
As often happens in an unfamiliar environment, expats moving to Rome can be concerned about their safety. The most frequent crimes are, however, pick-pocketing (bus line no 64 is dubbed the “wallet express”), purse-snatching, and vehicle theft.
As always you should never leave your valuables in the open. In particularly busy areas you shouldn’t even keep them in a backpack, but use an inside pocket or a concealed money belt instead. Make sure to have the number of your embassy and bank to have if you do happen to lose a passport or credit card.
As with every city that you are not totally familiar with, make sure to have your wits about you. Don’t take unlicensed cabs, and avoid unofficial money exchanges — it’s not worth the risk of being scammed.
As a matter of general safety, it is best not to loiter around the Stazione Termini (Central Station) or in metro stations at night, and don’t walk alone at night in areas you don’t know or more deserted areas on the outskirts. Having said all this, moving to Rome is largely a safe decision, and you shouldn’t be afraid to discover this city yourself.
Expats in Rome: Visas for Italy
Before your dream of moving to Rome can come true, you need to sort out your visa. Nationals of EU or EEA member states do not need a visa to enter Italy — a valid passport or national ID card is enough. Even if they would like to live in Rome or take up gainful employment there, they still do not require a visa.
EU nationals planning a long-term stay do, however, have to acquire a residence certificate from the local town hall once they arrive in Rome. Read more about the certificato di residenzia on page three of this article.
Holders of a study visa have to renew it every year while foreign residents with a work visa or family visa only need to go through the renewal process every two years.
The citizens of various non-EU countries are exempt from applying for a visa if they plan on staying in Rome for a relatively short time (usually up to three months). A full list of countries to whom this exemption applies can be found on the website of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If you need to travel to Rome for extended business negotiations or a fact-finding trip, you may not have to obtain an Italian visa.
Uniform Schengen Visas
Nationals of all countries without visa exemption need to apply for a Schengen visa, even for a short-term stay in Rome. A Uniform Schengen Visa (USV) allows you to travel freely in all states that have signed the Schengen agreement. To apply for such a visa at the nearest Italian mission, you usually need the following documents:
- USV application form
- a recent passport photograph
- a valid passport
- proof of a return ticket reservation
- proof of accommodation in Italy
- proof of sufficient financial funds (fixed amount of 206.58 EUR + 27.89 EUR per day for stays over 20 days)
- health insurance (minimum coverage of 30,000 EUR)
- visa fee (60 EUR for less than 90 days, 99 EUR for more than 90 days)
If you want to stay in Rome for more than three months or work there, a Schengen visa is not enough. As a non-EU foreign national, you will need a “National Visa” to be able to reside (and work) in Italy.
If you are an expat employee, you are in luck. Generally speaking, your future employer will go through most of the bureaucratic hassle. The company needs to bring your case before the Labor Office and the Immigration Office to receive an entry clearance. This will be sent directly to the Italian Embassy or Consulate where you have sent your visa application. Your application can then be processed.
Other than the entry clearance, you need to submit the following in order to apply for an Italian work visa:
- a completed visa application
- a valid passport
- a passport photo
- your work contract
- valid travel documents
You will also have to pay a visa fee of 116 EUR for a long-term (National) visa.
It is recommended that you start with the preparations for your work visa about six months before you need it.
Entrepreneurs in Rome
There is a slightly different process if you are moving to Italy as a freelancer. EU citizens will have no issues, as they are entitled to live and work in Italy. However, non-EU nationals who wish to work on a self-employed basis have to be authorized (get a nulla osta) to work independently in the country. For further information on this, refer to the EU Immigration Portal or contact your nearest Italian foreign mission, as the necessary paperwork can depend on the kind of work you plan on doing.
You will also need to apply for a visa for your stay in Italy. If you plan on being self-employed in Italy for the long-term (i.e. over 90 days) you will need to apply for a national visa, as mentioned in the section above. It is likely that you will also need to provide proof of the previous year’s earnings, to demonstrate that they are higher than the Italian minimum wage.
Additionally, you will be required to get a permesso di soggiorno (residence permit) within eight days of arrival in Rome. This can be done at your local Questura (immigration police headquarters).
Family members of expats moving to Rome can easily join them if the relative in Italy is a national of an EU or EEA country. Spouses or children of an EU expat residing in Rome need only the following documentation for their family visa:
- valid passport
- official request to join their family
- marriage or birth certificate
However, if neither family member is from an EU/EEA member state, the expat residing in Rome must apply for an entry clearance at the Sportello l’Unico per l’Immigrazione (Immigration Office) first. Once you have this, you can submit your family visa application. Again, the EU Immigration Portal provides some further useful information and links on this topic.
Admin Issues for Expatriates in Rome
Once you get your visa for your stay in Italy, you are ready to make the move to your new home in Rome. If you are a non-EU national, however, the paperwork is not over yet — you still need to get a permesso di soggiorno (official residence permit). This must be done within eight days of arrival in the country.
Getting a Residence Permit
You can obtain a residence permit at the comune, the Sportello l’Unico per l’Immigrazione (immigration office) of the prefecture, or via the post office. The last option is usually the easiest.
Just look for the nearest post office that has a sportello amico logo — the Poste Italiane website has a list of the post offices with this section, as well as useful information such as the opening hours (orari). Here you can fill out the yellow permesso di soggiorno kit.
Other documents required to get a residence permit are:
- a valid passport, containing your entry visa
- a copy of your passport and entry visa
- four recent passport photos
- documents detailing the nature of your stay in Italy (e.g. work contract)
You will also need to purchase a marca da bollo (revenue stamp), which currently costs 14.80 EUR — this must be affixed to your completed application form.
The completed documentation must then be returned to the post office, where it will be processed.
How to Acquire a Tax Number
As soon as you have your residence permit, make sure to get your codice fiscale (tax number). Without this number, you’ll be unable to deal with most administrative issues of everyday life in Italy, so it is essential to get one.
Citizens of EU or EEA member states can skip the step with the residence permit and go for the codice fiscale right away.
To obtain your Italian tax number, take your passport (plus an additional photocopy) and your residence permit or proof of residence, and head for the Agenzia delle Entrate (tax office). The office responsible for you depends on your address in Rome.
On the website of the Agenzia delle Entrate di Lazio, you can explore the provincial offices by clicking on the map in the top left corner. The direzioni provinciali of Roma I, II, and III will be of interest to you. You should find the nearest local office (uffizio territoriale) and its contact info by clicking on a specific provincial office in the left-hand menu. You should then go and collect your tax number at the respective uffizio territoriale.
Obtaining a Residence Certificate
Last but not least, you need a residence certificate from the anagrafe (registry office) of your town hall. The residence certificate is not the same as the residence permit. Take note: even EU nationals must apply for a certificato di residenzia!
EU nationals only need to provide a passport, proof of employment or sufficient funds, their tax number, and proof of health insurance coverage to get this certificate. Non-EU expats with a National Visa, on the other hand, have to show their passport, their residence permit, their tax number, and for those with a family visa, their marriage or birth certificate.
The anagrafe is located in the town hall of your municipio (borough ) in Rome. To find your nearest anagrafe, click on your residential area on this map of all the Roman municipi. Once you have chosen the borough where you live, you can look for the contact details of the registry office via the left-hand menu.
The anagrafe may be listed separately, under servizi (services), servizi demografici (demographic services), uffici amministravi (administrative offices), dove siamo (where we are), or similar.