Entry Visa? Types of Visas

Visa-Visto from - CuriousCatExpat.com

What is the Entry Visa?

An entry visa is the authorization that permits you to enter Italy – legally. It is a printed sticker/paper that is attached in your passport (or other valid travel document). Looks like this –>

  • In short, the Visa gets you into the country, a Permesso di Soggiorno makes it legal for you to stay in Italy.
  • To enter Italy long-term, you need a Visa.
  • Visas are issued by Italian embassies and consulates in the country of origin of the applicant or in the country in which the applicant regularly resides.


When applying for a Visa/Visto, you are required to specify the following:

  • the purpose of your trip (type of Visa: tourism, work, etc)
  • proof you have money to support yourself. (enough for your stay in Italy and to return to your country)
  • proof of accommodation – where you will be living (apartment lease, hotel, family home).
  • the application form must include a recent passport-size photo
  • a valid travel document (ex: Passport) and
  • supporting documents depending on the type of visa you are applying for (see chart below).

The Italian term for Visa is ‘VISTO’


A visa is issued by the Italian Embassies and consular posts in your home country or permanent residence. You cannot apply for a visa while you are in Italy. 

 icon-asterisk Use this link to determine if you need a Visa and which documents you need to apply.  http://vistoperitalia.esteri.it/home/en

  1. Use the link above to locate the embassy or consulate in your country
  2. Answer the four questions to determine if you need a VISA
    1. The website will give you instructions based on your answers.  However, the instructions are in Italian, you’ll need to copy & paste to translate the information.  (Note:  if you want to move to Italy, this is something you need to get used to.  Most everything is written in Italian.)
    2. One of the questions asks what type of VISA?   To get a description of VISA types, click on the tab on this page ‘Types of Visas’.
  3. You go in person to your scheduled appointment & bring ALL required documents, passport photos, formal identification (passport), and anything else you think you may need.
    1. **** You will need to leave your passport with the embassy/consulate during the processing ****
  4. In most cases you do not receive your VISA on the spot during your appointment.  The appointment is to submit your documents.
  5. The Embassy/consulate processes & verifies your application. You wait.
  6. Usually by priority mail (FedEx, UPS) you will receive your processed VISA application
    1. This means – hopefully, you receive your passport with the VISTO within your passport.


Types of Visas

There are many types of entry visas:


– Application filled in and signed by one of the adoptive parents (Form 1);
– A photocopy of the passport or other equivalent document (see Table 4);
– Photocopy Authorization to entry and permanent residence of the foreign child in Italy issued by the Commission for International Adoptions;
– Copy of identity document of the parent who signed the application for a residence permit request.

– Exempt from stamp duty


  • business persons
  • fashion model
  • members of TV, Radio or Film Crews
  • transport

Competitive Sporting events

  • invitation from CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee) or competent Italian Sports Federation
  • invitation by sporting event organiser

Work-Self Empl & Subordinate Empl

  • self-employment
    • self-employed professional
    • business person, merchant, artisan
    • holders of contracts for projects, consultancy, etc.
    • sports person and athletes
    • partners and managers of companies in Italy
    • artists, dancers and entertainment industry personnel
    • managers or highly qualified employees of companies based in Italy or with branches in Italy, or of branch offices of foreign companies headquartered
    • in a member country of the World Trade Organisation, or managers of main offices in Italy of Italian firms of firms of another EU member
    • university language assistants
    • university professors and researchers intending to fill an academic position or carry out paid research activities in Italian universities or educational or
    • research institutes
    • translators and interpreters
  • subordinate employment
    • subordinate personnel
    • maritime personnel
    • personnel employed in supplementary maritime services
    • journalists and correspondents
    • sports person and athletes
    • personnel of Italian diplomatic representations in Italy
    • personnel of diplomatic/technical-administrative officials of Italian diplomatic representations in Italy
    • artists, dancers and entertainment industry personnel

Elective residence
Many people think of this as ‘retired’. But anyone, of any age is permitted to apply for Elective Residency. Requirements are financials and you are NOT permitted to work or look for work in Italy.

Family reunification

  • joining family member
  • of an EU or European Economic Area citizen
  • of a foreign citizen with residence permit or work visa for subordinate employment, self-employment, study or religious reasons valid for no less than one year
  • accompanying family member
  • of an EU or European Economic Area citizen
  • of a foreign citizen with residence permit or work visa for subordinate employment, self-employment, study or religious reasons valid for no less than one year


  • application to Italian Universities
  • study courses and grants
  • religious novitiate/training
  • technical and professional instruction beyond the level of compulsory education
  • Attending a language school does not make you eligible for a study visa


  • individuals
  • agency-organised group tours
  • Minors participating in reception programs of the Committee for Foreign Minors

Other Visas 

These are more self-explanatory based on the name.

  • Working Holiday
  • Airport transit
  • Transit transport
  • Employment mission
  • Religious grounds
  • Re-entry
  • Invitation
  • Medical Treatment
  • Diplomatic
  • Accompanying family member

Short vs Long Term

Short-Term Visa

(less than 90 days)
A visa is not required if you are a national of one of the countries whose citizens are exempt from any visa requirement for short-term stays not exceeding 90 days on the following grounds: tourism, mission, business, invitation or sporting events.

  •  A USA citizen is not required to get a VISA for a stay less than 90 days

A visa is required if you are a national of one of the countries whose citizens are subject to a visa requirement.

National long-stay visa

If you wish to stay in Italy for a period more than 90 days and you are NOT an EU citizen – a Visa is required.

A Long stay visa permits you to:

  • a stay in Italy for a period more than 90 days
  • have one or multiple entries into Italy during your Visa term
  • and you are permitted to travel through the other Schengen States


  • Tracy Best says:

    This is really great information!! I truly appreciate you posting it.
    I am a little unique; I work for a US-based company but my job is 100% internet based. Thus, I work, but can work from anywhere in the world. Would a Elective Residence visa be my best choice? Can you do it for 2 years instead of 1 year?
    Is it also possible to stay just 3 months at one residence and then move to another city? I would like to go from Rome to Florence to Milan… wherever. If I show the lease for 1 year for 1 place, but then break the lease (paying the fines, etc) to go to the next town, is that considered ok legally? Or is there a better way to do this?

    • Inta -Curious Cat Expat says:

      Hi Tracy – my first recommendation is to do more research about the current laws. I went through this process in 2010 & 2011, so my information may be outdated. The bureaucracy in Italy is difficult and not clear even when you find the correct resource. Many people work remotely, but not necessarily legally. If you get an Elective residency visa, you are not permitted to work anywhere – not Italy, not the USA. Elective residency (ER) visas are for 1 year. You can then try to renew for 1 year. However the process to get your Permesso di Soggornio (required and linked to your address) can be a royal headache depending on where you live. If you plan to have multiple addresses, it would be more of a nightmare. Regarding getting apartment contracts/leases is not easy either. Most contracts are 3 or 4 years and you have to be very careful in negotiating the clauses to terminate the lease. Note – all if this is done in Italian. How’s your Italian? Typically one months rent as a fee to get the apartment, and termination can be up to 6 month rent. If you plan on moving around, you’re probably better off getting AirBnB type of apartments. But then you need to re-register your address which is linked to your Permesso. If you think the processes of finding an apartment and having loose laws are like the US, it’s not. Basically, take everything you are used to about customer service and efficiency and throw it away – Italy is different and foreigners are targets for manipulation. It’s a beautiful country aesthetically, but a nightmare regarding bureaucracy. Do tons of research and make sure it’s worth the effort for what you want.

  • Lauren says:

    Do you have to show your plane tickets/itinerary when applying for a long-term (1-year) elective residence visa? If so, does the return ticket back to the US have to be 1 year from entry?

    • Inta -Curious Cat Expat says:

      Hi Lauren, Yes, I had to show a round-trip ticket. If you want a 1 year Visa, you need a place ticket covering that the time period you request for the Visa. The interesting thing is that airlines don’t bookout tickets further than 300 days or so. I used mileage to book my RT ticket, this way I could change the return flight when I knew I’d be going back or to extend it to a year. The consulate accepted this for me and I got a 1 year Visa.
      (Note: I applied for my ER visa 5 years ago, I don’t know if the rules have changed. I would email or call the consulate to make sure of the current requirements). Good luck!

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