Our Italian Adventure: Residence, Visa or Passport?
Updated: Mar 26
VI. This part is called: Residency, Visa, American Passport, or What?
PART 6: I thought it might be of interest to share how we pulled off living in Italy for part of the year. I will post some steps we took.
We are in Puglia until the end of September, then back again in the winter.
Residency, Visa, Passport, or What? when living in Italy.
Step 1: I have an impulsive side and a cautious side, so when it came to living in Italy for part of the year, my first instinct was to apply for the elective visa, since I recently retired, then register as a resident once I arrived in Italy. Advantages of becoming a resident include being able to own a car and also eventually being able to be covered by the state health system. Plus, it just meant feeling more part of the new life we are embracing.
But a principal I learned in Al-Anon cautioned me: “What is important is not urgent, and what is urgent is not important”. Becoming a resident felt so urgent, so I decided to pause and investigate before taking that leap.
Step 2: Choices. Since our goal was to live in Italy for 4-6 months out of the year (because of ties and obligations in California), we realized that our choices included: staying in Italy on our passport or coming to Italy on a visa and registering as residents. We do not qualify for Italian citizenship at this point.
Step 3: Investigation. Upon investigation, each choice has guidelines, obligations and consequences.
Step 4: American Passport Choice: Coming to Italy on a passport means that one is limited to 90 days at a time, totaling about 180 days per year. To make sure we are within the guidelines, we use a calculator like this: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/visa-calculator/.
Step 5: Residency Choice: As we investigated becoming a resident, some of the principles that became clear are: one becomes a resident of one country, not two; either of the US or Italy. If one becomes a resident of Italy, one comes under the obligations of Italian tax laws. Another principle is that one does not have to pay double taxes, since there is a tax agreement between the US and Italy. The third principle is that filing taxes in both Italy and the US is complicated and one really cannot do it without the aid of a tax attorney (commercialista) who specializes in this area.
Step 6: Discernment and choice. Each person’s dreams and goals are different and we are taking our sojourn in Italy step by step. Our goal is to reside in this beautiful country for only part of the year because of obligations in California; therefore, the logical choice began to manifest itself. For now, coming to Italy and following the guidelines for Short-term visitors to the Schengen countries (see step 4) is the right choice.
Step 7: The Future. One important lesson in this adventure is that we don’t have to have it all figured out at the beginning, but we can take our experience of living in Italy step by step. The decision to stay in Italy on a passport, following the guidelines for short term stays, is the right decision for now. That choice may or may not change in the future, and that is perfectly OK.
Our adventure in Puglia is now in its second month, and we can’t believe how smooth and amazing it is.
Watch for my book coming around the 1st of the year: "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy".
More next time.