Becoming Roman the official way part 1: La residenza Living in Rome

10/7/2011 by Paul Netherlands

How does one become Roman officially? Having moved here 4 months ago, it surprised me that it's so hard to find experts that can help you with all the bureaucratic stuff. Many of the foreigners living in Rome don't really worry about these things. Let's take health insurance for example. I found out that being abroad for more than 3 months automatically meant that my health insurance from Holland was no longer valid, a thought that scared me, but did not seem to worry other foreigners living in Rome.
I moved to Rome in May and based upon previous experiences abroad (Germany and Sweden) my first priority was to request Roman residency ("residenza"). Although people from the EU are supposed to move freely within the EU, I encountered barriers quite often.
I found out I should go to "Municipio di Roma XVI". Although the website indicated I could schedule an appointment, a quick phone call made clear, that it was not. On the question what papers to bring, they could not tell me and advised me just to "bring everything". I had to wait for two hours, but then it was my turn. I have to admit I was quite nervous; this was going to be my official moment.
The lady at the desk did not say anything, nor did she greet me. Confident of having brought everything I said I was here to request "la residenza di Roma". To my surprise she brought out a paper with all the things I would need to bring (WHY could they not tell me this on the phone or publish on their website). A quick look at the requests made me aware I would probably not have brought all required papers, but I was going to bluff my way through it and not have wasted 2 hours of waiting. She asked for proof that I was being employed in Rome. When I showed her my contract all with signatures and logo's she burst out into laughter. She said that this was not a "real" contract. Then she asked for a copy of my birth certificate. I showed her the original thinking that the original would be more "official" and she could make a copy of it. She said that if I had not made copies I should come back another day...
Two weeks later I went back with all the required papers and I made copies for all of them. I had bought the required copy of the passport of the HR director of my company (how strange). This time I arrived at 8:00 am, perfect timing because they were going to open at 8:30. When I was being called to the "sportello" it was the same woman again. After 1 minute it was clear to me that again she was not intended to help me. Although she tried everything to find something I had NOT with me, I was able to provide her everything and there was nothing left for her but to start the procedure of requesting the "residenza". On my question why this procedure here seemed much more complicated than in other countries, she answered me that Italy had been invaded by so many nations, that they have to be careful. Haha, imagine the Dutch taking over Italy, how more efficient it would be. She handed over a piece of paper as a receipt and gave me the advice that my name should be officially displayed on the intercom (citofono) of my apartment; a piece of paper put on top of the citofono would be a reason not to get the residenza. When I asked how long the procedure would take she replied "just wait".
Midst of July (one month later) I was curious about the status of my request. I went to their website, which showed 20 phone numbers you could call between 15:00 – 17:00 if you required information (how inefficient). I however called all 20 of them several times and nobody answered. Finally someone replied on one of the 20 numbers, but said she was responsible for handicapped people. When I asked which number I should call for a status update of my residency request, she nearly started crying and said I should stop bothering her. Now being fed up with this attitude I called the director ("direttore") and got his secretary. I explained that I requested the residenza 3 months ago and she said that 1 month is short and that it will take at least 3 months. I can no longer control myself and tell her it is NOT OK that it takes at least 3 months, while in all other EU countries they handle these kinds of requests in 3 days. She hangs up the phone.
September now and we are at 3 months, no news yet. Anyway I have been able to get everything I want without the residenza, but I will get the residency no matter what!

Paul Netherlands

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