Category Archives: Legal stuff

Schengen Shuffle

Ligurian coast

I have to admit I spend a good bit of time reading the Facebook groups that are set up for immigrants to Italy — Retired in Italy, Americans Living in Italy, Ultimate Italy, Affordable Italy, etc. I answer a lot of questions. There are a lot of people who want to move here. I think there are a combination of reasons. The Baby Boomers are all retiring right now. People are tired of the strife in US politics, the anger that seems to permeate society now. Prices are high in the U.S.. There are many descendants of the Italian immigrants who migrated to other countries over the last hundred years who are eligible for Italian citizenship.

I actually enjoy helping people with this…most of the time. Thing is, so many people don’t do the slightest bit of research before asking a very basic question. So many young people want to come and that can be very difficult. There are very few Visas for them. For retirees, it is easier. There is a Visa called the Elective Residency Visa. It is for people with enough passive income to qualify, who don’t need to work…i.e., retirees. Or smart young people who made their pile early and can qualify. But no work allowed.

Night view

Some facts about coming to live here. If you are not an EU citizen, you will need a Visa to come. Buying property is easy but it doesn’t confer permission to stay past the normal 90 day tourist visa. After you receive the Visa, you must apply for a Permesso di Soggiorno (permit to stay) within a week of arrival. Then you apply for residency. (Fact – you can’t buy a car unless a resident). Also, one of the biggest hurdles to living in Italy is obtaining your driving license. Test in Italian. Must be taken within a year of residency. Once you become a resident you will be liable to pay Italy taxes on your worldwide income and investments.

It is this last bit that seems to make people balk at moving full-time to Italy. It is a pet peeve of mine that so many people try to find a way to get out of paying taxes here but still want to be able to live here and enjoy all the things that the taxes pay for. Enter the Schengen Shuffle. Americans, Canadians and many other non-EU countries have an automatic 90 day tourist visa to come to any Schengen country — most of Europe is in The Schengen Zone. So a person can come to Italy (for example) and stay 90 days, then they must exit the Schengen zone for 90 days. They can repeat as often as they want. They never become residents. They never pay taxes. They use things taxes pay for, like museums, monuments, parks, historical sites, beaches, schools, universities, libraries, hospitals, public transportation.

Historical site… Paestum Greek temples

To exit the Schengen zone and stay in Europe there are only a few possibilities. The United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Albania. Turkey. Or you can go back to your home country.

Now, from my personal perspective, the taxes are not all that bad. The tax rates are higher, yes. There is a tax treaty between the U.S. and Italy to protect against double taxation. We pay no tax in the U.S. now. We don’t pay any property taxes on our home here — we used to pay $10K+ a year in the U.S., a big savings. We don’t pay state tax, another ~$8K saved. Now that we have become permanent residents our health care is free in Umbria. [Other regions may vary.] You can apply for the long term residency at the five year mark. The cost to enroll in the system before you become a permanent resident is capped at €2,700 a person annually, but could be less. It is income based. €2K minimum cost. This is cheap by US standards. Cost of living here in Umbria is less than half what people pay in the U.S. and for some of the best, safest and most tasty food anywhere. To me, it is about a wash. Not all that much more in taxes and so worth it to us to live in this beautiful and tranquil country. 🇮🇹

La Dolce Vita 💕

Living here is not perfect by a long shot. There are a lot of hurdles people must leap. The bureaucracy is horrible. One must negotiate everyday life in a foreign language. One must abide by their rules. It is nothing like the U.S. One will get homesick. One will miss things from home. For us, the challenges are part of the draw. It keeps your mind working overtime. All normal, everyday things are now a challenge, or an adventure, depending on how you look at it. We are happy to be living here. Frankly, after ten years here, it is now our home. 🙂

Sundry things

Since our last momentous news I thought I would update about our comings and goings and doings 🙂.

The day we got our PdS lungo periodo we had already planned a celebration of sorts with friends who live in or near Spello. It was a quiche potluck. The participants were Steve and Roselyne, our hosts, and our good friend Doug who is in the midst of a major renovation of his house on the mountainside nearby. We had three quiches. The celebration was of Steve’s passing of the written exam for his Italian drivers license – Patente. This is probably THE most difficult hurdle of all to moving and living in Italy. All in archaic Italian with “trick” questions. But he did it! First try! So a real cause to celebrate. And we also celebrated our long term PdS and Doug’s house getting a floor. That is also a BIG thing. Anyway, it was a very fun day. Steve and Roselyn’s apartment has two lovely terrazzi and a balcony overlooking the main street in Spello. After lunch we sat on their grande terrazzo. The rooftops of Spello spread out and the views of the mountains were lovely. A special place.

I did a lot of work on Sunday. I had been putting it off but the day was fine. I had ordered new, stick-on rugs for our stairway. The old ones were awful. Dirty and rough and the cats fur stuck to them.

I also shifted about ten bags if soil and transplanted my two herb plants. This is just one planter of five. They all need dirt to be added so it will be a slow process.

Below are the roses that managed to escape the “purge” by our sellers. I transplanted two which may or may not survive. It will be interesting to see what colors they are. The other bed has a rogue hydrangea on the right side. I will let it grow. This will also be my spring garden. I have some hyacinths to transplant and some tulip bulbs and the two primroses gifted to me by my friend Jill. I “think” there may be one more hyacinth coming up too, in a different bed.

I bought two pretty little side tables if ever we get an outside sofa! I plan to order a sofa soon. They are mosaic tiles on wrought iron stands.

I also obtained two amazing Thailandese cat statues from my friend Paul. They are heavy as all get out but I love them on the terrace. They are near the pizza oven.

Finally, today we had an appointment at the Anagrafe in our Comune to change our abode from Via Grilli to Via Fratta. Easy to do since they are both in the same Comune but nonetheless an experience. The people in our Comune couldn’t be nicer. Whenever we’ve had dealings there they are always super helpful. So we did all the paperwork. Went from office to office and got it all done. They are a bit old fashioned here. Everything is done on paper. Here are some pictures I snapped inside the Comune. It used to be a grand palazzo. A single family home. It is enormous. The grand room pictured below has the seal of Umbertide. It looks like a hanging but it is not. It is a fresco on plaster. It is where the official dealings of the Comune all happen.

On the wall in the office we were in they had this great photo of Umbertide Centro Storico.

Below is the second office we visited. The tax office — ufficio tributi. We only pay trash tax, no property tax, here since our apartment is our prima casa or primary home. But they need to know we moved. I was amused that all their records are on paper in all these file boxes. Wow.

Big stuff done. We still must visit the vigili or the local police and tell them we have moved. We’ll probably do that Friday or next week. Always makes me happy when we get things done!

Our weather has turned fine, finally! It’s low 70s and sunny. My big focus will be on the terrace as time goes by. Stay tuned for updates!

Soggiornante di Lungo Periodo UE

Well, folks, it finally happened. The loooong saga of obtaining our long term Permit to Stay, good for more than a year is at an end. If you’ve been reading this a while you’ll know how long we have been working towards getting this Permesso. This one is good for ten years. I’ll probably be dead by then.

A person is allowed to apply for this after five years of residency. We have been here almost nine years. The reason we are late in getting this was mainly due to Covid. We applied three years ago but we didn’t have all our paperwork. Then we applied again in March 2022. We were told we needed additional documents which we provided to them in July 2022. So today, ten months later we finally got the cards. We, of course we’re not sure it WOULD actually be a long term card. When Luther looked at the date (he got his card before me) he told me it expired 2032. I was stupidly happy.

It is finally the end of the annual rigamarol of renewing, paying, getting to see the Questura for fingerprints and then waiting months for the cards. Meanwhile our old cards were expired meaning we always had to worry about traveling on them. As of today we are finished with this. Such a relief. I wanted all my friends here to know the end of the story.

Italian Health coverage – a new year

Here, in our part of Umbria, we are required to obtain our social security statements from the US Embassy in Rome to obtain our enrollment in the National Health system. This statement must be stamped and signed by the American Embassy in Rome. This is ONLY a requirement in this part of Umbria. How and why this came about I do not know. When we first moved here, we self declared our income. After a couple years they decided we needed this statement. It really threw a monkey wrench into the works that year for all of us! We eventually got used to it and just go with the flow, requesting the statement from the Embassy.

I always send off two emails, one for me, and one for Luther to the Social Security office in Rome asking for this statement to be sent. Usually I do this in mid-December so I can get them by January 1. I complain, and everyone does, about Italian bureaucrats. Now, in this case they work at the American Embassy which is almost entirely staffed by Italians. I got a nice reply from a woman to me that she was sending out my statement right away. But I also got a reply from a man to Luther that he would have to ask again after the first of the year. 😡 Annoyed I shot back an email that said essentially “my wife can get hers now why not me?” He replied that he “normally” waits until the year is done to send it, but would send it now. Think about it, this is our Social Security benefit for the year 2022. It is not like this will change in the next two weeks! Geesh. Dealing with bureaucrats can be exhausting.

When we receive the statements from the Embassy we will go to the USL which is the agency of health and re-up for our annual payment and enrollment for 2023. It is 7.5% of our social security benefits. It is paid annually in January. We are usually out of the system for a week or two while completing the payment and application. Once we sign up, most things are free. Co-pays are small and linked to your income on a sliding scale. For Italian citizens and workers they are automatically enrolled. I am happy with our care here. It is a good system.

Digital Nomad visa

One of the things I see most discussed among people who aspire to move to Italy, is Visas. I showcase the different types in my page So You’ve Decided to Move to Italy. The latest news is about Italy’s recent adoption of the Digital Nomad Visa. The final requirements aren’t ironed out but this is my updated write-up of what’s known now.

Digital Nomad: (DNV) At the end of March 2022 Italy passed a bill allowing Digital Nomad visas. This is for highly skilled professionals who will work in Italy for themselves or remotely for a non-Italian company.  The Visa will be good for one year with the possibility of extending for one more. As of this writing the requirements have not been firmed up. What I read though, is that the individual consulates will have major discretionary powers, as to whether they issue or don’t issue a DNV. The applications will need to be completely bulletproof like those for the Elective Residency Visa. It may require the official recognition of one’s professional qualifications. An applicant may need to show an advanced degree, proof of operating in the field (probably for several years) for which they want to apply for the DNV, a tax return from their home country, and health insurance. It has already been announced that they will need to be completely tax compliant in Italy, so applicants are advised they should consult a tax expert in Italy, if they want to apply for this visa.

I will update this as I learn more. It seems many people think they can move anywhere with no real limitations. But people should ask themselves, would the US let just anyone in with no limitations or requirements? I think not. And it works the same for all countries. You need to get the proper permissions.

Even after nearly eight years here we also have to continue our responsibility to update/renew our permissions to continue living here. As some of you know, we are working to get our permanent residence permit. We have two new, required documents to obtain that the Questura has asked for. The first one is the Certificato d’abilita’. We had already gotten our apartment assessed by our Geometra last year. We mistakenly thought this was what was needed for the long term permit, but it was not. Turns out the steps to get the certificato were many. First we had to buy a Marca da bollo at the Tabaccharia for €16.00. Then we had to make an appointment at the bank in the Piazza (not our bank) and pay a fee at the teller. Then the form had to be returned to the Comune this time to the Protocol office. They told us we had to get ANOTHER Marca da Bollo, then return to the very first guy who would issue the certificato. I am happy to say, last Friday, we got it! Who says things are hard to get done in Italy! 😁

We are now halfway there! We must wait until June so we can file our taxes for this year. Then we can provide the requested tax form. I sure hope after all this we get the cards! Piano, piano…

As a reward we treated ourselves to the seasons first Spritz!

Upcoming trip, Permesso di soggiorno lungo periodo

We are having beautiful weather. Yesterday, Luther and I went for a walk. It was the first day of warmish weather after a long cold spell. It seemed like everyone in town was out for the evening passeggiata. We chose the river walk. The Tiber river and Umbertide, behind its walls.

Today, we finally turned in our paperwork for the Permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo – elective residence…second try. We will see if we’re missing anything this time. Last time 2 of our documents were expired. Our Questura appointments are April 14. Once, in the past this first appointment was six months out. That meant it took almost a year to get our new Permessi from application to receiving the card. By then we had to start the renewal process for the next one! We are glad that was a one time thing. We have no idea why. 75 pages of documentation…And €176 each in stamps and fees…EACH.

UPCOMING TRIP REPORT!!
Tomorrow we are going on our first trip since last summer. Long time. Short time and distance. We will take the train to Milano for three nights and explore the city.

Ciao for now!

Green Pass

This has been a very productive week so far. The first good thing was we both managed to download our Green Passes onto our IPhones and now we should be able to show them if needed to prove we have both been vaccinated. Here is what it looks like. I blurred the QR code and personal information.

Among other things, we also managed to pick up our new Permessi di Soggiorno. As I posted earlier, it was the fastest we have ever gotten them and mine is actually good for eleven months! Amazing.

The other things I mentioned…We got our Italian taxes filed. We visited the Poste Italiene to pay a bill for a friend. Yesterday we got our hairs cut. Did you ever notice only English uses the word “hair” for plural. The word hair can mean a single hair, or all your hair. Not so in Italian, French and German. Those are the only other languages I know. So I’ve taken to saying, I am going to get my hairs cut. 😁

A special thing you can get only at this time of year is friggatelli (pronounced frig with a soft G like George) Little green peppers. They are prepared by frying in olive oil for a couple of minutes then adding minced garlic for a few seconds. Then you add a bit of water and close the pan to let the peppers steam for about ten minutes. You can eat the whole thing to include the seeds. A nice side dish with steak or chicken. I love them and eat them a lot while they are in season..

I’m not sure anyone wants to know the end of the pigeon story. But quickly I will say it wasn’t a happy ending and actually at this time, a full week and a half after the window got shut, there remain live pigeons inside. They will die eventually. I wish it would be soon. A man did come with the cherry picker truck on Monday and opened the window and retrieved 3 dead pigeons from near the window. The live pigeons, naturally wouldn’t try to fly out while he was in the window. So he closed it back up and left. I am glad that window is nailed shut now and I don’t have to go through this again. And neither do the pigeons. There are plenty pigeons left and they will find other nesting places.
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Tonight I made a seared steak that was marinated in mango purée with habanero pepper and lime juice. I made a salsa of seared tomatoes, jalapeños, garlic and cilantro. I served with corn tortillas and sliced avocado. Most of the more “exotic” ingredients (mango, cilantro, avocado) I got from the “Egyptian” fruttivendolo. Truth be told only the cilantro must be bought there. The regular Coop carries avocado and mango. But almost nobody carries coriandolo…cilantro. I also think his avocado is way better than any other source. Every now and then I must break away from Italian food…I love it..but my taste buds need a boost now and then! 😎

ciao for now!

Long term Permesso

Permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo (ex carta di soggiorno) – elective residence

Today, we applied for this long coveted permit. The Polizia di Stato website states after five years continuous residence a person can apply for this permit, which is permanent (!). Like gold to me. But living in this backward region of Umbria we shall see what sort of road blocks are thrown up in front of us.

It took a long time for me to even find people who had gotten this permit so I could glean their information. It seems, either people don’t stay here more than five years, or they can’t comply in some other way, so they just continue to apply for their Permesso di Soggiorno every year or two.

Last year I finally found a few people who had managed to get this. I gathered much very useful information. I combined all the info I got into a big list to include the requirements of the Polizia site. It took a while to gather all of the needed documents and we even did overkill with a few things. The last and most difficult thing was the Certificato di Agibilità. We enlisted the help of our Geometra and got this document just this week. We are a little late applying. But…we went to the Post this morning with our pile of documents…

It was a pretty normal experience since the Poste just takes your documents and fees (Cost more €130,46) and gives you an appointment with the Questura. In the past this could take many months…but strangely ours is May 18, just 18 days away. So in 18 days we go to the Umbria Citta di Castello Questura..notorious for not giving anything more than a one year permit…this is a brand new experience. Let’s see what happens!
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As I mentioned, we had our vaccines on Tuesday. I was wondering if we would have any side affects. All was well all day on Wednesday. But on Thursday I got hit with the major fatigue which is a possible side affect. I could not, for the life of me, keep my eyes open. All afternoon it was happening. I went for a nap, couldn’t sleep, so I got up but I couldn’t stay awake. I didn’t associate it with the vaccine until it hit me again after dinner. I went to bed early and am much better today. I’ve never had anything remotely like that in my life. Very strange.
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Today was a pretty day. Around 75 F. Not all that sunny but still nice. We had a beer at Bar Mary after our trip to the Poste. And then we went back in the evening for a spritz with two new friends who’ve moved here from South Africa. The piazza was abuzz, just like old times. So nice. Here’s Luther!

Take care all! 🌈

Permesso di Soggiorno #7

June 25 is an auspicious day for us. On this day, we flew from the US to Italia to begin our excellent adventure! Here is my post from the day of our flight — June 25, 2014 —  Our journey is Accomplished. 

Picture  from our first summer here…

Since we had to get our Elective Residency visa to start on the day we planned to go to Italy, it expires on the June 25 date every year. It just so happened that our appointment at the Questura was today. This is the appointment where we get ourselves fingerprinted and turn in more paperwork and our photos.

The experience was a little different. The former waiting room was devoid of chairs and the old disused windows in that room were now open and functional. So we didn’t ever enter the building. Our old favorite police officer, Latizia, whom I had missed for the last two appointments was back. She’s super nice and after seven Permessi, she knows us. Only the two people at the two windows were allowed inside. We waited outside until our turn. The horrible fingerprint experience ensued. I hate that part the most. But we always get through it. Piano, piano as Latizia said. Another bureaucratic hoop has been jumped through. Maybe next year we can again try for the long term permit. Sigh. I hope so. It’s not terribly hard to renew yearly but it’s just a lot of time and tedious work. Plus, now that our Permessi are officially expired we can’t travel within Schengen. People think they can with the postal receipt, but it is not true as that is not an official EU document. If we get the long term permit we won’t have this issue. 
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Dinner tonight was something new. Pizza from the wood oven at Calagrana. The downside, I had to drive there to pickup. The upside, the pizza was excellent!

Excellent pizza! Mmmm.
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I am so sorry to be watching the numbers in the US on TV. It is frightening to me. Everything seems so out of control. Anyway, please, all my friends, keep yourselves safe…stay home, if you must go out wear your mask. It is a no brainer…it saves lives. 🌈

Permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo – part 3

So… this week we did several things in pursuit of our Cartas.

Monday we visited the Agencia il Corriere. It is advertised as an auto and boat agency to facilitate all things legal, like titles and registration. It also helps with drivers licenses and we could have probably used them to convert ours had we known about them. We had thought we’d need to go to Perugia for this Police report. But the nice Policeman we visited last week told us about this agency and that they also do things like help get police reports! Who would’ve known that!? So we initiated that process. I’d pay just about anything to avoid going to the madhouse that is Perugia. We should get them next Monday.

Then Luther wrote to our Commercialista to get proof of our having paid our taxes since we’ve been here. That arrived in an email on Wednesday.

Today, we went to the Anagrafe in our Comune to get the CERTIFICATO CONTESTUALE, or family status certification. That was super easy and cost two €16 tax stamps or Marche da Bolla. Plus €1.04.

Since we were there we decided to convert our old style Carta d’Identite to the new electronic cards. This cost €27 each plus photos, fingerprints etc. We should get them in the mail.

So that’s three out of four things we need. The last thing is a Housing Certification or a certificate of habitability. We had thought this “could” be the long pole in the tent as they say. We noticed our deed mentions we do not have this certification. And it says, due to the age of the building. (!) Uh oh. So I decided to write our realtor, who knows just about everything real estate related, and ask him. Well, he replied that this is true, our house is in the Centro Storico, or historical center of town. This part of town is ancient and because of this it gets a pass. I guess we will highlight this passage on our deed and hope they accept it.

Stay tuned!