We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Life in Venice - Filing for Residency in Venice

When I was going through the process of obtaining my dual citizenship, I had to obtain residency in Castel San Pietro Terme. Once I became a citizen, I then had to do a similar process here in Venice. I received my citizenship papers on Oct 30, and made my first trip to the Anagrafe office at the Rialto on Nov 3. I prepared for this trip, knowing I would be going it alone, without the aid of any of my immigration lawyer's assistants this time. Pouring over my Italian dictionary I made sure I knew what to ask for before I went in.

Registering your residence is something totally foreign to an American. In the U.S., you can move anywhere you want, every day if you wanted, and never have to register where you lived with any authorities. Here you must register with the city government, and they must validate that you in fact live where you say you live. I think it has more to do with whether you receive any benefits from the city, such as National Health Insurance.

So, I went to where I thought the office was, and was redirected by a nice woman there to another building down the street and around the corner. Once I was inside the Anagrafe office, I easily found the correct counter ( sportello) where I should register my residence in Venice. I managed to make myself understood to the girl behind the glass barrier, and she got started by handing me a long form to fill out. She had to go find another person to help in the dialogue at one point, but I knew when I saw her print out this really huge form that we had been successful. It was the same huge form I saw being used in Castel San Pietro Terme . The woman handed me a printed letter, which she stamped a few times and signed. The Italians LOVE To stamp documents. This indicated that I have applied for residency. The next step is that someone from the Comune comes to the apartment to inspect and ask you questions.

From my experience in Castel San Pietro Terme, I knew the police have 20 days to come do this inspection. In fact, when I went through this before, they came on the 8th day. I began looking for someone to come visit me in Venice, but the days ticked on, and no inspection. This wasn't looking good. It meant I would have to make a return trip to the Anagrafe office.

About 2 weeks after this, we did go back to the Anagrafe office, this time to do the same registration for my husband Michael, who had just received his Carta di Soggiorno. The process went a bit smoother because I had already been through it, and we walked out of the Anagrafe office with another letter, duly stamped and signed, and had been told that someone will come to the apartment.

On Dec 2, I made another trip to the Anagrafe office to ask what the status of our apartment inspection was, as no one had come yet. First, I studied up on , learning the correct sentences to say before I went. This was getting a bit easier.. and I was very happy that the woman in the Anagrafe office actually understood what I was asking!! I had to ask her to speak slowly to me, but I, in turn, understood most of what she was saying in response.

She made a few phone calls, and finally turned to me and said she was sorry, but the man who does the inspections for Santa Croce, where we live, had been in the hospital. She didn't know when he would be able to come, and gave me his name and phone number. Basically, I was supposed to handle everything else on my own.

I went home happy, on the one hand, that I was able to navigate this whole episode with the Italian government on my own little ability to speak and understand the language. On the other hand, I was not looking forward to having to deal with someone over the phone who I knew would not know one word of English when I faltered. I needed a few days rest before I tackled this call!

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