Oh those forms

Oh those forms

Friday, September 14th, 2018

Now that I had submitted my application for the Permesso di Soggiorno I was told that the next step was to register with the city government for a residency document. Everyone who lives must register where they live and provide contact information and the city issues such a document. This is true also for Italians if they change houses or cities. Each neighborhood (which can be a pretty large geographical area) has a separate office where you go to apply for that document. So on the second try I found the place where I was supposed to go. Of course there were forms to fill out but the woman there was quite helpful. It seems that a visa for Elective Residency is quite rare and nobody was sure about what to do about it. But she had a positive attitude and helped with the forms. An interesting thing is that almost whatever you need to do that touches the government in any way requires forms, nothing strange about that, but what seems strange to meet that every form wants to know not only the date of your birth but where you were born. Of course they usually want your codice fiscale (the equivalent of your social security number) but why the heck do they care about your place of birth when you go to pay the fee for garbage collection? Anyway, so after filling out these forms I was now in possession of a copy of the forms declaring residency and the request for permesso di soggiorno and was now prepared to go to enroll my self in the national health service with the acronym of SSN (Sistema Sanitario Nationale). I decided to wait a day and ask friends for doctor recommendation before going to that office so the next morning I went to do my duty to pay the tax for garbage collection. On the way there I received a call from the woman who had helped me fill out the forms for the residency document who said that there was some urgency that I return to her office. But I was at a different government office preparing to do my duty in paying for the garbage. I had made an appointment and had to wait in a line and then was told that I selected the wrong choice when making the appointment and also that I needed to fill out a form. There was absolutely no mention of this on the site of this part of the government. So they gave me another appointment and the form. Then I went back to the office where I applied for the residency document and they said that they had to cancel the stuff that they had given me because with my type of visa I needed to have the permesso di soggiorno first. I did get the feeling that nobody really knew what to do with that kind of visa and rather than get a black mark for making an error it was much safer to just say no. So now, I returned again to the people that helped me in the first place (CGIL). They said not to worry and go ahead and go the office to apply for the health service and take along a copy of the lease for the apartment. If this all seems hard to follow imagine all of the running from place to place all over the city and interacting with bureaucratic officials for days. Some were very nice and helpful and others not so much.

So now it was off the the health service office where a very helpful volunteer looked over my documents and said not to worry then I took a number and waited for about an hour for my number to be called. And lo and behold the woman at CGIL was right. I can enroll in the SSN (remember – national health service). The only drawback is that the enrollment in the health service is always for exactly one year starting January 1st and ending December 31. The service is not free for someone that doesn’t work here and the fee is based upon your income for the prior year. I declared my social security income but it still comes to a tidy sum. It is still less than I paid for medicare and medicare advantage in the U.S. and unlike a private insurance policy there’s no age dependency which is good. Private insurance for an expat can be ridiculously expensive. The brother of a good friend is in the insurance industry here and may find a policy that is less expensive and that I could use to get the permisso and then cancel after the first of the year but the absolutely dead certain option is the SSN so I may just bite the bullet and go for that.

So I’m about done with the nuts and bolts of getting established here. I’ve just about gone through the most important bureaucratic hurdles and the utilities (gas, electricity, water and garbage) are taken care of. I still have the appointment at the questura (police department) for the permesso the first of  October but I think that should go well. We’ll see.

Now I’m spending more energy getting my apartment in order. Oh yes, the washing machine doesn’t work so that will be a starting point for apartment “adjustments” in the next chapter. I’ve also found that I can buy things from Amazon here – of course there are some Italian aspects to that.


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