The official language spoken in Italy is Italia and not many Italians can speak English

Whether, you are visiting Italy for a short term or plan to stay for much longer periods, there is a chance you do not know the acronyms for newbies in Italy yet even if you have been taking some Italian lessons prior to your coming to Italy.

As soon as your step your foot into Italy, you would be introduced to new vocabularies, terms and acronyms that you never heard of before. This post is for newly arrived or for those planning to come to Italy to know about some terms and vocabularies that can help them settle in a bit more quickly. Here are a few of the important ones that you should know.


Visto means Visa. The visa, which consists of a special “vignette” (or “sticker”) affixed to the applicant’s passport or other valid travel document, is an authorization granted to a foreign national for entry into the territory of the Schengen Area and of the Italian Republic. The visa issued, allow entry into Italy for 90 days or more in the case for a long stay with free movement  into other countries that apply the Schengen Convention.

Nulla Osta al Lavoro / Permesso di lavoro (Work Permit)

The nulla osta al Lavoro is a declaration, issued by the Single Desk for Immigration , with which the Administration certifies that there are no impediments to the entry and stay in Italy of non-EU citizens who intend to work. They give foreigners clearance to work in Italy and go on to apply for a work visa.


This means family member. It normally refers to someone you are married to, or are legally bound to. It can also refer to your children and other members of the family for whom you are legally responsible. In relation to migration, there is also the right to a family life (diritto alla vita familiare) and right to family unity (in the sense of reunification of the family members who may still be abroad or in your home country) diritto all’unità familiare.

Carta d’Identità

This is the Italian identity card. The identity card is a strictly personal identification document containing personal data, and other data and elements for example citizenship, a photograph and more, useful for identifying the person to whom this document refers. It is issued by your local Town Hall (Comune – Anagrafe), once you have been registered as a resident.

In some cases it is mandatory to have it but not always carry it with you, being sufficient in case of need for control, to show that you have it at home.

Codice Fiscale

Is the tax code. You need this for many things in Italy, even buying a mobile phone, signing any kind of lease agreement, purchasing a car, or opening a bank account or registering for a health card. You can apply for your tax code at the Italian revenue offices, known as Agenzia delle Entrate. Obtaining the code does not imply that you will need to pay taxes in Italy but it is important to have this code for many different forms you will need to fill in.

Permesso di Soggiorno (Permit of stay or Residence permit)

This document allows you to stay in Italy legally. You need to request it within eight days of arriving in the country. There are several different types of stay permit. If you do not qualify for refugee status, or subsidiary protection, you can ask for information on the other types of stay permits available to apply for.

These can be:

  • Permesso per cure mediche – To receive a particular type of medical treatment. This is issued to those with very serious illness and lasts for a maximum of one year. Pregnant women also have a right to this type of permit, so they can receive medical attention for their newborn children for up to six months after the birth of their child.
  • Permesso per calamità – This is given if you cannot return to your home country because of some kind of a catastrophe, like an earthquake or a flood. Normally this permit lasts six months and is only valid on Italian territory. This allows you to work but cannot be converted into a work permit.
  • Permesso per casi speciali – If you have been the victim of violence or been seriously exploited, you have the right to obtain a six month, renewable then for one year, stay permit for ‘casi speciali’. This type of permit is also offered to those who have been exploited at work, or those who are victims of domestic violence. If you receive it after being exploited at work, it is renewable for one year and then can be converted into a work permit.
  • Permesso di lavoro – This allows you to work legally in Italy.


In English this would mean citizenship. If in Italy you are called a Cittadino non-comunitario, it means you are a non-EU national. If you are called Cittadino di un paese terzo presente irregolarmente then they are saying you are a third country national found to be illegally present (without the correct documents) in the country.

ASL (or USL)

(Azienda Sanitaria Locale, or Unità Sanitaria Locale) is a local health department. This is where you register to get an Italian health card and be assigned a GP (general practitioner doctor). Through this card you can get access to free public health care and check-ups which are offered by the state. Once registered, you will be issued with a Tessera Sanitaria (Health Card) this will allow you to ssee a doctor, pick up prescriptions for medicine and get medical check ups.

CAS – Centri di acccoglienza straordinaria

These are reception centers in Italy. They are designed for temporary accommodation. This is normally for someone who has applied for asylum or needs some other form of protection. Sometimes, according to the website openpolis, a non-profit foundation based in Rome, services offered in a CAS can be similar to those offered in the SPRAR. (See below)

CARA / CDA / CPSA – Centro di accoglienza per richiedenti asilo

These are first reception centers run by the state. They are normally offered to people just for the time they need to go through an identification process and apply for asylum and have health checks. This is where the authorities will check whether you are vulnerable and whether you might need extra assistance or protection. It is from these regional hubs that migrants will then be directed to the second line of welcome centers or SPRAR (see below).

Carta Blu UE

EU Blue Card. This allows the holder to live and work on the territory of a member state, in this case Italy.

Certificato di Idonietà

This certificate is issued by the Town Hall, or sometimes ASL. It confirms that the house or apartment in which you live complies with health and safety building regulations. You need this certification to apply for a stay permit. You need to make sure that your landlord also applies for a Cessione di fabbricato within 48 hours of you moving into the property. You will need this along with your housing contract to apply for the Certificato di Idoneità Alloggiativa, and then your stay permit.


This means Certificazione Unica. It is a form issued by your employer, which confirms the taxes and other mandatory charges that may have been withheld from the payslips by the employer. It is issued annually. You need this for filling in the tax declaration in Italy.


If you are working in Italy, this office might come in useful, especially if you are engaged in dangerous work, or have an accident. It is the Istituto Nazionale per l’Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni, or the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents.


Istituto Nazionale Previdenza Sociale, which is the National Social Security Agency. When you are working you have to pay into INPS. You should check your employer is paying in for you on your contract. INPS issues registration numbers to each employee. You will need this to ask for your stay permit to be extended. You need to make sure your employer is filling out two forms in particular from INPS, the Modulo F24 which is used to pay most taxes and the Modulo DM10, which is used by the employer to pay social security charges for employees.

Marca da Bollo

Is an official stamp. It is used for paying tax or duty. You can buy these at Post Offices and Tabaccherie (shops selling Tobacco, they also often sell stamps). You often need these to apply for official documents before sending off all your forms.

Ricevuta Postale

This is an official receipt which is issued by the Post Office. You need this if you have to send off your expired permesso di soggiorno for a renewal. This official receipt then confirms that you are compliant with Italy’s regulations. This receipt is only valid within Italy, so cannot be used as a replacement travel document.


Is a local government office, under the direction of the Ministry of the Interior. It is often where the Sportello Unico, or Immigration Office is located.


Is a Police Office, also under the Ministry of the Interior. This is where migrants often have to go to be fingerprinted and then to apply for and collect their stay permits. Here you will often have to go to the Ufficio Stranieri, which is there to deal with all immigration matters.

I would like to hear from you: What are your thoughts on this subject. You can share your thoughts and experiences with me and others in the comments section below!

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