I just want to start by saying…I hate paperwork as much as the next person, but unfortunately paperwork is a large part of staying in Italy and being fully prepared for every scenario.
Before you get started with any paperwork I have two recommendations to help you keep yourself organized. My first recommendation is to buy an accordion folder. Check out the link to buy one:
I also highly recommend buying some pretty paper clips to make you feel better about all the paperwork. Try these out:
The key to not going crazy with all the paper is staying ORGANIZED.
Now before you do anything, make sure that your passport will expire more than 6 months after you will leave Italy. I don’t understand it either, but make sure. Once you double-check that (and either update or get a passport like I did), make lots of copies of your passport. In total I had four copies of my passport: one for my Visa, one for my Permesso di Soggiorno, one to keep on me just in case, and one for my parents.
You will also want multiple copies of other forms of identification. Examples are copies of your birth certificate, your social security card, or your driver’s or state’s license. In this case, you will probably only need three copies: one for your Visa, one for yourself, and one for your parents.
Since you are studying abroad, you will also have to prove that you are a student so you will want copies of your unofficial transcript, your student ID, and letters from your school in the US and the school you will be with in Italy (in English and Italian respectively). In this case you will need four copies: one for your Visa, one for your Permesso di Soggionro, one for yourself, and one for your parents.
Unfortunately in many cases you will also need to prove that you are financially sound with a banking statement and/or a credit card statement (I was required to show both.). In this case you will need three copies: one for your Visa, one for yourself, and one for your parents.
While it is not required, I highly recommend also making copies for your parents (and possibly for your Visa if you are feeling super cautious!) of your health insurance while you are in Italy, the credit cards that you plan on bringing, any correspondence that you had with your Italian embassy or consulate, and any other forms of identification that you think might be useful.
I know that this seems like a lot, but it is for your benefit. While nothing bad happened to me, it was nice knowing that I had everything together if something did happen.
I recommend organizing your paperwork into four groups: Visa, Permesso di Soggiorno, personal, and your parents.
Now…why give copies to your parents? If you lose something or need your credit card canceled or anything else that could possibly go wrong, your parents have a copy of everything at home to help you. (It also makes you look really responsible with your parents!)
For your Visa and Permesso di Soggiorno you are only required to complete these two things if you are staying in Italy for longer than 90 days. There are other documents and applications that you will have to fill out and I talk in more detail about those application processes in Everything You Need to Know About Legally Staying in Italy.