Navigating Italian bureaucracy when you are still learning the language can be incredibly difficult. I scoured the internet looking for other Americans who were married to Europeans, and what their process looked like, but because there are many different types of residency options, it can be tough to find exactly what you need so I have included our experience below. I would also recommend look at the Polizia di Stato website for helpful information for foreign nationals.
During our first trip to the Questura we learned that we did not in fact have all the paperwork needed, so I have compiled a list of everything we were asked for. Of course each time we went, we were asked for additional paperwork which almost made my head explode, but alas, we've finally completed everything 7 months later. Yep, SEVEN months. Better late than never, right?
Requirements for residency if you're married to an EU citizen:
1. Photocopies of passports - every single page that has a stamp and of course the page with your photo. They will need your passport AND your EU spouse's passport
2. Contract for your apartment
3. Your marriage license (long version) with Apostille Record which is a two-step process, and finally this will also need to be translated into Italian and you will need a stamp called a "Marca da Bollo". Sometimes you will need more than one stamp, so ask your translator! You can find these at a tabacchi and are €16 each at the moment.
4. Employment contract along with proof of payment (we brought invoices/pay stubs and our bank records also translated into Italian)
5. 4 passport photos
Multiple Trips to Different Offices:
We had to go to several different offices (multiple times) but in a nutshell, here is what we did:
1. Go to your local post office and ask for a "kit". If you're still learning Italian like I am, get ready for Google Translate to be your best friend. Complete the kit and return it to the post office within 8 days of your arrival. You will pay about €80 to the Questura and then another €30 to the Post Office because, why not? You will receive a piece of paper with an appointment date to provide the rest of your paperwork - do not lose this! Note: I actually did this way later because I was initially told that I didn't need to mail it in. If you're told that, they are wrong. Mail it in!
2. David needed to establish his residency before my appointment at the Questura. On his fourth time to the Anagrafe, he had everything they needed, and his residency was officially in process. We then had to wait for the police to come to our apartment to ensure that he lived at the address he listed.
3. 45 days later the police never came, so we went back to the Anagrafe to say it's past the 45-day threshold, and we need the finalized paperwork. They turned him final in the system which then allowed us to register our marriage. You will also need to ask for the "Certificate di Residenza" and will (surprise) need another marca da bollo for this document as well. Be sure to make a copy!
4. We registered our marriage at the same office, just with a different person. Don't expect this to happen on the same day. This got a little tricky because the marriage license had my maiden name but all of my other documents had my married last name so definitely prepare yourself to jump through some hoops if you're about to go through this process. Once complete, you will receive a "Certificate di Matrimonio". Make copies of this as well.
5. Once our marriage was registered, I went to the Questura to turn in my residency paperwork which was a combination of everything in the initial list as well as David's finalized residency paperwork (Certificate di Residenza), and proof that our marriage had been registered (Certificate di Matrimonio).
6. Because my maiden name is different than my married name (I took David's last name) it caused a whole world of confusion. Even though our marriage was registered they would not accept the paperwork I had since it showed two different last names. They essentially wanted a document that showed both names and that I'm one in the same person. I learned through some American friends that they accept one of two things: Add your maiden name to the last page of your passport (aka you will need to get a brand new passport with this included) OR complete an affidavit and have it notarized at the consulate nearest you. I was actually on my way to the U.S. a few days later, so I got a new passport and had the Social Security Office type up a document for me that showed both names just in case. The SS office does not typically do this but they were kind enough to help me out. Of course this is recommended to have complete before you arrive to Italy, but you don't know what you don't know!
7. Finally after what felt like the one-hundredth time at the Questura, and many tears and yelling (from them, not me) they finally accepted my paperwork. Note: The new passport with my maiden name on the last page was accepted. You will need to bring another marca da bollo with you. Once you have signed their document, you will wait a few minutes and then be fingerprinted. What they didn't tell me is that someone from the Questura would be stopping by the apartment to ensure that I live there. So about 60 days after they accepted my paperwork, 2 officials rang my doorbell and checked our closet to see if our clothes were hanging up, asked how much rent was, what we did for work, etc. They were very friendly, however, the whole thing was just so weird to me.
8. At the Questura in Salerno (I hear that it's different everywhere) they will message you with a date and time when you can pickup your card. I was told this is usually 30-45 days after your appointment, but for me it was 80 days. I regularly checked the website, and when I got the green light showing it was ready, I just went in and didn't wait for the message. Maybe I went on a slow day, but I simply waited 20 minutes, showed my passport, signed the document, and BOOM, done. Now if you actually wait for the message and you miss your date, you might have to reschedule which I'm told can be difficult. Again, this is the procedure in Salerno, but I've heard in other cities once it's ready, you can pick it up at your leisure often times at your local police station. Every region is different.
From what I've read online and discussed with other people, literally everyone has a different story, and had to complete something similar, but not the exact same steps we did. It honestly feels like everyone is just making it up as they go, but what I've learned is that there are national laws about immigration however, it's up to each province to interpret it. Hence the constant variations. If you're moving to Salerno, I'd recommend taking a look at this website (though don't expect for people to email you back) Servizi Demografici - Comune di Salerno.
Be prepared to be told something different by every. single. person. that you talk to, including the Italian consulates in the US, and store up all the patience you can muster. Trust me, you'll need it. Also, if your Italian skills are only at a basic food ordering level, then make sure you at least have Google Translate handy. You'll be needing that to get through their questions. Or better yet, bring an Italian friend with you.