We’ve had such lovely weather this week with sunshine and clear blue sky’s, watching the sun rise while taking an early morning walk along the beach has been beautiful.
Even the ducks were enjoying the sunshine, strolling along the road, holding up the traffic.
Brexit has had a big affect on our ability to cruise freely around the Mediterranean due to restrictions being placed on the amount of time we are now allowed to stay. Since 1st January, as UK citizens, we are only entitled to remain in European Schengen countries for a maximum of 90 days in 180 days, therefore we would need to leave the EU by the end of March.
Our plan is to cruise the Mediterranean for at least one more season, (before heading further afield) and one of the best ways we can potentially do this is if we have Italian residency allowing us unlimited time in Italy. Therefore, when we eventually leave here we will still have the ability to stay in the wider EU for a further 90 days. Depending on Covid restrictions, our intention is to visit Croatia and Venice in the summer. This would be possible with Italian residency particularly as Croatia is non-Schengen.
Once we had made the decision to apply for residency, the first step was to acquire a ‘Codice Fiscale’ which is the equivalent to a NI number in the UK. This involved a visit to the Tax Office in Ragusa town. We were then able to submit an application for residency at the local Ufficio Anagrafe E Stato Civile (Town Hall) here in Marina di Ragusa.
They required various documents confirming details about ourselves, our finances and place of residence including passports, marriage certificate, copies of bank statements, marina contract. We started the application process in November as it had to be submitted before the end of the Brexit transition period.
After we had provided all of this we were told to wait for a call to arrange for one of their officers to visit our place of residence to verify everything, that the boat existed and that we were living aboard. We asked for a receipt for confirmation that the application process had commenced but they said ‘no, not necessary, wait for a call’
Eventually we received a call, although unable to understand them very well, it appeared that they were asking for confirmation of our date of marriage, assuming just to test us. (I did get this wrong initially but Paul corrected me, I blamed it on my very poor Italian)
We then received notification of a visit to the boat. Not knowing quite what to expect, I tidied up and stocked up with decent coffee and plenty of biscuits. When they arrived it appeared that they had arranged to visit several other boats as well, there were lots of people out on the pontoon waiting for them. In true Italian style, Paul elbowed his way to the front and they came to us first. They were obviously very busy and didn’t even come aboard, just looked at the boat and asked to see our passports. (The coffee and biscuits didn’t go to waste)
Over the past couple of months we have been back and forth to the Town Hall several times with further information, they requested details of a bank account in Euros and a 12 month health insurance policy. Thankfully the ladies in the office were always available and happy to help even though both our Italian and their English is limited. (We never go anywhere without Google translate)
Having not heard anything for a couple of weeks and still without any paperwork to confirm that our application was being processed, we went back to the Town Hall this week for an update. We were very happy to find that they had our residency certificate there waiting for us.
The final stage was to apply for an Italian identity card, for this they required a photo. We submitted some old ones (approximately 10 years old) but they were having none of that and sent us off to the town to get new photos.
Before and after, I don’t think we’ve changed in 10 years! At least they were much happier with our new photos and after measuring our height and taking fingerprints they finally had everything they needed to produce our identity cards which we have been told to collect next week.
That’s as much organising as we can do and now we wait, along with everyone else, to see how the Covid situation develops before finalising our plans for this summer.