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But where do you go if you don't have a passport?

The travel document that allows you to fly, sail or run on the rails to exotic leisure or business destinations seems really hard to obtain nowadays. Let's see why.


Despite reports on the "potency" of the Italian passport, a concept that may seem as futile as it is cerebral, the pass for the most distant and coveted borders does not seem so easy to obtain, due to bureaucracy, war, the rising cost of oil, and an excess of demands caused by the long wave of post covid.

Power is nothing without a stamp. According to Passport Index 2023 data, the Italian passport is the second most powerful in the world: this means that with that document you can access 190 destinations around the world, without the visa that usually requires several bureaucratic steps. In short, the Italian passport guarantees a high degree of freedom to travel the world, without unnecessary and cumbersome procedures and shuttles between offices. So far so good, we can enjoy the pride of the powerful tricolour document. The only detail that threatens to weaken our passport concerns the cumbersome bureaucratic procedures that are envisaged precisely to obtain it and that, it seems, are proving to be so long and slow as to limit the freedom to travel and work for many of our compatriots.

In fact, it seems that in many cities, especially the larger ones, it is very complex and time-consuming, if not impossible, to make an appointment with the passport office at the Questura and thus obtain a travel document. A difficulty that even the Minister of the Interior has been made aware of, but according to parliamentary reports, there are no major problems in this area. This is also thanks to the agreement made with the Italian Post Office, which from mid-March should be enabled to issue passports: a not entirely reassuring prospect for those lucky enough to frequent post offices and appreciate their usual speedy handling of paperwork and queues. The Polis project promises to manage the application and delivery of passports in the post offices of municipalities with less than 15,000 inhabitants: it is estimated that around 16 million citizens will be involved, who, by bringing a valid identity document, their tax code, two photographs, a 42.50 euro slip and a 73.50 euro revenue stamp, will quickly obtain a pass for every known border.

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In the meantime, according to Il Post, almost everywhere in Italy one has to wait months for an appointment at the passport office. So much so that a group of six associations in the travel sector has sent a letter to the Minister of the Interior asking him to intervene quickly: according to the associations, in the last two years (2022 and 2023), the impossibility of obtaining a passport has caused the cancellation of at least 167,000 trips, with economic damages estimated at 300 million euros.

Drawing up a list of the cities where the wait to obtain a passport is longest, Il Sole 24 Ore notes that the offices in the greatest difficulty are in Bari and Cosenza, but Turin, Milan and Florence are also not doing well, while in Rome, for an online appointment, it would take until May. The procedure envisaged by the ministry to apply for a passport is therefore likely to be more theoretical than practical. In any case, it is good to remember that the passport is valid for three years for minors under three years of age; five years for minors between three and 18 years; 10 years for adults.

It should also be borne in mind that in some circumstances the expiry date is substantially earlier: in Latin American countries, a residual validity of at least 6 months is required, so if you have decided to visit Brazil, Argentina, Chile or Paraguay, it is better to check the expiry date as soon as you buy your ticket. Otherwise you might find yourself stuck at check-in admiring the fuselage of the plane taking off from the gate windows. After Brexit, passports are also required for the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, while Italian citizens can move freely, with just an identity card, in the 27 countries of the Union and also in Schengen countries such as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Croatia. To which Turkey and Egypt can be added, if the trip is for tourist purposes.

An interesting prospect, were it not for the fact that even for the issuance of electronic identity cards there seem to be technical problems, of varying importance from city to city, with Naples managing to handle appointments in three days and Rome instead, despite its open days, encountering problems and much longer deadlines. And remember: if you manage to complete the long journey and obtain the coveted passport and finally leave, always keep your documents safe.



Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios