Can one rent or buy an apartment in Campione or buy a house and live there without any government residence permit? Followers of the PT theory may be tempted to just rent and not bother to register with the police. They would then leave and return to the country every three months to avoid visa problems. Although it is possible for a person to thus remain totally unknown to the authorities, the major goal of a PT or Perpetual Tourist, in doing so he may also set himself up for a US $2000 fine and accusations of housing terrorists or mafia. That said, a contrite smile and an apology for your ignorance will probably let you off the first time. But from then on you should toe the line! Perhaps a better alternative is to have yourself registered as a guest at the Uficio Immbiliare, police housing office, but never request a residence permit. This need only be done once, even though it is “technically” required for each time you arrive. Since ail the police actually care about is whether or not anyone they don’t know about is staying on the premises (and not your current tax liability), it is quite safe to be registered only once.
If a new resident of Campione needs a job, wants to set up a high visibility business, rent office space in Campione or enter into a professional practice, it is necessary to get an Italian government residence permit. The administrative center governing Campione is in Como. The city of Como, Italy, is about half an hour to the south by car. Americans or Britons would call it the County Seat.
Although with any Italian administrative matter there is a great deal of running around for appropriate stamps, seals and signatures, normally residential permission can be obtained within ten days. Italians in general, even Italian bureaucrats, tend to be happy, good natured people. If you don’t speak the lingo, a smile and a small gift (say a bottle of French Cognac or Champagne) will help you get whatever papers you need. It is best to offer such a gift only after a first meeting or it will look like what it is, a bribe. Italians don’t care whether it is or not, but they do care if it looks like one. No official permission is needed by the holder of an EC passport to live or work in Campione. But all new residents are required to register with the local council after a continuous stay of more than three months. This requirement is standard in Europe. From the moment you move into anyone’s property, even as a guest, you are required to report to the police within 48 hours. A residence permit is normally granted upon showing good character and sufficient assets. What is good character and what are sufficient assets? One client showed a Visa credit card and presented the examining official will) a bottle of 25-year old Four Star Hennessy. The official smiled, took out two glasses and drank a toast to the health of the new resident. Without another word, he stamped everything
in sight approved. The American had his permesso di soggiomo on the spot. People who are not European in appearance will have a more difficult time. One way around this problem is to form a company and become director! This residence permit is not actually proof of residence. Its function is merely to prevent foreign longstay visitors from being treated as illegal immigrants.
There are no restrictions on foreigners owning or dealing in Campione real estate except for nationals of countries where Italians are not allowed to own property. Iran is a good example of such a country. However, property tax (a purchase tax) is lower for residents. Thankfully, the dreadful Italian Equo Canone rent control act is now dead but building permits are tough to get. Be careful if you plan to sell less than five years after buying a property, as you may incur a fiscal penalty. The best way around this is to set up a cheap paper company and when you want to sell the property you just transfer the shares to the new owner.
In Monaco, or Gibraltar, older, pre-World War П apartments are reserved for established local citizens who pay ridiculously low rents to unfortunate property owners who are stuck with them for generations. In Sark, locals have the first right of refusal on any property coming on the market and only British subjects can own freeholds. In Campione, there is a “level playing field” for old timers, foreigners and newcomers. House prices and rents tend to be about the same as in adjoining Switzerland. Any property in Campione is at least double Italian prices. Because Campione is cramped, and old single family homes are being tom down and replaced with apartment buildings, the only things usually on the market will be condominium apartments. The cheapest condo, a studio with no view, would be about US $150,000. The cheapest single family home would cost over $700,000. At the high end, a luxurious three bedroom, three bath condo might be $1,700,000, furnished. A house of the same size would cost more.