Information On Visas and Residency In Italy

Maybe it’s the architecture. Maybe it’s the stylish lifestyle. Maybe it’s the food, the coffee, Venice, The Colosseum, Da Vinci… Or everything in between. The point is, expats are considering more and more the possibility of living in the “boot”.

Information on Italy: One Of The Most Culturally Rich Countries in Europe

If you’re looking for quintessential Old World lifestyle, Italy deserves your attention. The old towns are charming, and the countryside between is pleasant. Even excluding the big cities like Rome, there is enough here to keep your interest and to support a fully appointed life on the Continent. What’s more, life here can be much more affordable than back home.

EU and Non-EU Citizens

Expats may require different permits depending on how long they wish to stay in Italy, and where they come from. EU citizens don’t require a visa to enter Italy, despite planned duration of stay. If you are not a EU, things get more interesting. All non-EU citizens need to apply for a visa if they plan to stay more than 90 days.

Types of Italian Visas

Schengen Visa / Tourist Visa (Dichiarazione di Presenza)

A Schengen short-stay visa entitles the holder to visit all the countries inside the Schengen Area. (These include: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden).

This type of visa lasts for 90 days and is stamped on arrival. Even so, it is important to keep a copy of the stamped receipt. Requirements include showing proof of return (a round-trip plane ticket for 90 days or less). You may need to show proof of means of subsistence, depending on how long you’ll stay in Italy. This amount tends to sit around the €300 mark.

For tourists arriving from a Schengen country should request the declaration within eight days of arrival. You can get it at the local police station. If you are staying at a hotel, the staff can supply and submit the declaration on check-in. Here’s a PDF version of the declaration.

After you receive this visa, you won’t be able to apply for another Schengen visa in another 180 days since the day you receive it.

Permit of Stay (Permesso di Soggiorno)

This Visa is intended for citizens outside the Schengen area that wish to stay in Italy for more than three months. Depending on the case, you can get either 6 months to 2 years. It is renewable, and it can last for a maximum of 5 years. After that, you have to apply for a permanent visa.

The types of permits include:

  • Permesso di soggiorno per coesione familiare: This is a residency visa for spouses and children of an Italian citizen
  • Permesso di soggiorno per lavoro: a work permit
  • Permesso di soggiorno per lavoro autonomo/indipendente: For entrepreneurs buisnessmen, and free-lance workers
  • Permesso di soggiorno per studio: A student visa
  • Permesso di soggiorno per ricongiungimento familiare: For the reunion of spouse, children and dependent parents of foreigners married to Italian citizens. Also applies for family members from overseas
  • Permesso di soggiorno per dimora – for foreigners establishing residence in Italy who don’t intend to work or study. Mostly expats

EC Long-Term Residence Permit (Permesso di Soggiorno per Soggiornanti di Lungo Período, S.L.P )

This is Italy’s permanent resident visa. You need at least 5 years of living in Italy to apply for it. You can file for application through postal service, or at a designated Municipal Office.

The EC long-term residence permit entitles you to enter Italy without a visa; work; enjoy social benefits services, and participate in local public life.

The Police State Office (Polizia di Stato) has a detailed information about the Italian visa. It also states that you cannot apply for an EC Residence on the following grounds:

  • Study or vocational training and scientific research
  • Temporary protection or other humanitarian grounds
  • Asylum or when awaiting a decision for recognition as a refugee
  • If you are a holder of a short-term residence permit
  • If you hold a diplomatic, official and service passport

Certificate of Residence (Certificato di Residenza)

This visa applies to all EU citizens that wish to stay for more than three months in Italy. It is much easier to obtain, as it can be all done online in a few clicks.

According to the PSO, the applicant has to meet the following criteria:

  • Are workers or self-employed persons in Italy
  • Have enough resources for themselves and their family members. This in order to not become a burden on the social assistance system during their period of residence
  • Are enrolled at a private or public establishment to follow a course of study
  • Are family members accompanying or joining a Union citizen who has the right to reside in Italy for more than three months

Italy Work and Business Requirements

Before making the big move, the most important piece of information is to know how to get a work visa in Italy. An Italy work permit visa is an absolute requirement for a US citizen working in Italy, including freelancers. You should apply with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs at an embassy or consulate in your area before leaving the US.

Work in Italy also requires a social security card and registration for health insurance. You can obtain these through your employer or directly from the INPS authorities.

While work in Italy for English speakers is widely available, it can also really pay to know the language. If you don’t speak Italian, consider hiring a translator to prepare your CV.

To start a business in Italy, the easiest route is to hire a professional notary. He can handle every aspect of your company’s legal formation and registration with the Business Register. Self-employed people and freelancers usually also have to register with the tax authorities, although they may be treated as individuals for tax purposes.

Work Opportunities in Italy

Whether you want to work in Italy for a year or find a new career and settle permanently, there are a number ways for Americans to discover how to find work in Italy. Jobs range from traditional temporary expat work to professional positions in major industries.

Industries that historically cater to foreign employees are still plentiful in Italy. Still though, there tend to be fewer job openings than in developing countries. With proper certification, expats can find work as teachers of English, au pairs and nannies or other positions in the education field. The tourist industry also remains popular with expats. Hotels, restaurants and other travel destinations are always in need of both seasonal staff and permanent skilled employees. From ski instructors in the Alps to staff positions on yachts off the coasts, Italy brims with opportunities in tourism.

If you’re looking for work in a professional field outside of the traditional expat jobs, the situation is more complicated. Italians usually receive preference for these positions, and foreigners may lack specifically Italian credentials, even if they have the appropriate education and experience. Nonetheless, if you have skills in a high-demand field with a shortage of qualified aspirants, the prospects are better. Especially if you speak Italian. Once hired, you’ll receive the same benefits as any Italian employee. Fields with significant need for qualified foreigners include bio-technology, IT, and finance industry.

Work opportunities also vary according to region. Work in Rome is the choice for those seeking government, international relations and social work jobs in Italy. Milan is the country’s financial center and home of the Italian stock exchange. If you’re after more traditional expat jobs in service or education, you will have options all over the country. Tourism positions are concentrated in the major historic centers like Florence and Venice.

Entrepreneurship in Italy

If your dream is to start your own business or move an existing enterprise abroad, Italy offers a number of attractive prospects. Recent legal changes make it easier than ever before to open a business in Italy, particularly for younger entrepreneurs.

Aside from the services of a licensed notary to get over all of the necessary legal hurdles, experts also recommend retaining a “commercialista.” This means an Italian professional who combines some of the services of a lawyer and accountant into one office. A solid relationship with a trustworthy commercialista can help you navigate the difficult opening stages of doing business in this developed and competitive economy.

Openings for Business in Italy

Openings for foreigners are diverse, and include Italy’s surprisingly undeveloped tourist sector. Bed-and-breakfasts and tour companies are popular choices for expat business owners. Many other foreigners have also had success with professional services. Medicine and dentistry are popular careers, using their language skills to serve the expat communities.

Rome and other major cities, along with coastal destinations, are popular with entrepreneurs in tourism and leisure. If you’re planning on having English-speakers among your clientele, it also makes sense to locate in a region of Italy with a thriving expat community.

On the other hand, less well-known regions only now coming to the attention of foreigners, like Abruzzo, provide a number of opportunities. These include both in tourism and other fields. House restoration and historic preservation are popular with expats in regions like Tuscany. Sicily and Sardinia are crowded markets, but still great locations for entrepreneurs with new ideas.

Even more than those seeking work in Italy, expat entrepreneurs should do their best to learn the language. The notorious Italian bureaucracy has made some important reforms in recent years. Still, navigating the country’s institutions will be much easier if you speak Italian.

Most important of all, the language will help you integrate into the country’s business culture. This is a culture which differs in important ways from American ideas of entrepreneurship and start-ups. Prepare for different ways of operating when it comes to meetings, business relationships and making deals.

An Opening in Europe

As an important member of the European Union, Italy provides expat job seekers and entrepreneurs with a perfect launching point for European opportunities. English teachers, for example, may choose to work for Italy for a year and then move on to other destinations in the EU.

For business owners, operating in a strongly-integrated EU country like Italy means that the whole of Europe may become your market. Free travel in the Schengen zone puts travelers from the entire continent at your doorstep, and the EU’s 500 million consumers are all potential customers.