SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

IMMIGRATION

Italian residency: Who needs it and how do you get it?

Applying for residency in Italy doesn't have to be too painful - but you will need to prepare yourself. Here's what you need to know.

Italian residency: Who needs it and how do you get it?
TheItalian flag flies over the Quirinale, the Italian presidential palace. File photo: AFP

Most people who holiday in Italy have also no doubt thought of living here full-time. But of course making the dream of “la dolce vita” into reality comes with more than a bit of paperwork.

If you’re coming over regularly for a couple of weeks here and there, it’s not necessary to apply for residency. But if you’re planning to stay for longer than three months a year in total, you will need to apply.

Hundreds of thousands of foreigners apply for residence permits in Italy every year, which can often become a long, complicated process involving lots of paperwork.

But it doesn’t have to be too stressful.

Whether you’re from inside or outside the EU, whatever your circumstances, the following guide contains all you need to know about getting residency in Italy.

Photo: AFP

EU nationals

  • Short-term residency (up to three months)

All citizens of European Union member states plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland have the right to live, work and travel in Italy for a period of up to 90 days without registering with the Italian authorities.

Under the EU’s freedom of movement policy, EU nationals do not need a permesso di soggiorno (permit of stay). All they need is a valid travel document, such as an identity card or passport.

But those staying less than three months can present a dichiarazione di presenza sul territorio nazionale (declaration of presence in Italy) at a police station if they wish, although this is not obligatory.

  • Longer-term residency (more than three months)

Although EU citizens can travel freely around European member states, anyone staying longer than three months in Italy is required to apply for a certificato di residenza (residence certificate) at their local Anagrafe (registry office).

Requests for the certificato must include evidence of employment, study or training in Italy, or proof that you have sufficient economic means to support yourself and any dependants. You will also need to get your personal codice fiscale (Italian tax code) from the agenzia dell’entrate, which will allow you to open an Italian bank account.

For EU citizens, applying for the certificato di residenza is something of a formality. The registration document costs €27.50 plus tax. But once you have it, it is valid for five years from the date of issue.

READ ALSO: How to become Italian: A guide to getting citizenship

  • Permanent right of residence

Under EU law, citizens from European Union member states can apply for permanent residency after they have lived in Italy for a continuous five-year period.

The application must be submitted before the expiry date of your existing residency permit to the Questura (police headquarters) in your place of residence. 

But remember that if you later move outside Italy for a continuous two-year period, you will lose your permanent resident status.

For Brits: post-Brexit residency

British nationals who obtained (or started the application process for) residency by December 31st 2020 have their rights covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

Anyone moving from the UK to Italy and starting the process after that date will now be subject to visa rules, as the end of freedom of movement between the UK and the EU effectively ends any long stays without a visa.

UK citizens wishing to move to Italy for the first time from 2021 have to apply for a new long-stay visa. The application should be made before they leave for Italy. They would then need to apply to the Italian authorities for permission to stay in Italy for longer than 90 days.

Read more about post-Brexit Italian visas for UK nationals here.

READER QUESTION: Can Brits stay more than 90 days in the EU if they have a European spouse?

Photo: AFP

Non-EU citizens

  • Short-term residency (up to three months)

If you live outside the EU you are not entitled to the same privileges awarded to European Union citizens. However, if you come from Canada, the USA, New Zealand or Australia, you do not need a visa to stay in Italy for up to three months as a tourist.

If you plan to stay more than a week in Italy, the law states that you should register with the local Questura (police headquarters) and apply for a permesso di soggiorno per turismo (permit to stay for the purposes of tourism) within eight working days. In practice, however, most short-term visitors do not.

  • Longer-term residency (more than three months)

If you are planning to remain for more than three months, you will need a visa (visto). You should apply for it at the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country, as the process may take a while.

You will need a long-stay or ‘type D’ visa if you want to stay in Italy longer than 90 days – there are different long-stay visas available depending on your personal circumstances, eg. if you are moving here for study, work, family reasons, or retirement. 

Remember that a long-stay visa allows you to enter Italy. After that, you will also have to get an Italian residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) in order to be allowed to stay for longer than 90 days. 

Find more information about the most commonly-used types of Italian long-stay visas here.

READ ALSO: What is Italy’s investor visa and how can you apply?

Photo: DepositPhotos

Nulla osta

Along with your other documents, several visa applications also require you to provide a nulla osta (certificate of no impediment) to prove your eligibility. Procedures vary, but the application can often be made online.

What to do once you have your visa

When you arrive in Italy, you must follow the same process of registering with the Questura and applying for a permesso di soggiorno.

Different types of residency permit

There are a few different types of permit to stay in Italy, depending whether you’re there for work, study, family reasons or simply leisure (lucky you). The permit must correlate with your intentions of the permit holder and with the conditions of your visa.

Types of permit include:

  • Permesso di soggiorno per studio: for students.
  • Permesso di soggiorno per lavoro: work permit for employees.
  • Permesso di soggiorno per lavoro autonomo/indipendente: for self-employed foreigners.
  • Permesso di soggiorno per per motivi familiari: for the foreign spouse, children or relatives of an Italian citizen or foreigner residing legally in Italy. 

When applying for a residence permit, further documentation may be required such as a declaration from a current or prospective employer, evidence of your enrolment on a programme of study, or details of spouses and dependents in the case of those who intend to stay in Italy for family reasons. 

The permesso di soggiorno is usually processed in about three to six months, and the duration varies according to the type. The permit must be renewed at least a month in advance of the date of expiry.

Having the permit will give you full access to public healthcare, social assistance and education. 

Applying involves paying around €100-200 in fees and processing charges. You’ll need to submit the documents at a post office, go for an interview at the Questura where police will check your documents and take your fingerprints, then finally pick up your permit at your local police station.

NB: Make sure to carry your receipt of application (assicurata) with you while you’re waiting for your permesso to arrive, as it serves as proof that you’re in Italy legally.

Long-term residency permit

After five years of residence in Italy a non-EU expat can apply for a permesso di soggiorno per soggiornanti di lungo periodo (permission to stay for a long period), which can be renewed less frequently.

Applicants must demonstrate continuous legal residency, as well as taking a language test to demonstrate at least A2 level (elementary) competency in Italian.

For non-EU nationals with long-term residency in another EU country

People from outside the EU who have long-term residency in a different member state still have to apply for a residence permit in Italy, but the process is slightly easier. 

You don’t need a visa to enter the country and you’ll have up to three months after arriving to submit your application for a permesso di soggiorno. If you have dependents in your country of residence, they’ll be able to enter Italy on the same terms as you.

You can apply for a resident’s permit in order to work for an employer or yourself (though be aware that quotas apply), to study, or for another purpose so long as you can demonstrate that you have enough income or savings to support yourself. 

And you’re planning on staying less than three months, all you have to do is register at the local police headquarters (called la dichiarazione di presenza, or declaration of presence).

Note: The names of some of the documents listed above may sometimes vary from one Italian region or comune to another.

Please note that The Local is unable to advise on specific cases. For more information, contact your town’s Questura or your embassy.

This is an updated version of an article originally published in 2018.

Member comments

  1. This is a really good article. It clearly outlines subjects which are always the subject of endless discussion on various expat forums, and other websites (which don’t always explain things so well). You ought to consider making it available to non-members, because you might well find that those people will eventually become members in the future – if/when they move to Italy.

  2. In addition to the previous comment, it should be noted that for Americans with just a US passport, (and I believe other non EU visitors) it is possible to stay in Italy a maximum of 90 days out of every 180 days (not 90 days per year). So it is possible to stay 180 days per year in Italy as long as it is spit up into two separate visits with a minimum of 90 days in between. I have researched this through the Italian Foreign Ministry and have practiced it myself.

    1. This is what I currently do, stay three months in my little village where I own a home and then return to the US for three months before I do it all over again. The tricky part of this process is to count the days from the right date. If I land in Italy on March 20, I can stay three months, but I cannot RETURN to Italy until around September 20. That is six months, 180 days from when I first landed.

  3. To answer Rossi’s question, retirees seem to be covered under the “self-employed” requirements; just show a bank statement from back home showing your ability to be financially independent. A note: We found the Italian consulate in LA to be so inept, uncaring and lazy, we applied for the same thing from the French consulate a couple of blocks away. In and out, same day. Once you arrive in France, go wherever you want in the EU’s 27 countries, with the same privileges. (We arrived in Nice, went to San Remo) This was good for a year, renewable yearly, over there, without coming back. After a year, nobody seemed to pay any mind to us. It’s pretty loose. In answer to another question, a friend of ours stayed continuously without coming back to America, for a number of years; her secret was to plan a short trip every three months to a nearby non-EU location, get her passport stamped leaving and returning, and then the clock supposedly restarted for another 90 days or whatever (Gibraltar was good for six more months, for some reason). She lived like this for a number of years.

  4. One area not discussed is for US citizens with a residency permit in another EU member state. I’m currently on a DAFT residency permit in the Netherlands which allows me to spend up to 180 days outside the Netherlands but I cannot change my residency. And I need to maintain a home/apartment in the Netherlands. If I want to spend 5 months in the summer in Italy, from this article it appears I need to apply for a residency permit despite having residency in the Netherlands. Also the need to apply for an Italian residency permit may affect my permit in the Netherlands. It appears that Italy’s requirements may contravene the Netherlands.

    1. Michael, an interesting and important set of questions, also relevant to me. Have you made progress? Have you gotten any expert help? I’d love an update. Thank you. Karen

  5. We have German visas and plan to retire in Italy when my husband’s job ends. We were told we’d need an Elective Resident visa. This seems to say we can just move to Italy and apply for a residents visa. Is that correct?

  6. I really appreciate this article and its attention to detail. I have a question, though:

    The certificato di residenza an EU citizen applies for at the local Anagrafe if staying for longer than 3 months is the same as “taking residency in Italy” which then entitles one to ASL and requires one to pay taxes on worldwide income of any sort?
    I’m confused about “residency”, how many kinds of “residency” there are, what the tax implications are, and if one must renounce one’s other residency, since Italy does not permit dual residencies.

    A bit complicated!
    Can The Local recommend consultants we might make appointments with? The internet is driving me insane. Thanks again.

  7. If intending to stay longer than 3 months, one has to register within 8 days of arrival in Italy at the questura. Is that the questura in the province where one wants to remain resident, or the questura of ‘first arrival’ in Italy? I normally arrive in Italy from France by road and at my first hotel stop in Italy they register me (with the local questura, I suppose) and I have read on the various Local commentaries that one could/should ask the hotelier for a copy of that registration.

    1. I received a very helpful reply via The Local:
      The hotel registration made within 8 days of arrival would be for a ‘permesso di soggiorno per turismo’ (permit to stay for the purposes of tourism), which is only valid for short stays and can’t be used for residency purposes.
      As you are planning to stay for more than three months, you will then also need to register for a longer-term residency document once you arrive in the municipality in which you intend to stay.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

BUREAUCRACY

EXPLAINED: What is Italy’s new digital invoicing rule for freelancers?

Italy is bringing in new rules from July that mean changes for freelancers on the 'flat tax' rate. Here’s what you need to know about the new ‘fatturazione elettronica’, or digital invoicing system.

EXPLAINED: What is Italy’s new digital invoicing rule for freelancers?

Italy has been slowly moving more of its bureaucratic systems online in recent years, and in many cases this has made it quicker and easier for residents to access services and get their considerable amounts of Italian life admin in order.

It was hoped that the new electronic invoicing rule would do the same for freelancers on Italy’s flat-tax regime, by doing away with the existing need to print out invoices and affix tax stamps by hand.

READ ALSO: Beat the queues: 19 bits of Italian bureaucracy you can do online

But a close look at the details of the new rules shows that it probably won’t make life easier for those on the flat tax rate, who have so far been spared the bulk of that infamous Italian red tape – but now need to get to grips with a new online system.

Known as the ‘regime forfettario‘, Italy’s flat-rate tax scheme for individuals and small businesses was introduced in 2015 to encourage more commercial activity by slashing tax rates and simplifying bureaucracy.

New freelancers who choose this tax system generally pay somewhere between just five and 15 percent tax on earnings, regardless of overheads.

READ ALSO: The pros and cons of Italy’s five percent flat tax for freelancers

Little has changed since its inception seven years ago, but freelancers using the scheme now need to be aware of new rules coming into force from July 1st, 2022.

How you invoice – how you send, receive and store receipts, therefore – is due to move from analogue to digital, bringing new requirements and know-how on digital invoicing software.

Here’s what’s changing for freelancers with the so-called ‘fattura elettronica‘.

Who is required to send electronic invoices?

While this was already a requirement for the self-employed on other tax regimes, those on the flat tax rate will now be included from July 1st.

They were previously exempt, but that changed under the PNRR (National recovery and resilience plan or piano nazionale di ripresa e resilienza) – the Italian government’s plan for using EU funding for post-pandemic economic recovery.

Digital invoicing is intended to fight Italy’s major problem with tax evasion, as well as to further automate accounting processes.

For now, not all freelancers under this tax scheme need to move to digital accounting – only those who received an income in excess of €25,000 in the previous year are required to comply with the new rule.

It will then extend to all freelancers using the flat-rate scheme from January 1st, 2024.

From that date, everyone subscribed to the ‘regime forfettario’ will have to switch to electronic invoicing and there are hefty penalties in place for those who don’t.

How will electronic invoices work?

Italy’s tax authority has defined a couple of notable differences between the digital or electronic invoice (fattura elettronica) and a paper invoice (fattura di carta) in its updated guidelines.

Firstly, the digital invoice has to be created using a digital device (a computer, tablet or smartphone), and secondly it has to be sent to the client via an ‘Interchange System’, the so-called Sistema di Interscambio (SdI).

READ ALSO: ‘Smart working’? Here’s what you need to know about going self-employed in Italy

Italy’s flat-rate tax scheme is going digital. Photo by Christian Dubovan on Unsplash

This electronic postal system checks whether the invoice contains the required data for tax purposes, as well as checking the verified e-address (or the so-called PEC address) of the recipient.

In doing so, the electronic invoice automatically checks that the VAT number (partita IVA), or the tax code (codice fiscale) depending on who you send the invoice to, really exist.

Once the checks are completed, the system sends the invoice to the client, which will trigger an alert to the freelancer with a delivery receipt, showing the date and time the document was delivered.

How can you send an e-invoice?

There are a few accounting software options on the market if you’re now faced with having to send electronic invoices.

Some charge a fee of around €1-€4 per month or come at a cost per transaction.

Platforms such as ‘Aruba‘ or ‘Fatture in Cloud‘, are competitive and may offer you a free trial before you deciding to buy.

The Italian revenue agency (Agenzie delle Entrate) has also created free-of-charge services to help send and receive e-invoices. These include websites as well as apps for completing the required steps, which are detailed in their guide here.

You can access their Invoices and Receipts (‘Fatture e Corrispettivi‘) portal to benefit from these free services.

You’ll either need a Spid ID (‘Sistema Pubblico dell’Identità Digitale‘), a Carta Nazionale dei Servizi (CNS) or accounting credentials known as Fisconline/Entrate, which are issued by the Agenzie delle Entrate.

You can also delegate this task to an intermediary, such as an accountant (commercialista) who would do this on your behalf, the revenue agency stipulates 

What about the Italian tax stamp?

Until now, freelancers issuing invoices under the ‘regime forfettario‘ have had to attach a €2 stamp, called a ‘marca da bollo’, to every invoice over the value of €77,47.

So what happens when e-receipts go digital and you can’t physically stick a stamp on a document? Well, that goes digital too and the Inland Revenue has issued a 16-page guide on how you need to go about it.

It seems the previously attractive ‘light’ accounting of this regime is about to get bogged down by time-consuming bureaucracy too.

Authorities will systematically check that the fee has been paid each quarter for all the invoices that require it.

As a general rule, you can see if there are any discrepancies by the 15th day of the first month following each quarter on their Invoices and Receipts portal.

You or your intermediary have until the end of that month to fix any accounting errors, but make sure to check with an accountant if you have any difficulties or need specific advice for your personal circumstances.

Once you receive your final stamp duty bill for each quarter, you can pay either via IBAN, which you set up on the portal, or by filling out an electronic F24 form – details of how to do that are included in the guide.

For further information and FAQ’s, see Italy’s Inland Revenue Agency website on the electronic invoice here.

Please note The Local cannot advise on personal cases and seeking expert financial advice is recommended.

SHOW COMMENTS