For members


EXPLAINED: Can second-home owners get an Italian residence permit?

Second home owners hoping to spend more time in Italy may consider applying for Italian residency - but how easy is it and what do you need to know?

A woman admires the view of Manarola in Italy's Cinque Terre.
Want to stay just a little bit longer? Here's a look at your options.  Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Citizens of many non-EU countries, including Americans and now Brits are allowed to spend 90 days out of every 180 in the EU without applying for a visa or residency. 

This rule doesn’t apply to non-EU citizens who are legally resident in Italy, but there is often confusion about the rules if you have a second home.

Several readers have also recently asked if there’s a way to extend the period of time they can spend in Italy.

At the moment, if you plan to stay longer in Italy most people from outside the EU would need to apply for a visa and residency permit (permesso di soggiorno).

While some countries such as France have made special residency permit provisions for second home owners, and certain other EU member states have so-called ‘Golden Visa’ schemes available to those who can afford them, Italy has no such process.

The first thing to be aware of is that owning a home in Italy does not change the immigration rules or the visa or permesso application process.

“The buying of a property in Italy by a third party national (now including UK nationals) does not in any way, shape, or form give them any privileges from an immigration point of view,” says Damien O’Farrell, a global mobility expert and expat coach.

“Italy, unlike Portugal, does not have a Golden Visa,” he says.

There has been confusion about this for British nationals in particular, as the rules have recently changed. But again, the post-Brexit immigration rules remain the same whether you own a property in Italy or not:

READ ALSO: Italy confirms post-Brexit visa rules for British nationals

if you were registered as legally resident before the end of the Brexit transition period (by December 31st, 2020), your rights to reside in Italy are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement.

If not, you can still apply for a residency permit after that date, however you may not be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. Read more about those rules here.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In Italy, most non-EU citizens wishing to stay for more than 90 days in 180 would need to apply for a long-stay visa.

In some cases, rules vary by country so be sure to check with your Italian embassy.

How do I apply for Italian residency?

There are several types of long-stay visa available depending on your circumstances. The one most likely to apply to second home owners choosing to spend more time in Italy would be the ‘elective residency’ visa.

This type of visa is designed for those who want to live in Italy and have the financial means to support themselves without working. It is often referred to as a retirement visa, but you don’t have to be retired to apply. The application costs  €116.00.

The visa however is only the first step, and it must be applied for before you arrive in Italy.

READ ALSO: ‘Do your homework’: An American’s guide to moving to Italy

Once in Italy, you’d then need to begin the process of obtaining a residence 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. The permit you apply for must correlate with your intentions of the permit holder and with the conditions of your visa.

The application costs between €100-200 in fees and usually takes between three and six months to process.

Find further details of how the residency application process works here.

Is residency right for me?

Residency is of course more than just officially declaring that you live in Italy.

Whether or not taking up residency – and therefore paying income tax – in Italy would be the right choice for you is an often complex decision which depends on your personal circumstances.

Taking up permanent residency has an impact on access to national health services (depending on the system in your home country) as well as on taxes.

Second home owners may already be paying some Italian tax, but this in itself does not mean they have residency rights.

Those who own second homes in Italy are “liable for any property taxes such as IMU, garbage tax, and any other local taxes,” O’Farrell explains.

“As they are not residents, income tax does not come into play,” he adds.

Becoming a permanent resident in Italy means filing annual tax returns with Italian authorities, even if all your income comes from your home country or elsewhere, and registering with the Italian healthcare system (which may not be free).

READ ALSO: The five most essential pieces of paperwork you’ll need when moving to Italy

For these reasons, many non-EU citizens with a second home in Italy may decide sticking to the 90-day rule is their best option.

It’s important to point out that the 90-day limit is for the whole Schengen area, so for example if you have already spent 89 days in Italy you cannot then go for a week in Spain. 

This Schengen calculator allows you to calculate your visits and make sure you don’t overstay.

If you are caught over-staying your allocated 90 days you can end up with an ‘over-stay’ flag on your passport which can make it difficult to enter any other country, not just Italy, and is likely to make any future attempts at getting visas or residency a lot more difficult.

Please note The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the immigration rules apply to you, consult the Italian embassy in your country or, if you’re in Italy, the Questura (police headquarters and immigration office) in your province.

For more details about the process of applying for an Italian visa and residency permit, see the Italian Interior Ministry’s website or the EU immigration portal.

Member comments

  1. I’m a GBR passport holder.

    I’ve owned a property in Italy since 2007. I pay for garbage collection etc etc. to the local commune. They know who I am and where my Italian home is. Does that make me officially part of the Commune population and therefore entitled to a Permesso under the withdrawal agreement???

    I pay a mortgage to an Italian bank. I have a codice fiscale. I have never before applied for Residency in Italy but I pay to declare Italian income (none) via an accountant on an annual basis. Brexit and the 90-day rule have removed my rights to FOM.

    I’m sure I’m not alone on this one but let’s be honest, it remains unclear and there are zero articles that really deal with this. Hence 2 thirds of UK passport holders living in Italy deferring from a Permesso application. Incredible really…..

    1. Hi,

      Your rights are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement if you were registered as lawfully resident in Italy before the end of the Brexit transition period (so by December 31st, 2020).

      If not, you can still apply for a permesso after that date, but you may not be covered by the WA. You would need to make an appointment with your local Questura to find out what the rules are in your situation.

      Please find some more information about these rules here:

      And in our ‘Dealing with Brexit’ section here:

      Best wishes,
      – Clare

  2. But surely Australians can stay 6 months under the reciprocal arrangement. Has this changed ??

  3. Really, British people have to make a choice now. We chose residency in Italy after owning a house here for years and visiting for about 6 months every year. We still have a very small flat in England “just in case”.

    We have been residents since 2018 and it’s expensive – two tax returns each, paying around 2,700 euros into the health service every year, not being able to insure a car in England anymore, etc. However, I don’t think there’s any other way around it now. You either choose to live in Italy or GB, unless you’re happy with just taking holidays in Italy.

    Brexit ruined everything for us, and for a lot of other people too.

  4. as far as I am aware you can have permanent residency in more than one country at a time – I know of many people who do. The Italian tax authorities website states that you don’t pay income tax in Italy if you reside in Italy for less than 183 days.

    1. Hi TP – I would be very interested in your sources for the double residency assertion. I had previously thought that it was possible, but the Local is informing us otherwise. Thanks .

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For members


REVEALED: EU plans digital-only Schengen visa application process

Soon those non-EU nationals requested to have a Schengen visa to travel to European countries will no longer need to go to a consulate to submit the application and get a passport sticker, but will be able to apply online. 

REVEALED: EU plans digital-only Schengen visa application process

The European Commission has proposed to make the Schengen visa process completely digital.

The special visa, which allows to stay for tourism or business (but not work) in 26 European countries for up to 90 days in any 6-month period. 

Nationals of third countries such as South Africa, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka need the Schengen Visa to visit Europe, but they are not needed for other non-EU nationals such as Britons or Americans. You can see the full list of countries who need a Schengen visa here.

The proposal will have to be approved by the European Parliament and Council, but is in line with an agreed strategy that EU governments are keen to accelerate in the aftermath of the pandemic. 

Once agreed, the system will be used by the countries that are part of the border-free Schengen area. These include EU countries, excluding Ireland (which opted out), and Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Cyprus (which do not issue Schengen visas). Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland, which are not EU members but have signed the Schengen Convention, will be part of the new system too.

Paper-based processes required applicants to travel to consulates to submit the application and collect their passports with the visa, a procedure that “proved problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Commission said.

Some EU countries have already started to switch to digital systems but not all accept online payments for the visa fees. 

When the new system will be in place, the Commission says, applicants will be able to check on the EU Visa Application platform whether they need a visa. If so, they will create an account, fill out the application form, upload the documents and pay. 

The platform will automatically determine which Schengen country will be responsible for the application and applicants will be able to check their status and receive notifications. Travellers will then be able to access the visa online, and if needed extend it too.

“Half of those coming to the EU with a Schengen visa consider the visa application burdensome, one-third have to travel long distance to ask for a visa. It is high time that the EU provides a quick, safe and web-based EU visa application platform for the citizens of the 102 third countries that require short term visa to travel to the EU,” said Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

“With some member states already switching to digital, it is vital the Schengen area now moves forward as one,” said Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas.

However, first-time applicants, people with biometric data that are no longer valid or with a new travel document, will still have to go to a consulate to apply.

Family members of citizens from the EU and the European Economic Area, as well as people who need assistance, will also be able to continue to apply on paper. 

The EU Visa Application platform will be used from third countries whose nationals must be in possession of a visa to enter the EU and is different from the ETIAS (European Travel Information Authorisation), which is currently under development.

The ETIAS will be used by non-EU nationals who are exempt from visas but who will need to apply for a travel authorisation prior to their trip. This will cost 7 euros and will be free for people below the age of 18 and above 70. 

Based on the discussion between the European Parliament and Council, the Commission could start developing the platform in 2024 and make it operational in 2026. EU countries will then have five years to phase out national portals and switch to the common online system.