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RESIDENCY PERMITS

Reader question: Can I have residency in Italy and another country?

For those who own a home in Italy and also live in another country, the rules on how long you can stay in and away from Italy can be confusing. The Local spoke to an immigration expert to debunk the myths.

A view over the Italian countryside
How long can you spend in Italy legally? It all depends on your residency paperwork. Photo: Łukasz Czechowicz on Unsplash

Reader question: I have a home in Italy and I also live in the UK. Can I have permanent residency in both countries and do I have to spend a minimum amount of time in Italy to retain my residency there?

Living between two different countries throws up a lot of questions and confusion surrounding residency rights and the amount of time you can spend in Italy legally.

For people who have a home in Italy, the answer to the above question depends on how much of the year you want to spend in the country, and on your nationality.

“If an individual spends time both in Italy and in another country, the periods of presence outside of Italy are calculated and compared with the periods of presence in Italy to see which one is prevalent,” stated immigration lawyer Marco Mazzeschi of immigration consultancy firm Mazzeschi.

Essentially, you can spend time in Italy and another country, but the time you can spend out of Italy depends on the type of residence permit you hold. That is if, in fact, you have or need residency in Italy at all.

“If you have a house in Puglia, for instance, and you want to visit it three or four times a year for a week or two at a time, you don’t need to register for residency,” Mazzeschi clarified.

So, even though people may own a second home in Italy and pay taxes on that property, that doesn’t mean they automatically have residency in Italy – nor do they necessarily need it.

READ ALSO: What taxes do you need to pay if you own a second home in Italy?

But if you spend longer in Italy and have family and work here, or “where the person and family live on a day to day basis” according to Italian law, this is when you’ll need to register for residency, the legal expert said.

There are tax implications to this, as “you have officially declared Italy as your main centre, your main residence,” according to the immigration expert. It means you’ll need to pay income tax on all worldwide income, which we’ll explain in more detail below.

What may come as a relief to many is that it’s rare for people to lose their residency, once they’ve got it, for being out of Italy for periods of time.

Here’s what you need to know about keeping your residency in Italy, depending on your nationality and paperwork.

Do you need residency in Italy at all?

As a starting point, 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.

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

Under the EU’s freedom of movement policy, EU nationals on the other hand do not need a visa or permesso di soggiorno. All they need is a valid travel document, such as an identity card or passport. Anyone in this category staying longer than three months in Italy is required to apply for a certificato di residenza (residence certificate) at their local Anagrafe (registry office).

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

If you’re coming over regularly for a couple of weeks here and there, for example on holiday or business, it’s not necessary to apply for residency.

But if you’re planning to stay for longer than three months a year in total as a non-EU national, you will need to go through the process.

To find out how to apply for residency, you can find the full guide here.

Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

How long you can be away from Italy if you have residency

After you’ve successfully got your residency – if that’s right for your circumstances – what are the rules on how long you’re in Italy?

Once you register for residency, it’s no longer important how much time you spend in Italy,” Mazzeschi told The Local.

“It’s very rare for people to get kicked out of Italy for being away too long,” he confirmed.

In general, the registry office can remove anyone who is unavailable over a long period of time at the residency address, according to Mazzeschi.

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

“This is a very uncommon procedure, and a result of multiple attempts from authorities to reach out to the individual. When the person is no longer found at the given address, the residency can be cancelled,” stated the law firm’s senior immigration consultant Costanza Petreni.

So what counts as a long period of time?

The answer depends on the amount spent outside the country for non-EU nationals and also on the type of residence permit.

We’ll look at non-EU immigration permits, as the rules are much more straightforward for EU nationals.

Residence Permit – (permesso di soggiorno). Remember that you’ll need to get a long-stay visa first, which allows you to enter Italy. After that, you will also have to get an Italian residence permit, the permesso di soggiorno, in order to be allowed to stay for longer than 90 days. These types of permits last one to two years.

In terms of time spent away from Italy, the permit cannot be renewed or extended if the holder has left Italy for more than six consecutive months. In the case of two-year permits, this applies to holders who have left Italy for more than half the validity of the permit consecutively. This would mean being out of Italy for 12 consecutive months.

There are exceptions, such as completing required military service abroad or “other serious grounded motives,” the immigration experts said.

EU long term Residence Permit(permesso di soggiorno per soggiornanti di lungo periodo). After five years of residence in Italy, a non-EU citizen can apply for this ‘permission to stay for a long period’. The permit is revoked if the holder leaves the EU for 12 consecutive months or leaves Italy for more than six years. Otherwise, this permit has no expiration.

A tourist wearing a respiratory mask as part of precautionary measures against the spread of the new COVID-19 coronavirus, walks past the closed Colisseum monument in Rome on March 10, 2020 as Italy imposed unprecedented national restrictions on its 60 million people on March 10 to control the deadly coronavirus.

Photo: Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Permit for family member of an EU citizen (Carta di soggiorno). This is not to be confused with the post-Brexit electronic ID card with avery similar name, which proves the rights of British citizens who were in Italy before Britain left the EU.

Instead, this permit is valid for family members of an EU citizen and remains valid as long as the holder doesn’t leave Italy for periods of no longer than six months in a year. This can be for longer in case of military service.

In some cases, it is still valid even if the holder leaves Italy for up to 12 months. Pregnancy, maternity, illness, study and professional reasons or work assignments are all acceptable causes for leaving Italy longer than a year, where this permit is concerned.

It’s worth noting that it’s the holder’s responsibility to provide relevant supporting documentation to keep the carta active.

READ ALSO:

How this affects your tax payments

Residency is of course more than just officially declaring that you live in Italy. It has tax consequences too.

Mazzeschi noted that some may want to opt for maintaining residence in the UK, for example, in order to avoid paying higher Italian income tax (Irpef).

However, this is not advised as the authorities may learn that something is amiss “if your partner is here, your business is here, but you just about spend enough time outside Italy to avoid paying income tax”.

He cited high-profile tax evasion cases such as that of former MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, who was forced to pay €35 million in fines to Italy’s revenue agency. This came after he moved his residence to London and didn’t declare his earnings of €60 million across four years, from 2000 to 2004.

The penalties were based on the second, more subjective, component of residency – not just physical presence, but other factors that show an intention to live in Italy.

“Reference is made to a number of things, including but not limited to an individual’s conduct, social and personal habits, working relationships, family relationships, business and personal activities,” the immigration expert told us.

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

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

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).

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.

Marco Mazzeschi is the founder of Mazzeschi, an immigration and citizenship consultancy firm based in Italy. You can contact him further here.

Please note The Local cannot advise on specific cases. 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. When I asked about applying for a long stay visa the Italian embassy told me it wasn’t necessary. They suggested I enter on the automatic 90 day tourist visa and then apply for the permesso di soggiorno after arrival. I was skeptical, but this actually worked for me, saving me both time and fees. The key to making it work is to schedule an appointment with the questure in advance of your arrival so that you can complete the process before the 90 days expires. And one also needs to be from a country like the UK or USA that has an automatic visa agreement with Italy.

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For members

LIVING IN ITALY

13 essential apps to make your life in Italy easier

From commuting to grocery shopping, mobile apps have made many of our daily tasks simpler. Here are some of the best apps to have on your phone if you live in Italy.

13 essential apps to make your life in Italy easier

Though some might not always fulfil their purpose, apps are essentially designed to make daily life easier and for those living in a foreign country any type of help, however big or small, is worth its weight in gold.

READ ALSO: Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

So, in no particular order, here are 13 apps that might prove essential for life in Italy. 

Moovit

Moovit is by far the best urban mobility app available in Italy.

From public transport to taxis and e-bikes, Moovit will give you travel options to get to your destination in the quickest possible time. 

The times where you’d need multiple apps to figure out the quickest way to get from A to B are long gone.

Enjoy

Public transport options aren’t always great in Italy, and you might find yourself looking for a car to hire on more than one occasion. 

If you live in Milan, Rome, Turin, Bologna or Florence, you’ll be able to do so via Enjoy.

Once you’ve uploaded your driving licence to the app, you’ll only need to locate the nearest car in your area and book it with a simple click. Parking at the end of your journey will be free of charge. 

Lime

If you’re not a fan of cars (or simply can’t stand traffic during peak hours), you’ll also have the option to hop on a bike and cycle your way through the city.

There are countless bike-sharing services across the country, but Lime is definitely one of the most reliable ones.

Prices vary depending on where you live, but they’re generally very affordable.

Free Now

Regular Uber services are not available in Italy, so you’ll have to turn to local taxis for a ride. 

Free Now will spare you a lot of traipsing around (and a lot of roadside waving) by allowing you to summon a taxi to your exact location and pay for your ride via the app.

Other apps, like appTaxi and itTaxi, are also available and some are more widely used in certain cities than others.

A taxi on an empty road in Rome, Italy

Free Now allows residents to quickly hail a taxi and pay for the ride via the app. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Il Meteo

While it might not have the most creative of names – it literally means ‘the weather’ – Il Meteo is the best mobile app if you’re looking to keep up to date with weather conditions in your corner of the boot.

Aside from giving you ten-day forecasts, the app gives you updates on pollen levels, road traffic and earthquakes as well as live satellite images.

Satispay

Satispay is one hell of a time-saver when it comes to making small purchases at your local grocery store, especially if you don’t have Apple Pay or Google Pay set up on your phone.

The app is essentially an online wallet which allows you to pay by simply scanning a QR code at the relevant check-out machine. 

Other than that, it allows you to send money to your phone contacts and make a series of in-app payments, including phone top-ups and car tax payments.

The Fork

Booking a spot at a local restaurant can be a bit of a hassle at times, especially if your Italian is still così così

That’s where The Fork comes in. A couple of effortless taps on your screen and you’re booked. 

The Fork also gives you access to a number of generous discounts (as much as 50 percent in some cases) on your restaurant bill.

Glovo

If you’re craving a restaurant meal but don’t quite want to leave the comfort of your home, Glovo is one of the best options available in Italy.

Glovo services more than 450 towns and cities across Italy and their deliveries are usually bang on time. 

Aside from delivering food orders, the service will also bring anything from groceries to medicine to flowers right to your doorstep.

Giallo Zafferano

One of the best ways to tap into the bel paese’s unparalleled culinary tradition is by downloading the Giallo Zafferano (Saffron Yellow) app.

Giallo Zafferano stores over 4,000 recipes, many of which are accompanied by video tutorials, nutrition facts and historical notes.

Pizza-making in Naples, Italy

The Giallo Zafferano app allows users to tap into Italy’s world-famous culinary tradition. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

The app will also allow you to share tips and photos of your creations with other users.

Subito

Subito is an online marketplace where you can buy or sell anything from cars to real estate to home furniture.

The app has over six million ads, but searching for items is surprisingly easy thanks to the filters and categories provided. 

Also, Subito allows you to post ads for free and chat with potential buyers (or sellers) directly within the app. 

Prezzi Benzina

Though they might not be as high as they were some months ago, fuel prices are still far from the norm and even small savings can make a big difference.

You can use Prezzi Benzina (Fuel Prices) to quickly locate the cheapest petrol station in your area and get the best available deal. 

READ ALSO: Where to find the cheapest fuel in Italy

All you have to do is select the type of fuel your vehicle runs on and enter your location. The app will do the rest. 

IO

Italian bureaucracy is notoriously tricky to navigate, but setting up the IO app on your phone will make things easier for you. 

IO allows you to message and exchange documents with any Italian public body, and gives you the option to pay for a number of public administration services from within the app.

Remember: you’ll need SPID (Public Digital Identity System) credentials or an Italian Electronic Identity Card (CIE) to access the service. 

MedInAction

MedInAction allows you to book an appointment with a qualified English-speaking doctor within 24 hours.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to make a doctor’s appointment in Italy 

However, the service isn’t cheap – prices for house calls start at 120 euros, whereas online consultations with a GP are available for 50 euros – and only the biggest Italian cities are covered.

Also, the app is only available on iOS devices.

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