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VISAS

Q&A: What do we know so far about Italy’s digital nomad visa?

Italy has approved a special visa option aimed at freelancers and remote workers, but who can get it and how does it work? Here's what you should know if you're thinking of applying.

Q&A: What do we know so far about Italy's digital nomad visa?
The rise of remote work means more people can now live where they choose. And Italy may soon be an option for more people after the approval of a new visa. Photo by Dessidre Fleming on Unsplash

After The Local reported last month that a proposed Italian ‘digital nomad’ visa had been approved, we’ve received a large number of questions from readers around the world who are interested in taking advantage of the scheme.

The planned special visa allowing remote workers to move to Italy from outside the European Union is hoped to offer a far easier route than the current visa options available.

READ ALSO: Italy approves ‘digital nomad’ visa for remote workers

However, with the details of the Italian digital nomad visa application process still to be confirmed, it’s not yet clear how much easier this new route will be.

In response to the questions we’ve had, here’s a look at what we do – and don’t – know so far.

Has this really been approved? Wasn’t Italy’s digital nomad visa proposal thrown out?

Yes, Italian MPs and immigration lawyers confirmed last week that the proposal had been approved and signed into law after months of speculation and confusion.

Confusion arose as legal experts said the proposal appeared to be unexpectedly missing from the final text of a decree approved at the end of January.

Once that decree was converted into Italian law on March 28th, however, it became clear that the proposal had been approved after all – and the digital nomad visa was back on the table.

Who is this visa option for?

Anyone from outside the EU needs a visa to move to Italy if they’ll be working. There are no visa requirements for EU citizens moving to Italy for work purposes.

While it is possible for many non-EU nationals to spend up to 90 days in Italy without a visa, those wishing to work legally while here must apply for a visa and work permit before they move.

The current Italian work visa options available weren’t set up with freelancers and remote workers in mind, and immigration law experts say they can be difficult to obtain if you’re not an employee or investor.

But as working from anywhere becomes an option for more people, Italy and many other countries are looking at providing specific visa arrangements which would allow these mobile workers to stay legally for a short time.

READ ALSO: Remote workers: What are your visa options when moving to Italy?

Living the remote-working dream in Italy will involve some paperwork. Photo by David Espina on Unsplash

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the new digital nomad visa will be made easily available to anyone with a laptop, however.

While full details of eligible professions are yet to be published, we do know that workers applying for this visa will need to be able to show that they are “highly qualified” in their field.

The text of the bill stated that the digital nomad visa will be for those “who carry out highly qualified work activities through the use of technological tools that allow them to work remotely, autonomously or for a company that is not resident in the territory of the Italian state.”

Financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore suggests that the “highly qualified” worker description could include everyone “from university professors to circus employees, seafarers and professional nurses”.

How will this visa be different to the current options available?

Italy does already have a self-employment visa and other existing work visa options.

The main difference is likely to be that those who successfully apply for the digital nomad visa will be able to get a work permit outside of Italy’s limited quota system for foreign workers.

This is a big deal because the quota system only allows for 500 permits per year (for the last few years, including in 2022) to be issued to self-employed workers – and that’s if you can meet the requirements, including the definition of a ‘self-employed worker’, for the purposes of the self-employment visa or visto per lavoro autonomo.

This is the visa that most non-EU freelancers would probably expect to apply for when seeking to move to Italy for work. 

But successful applications are rare, and immigration lawyers describe the appliation process as “hard and uncertain” due to limited availability and stringent (and often unclear) application requirements.

READ ALSO: ‘Not just extra paperwork’: What it’s like moving to Italy after Brexit

The only other options that can sometimes work for certain types of non-EU self-employed workers are the intra-company visa or the EU Blue Card.

These options involve either setting up an Italian branch of a foreign company, or registering a company under Italian law. Minimum income requirements and strict checks apply. Find out more about those options here.

So hopefully not only will the requirements for obtaining the new digital nomad visa be easier for the average freelancer to meet, but more of these visas will be available.

How do I apply for an Italian digital nomad visa?

While the proposal has been approved, the visa itself does not yet exist and the application requirements have not been published.

Italian MP Luca Carabetta, one of the lawmakers who promoted the digital nomad visa, told The Local that “requirements for the remote worker are the availability of suitable accommodation, adequate income, health insurance, and a clean criminal record.”

READ ALSO:

The visa application is also expected to entail a minimum income requirement, though the amount is not yet known.

We’ll have the full details of the application process once the Italian government publishes a separate decree detailing the visa application process and requirements.

When will more details be known? 

The decree containing details of the requirements for the new digital nomad visa is expected to be ready within the next couple of months, though no firm date has been given.

Carabetta said the new visa is hoped to be available “by the summer”.

If you’re currently planning a move, it’s important to note that work visas must be applied for before you leave for Italy – that is, at the Italian embassy in your home country. You can’t apply for one once you’re already in Italy (although you may be able to convert other types of visa, such as a student visa).

Find out more about the general process of applying for an Italian work visa here.

See more information on the Italian Foreign Ministry’s visa website here.

Please note that The Local is unable to advise on individual cases. For more information on visa applications, consult the Italian embassy or consulate in your country or an immigration law professional.

Member comments

  1. The nomad visa is a wonderful idea, but let’s hope it doesn’t include someone posting dog walking instructions to YouTube. The “highly qualified” term has been misused for decades by companies bringing workers to the EU who pay no tax to the host nation. It amounts to a corporate subsidy that Germany has cracked down on but which Italy still ignores.

  2. This is definitely interesting for people in my position, which is a professional who has licensure in my home country, remotely works for a company here, could easily afford to live in Italy, is not particularly interested in becoming a permanent resident, but may want to stay longer than 90 days.

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BUREAUCRACY

How to register with the anagrafe in Italy

All foreign nationals who move to Italy will need to visit the Italian registry office, or anagrafe. Here’s why and what to expect.

How to register with the anagrafe in Italy

If you’re planning to stay in Italy for the long term, sooner or later you’ll need to visit the Ufficio Anagrafe (registry office) of the Italian town or municipality you’re living in to register: a process known as the iscrizione anagrafica.

Registering with your local ‘anagrafe’ is a legal requirement, and it’s an essential first step to accessing many public and private services in Italy

The iscrizione anagrafica is needed to issue you with an Italian ID card (carta d’identità) and residency certificate (certificato di residenza). Registration is also important if you later intend to apply for Italian citizenship by marriage or naturalisation, or ancestry via the ‘fast track’ route.

So how do you register at the anagrafe and what documents will you need? 

In some cities, you’ll need to make an appointment to register – sometimes weeks in advance. Some municipalities also allow you to apply online or via email. Check the website of your local comune for more information about the procedure you’ll need to follow. See information for the anagrafe in Rome or Milan (available only in Italian).

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between Italian residency and citizenship?

Each town or comune has its own application forms, and the documentation needed to apply will also vary depending on your personal situation. If you visit the anagrafe in person, staff should be able to tell you exactly what you’ll need and provide you with hard copies of the forms.

Note that information is not always available in English, so if you don’t speak much Italian you may need to take a friend with you to translate.

To give you an idea of what to expect, here’s a quick overview of the requirements, which differ mainly depending on whether you’re a citizen of an EU or non-EU country.

EU nationals 

Although EU citizens have the right to travel freely around European member states, those staying in Italy longer than three months must apply for a certificato di residenza (residency certificate), which means registering at the anagrafe.

In general, you’ll need to submit the following along with your application form:

    • Copy of a valid identification document from your home country
    • copy of your personal Italian tax code (codice fiscale), which you can get from the tax office (agenzia dell’entrate);
    • a valid health insurance policy, if you are not eligible to register with the Italian national health service (SSN);
    • declaration of your address in Italy (dichiarazione di residenza);
    • declaration of your marital status and any dependent family members;
    • Evidence of employment, study or training in Italy, or proof that you have sufficient economic means to support yourself and any dependents.

Photo by Serge Taeymans on Unsplash

Non-EU nationals 

The application requirements for non-EU nationals can vary much more depending on your personal circumstances. You’ll need to consult your local anagrafe or comune for detailed information about the requirements in your situation.

In most cases, the application process is similar to that for EU nationals, but you’ll also need to show your residency permit plus other documentation depending on the reasons for which the permit was given.

This means you’ll usually need to submit the following along with your application form:

    • Passport or equivalent identification document from your home country;
    • original copy of your residency permit (permesso di soggiorno or equivalent), or the receipt if you’ve applied but haven’t received it yet;
    • proof of employment if your residency permit was issued for work reasons OR
    • certification of enrollment in education or a professional training course, if the permit is for study or training purposes;
    • proof that you have sufficient economic means to support yourself and any dependents;
    • copy of your personal Italian tax code (codice fiscale), which you can get from the tax office (agenzia dell’entrate);
    • a valid health insurance policy, if you are not eligible to register with the Italian national health service (SSN);
    • declaration of your address in Italy (dichiarazione di residenza);
    • declaration of your marital status and any dependent family members.

Note for non-EU nationals moving to Italy to claim citizenship via ancestry: Non-EU nationals can initially register with the anagrafe without a permesso di soggiorno (this is to give them the opportunity to start the citizenship by ancestry application process, and in turn claim a permesso for attesa di cittadinanza (permit for stay while waiting for citizenship)).

READ ALSO: Can second-home owners get an Italian residency permit?

All applicants will also need to pay the application fee, which is currently set at €27.50 plus tax. 

And if you rent, your landlord or housing association in Italy will need to provide a signed document authorising you to use the address on your registration. Be aware that there are reports of some unscrupulous landlords attempting to charge foreign nationals a fee for this document – which is not legal.

What happens next?

If you submit the application in person, the iscrizione anagrafica is effective immediately, meaning you can apply for your certificato di residenza and carta di identità.

However, the anagrafe has 45 days to check your documents and to verify that you actually live at the address you’ve given. They’ll do this by sending an official to visit you at home: some comuni will give you an appointment for this visit, while in others they’ll turn up without notice, but either way if you’re not at home when they arrive this can cause delays.

The anagrafe has the right to reject your application if any of your documents are found to be invalid or any of your information incorrect. You can appeal against rejections, though you’ll likely need the help of a legal professional.

Once approved, registration with the anagrafe does not expire or need to be renewed. It can be cancelled if you move to another part of Italy or abroad.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on individual cases. For further information on the process and requirements in your area, visit your local anagrafe office or check the official website of your town’s comune.

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