Americans in Italy For Members

Americans in Italy: Getting a visa and the Italian retirement experience

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected]
Americans in Italy: Getting a visa and the Italian retirement experience
What's it really like to retired in Italy as an American? Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP.

From elective residency visas to retiree experiences, our new monthly newsletter Americans in Italy offers advice and support to US nationals who live on the Italian peninsula, have family or property ties here, or are considering making the move to Italy.


Welcome to our regular look at everything you need to know about life in Italy for The Local’s readers from the US. This new newsletter will be published monthly and you can receive it directly to your inbox by going to newsletter preferences in ‘My Account’ or following the instructions in the newsletter box below.

The Local has a large number of American readers and we’ve decided to create a newsletter with you in mind, focusing on the issues that matter most to US citizens living in, moving to, or regularly visiting Italy.

One thing many of our readers ask about is the process of applying for a visa for moving to Italy. There are various different Italian visas available, depending on your reasons for moving here, for example to work or study. But for others things are less clear: particularly for retirees, as Italy doesn’t have a specific visa type available for those choosing to move here to enjoy their retirement.


The most popular option in this case is the elective residency visa, often called the ERV, which allows you to move to Italy for one year initially with a view to gaining permanent residency. You can't work once you arrive or receive an 'active' income, so although it's not a retirement visa it's typically retirees who apply.

Unfortunately though, applying for Italy’s ERV is not straightforward and this type of visa has a relatively high rejection rate, so you’ll need to know exactly what’s required before you apply. You can read our guide to the process in this article.

If you're just starting to look into the ERV, you might not need a detailed guide to the application process so much as a quick digest of the key pointers for would-be applicants.

With that in mind, we took the most important pieces of advice shared by the three experts we spoke to and summed them up here. The short of it? Be polite, persistent, and extremely thorough. But you read all the crucial advice here.

For those wondering what retiring to Italy from the US is like in reality, we spoke to some American readers about their experience of relocating - either through the ERV or by obtaining Italian citizenship through ancestry.

Several people commented on the peacefulness and strong sense of community they'd found in their new home in rural Italy.

"America was all go, go, go and high stress but here, it’s a beautiful, quiet, tranquil life," says Nancy Hampton, who moved from Washington, DC in 2014.

Be prepared, though, to steel yourself for the mountains of red tape: "Learn to laugh. And laugh a lot. After you finish crying," says Mark Hinshaw, who relocated from the US to the Le Marche region of Italy in 2017.

You can read our full article on what Americans should expect when retiring in Italy here.

Tips for Americans moving to Italy

As an American in Italy - or planning to move here - do you have any questions that we could answer in a future article on The Local?

From bureaucracy to cultural differences, if there’s an aspect of Italian life you’d like to know more about please let us know via our survey HERE.


One thing readers tell us again and again is that careful planning and preparation in advance is the key to a successful move to Italy.

“Before you move, prepare, prepare, prepare,” said Rich Shopes in Atri, Abruzzo. “Know everything there is to know about moving to Italy and living there full time. 

“Figure out your finances. Stay organized and focused. You'll face a lot of hurdles, especially during that first year. But you'll overcome them.”

Thanks for reading and please get in touch with us by email if you have any feedback on this newsletter.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

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BPM 2024/03/19 11:13
My neighbor has lived here on an Elective Visa 7 years, and owns a home here. He gets a US Fed pension and Soc Sec (sent to US bank) and transfers funds needed to Italian bank. He pays no Italian Income Tax and has never filed. Everything I've read says US expat residents must pay Itlaian Income Tax on pension, Soc Sec and 401k disbursements; though you get credit on US taxes so you aren't taxed twice. For other US Retirees ERV holders' income tax experiences. Are you paying Italian income tax?

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