Visas For Members

Why getting Italy's elective residency visa can be a 'nightmare'

Silvia Marchetti
Silvia Marchetti - [email protected]
Why getting Italy's elective residency visa can be a 'nightmare'
The view from a castle in Collalto Sabino, Rieti, close to where the Evans have bought a holiday home. Photo by marco giuseppini on Unsplash

One retired British couple bought a home in Italy with hopes of living there full time - but their plans have so far been scuppered by the elective residency visa process, as they tell Silvia Marchetti.


Anne and Tony Evans, a London-based retired couple in their 60s with a lovely holiday home in central Italy, have applied for an elective residency visa but have so far failed to meet requirements.

Two years ago the Evans bought a rural farmhouse in the countryside surrounding Rieti, in the Lazio region, and would like to move there permanently to live their Italian dream.

But getting this particular visa, intended mainly for pensioners with passive income, has proven to be quite the obstacle.

READ ALSO:  How to apply for an elective residency visa to move to Italy

They complain they were never given the exact information by the authorities in charge of handling applications on what exactly qualified as a passive annual income of €38,000 per married couple.

“We’ve been living a nightmare since the new post-Brexit travel rules came into force, caught between consulate bureaucracy and the pain of not being able to stay in Italy for more than 90 every 180 days”, says Tony.

They say the worst part is having to deal with third-party companies in London that handle all applications on behalf of, and liaise with, the Italian consulate, and not having any direct contact with specific offices.

READ ALSO: Five expert tips for getting your Italian elective residency visa approved

The couple says the consulate, through the third party, did not clearly explain to them what qualified as passive income.

When they applied, they were confident that their private pensions as self-employed, topped with their savings and financial investments which amounted to over €100,000, would suffice. But they were wrong.

An autumn landscape in the mountains of Rieti. An autumn landscape in the mountains of Rieti. Photo by Ken Shono on Unsplash

“We had a good amount of savings in our bank accounts, plus various investment funds and treasury bonds which were coming to fruition, so all that summed up would have been at least four times the €38,000 minimum requirement.

"However, five weeks after our application we received a letter asking for additional documentation including proof of bank statements, plus various other documents in addition to those normally required, such as proof of purchase of our Italian property with the notary deed,” says Anne.

READ ALSO: How to apply for an Italian elective residency visa from the UK

The couple was told by letter that it was just a matter of formality, nothing more, so they felt optimistic their application was going to be accepted.

“After two months, we got another terrible letter we were dreading to receive, telling us that all the money we have did not qualify for eligibility because most of it was not entirely passive income. It read: ‘at this moment in time you don’t meet requirements’. It was a real blow”, adds Tony.


The rejection hasn’t made them give up on their Italian plans, but the Evans are now forced to press pause on their re-application process.

Both had previously worked for private companies with a fixed employment contract and paid state pension, before going self-employed with a private pension, but the state pension for their earlier jobs has not yet come to fruition.

“My husband will be entitled to his state pension in eight months time, while I will get mine in three years. So we will have to wait all this time before re-applying, or our new application, which will be our second, will be once again rejected. And each time we apply, it costs £200 plus all the hassle and headaches of bureaucracy it comes with”, says Anne.

The front door of a cottage in the province of Rieti, where the Evans have bought a home.

The front door of a cottage in the province of Rieti, where the Evans have bought a home. Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash


When the Evans start receiving their state pension, in addition to the private pensions they already have, they are confident they will be able to finally meet requirements.

The couple is, however, also considering another option. Their Italian emigration consultant in Rome has suggested that in the meantime they could rent out their beautiful Italian farmhouse, which has just been renovated, to holidaymakers in order to expedite the process. 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about having a second home in Italy

Leasing it while they are in London may fall under what is considered eligible as passive income, says Tony, although it greatly depends on the Italian consulate’s viewpoint, and final decision.


“It might be too risky, setting things in motion under the lease perspective, especially if that route fails or if at some point in the application process it turns out that our property must be leased for at least one or two whole years in a row, meaning we won’t be able to enjoy it even during those blessed 90 days”, says Tony

In the meantime, both feel frustrated that they have invested so much money in Italy, alongside their future plans, and can’t yet fully live out their Italian dream.

“That cottage is a 1950s farmhouse, it was dilapidated so we only paid €50,000 for it, plus €15,000 for the adjacent orchard, but to spruce it up and give it a proper makeover we splashed out another €60,000,” says Anne.


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Marshall and Nadine Devall 2023/08/07 19:06
We could easily qualify, but who wants the high taxes now that we're retired? Sorry that they don't want us, but we live in Ecuador, and they're happy to make it easy, and affordable. Plus we learned Spanish. 90 days in Italy once a year is fine.
David Sickbert 2023/07/06 11:22
We recently retired, bought a house and moved to Italy from the US. While cumbersome, the requirements are listed clearly but differ slightly depending on which consulate you need to go through. It took us a while, but we received our Elective Residency visa from the Italian Consulate in the expected timeframe. I'm sure with Brexit, there are additional hurdles and confusion. Good luck!
M Cox 2023/07/06 06:51
I am British, married to an Italian citizen and have been for 41 years and I am having a terrible time trying to get a visa. The final courts decision will be at the end of this year. If it is a no we will sell our Italian property, we have owned for 20 years, and move to a different part of the EU
Jill 2023/07/05 21:59
Brexit has thwarted so many plans, both for retired people and younger people who would have liked the option to live and work abroad. The ER visa does provide a route but it seems much depends on your local consulate. The one consolation is that the Evans renovated their cottage before prices went up so steeply, in the current climate it would cost more than €60,000 to restructure a dilapidated cottage.

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