Moving to Italy For Members

Retirement in Italy: What you need to know about visas and residency

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Retirement in Italy: What you need to know about visas and residency
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Retiring in Italy is a dream for many, but before it becomes a reality there are some bureaucratic hoops you’ll have to jump through.


Italy’s warm climate, lower cost of living and relaxed pace of life all make it appealing to retirees - as do financial incentives such as a flat tax rate for pensioners.

So what exactly do you need if you want to retire in Italy?

Regardless of where you're from, the first things you’ll need are a valid passport, proof of sufficient means of income, proof of medical insurance and proof of accommodation.

READ ALSO: Eight pitfalls people need to avoid to make the dream move to Italy

This is just to start with, though, and depending on your particular set of circumstances the overall bureaucratic procedure involved ranges from straightforward to challenging.

The criteria are obviously different for people from the EU and for those from outside, but both groups still have to complete a number of processes before they can obtain full long-term residency in Italy.

EU/EEA nationals

Moving to Italy for retirement is a lot easier for citizens of countries within the European Union (as well as the European Economic Area) who benefit from the right to freedom of movement.

There’s no need for a visa and, while there is always paperwork, some parts of the bureaucratic process are more straightforward and there are fewer fees to pay.


It's a requirement to register as a resident at your local Anagrafe (Registry Office) and obtain a certificato di residenza (residency certificate).

Besides your application form (which may not always be available in English), you’ll be asked to submit documents including proof of accommodation and evidence that you have sufficient economic means to support yourself and any dependents. Read more about this requirement here.

Once you're officially resident, you can also choose to register with Italy’s national health service, though this is not free - it means paying an annual registration fee if you’re not working. See more details about who can register and how the process works here.

Non-EU nationals

Those coming from outside of the EU often find that the road to retirement in Italy is not such an easy one, mainly because of stringent visa rules.

Many people do it every year regardless, but they’ll likely tell you it takes time, patience, and money. It also helps to do your research and get started early.



If you’re from a non-EU country such as the UK, USA or Canada you will need a visa and for most retirees the most appropriate option will be an elective residency visa (ERV).

The ERV doesn’t allow applicants to work or run a business but rather to live off their savings or passive income, making it a suitable choice for pensioners - full details here.

You'll need to apply for your ERV at the Italian consulate in the country and city nearest to where you are legally resident.

EXPLAINED: How to apply for an elective residency visa to move to Italy

In theory, the minimum required income for the ERV is around €31,000 per person per year, or €31,000 plus around 20 percent combined income for married couples, though experts warn that requirements vary enormously by consulate and appear to be getting stricter.


Other requirements include proof of suitable accommodation in Italy and proof of health insurance, and many consulates also require a letter of motivation.

Legal experts advise anyone starting the process to be careful and thorough - the rejection rate for the ERV is high and the exact requirements are not always clear.


Once you have your visa and you’re in Italy, you will need to apply for a permesso di soggiorno residency card

This permit will be valid for one to two years, after which you can renew it. After five years, you become eligible to apply for a permanent residency permit.

This is a major milestone for many international residents, as it brings with it the right to work in Italy, if desired, and having it simplifies many bureaucratic processes.


You'll need to be aware that legal residents (and others classed as tax residents) are liable to pay Italian income tax on all worldwide income, though pensions may not be taxed and you should be protected from double taxation under Italy’s bilateral agreements with the US and other countries.

Italy famously has a seven percent flat income tax rate for people moving to certain regions with a foreign pension, but anyone planning to take up this offer may want to seek professional advice as it is subject to restrictions and a complex claims process.


When applying for an ERV, you will need to show proof that you already have health insurance that will cover you in Italy.

READ ALSO: Which foreign residents have to pay for healthcare in Italy?

In the past many British citizens used their EHIC (European health insurance card) to cover them in the gap between arriving and getting residency status, but this is no longer allowed.

Once you're resident in Italy, you can choose to register with Italy's national health service by paying a fee in proportion to your income.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. As the process will vary depending on your personal circumstances, anyone who is unsure of the requirements is advised to contact their nearest Italian consulate and/or a qualified immigration law specialist.


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