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Visa options for Brits who want to retire or work in Italy

Marco Mazzeschi
7 min readDec 6, 2021


Starting from January 1, 2021, UK citizens need a visa if they want to stay in Italy for extended periods (>90 days any 180 day periods). Which are the most popular visas they can apply for?

𝗘𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝘃𝗶𝘀𝗮 (𝗘𝗥𝗩)

To request the ERV (officially known as Elective Residence Visa — Visto per residenza elettiva), applicants are required to submit:

· to have a suitable accommodation; an

· a minimum “passive” income of not less € 31,000/year.

What are the main benefits of the ERV?

- Permanent residency: if the applicant registers with the City Hall and can show to have an Italian income and have filed tax returns, he/she can apply for permanent residency after 5 years;

- 7% income tax: Pensioners residing abroad who move their residence to certain municipalities of the Centre and Southern Italy can benefit from the optional scheme for non-national pensioners, which provides for a substitute tax of 7% on all income generated abroad;

- Health coverage: applicants can obtain registration and coverage with the National Health Service by paying a minimal fee;

- Citizenship: after 10 years of residency applicant is entitled to apply for Italian citizenship (on condition that he/she has filed the tax returns for the last 3 years before the application)

How can you prove your economic resources?

The applicant for the Italian Retirement Visa must submit documents proving substantial and steady economic resources, such as:

· Letters from banking institutions stating current available funds . The type of account, the account balance and monthly earnings. These funds must be more than substantial and must generate revenues.

· Documents from other sources that will provide you with additional financial revenues. Such as Social Security pension or other type of pension, property ownership and lease agreements, business ownership and related documentation;

· Some Consulates require the applicants to submit the last 2–3 years tax returns;

· The visa applicant must show solid bank account/s and a set monthly income

🆁🅴🅳 🅵🅻🅰🅶: it is increasingly difficult to obtain the ERV in LONDON and we are seeing a hight number of denials. The Consulate in fact:

  • expects an income much higher than the minimum € 31,000 set forth by the law and any income declared by the applicant must be reflected in the last 2 years tax returns;
  • does not accept that the applicant is hosted by a third party (for example, with a free-lease agreement) but requests the applicant to have a 1 year rental agreement, stamped by the Registry office.

𝗜𝗻𝘃𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿 𝗩𝗶𝘀𝗮

The Investor Visa can be obtained by: (i) purchasing € two million in Italian government bonds (to be kept for a period of at least two years); or (ii) investing € 500,000 in a company or € 250,000 in a “innovative start-up”; or (iii) donating € one million in philanthropic projects of public interest.

What are the benefits?

  1. NO MINIMUM TIME: The investor visa does not require, for its renewal, that the holder spends a minimum amount of time in Italy. Indeed, holding an investor visa does not imply by itself the acquisition of Italian tax residence. However, the investor visa holders may (according to the ordinary rules) become Italian tax resident depending on the strength of the ties with Italy
  2. TAX: in any event, Italy offers a TAX RELIEF SCHEME for new residents who can benefit from a substitute tax on income generated abroad by paying a flat-rate tax of EUR 100,000 for each tax year
  3. WORK: The Investor Visa allows also to work and can be converted into a work permit, if the individual meets all requirements for conversion
  4. COMPANY: The application for the Italy Investor Visa Clearance (“Nulla Osta”) can be filed also using a company controlled by the applicant
  5. NO LANGUAGE TEST: Investor permit holders are exempted from the Integration Agreement obligations, i.e. language test.

𝗦𝗲𝗹𝗳 𝗘𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗼𝘆𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗩𝗶𝘀𝗮

If a person wants to work in Italy and does not have a company that can sponsor an ICT permit permit or cannot find an employer who wants to hire him with a Blue card, the only option left ifs the Self-employment visa (vsito per lavoro autonomo).

Recently, there are many articles, posts and blogs advertising this visa as relatively easy to obtain, luring people to move to Italy and work as free-lancers.

But ….. not as easy as it sounds

· Self-employment visa are subject to yearly quotas which are set by the Government. These quotas are usually very limited (the last Decree issued only 500 quotas for the year 2020);

· there is not a Government database where an applicant can check whether quotas are still available;

· Applicants are lured by the fact that general eligibility requirements are relatively simple: (i) a suitable accommodation; (ii) have financial resources exceeding € 8.500 Euro; (iii) obtain a Police Clearance; and (iv) obtain a certificates from a Gov.t offices confirming the requirements for carrying out the intended activity;

· The final decision on the visa issuance is on the Italian Consulates which have a wide discretion in approving/denying it;

· According to our experience, most Consulates have a very restrictive policy and are very cautious before issuing a visa to an applicant who cannot guarantee to have a stable occupation and substantial remuneration in the country;

· Despite obtaining the necessary clearances in Italy, we see that many applications are rejected by Consulates on various grounds.

𝗘𝗨 𝗕𝗹𝘂𝗲 𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗺𝗶𝘁 (𝗲𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗼𝘆𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝘃𝗶𝘀𝗮)

The EU Blue Card permit allows a company to hire with a local employemnt contract non-EU highly specialized workers .

It can be applied for at any time of the year, as it is not subject to the limitations of the immigration quotas.

The application is to be submitted by the Company which is interested to hire the worker and not by the worker.

Requirements are:

  1. 3 year University diploma: it is not sufficient to submit a legalized diploma, it must be also validated by the Italian Consulate in the country where it was issued (Declaration of Value — Dichiarazione di Valore). See forthe procedure set forth by the Italian Consulate in London;
  2. Worker must receive a minimum 1 year job offer: the offer must be from an employer based in Italy. Employer can be (i) a company (Immigration office is asking the company to have adequate financial means and be in good standing); (ii) a private individual, but in this case it can be challenging to obtain the work permit.
  3. Be offered a high-level job position in Italy: The position offered in Italy must be for a highly qualified position, falling within Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 of Italian Institute of statistic jobs classification ISTAT CP 2011.
  4. Salary of not less than € 25,000/year: the salary offered must not be lower than 3 times the minimum wage to be exempted from national health care contributions i.e. € 24,789.

𝗟𝗮𝘀𝘁 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝘁 …… 𝘁𝗮𝘅 𝗯𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗳𝗶𝘁𝘀!

Italy offers several tax benefits and incentives to new residents:

  • 7% income tax: Pensioners residing abroad who move their residence to certain municipalities of the Centre and Southern Italy can benefit from the optional scheme for non-national pensioners, which provides for a substitute tax of 7% on all income generated abroad;
  • Tax benefits for impatriate workers: income from employment and self-employment generated in Italy by workers who move their tax residence in Italy is 50% exempt. The benefit is due from the year in which the residence for tax purposes is acquired and for the following 4 years;
  • Individuals transferring their tax residency in Italy can also apply for a special yearly flat tax of € 100,000. To qualify for the option the applicant must not have been resident in Italy for at least nine tax years during the previous 10 years.

𝗨𝘀𝗲𝗳𝘂𝗹 𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗸𝘀

Elective residence visa

Investor Visa

Self-employment visa

Blue Card permit

Disclaimer: The information provided on this article (i) does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; (ii) are for general informational purposes only and may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information (iii) this website may contain links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader; (iv) readers should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal or tax matter.