Emigrating to Italy: Guide to working and living in Italy
Ciao! Are you an expat already living in Italy or considering relocating to “lo Stivale”? Renowned for its culture, fantastic cuisine, history, architecture and natural landscapes, it’s no wonder that millions of tourists choose to live and work in the Mediterranean country.
With its high standard of living, thriving cities and massive contribution to the world of arts, it’s a dream destination for many to live, work and play.
Whether you’re lost in the allure of Rome’s famous piazzas, captivated by the medieval structures in Pisa or desire a more relaxed lifestyle over the countryside in the north, or on the beaches in the south – there’s truly something for everyone in Italy.
Brits who move to Italy before the December 31st deadline will retain their current EU rights, including the freedom to work, live and travel to another EU member state visa-free.
According to GOV.uk, UK citizens planning to stay in Italy for less than three months will not need a visa after the transition period.
However, for stays exceeding 90 days, travellers will have to meet entry requirements set out by the Italian government, which will likely be akin to those already in place for Australians or Americans wishing to immigrate to Italy.
That being said, while taking up residency in Italy will likely be more complicated post-Brexit, it won’t be impossible. The UK’s exit from the European Union should also have no bearing on your future tax treatment, so you won’t have to worry about being subject to double taxation.
Irrespective of Brexit and the more recent disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Italy will always be a great destination to live, work, or invest – boasting one of the most robust economies in the world.
The Italian passport is also one of the strongest in the world, allowing visa-free entry to 186 countries and territories.
So, if it’s in your plans to become a permanent resident or citizen in Italy, continue reading our guide which will walk you through important legal requirements and how best to manage your finances to ensure you avoid any unwanted financial difficulty.
Emigrating to Italy: Visa requirements
With the epidemiological situation in the EU improving following the outbreak of COVID-19, many people who had delayed plans to move Italy can now move forward and fulfil those long-held dreams.
If your home country is already a member of the European Union, you are free to work and live in Italy without needing an additional visa. However, you may be required to provide a declaration of presence to Italian authorities.
After 90 days, you will be required to apply for a residence certificate to confirm your right to live in the country.
Non-EU citizens will need to obtain a visa to travel to Italy, which can be applied for at your nearest embassy or consulate.
Suppose the reason for your stay is salaried employment, you will need to have acquired a job before moving to Italy as your employer is required to process the majority of the visa application on your behalf.
While immigration laws in Italy are not as strict as other countries, those entering the country on a work visa will need to submit:
- A visa application form, which can be accessed online
- Recent passport photo
- Legitimate travel document with an expiration date three months longer than the visa requested
- Authorisation for employment from relevant SUI
- Proof of sufficient financial means for the period of stay
In some circumstances, you may be able to apply for an EU Blue Card, which allows the holder the right to work across the bloc.
However, eligibility is determined by whether an active contract or job offer is present and skillset, which in most cases means you will be required to have completed a bachelor’s level university degree or prove five years professional experience.
If you’re already living in Italy on a visa, or it’s in your plans to emigrate, you could obtain a resident permit, providing you have lived in the country for a minimum of five years. You must also provide:
- A valid passport for non-EU citizens or ID for EU citizens
- Documentation on where you will be staying
- Information about the reason for entering
- Prove than you can support yourself during your stay
Whether you’re immigrating to Italy for work, marriage or a new adventure, there may come a time where you want to switch your visa or permit for Italian citizenship.
Obtaining Italian citizenship
While you can enjoy several benefits as a permanent resident, with Italian citizenship, you will have the right to vote in local, national and EU elections, as well as work, live and travel freely within the EU and access services in other European countries.
According to the Passport Index 2020, the Italian passport is one of the most powerful in the world, allowing visa-free travel to more than 90 countries and this is expected to rise as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue to ease.
Applications for Italian citizenship can be made through descent, marriage or naturalisation, which is the most common means for migrants.
If applying for citizenship by naturalisation, non-EU citizens must have legally resided in Italy for a minimum of ten years; however, EU citizens will be granted this status after four years.
Those applying for citizenship by marriage will have to prove they have lived in Italy with an Italian spouse two years from the date of application.
Can I become a dual citizen in Italy?
If you aren’t willing to revoke your original nationality, you’ll be glad to know that Italy recognises dual citizenship.
However, you can only obtain dual status with the permission of your home country. While many countries, including the USA, UK, France and Australia, permit dual citizenship, other countries such as China, the United Arab Emirates and Japan do not.
We advise checking with your home country’s consulate or embassy for information on laws about dual nationality.
That being said, all routes to citizenship irrespective of whether you apply for dual citizenship or revoke your first nationality come at a cost.
If you’re applying for dual citizenship by naturalisation, this costs EUR 300, while an Italian passport is EUR 116.
Splitting your life between two countries can often cause some practical headaches, particularly if you need to transfer money between the two countries and in two different currencies.
If you’re applying from abroad and need to make an international money transfer, you might believe that the bank is the best option to facilitate currency transfers; however, foreign exchange specialists such as Halo Financial offer services that transcend banks.
Also, as banks tend to operate at the mid-market rate, they often levy hidden mark-ups in the exchange rate and overcharge their customers.
You could avoid high fees by using Halo Financial, which provides an entirely transparent service and can offer you a competitive advantage with better rates to maximise your currency exchange.
Due to the impact of the coronavirus, greater diligence is needed now more than ever. While banks offer FX services, few employ FX specialists that can provide insight into the currency market and your foreign exchange transfers.
Halo Financial is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and can save you on your overall costs through their tailored service, which offers clients greater flexibility and control of their international money transfers.
As emigrating can be a complicated and costly process, sourcing a better exchange rate can make a significant difference to your income and savings.
Halo Financial limits exposure to downside risk and hedges against fluctuating exchange rates to ensure your money and budget goes further so that you can make the most of your move overseas.
Pros and cons of living in Italy
Whether you’re retiring, relocating for a new job opportunity or an expat already living in Italy, you must budget and manage your finances to balance your salary with the cost of living.
While Italy has a relatively low cost of living, which is a pro for those emigrating from France, the USA and other more expensive countries, it can be easy to overlook some aspects of your move and end up spending more.
Cost of living in Italy
According to Numbeo, the overall cost of living in Italy is more expensive than the UK; however, this varies from city to city as London is significantly more expensive than Italy’s capital, Rome.
Italy’s most expensive city and financial centre, Milan, also ranks considerably lower than London on Mercer’s Cost of Living 2020 survey in 45th place compared to 23rd.
Although the average salary in Italy is relatively low compared to other Western European countries, it’s still possible to live a moderate lifestyle on the average wage.
Those after a more luxurious lifestyle may want to relocate to larger cities such as Rome and Milan, although consumer prices will likely also be higher in these destinations.
Despite the relatively high cost of living, would-be expats will be glad to know that rental prices in Italy are reasonably cheap. Numbeo notes that rental prices in the UK are nearly 33% higher than in Italy.
Renting in Italy
Rental prices will have a profound impact on your income and the money you’re left with for living expenses and recreational activity.
Unless you are emigrating from a “reciprocity country” you will need a valid residence permit to purchase property in Italy; however, those with visas or work permits are eligible to rent.
While rent prices in Milan will set you back a considerable amount, choosing property outside of the city will allow you money to go further.
A one-bedroom apartment in the centre of Milan will cost you an average monthly price of EUR 1,075, whereas the same property outside of the city will set you back around EUR 727 a month.
However, as private owners lease the majority of rental property, you should be able to negotiate on the price. You should also be aware that as long-term rentals come unfurnished, and in most cases, this means utterly devoid of appliances, you’ll need to budget on furniture expenditures.
Budget-conscious retirees who are considering moving to Italy may want to seek a life outside of the city and settle in the countryside or the south to benefit from lower rental prices.
Retiring in Italy
While Rome, Milan and Bologna are popular destinations for overseas retirees, which are among some of the most progressive cities, offering easy access to modern amenities, the further away from tourist hotspots, the more able you are to live cheaply.
In cities such as Palermo, Turin and Matera, you can benefit from lower rental prices, with the average monthly cost of a one-bedroom starting as low as EUR 314 in the Sicily region.
With a considerable amount in savings and a steady source of income from social security, pensions or investments, retirees can afford to settle in Italy comfortably.
However, suppose you’re considering purchasing a property in Italy. In that case, we advise these preparations be made ahead of your move as Italy has a notoriously slow bureaucracy, and it could take several months of filings, detours and false starts before you can secure your dream home.
Retirees can also take advantage of Italy’s free, universal healthcare system, which is ranked 4th in the world according to a recent study by Bloomberg.
Healthcare in Italy
Renowned for its healthy lifestyle and Mediterranean diet, it’s no wonder Italy is a world leader in healthcare, boasting one of the highest life expectancies in the world at 83.24 years old.
The country’s national healthcare system called Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) provides universal coverage to citizens and residents, including expats who are employed in Italy.
Visitors will also benefit from free emergency care if they have an accident or become suddenly ill while they are in Italy; however, you should purchase health insurance before entering the country.
There are also several private health insurers in Italy should you want private healthcare, which allows you to freely choose doctors and specialists, while also avoiding the public systems long waiting times.