Many people are looking to escape the boredom and routine of everyday life in their home countries and live in majestic Italy instead. At the same time, they are thinking of keeping their well-paying jobs in a foreign company. But how does one go about this the right way, and is it even possible? 

You can work in Italy for a foreign company as long as you comply with local regulations. This includes having an appropriate visa and a work permit. When living in Italy long-term, you will also be subject to taxes in Italy. 

Working remotely in one country and living in another isn’t that easy. It’s always better to work for a local company when living abroad. But what if you want to keep your job in your home country and move to Italy? Fortunately, there are numerous ways to go about this. 

Living in Italy and working for a foreign company: All you need to know

First, you’ll need to determine if you’re allowed to stay, live and work in Italy. Depending on your citizenship, you might be required to obtain a visa to live in Italy longer than a few months. Without a proper visa, you won’t be allowed into the country. 

Even if you come from a country where you don’t need a visa to travel to Italy as a tourist, Italy is part of the Schengen Zone and the European Union, where you can only stay for 90 days in a 180 day period. There is no way to extend your tourist status beyond the 90 days limit within every 180 days. That means that you will have to leave the EU at the end of the 90 days. 

Moreover, when moving to Italy, be prepared to deal with some not well-organized bureaucracy. 

Generally speaking, working remotely in Italy for a foreign company is possible and can be done in two main ways: staying in Italy for a period under three months, or applying for one of the Italian visas for a long-term stay. 

Your nationality 

Firstly, you need to consider if your home country influences your plan to move to Italy. With that said, all EU citizens have a straightforward path to work remotely from Italy, while non-EU nationals have to take some extra steps.

Consequently, if you hold a passport from any EU country, you are covered by the European Union’s freedom of movement rules. This allows you to move to Italy with much more ease. In fact, EU citizens don’t need a permit to work in Italy, along with nationals from Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

Non-EU citizens will need an Italian residence permit for stays longer than three months. Many non-EU nationals can enjoy a visa-free stay in Italy for up to 90 days every 180 days.

This rule also applies to citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Canada and USA. 

Nonetheless, as a non-EU citizen, there are three main documents you need in order to live and work in Italy:

  • a work permit
  • a work visa
  • a residence permit (residency permit)

Can you live in Italy and work remotely for a US company?

Generally, you can work from Italy for a US company, but there are many factors to pay attention to, such as local tax and residence regulations. 

Here’s what to know from a legal point of view: 

  • Non-EU citizens will need residency and a work permit
  • EU citizens can live and work for a US company from Italy freely

Ultimately, if you work for a US company, but you live permanently in Italy, you are theoretically working in Italy. Therefore, your local residency must also allow you to work in the country, which means obtaining a work permit. 

Furthermore, a person working and living in Italy will be subject to the Italian tax system, including possibly Italian social insurance contributions. Contractors especially need to pay attention to this, since they aren’t on the payroll in the US.

Visa, residency and work permits in Italy

While Italy doesn’t offer a designated digital nomad visa, there are still some visa options that remote workers can rely on. Just keep in mind that applying for  residence and a work permit can be tricky in Italy. Hence, make sure you get well-informed about as many details as possible well before your application deadline.

Depending on the desired length of stay in Italy and your citizenship, you might not need a visa at all. 

Ultimately, stays up to 90 days are visa-free for most passport holders. Also, EU nationals can work and live in Italy freely as long as they wish. 

If you must apply for a visa in order to live in Italy, there are some key things to pay attention to. Generally, Italy has a limited number of work visas issued each year. For example, in 2020, the number was 30,850. 

Furthermore, only a few of those visas are allocated to self-employed workers – 500 to be exact in 2020. So, if you fall into this category, plan well ahead. 

Generally, non-EU residents can choose between the following visas with the opportunity to work: 

  • Work or self-employment visa
  • Family visa
  • Study visa (allows part-time work only)

Furthermore, you can apply for a specific visa for certain categories, such as journalists, athletes, translators, researchers and university professors. 

Basic requirements for an Italian work visa include:  

  • Proof of accommodation
  • Health insurance 
  • Available funds of 8,500 EUR
  • Police check
  • Certificate from the Italian government confirming the requirements for carrying out an intended activity

Temporary residency is valid from six months up to two years, depending on the visa type. 

Permanent residency in Italy

After five years of residency in Italy, a non-EU citizen can apply for a permanent residence permit. And after possessing this permit for five years, you can receive an Italian passport. 

Can you get a visa in Italy as an employee abroad?

So you are an employee in a foreign company and want to get a visa for Italy? In this case, it can be a bit complicated. Firstly, if you are on the payroll in another country, you can’t qualify for a self-employed visa in Italy.

Secondly, foreign employees are entitled to stay in Italy for a maximum of 90 days without needing to apply for a visa or a residence permit. From a legal standpoint, you can’t stay for a longer period of time in Italy. 

Before applying for any visa, it’s worthwhile to check out this questionnaire which shows the visa requirements for your particular case.

Business and self-employed visas in Italy

Italy has various visas intended for self-employed individuals and business owners: 

  • The Italy Startup Visa is issued to foreigners wanting to open an innovative company in Italy, or those who want to join an already-existing company in an executive role.
  • The Italy Self-employed Visa is issued to individuals who intend to take up self-employment or freelance work, and they don’t have a company that wants to hire them.
  • The Italy Investor Visa is issued to foreigners who want to implement an investment plan of no less than €500,000 that is beneficial to the Italian economy.

Italian self-employment visa

The Italian self-employment visa, or visto per lavoro autonomo, is the best for digital nomads. However, the application process is pretty complicated and must be planned in advance. 

Most likely, you will need to have a local person helping you with it. 

The self-employed visa can be used as an Italian digital nomad visa should you decide to move your tax residency to Italy as well. Hence, you will be fully tax liable in Italy. This visa is granted for a longer period, or even permanently. 

Here’s some general information about the self-employed visa in Italy:

  • Proof of sufficient funds of a minimum of 8,500 EUR is required.
  • Self-employment visas are issued within the yearly quotas set by the Italian government. In 2020, only 500 visas were granted.
  • Proof of related qualifications is often required.
  • Holders of self-employed visas can obtain a 70% tax exemption on their worldwide income. The tax exemption is granted for a period of five years.

Keep in mind that there isn’t an official government database where you can check available quotas. 

Common situations where applicants for Italian self-employed visas get rejected are as follows: 

  1. Applicants fall into non-regulated professions or freelance jobs that don’t require a degree or professional qualification.

An example of this would be freelance writers and translators who want to work as self-employed individuals in Italy.

You will need to collect all necessary documentation at the Chamber of Commerce in Italy to prove your occupation. Because this type of self-employed activity is more flexible, it might be difficult to get the right documents and approval.

  1. Legally regulated professions are freelance jobs that are strictly regulated by law in Italy. 

You will need to have a university degree or professional qualification recognized in Italy to work in some fields. For example, freelance architects, lawyers and engineers fall into this category.

Hence, applicants will need to consult with their local associations for their profession to get the right paperwork for a self-employed visa in Italy. 

Paying taxes while working remotely in Italy

Another question that might come to mind for you is whether you will need to pay taxes, and if so, where? Indeed, remote workers must 100% consider taxes when living in and working from Italy. 

Keep in mind that from an Italian tax point of view, being physically located in Italy means working in Italy, hence, paying taxes. Consequently, Italy most likely will deem you as a tax resident. 

In general, if you live in Italy, you pay taxes in Italy… So the law states. Current income taxes range from 23% to a maximum of 43%. 

Moreover, in some cases, your foreign employer will be required to pay social security contributions to the Italian Social Security Authority (INPS). This is even if your employer is based outside of Italy.

Freelancers taxation with flat tax scheme (Regime Forfettario)

Digital nomads working remotely in Italy while their revenue sources come from abroad must file taxes in Italy, even if they have paid them abroad already. 

Luckily, due to the taxation agreement between Italy and many other countries, taxes paid abroad for income produced abroad can be deducted from Italian taxation under certain circumstances. 

Here you can see with which countries Italy has established bilateral agreements to avoid double taxation on income and capital.

Furthermore, freelancers with Italian self-employed visas are lucky enough to benefit from a generous tax reduction. In 2015, Italy introduced the Regime forfettario

Under this tax scheme, freelancers can benefit from a 5% tax rate to apply in the first five years. After that, a 15% tax rate applies.  

Eligible are only freelancers who:

  • don’t earn more than €65,000
  • have total business expenses of €20,000 gross and less

Tax benefits for freelancers in Italy

Moving to Italy while working for a foreign company has its benefits. In short, individuals moving to Italy to perform remote work for a non-Italian employer have the opportunity to access a special taxation regime, benefiting from a 70% exemption from  taxation. 

The tax benefit applies to the employment income produced in Italy (raised to 90% for individuals who move to regions of Southern Italy), for an initial period of five tax years.

Consequently, as a freelancer, deciding to live in Italy, you can benefit from a 70% tax-free income for 5 years if you:

  • are a citizen of an EU country or a non-EU state with a double taxation agreement
  • become an Italian tax resident for at least the following 2 years
  • haven’t been a tax resident in Italy for the last two years
  • are highly educated
  • have been working or studying for the last 24 months outside of Italy

As a result, this tax incentive attracts more and more digital nomads to relocate to Italy with their businesses. That way, they can significantly reduce the tax burden. 

The tax exemption is valid for 5 years with the possibility of extension for another 5 years. However, only a 50% tax reduction applies for the second period. 

Before applying for a self-employed visa, it’s worth looking at the alternatives such as:

  • flat tax regime – income tax at a little under 5% (for the first five years) on gross income and social security at a little over 20% of gross income.
  • tax exclusion for all not Italian income. 

The second might apply for the income under 100,000 EUR per year. 

Move to Italy and work remotely on remote expat company 

Are you determined to work remotely from Italy but don’t have a job yet? You are in the right place! 

Here at Support Adventure, we hire candidates for remote IT positions and occasionally admin assistants from around the world. The remote job will allow you to live in Italy and enjoy an Italian siesta every day!

We are constantly on the look out for entry-level help desk technicians. You can review our available jobs and apply on our website.  

Categories: Lifestyle