Retire in Italy: full guide
Get ready for la dolce vita with our guide on retiring in Italy.
Whether you prefer high fashion and fast cars, or history and culture, life in Italy can certainly be appealing. The combination of a high standard of living, thriving cities and a Mediterranean lifestyle attracts many foreigners who come to Italy to live, work and play.
If you're thinking of moving to Italy as an expat, and plan on finding employment while you're there, then you might need to get a work visa first. This guide will help you with the basics of finding a job and getting a work visa in Italy.
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Let’s start with the basics — do you need an Italian work visa at all? The chances are that if you’re applying for an Italian visa in the USA, you’ll need to get a work permit if you intend to do paid work when you arrive.
However, the good news is that there’s quite a range of work visas (Italy) for US citizens, depending on the type of profession you’re in.
There are also visa types which apply to the dependents and family members of anyone moving to Italy for work.
It's worth noting that Italy uses a quota system for visas for most occupations. This means that you can only be offered a working visa if you fulfill all the relevant criteria, and the quota hasn’t already been hit by the time your application is processed.
Some occupations, where there's a shortage of workers, aren't subject to quotas. Similarly, if you're transferring with the same employer for a short period of time, you might be exempt from the quota numbers.
Finally, another option for US citizens who want to work in Italy is to apply for the EU Blue Card — the equivalent of the Green Card here in the US. Check out the details on the EU Blue Card website², or read on for an overview of the scheme.
To get an Italian work visa you must first secure a job. This is because your employer completes most of the work visa application process on your behalf.
Here’s a basic run through of the steps involved with getting a work visa for Italy³:
Step 1. Employee will prepare supporting documents according to the work permit type — more on required documents for work visas for Italy, later
Step 2. Employer must apply for an authorization from the One-Stop-Shop for Immigration at their local Prefettura
Step 3. If the application is successful, the local Prefettura will inform the Italian consulate or embassy in your home country that authorization to work has been granted
Step 4. You will be able to collect an entry visa for Italy from your local Italian consulate or embassy
Step 5. Within 8 days of arriving in Italy you must apply for a residence permit from the One-Stop-Shop for Immigration at your local Prefettura
More useful information can be found at the European Commission mobility portal, EURES, and the EU Immigration Portal.
If you’re wondering how to work in Italy, the good news is that there are lots of different visa types to match most of the common jobs in Italy for US citizens.
In almost all cases you’ll need a job before you can travel to Italy for work. Your employer will apply for your authorization to work in advance of your arrival, then you need to collect a visa from your local Italian consulate or embassy, and apply for a residence permit once you’re in Italy.
Seasonal workers will need to apply for a visa in the same way as outlined above. The employer takes the lead role in this application, and visas tend to be issued for six months. After this, an extension of up to a further three months can be applied for.
Most student visas will allow you to work for up to twenty hours a week while you're in Italy. You should check the specific terms of your visa before finding a job.
One obvious exception to this rule is if you’re self-employed⁴. In this case you’ll need a self employment visa for Italy which requires you to get authorization from the relevant local authorities to carry out the work you want to do.
This may be a local Chamber of Commerce if you run your own company, or the Department of Health if you’re opening a restaurant for example.
The visa requirements for Green Card holders may vary slightly depending on your country of citizenship. However, in most cases you’ll just need to present your Green Card at the same time as your passport when you apply for a work visa for Italy.
It’s worth noting that as Italy is in the EU, citizens from the EU and EEA may not need a work permit at all — double check the terms applied to your country of citizenship before you make your application.
The self employment visa process is administered regionally alongside the chambers of commerce. Requirements vary and aren't always fixed, but dealt with on a case by case basis.
You’ll need to apply to the chamber of commerce or a similar body for a certificate confirming their approval of the business you're hoping to open⁴.
To get this you'll have to prove your funding and qualifications, as well as show a business plan and credentials. Self employment visas tend to be issued for two years.
|Use our business plan template to include a business plan in your application.|
If you're moving to Italy to start an innovative startup business, or work with a certified startup incubator, then you might be eligible for a specific startup visa. Full details are available at the Italian government's dedicated startup visa website⁵.
Depending on the type of work you're planning on doing, it might be possible to apply for an EU Blue Card⁶. Similar to the US Green Card, this document gives you the right to work across most EU member states .
To be eligible for a Blue Card, you must be from a country outside the EU, be highly skilled (typically meaning you’ve completed a bachelor's level university degree, or have five years of senior professional experience), and have a binding job offer or active work contract.
The Blue Card application process is fast tracked by member states, meaning it's typically quicker than other forms of work visa application. However, it may still take up to three months.
Although you start the application process online through a single point of contact, the process may vary depending on your personal circumstances.
If you have a work visa for one year or more, then your family members can travel to Italy with you as long as you’ve completed the application processes at your local embassy in your home country.
They’ll need to provide application forms, a valid passport, proof of income and accommodation, and details of family relationship. You might also have to provide health information depending on the specific circumstances.
If they don't come to Italy at the same time as you, you can apply later for long term residence permits for family members such as a spouse, children or dependent parents so they can join you under the family reunification program.
Holders of the EU Blue Card are able to apply for visas on behalf of family members without a waiting period under the family reunification scheme⁷.
As your employer must apply for a visa on your behalf, you can expect them to ask you for some paperwork. Your employer must tell the immigration authorities about the role you'll do, and your arrangements for living in Italy during the contract period.
Documents they’ll provide to the authorities vary by prefecture and include:
Within eight days of arriving in Italy you must visit the One-Stop-Shop for Immigration at your local Prefettura (closest to where you'll work), to get a residence visa. Failing to do this means you're technically in the country illegally.
During this appointment you'll need to have all your personal and employment data verified, and receive a fiscal code which is used for tax registration.
You’re then required to visit a post office to get the login details to allow you to track the progress of your application online.
You'll also need to attend a further meeting to provide photos and fingerprints for the residence permit. The residence permit is then issued, and the Provincial police are notified of your visa status.
The process to get an Italian working visa does include a few separate steps, but luckily many of them are taken care of by your employer. Once the application is approved, you can mark it off your list, and get back to the much more enjoyable business of planning the details of your move.
Let’s take a look at a few of the financial aspects you’ll want to think about when building your budget for Italy.
There’s no legal minimum wage in Italy. Instead, employees are often covered by collective bargaining arrangements in which their employers negotiate terms and pay for the entire workforce all at the same time.
The overall average salary in Italy varies widely based on the region — and of course, the type of job you do.
On average, workers in the north of the country are highest paid — the average wage in Lombardy was around 31,400/year in 2020⁸ — that’s about 35,500 USD. However, in the south average wages dip to 24,400/year — about 27,500 USD.
A good way to get data about the potential salary you’d get for your profession and location is to use a specialized website⁹. Live data is aggregated to provide real time average wage information split out by profession and city — you can use it to to see how much you might earn when you’re an expat in Italy.
The official currency in Italy is the euro. You’ll see this as EUR in currency exchange stores and online, and using the symbol € when you’re in the country.
Now that you know what the Italian currency is, you might be wondering how to send money to Italy to start your new career there.
Wise is a safe, quick and cheap alternative for international transfers. They always use the mid-market exchange rate — the one you see on Google or Reuters — and show upfront how much each transaction will cost you.
If you need more than an option to send money abroad, you can also use your Wise account to receive and spend like a local — in EUR and several other currencies.
Ready to start your Italian adventure? Here are a few tips on getting a job in Italy as an American.
Many Italians do not speak English, which may make it harder to find a job in Italy if you don’t yet speak Italian. However, there are a good range of jobs where speaking English is key to the role itself — English teachers, positions in travel and tourism or in global multi-nationals for example — which can be a good place to start looking.
Looking for a job in Italy can be done online in the first instance — although you might also find it useful to reach out to recruiters or use your own network, too. Here are a few websites to try to get a feel for key jobs in Italy for Americans:
Italy is a good location for US companies to have a European headquarters or office, so you can be sure there are plenty of American companies represented in Italy in one way or another — think Amazon, IBM and Microsoft for example. There are also large numbers of smaller US companies which have an Italian connection, which may recruit US citizens to their key roles.
Different companies are hiring all the time so the best thing to do is start searching online for positions, and also build a local network wherever in Italy you’d like to live, to hear about positions before they are even made more widely public.
If you’re looking to work for a large multinational company, or transfer with your existing role at a big corporation, you might find your employer is willing to pay for your relocation.
The terms of employer relocation packages do vary widely, and are often administered through third party relocation agencies which can arrange shipping, accommodation in Italy, work permits and a settling in program.
If your employer is willing to support your move in this way, effectively they’re paying for you to move to Italy. What’s not to love?
If you’re ready to get out job hunting in Italy you’ve probably got one more step to take — making your Italian resume ready for recruiters.
Exactly what you include will vary depending on your role and career stage. However, a few tips include:
Italians typically say CV or curriculum vitae rather than resume
You’ll need to add a date of birth and a professional photo as well as your contact information
Keep your CV to 2 sides of paper ideally
Use a standard chronological resume if you can
Explain your Italian language proficiency
Detail your qualifications and include a reference to the Italian equivalent levels to help a recruiter compare — you’ll usually add your GPA here too
There’s no need to add information about interests, hobbies or other personal detail
|🚀 Need help setting up your resume? Check out these free CV templates from Wise.|
Italy is a dream expat destination — but you’ll need to pay your way when you’re there, so heading to Italy to work is pretty commonplace.
Use this guide to getting an Italian work visa to start your research into finding an expat job in Italy as an American citizen, and help you find your perfect position. You’ll be enjoying the famous Italian climate, culture and cuisine in no time at all.
Sources checked on 02.28.2022
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