Obtaining an Italy visa for startups, freelancers and entrepreneurs, the required documents, the application process, and FAQs
If you’re a non-EU national who wants to move to Italy and work as a self-employed individual, you will need an Italy Self-Employment Visa. But that’s just for entering Italy.
What is an Italy Self-Employment Visa?
The Itay Self-Employment visa is a type of Italian long-stay visa (national or D-visa). This is the type of visa you must apply for if you intend to work as a freelancer or open a start-up business in Italy.
However, the self-employment visa for Italy is simply an entrance visa. This means it allows you to enter the country, but you still need additional authorization to stay and work there.
You must have the authorization to work and the proper certification depending on what type of work you will perform prior to applying for the visa. You must get these authorizations in Italy while you are still in your home country. This means that you have to hire someone in Italy to assist you in getting these authorizations.
What are the Types of Italy Self Employment Visas?
Every year, the Italian government issues self-employment visas for specific professions. However, the self-employment visas are:
- The Italy Startup Visa, issued to foreigners wanting to open an innovative company in Italy, as well as foreigners who want to join an already-existing company in an executive role.
- The Italy Freelancer Visa, issued to individuals who intend to take up self-employed, freelance work and do not have a company who want to hire them.
- The Italy Entrepreneur Visa, issued to foreigners who want to implement an investment plan (of no less than €500,000) that is beneficial to Italian economy.
see also: processing Italy Work Visa
Who Should Apply for an Italy visa for Self Employment?
Any non-EU national who wants to go to Italy and work as a self-employed individual needs to apply for an Italy Self-Employment Visa.
The requirements for an Italian Self-Employment visa apply to non-EU countries who are exempt from the Schengen visa as well. This means that even if you are in Italy without a visa (because your non-EU country is exempt), you must leave Italy and apply for the long-stay visa from your home country.
The same applies to any foreign national who is in Italy with a Schengen visa. You cannot apply for a residence permit if you have not received your Italian long-stay visa.
EU nationals as well as citizens of Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland are free to enter the country and work with simply their IDs or passports. But for stays exceeding 90 days, they need to obtain an Italian residence permit as well.
How to Obtain an Italy Self Employment Visa?
There is a set of requirements you have to complete before and after you apply for the Italian self-employment visa.
In fact, applying for an Italian self-employment visa is the third step in the lengthy process that is becoming self-employed in Italy. In a nutshell, the process for obtaining a self-employment visa for Italy is as follows:
- Apply for a Nulla Osta (authorization to perform self-employed work) from the local Immigration Desk (Sportello Unico Immigrazione – SUI).
- Get the necessary authorization and documentation needed to perform the specific self-employed activity in Italy.
- Apply for the Self-Employment Visa at the Italian Representation in your country (embassy/consulate).
- Enter Italy and apply for an Italian residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) to be allowed to live and work in Italy legally.
In addition, you can only apply for an Italian self-employment visa (or any other Italian work visa) for a short window of time every year. You will also be subject to yearly quotas.
Before you apply for an Italy Self-Employment Visa
There are certain procedures and requirements you must meet before you can apply for the Italy self-employment visa. These include:
The Decreto Flussi
Unfortunately, you cannot apply for an Italy self-employment visa anytime.
Italy has an immigration policy in place when it comes to how many work visas is will issue on a yearly basis.
This immigration program is called a Decreto Flussi (translated to “Flow Decree”). Every year, the Italian government opens the Decreto Flussi for a few months. That is the only time that non-EU nationals can apply for an Italian work visa. With the Decreto Flussi, Italy offers seasonal and non-seasonal work visas as well as self-employment visas.
However, there is also a set quota of how many visas they will issue. In 2019, Italy offered 30,850 work visas overall, out of which, 2,400 were for self-employment.
see also: Italy Family Reunion Visa
Work authorization and registering your business
If the Decreto Flussi is opened and the yearly quota has not been filled, you have to get authorization to work in Italy. In addition, you must also register your business and receive the certifications that Italian nationals would have needed to perform that job.
You can only get these authorizations in Italy. This means you will have to employ a proxy (such as an immigration consultancy agency) so they can submit your application to the relevant authorities in Italy for you.
Your proxy has to submit your application for work authorization (the Nulla Osta) at the local Immigration Desk. If you receive the Nulla Osta, you will have to register your business with the Business Registrar, as well as the Companies House and Tax Registrar.
Once you receive all your authorizations, which give you a clear pass to freelance or open a business in Italy, you can apply for the Italy Self-Employment Visa.
Italy Self Employed Visa Application Process
You must apply for the Italy Self-Employment visa yourself at the Italian Representation in your country or a Visa Application Center that Italy has outsourced visa applications to. You have to:
- Book an appointment.
- Gather the required documents.
- Download and complete the Italy Long-Stay Visa Application Form.
- Submit the application in person.
- Pay the Italy visa fee.
For a detailed guide on each of these steps, visit the article on Italy Visa application process.
What Documents Do I have to Submit to Apply for an Italy Self Employed Visa?
The requirements depend on what type of work you will be engaged in. Your country of residence also plays a part in the documents you must have.
The requirements for an Italy Self-Employment Visa include:
- Italian Long-stay visa application form.
- Two passport-sized pictures.
- Valid passport with at least two blank visa pages. It must be valid for at least three months longer than the visa you will be issued.
- The Nulla Osta authorization (original and photocopy).
- Proof of sufficient funds.
- Proof of suitable accommodation, such as a purchase or rental agreement.
- Proof of income from the previous year, which must be higher than the minimum level required by law for exemption from health care contribution (€8,400).
- Certificate issued by the Chamber of Commerce in the area you will be working, recognizing you have the resources necessary for the self-employed activity you will be doing. The resources cannot be less than the annual amount of the minimum income (€4,962.36).
- Civic status documents.
If you will be taking on a corporate role within an already existing company (such as a partner or CEO), you will also need to have:
- Proof the company is enrolled in Chamber of Commerce Business Registry.
- The company’s registration number.
- Your position within the company.
- Copy of an official declaration of responsibility which states that you will not be working in a subordinate role. It must be issued by the local County Labor Office (Direzione Territoriale del Lavoro).
- Proof you will receive a salary higher than the minimum level required for exemption from health care contribution (€8,400).
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. You may be required to provide documents specific to your home country or situation. Always contact the adequate visa application center for further information.
After you Receive the Italy Self-Employment Visa
After you receive your Italy self-employment visa, you can enter Italy. Once you are in the country, you have eight days to apply for a Permesso di Soggiorno card (residence permit) at your city’s local post office. Then, it is the Foreign Department (Ufficio Stranieri) of your local Italian Police Headquarters (Questura) who gives you your residence permit.
See more about Italian Residence Permits here.
How Long is the Italy Self-Employment Visa Valid?
The self-employment visa for Italy is valid for two years initially. However, it can be renewed. You have to apply to have your self-employment visa renewed at least 60 days before it expires.