Italy is one of the most popular countries for tourists in the world. From the food and wine to the churches and ancient ruins, this southern European country is an amazing place to live. If Italy is a place you are dreaming of moving to, and you are currently self-employed, you are in luck! Italy offers a self employment visa for contractors and business owners looking to set up shop in the country.

In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about the Italy self employment visa, including how to apply, requirements, how much it costs, and more!

What Is the Italy Self Employment Visa?

italy digital nomad visa
The Italy self employment visa allows self-employed individuals to live in Italy.

The Italy self employment visa is an opportunity for self employed people to move to Italy long-term. In recent years, this visa has been popular with digital nomads and foreign business owners looking to relocate to Italy. The visa can be obtained by those who are either setting up a business in Italy or those who own a remote business that functions outside of the country. This is also the visa that contractors or freelancers will need to get if they plan to work with Italian companies.

As the Italy digital nomad visa has not been officially implemented yet, most digital nomads who currently live in Italy use this visa.

A note on immigration processes in Italy:

Italy is notorious for having complicated and tedious bureaucratic systems. Processing times can be slow. And it can be VERY challenging to figure out how to jump through the hurdles the country throws at you. Additionally, the Italian government puts strict limitations on the number of non-EU nationals that can work in the country, and it can be difficult to get a self employment visa. In 2019, they processed around 2,400 self employment visas, but this number can be much less depending on the year.

Requirements For the Italy Self Employment Visa

Here are the main requirements you’ll need to meet to qualify for the Italy self employment visa. 

  • You cannot be an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen
  • You must be self-employed (business owner or freelancer)
  • You must pass a criminal record
  • You must meet the minimum annual income requirement, which is €8,400

Note that a good portion of the applicants for the Italy self employment visa plan to come to Italy and set up a business within the country. But many people who own location-independent businesses or are remote freelancers can also get this visa.

What Counts As Self Employment?

Here is a list of some common jobs that will qualify for the Italian self employment visa.

  • Business owners
  • Freelance workers (writers, software developers, accountants)
  • Contract workers
  • Sole proprietors

Essentially, any worker who works for themselves and is not formally hired by another company counts as a self employed worker and can apply for the Italy digital nomad visa.

Documents Required for the Italy Self Employment Visa

You’ll need to gather some documents in order to apply for the Italy self employment visa. Here is a list of everything you’ll need.

  • Proof of accommodation in Italy
  • Copy of your passport
  • Completed application form (Domanda di visto Nazionale D)
  • Licenses, diplomas, or any other certifications (if your field of work requires it)
  • Approved Nulla Osta (form allowing foreigners to work in Italy)
  • Proof of health insurance to cover medical expenses in Italy for at least the first 30 days in the country
  • Proof of a clean criminal record with no convictions
  • 2 passport-sized photos

How to Apply for the Italy Self Employment Visa

The self employment visa allows you to set up your life in Italy and enjoy the “dolce vita”.

Step One: Wait for the Decreto Flussi to Open

The decreto flussi (flow decree) is a regulation set by the Italian government that limits the number of non-EU citizens applying for work visas each year. You can only apply for a work visa in Italy during a certain period of each year, and there are limits to how many work visas are issued. For example, in 2023, the government will accept work visa applications from 82,000 foreign nationals. Of these, there are VERY few self employment allocations – in some cases as few as 500. So, keep this in mind before applying for the self employment visa.

You’ll need to wait for the decreto flussi to open up for the year before you can submit your self-employment visa application.

Step Two: Obtain a Nulla Osta

A nulla osta is a certificate issued to you by the Italian government that authorizes you to work in the country

In the case of a standard work visa, your employer will handle this for you, but as a self employed person, unfortunately, you’ll have to sort out the nulla osta yourself.

This can be a complicated procedure, so if possible, we highly recommend hiring an immigration lawyer to help you get this. Immigration-Italy.com offers a free consultation and has experienced Italian immigration lawyers to help you with your case!

You must apply for a nulla osta in Italy at a Sportello Unico per L’immigrazione (Italian Immigration Desk). These are widespread in essentially every major Italian city. You will generally have to wait 30 days for the nulla osta to be approved, but don’t be surprised if it takes longer.

Step Three: Apply for the Self-Employment Visa in Your Home Country

Once you have been granted a nulla osta, it is time to apply for the self-employment visa in your country of residence at the Italian embassy or consulate. This will involve you filling out a proper application and making an appointment. You will pay the application and processing fees at this point as well.

This is a frustrating step for many, as you usually have to apply for the nulla osta in Italy and then fly back to your home country to apply for the actual visa. This is why we highly recommend contacting a professional immigration service to help you with this process, as they may be able to streamline the process for you.

Step Four: Apply for the Residency Permit (Permesso di Soggiorno)

Once you have received your approved self employment visa, you can enter Italy! Congratulations! If you plan to stay in Italy for over 90 days, you must apply for your residency permit within 8 days of entering Italy. You can pick up a residence application kit at a local post office.

Officially, it will only take 2 to 3 months to get the residence permit, but it takes much longer in most cases. Some nomads will wait up to a year for their residence card.

Fees for the Italy Self Employment Visa

Here are the fees for the self employment visa to keep in mind.

Resident permit fees

  • Residence permit for less than 12 months: €40
  • Residence permit for 12 to 24 months: €50
  • Residence permit for more than 24 months: €100

Administrative fees

  • Postage: €30
  • Tax stamp: €16
  • Issuance cost: €30.46

How Long Is the Italy Self Employment Visa Valid for?

Some of the top cities for expats in Italy are Rome, Florence, Turin, and Milan.

The Italy self employment visa has two years of validity. Once you are granted the visa, you can live in Italy for up to 2 years. If you want to stay longer, don’t worry. You can renew the visa. If you plan to renew your Italy self employment visa, you must do so at least 60 days before the current visa expires.

Does Italy Have a Digital Nomad Visa?

In March of 2022, Italy announced they would be releasing a digital nomad visa. This visa will cater specifically to non-EU nationals who work remotely for companies outside of Italy. This visa is not currently active, but Italy is expected to start accepting applications soon.

For a detailed breakdown and updates on this, check out our ultimate guide to the Italy digital nomad visa.

Ready to Call Italy Your Home?

If you are planning to move to Italy, and you are either a contractor, freelancer, or business owner, you will need to apply for the self employment visa. While there are a few tedious steps involved in getting this visa, as long as you get the necessary documents and apply within the decreto flussi guidelines, you should be well on your way to living in Italy in no time!

Looking for more information on visas and how to move to different countries as a business owner or a remote worker? Check out our digital nomad visa hub!

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