Italian Immigration Law allows for a number of strategies for those US citizens who wish to come and enjoy the Italian lifestyle. With this guide, we are going to focus on 2 possible solutions: how to retire to Italy from USA and immigration for Italians-to-be.
In case you were wondering, you can indeed retire to Italy from USA, like Glenda and Randy Tuminello did: featured in CNN’s “This US couple sold their house and moved to Italy for good”, Mr. And Mrs. Tuminello decided to move from the US to Italy in Polignano a Mare (Southern Italy).
Can an American move to Italy permanently?
One of the most frequent questions US nationals face is whether it is possible to move to Italy from the US on a permanent basis.
While it is very easy for US nationals to come and visit Italy as a tourist, the same does not apply to longer stays. As a matter of fact, agreements between Italy and the US allow American citizens to travel to Italy using only their passport.
However, USA nationals that take advantage of this visa exemption may only stay in the Schengen area for 90 days over a 180 days period.
Therefore, for longer stays, it is necessary to apply for an Italian stay permit. To do so, travellers must have a suitable visa, which allows for a stay permit application.
Can a retired US citizen live in Italy?
The short answer to this question is, yes, it is possible for a retired US citizen to live in Italy.
Immigration-wise, this goal is achieved most of the time via the Elective residence visa.
How to move to Italy from USA: the Italian Elective Residence Visa
The Italian Elective residence visa is perfect for those foreign nationals who can rely on passive income to support their living expenses in Italy. This means that Elective Visa holders cannot undertake work activities in Italy, be it subordinate or freelance work. Mr. and Mrs. Tuminello mentioned before, in fact, successfully applied for the Italian Elective Residence Visa.
Therefore, retirees, landlords who can rely on steady income from their tenants, of foreign investors fall easily within the category of ideal candidates for this visa.
How to apply for the Italian Elective Residence Visa if you are a US citizen
The first step to move to Italy via the Elective residence visa route is to apply for a visa at the nearest Italian consulate in the US. Here you will find the full list of Italian Consulates in USA.
At the application appointment, you will be required to present a list of documents:
1. Sufficient economic resources
The first item on your checklist should be documents proving your passive income. According to the Italian immigration law, an Elective visa applicant must prove they can rely on at least €31.000 per year.
In case the applicant has a spouse, the requirement increases by 20% or, in case of children, the there is an increase of 5% per child, whether underage or not.
Consulates are very thorough in their financial checks, as they must make sure you will be able to support yourself and your family without working.
2. Civil Status documents
These documents are meant to certify whether you are single or married, and that you are the parent of one of the other applicants.
In most cases, birth or marriage certificates (duly translated and apostilled) are sufficient.
3. Proof of accommodation
The Italian Consulate will want to verify you have a permanent address in Italy where you can stay.
Therefore, even before you apply for a visa appointment, you must have secured either a rental contract of at least 12 months or a deed of ownership of a house in Italy.
4. Application letter
This is a letter aimed at getting to know you and your dependents. In this letter, you should explain why you wish to relocate to Italy, where you will be staying and for how long.
Consulates generally appreciate a detailed application letter.
5. Police Clearance
Not all consulates require a police clearance certificate, so, please, verify with the consulate nearest to you.
Also, make sure to apply for the correct type of certificate – Federal or State certificate.
6. Application forms
You may easily download the form from the Consulates’ websites.
7. Passport and passport sized pictures
Make sure your passport is valid for at least 3 months after the visa expiration date.
After your Consular interview, the Consulate will withhold your passports and return them to you with a Visa sticker in place. This visa is usually issued with a one-year validity and with multiple entries.
You are, now, ready to travel to Italy.
The Italian Fiscal Code – Codice Fiscale
One of the most commonly required documents in Italy when dealing with Government offices is the Codice Fiscale (aka CF), the Italian tax code. This alphanumeric code identifies you with the Italian Revenue Authorities (Agenzia delle entrate), and is calculated on the basis of your name, place and date of birth.
It is possible to apply for the Codice fiscale even abroad, via the Italian Consulates. Otherwise, our Firm can support you in obtaining your CF form the Italian Revenue Agency.
Once you obtain your CF, it will remain the same throughout your life – unless you change your name, for example, after marriage or divorce. The CF will come in handy also for your rental contract: in fact, even if it is not a mandatory datum, having a CF speeds up your contract registration process.
Apply for the Italian Stay Permit
Once you have safely landed in Italy, it is time to apply for your Stay Permit, in Italian “Permesso di Soggiorno”. This document certifies that you are in Italy beyond the 90 days allowed by tourist visas legally.
The application process is divided in 3 parts:
- Application submission: this is done at the post office via a Postal Kit. Post Offices will provide you a form to fill out for the submission. You must submit this within 8 days of your arrival in Italy.
- Biometrics appointment: at a local Police office, you will have to leave your fingerprints and photo.
- Stay permit collection: after 20 to 30 days, you will visit the Police office again to collect your permit.
Becoming an Italian resident
Once you have completed your immigration process, it will be possible for you to register as an Italian resident in the townhall where you live. The townhall will enrol you as living in the town. In order to do so, you will have to provide a health insurance policy covering for all health-related expenses in Italy for at least one year.
In addition to that, you will also have to provide your rental contract or a deed of ownership.
Following your townhall registration, you can also apply for an Italian ID card. This identification document is not a valid travel document but will come in handy if you decide to buy a car or for identification purposes with Government bodies.
How long does it take to apply for the Italian Elective Residence Visa?
Considered all the steps above, the process to get the Italian Elective Residence Visa can take up to 90 days. Stay permit application timelines vary based on the town you will relocate to.
More or less, the stay permit process is completed within 6 months.
How to retire to Italy from USA: become an Italian national
As a second immigration strategy, American citizens can permanently move to Italy by becoming Italian nationals. This is possible if you meet the requirements to apply for the Italian Citizenship. There are different types of Italian Citizenships you can apply for, depending on the requirements you meet.
Timeline and requirements might change depending on the type of citizenship: for example, you can still stay in Italy while your application for the Citizenship by Descent is being processed.
Collect your documents to apply for the Italian Citizenship
As a first step, you will have to collect all the necessary documents for your Italian citizenship application.
Our firm can support you in making sure all your papers are in order.
Then, it is time to pick a location and find an apartment in Italy, be it for rent or for sale. In case of rent, the contract should be of at least one year, to prove your willingness to stay in Italy permanently.
As a second step, you will have to visit the local Townhall offices of the town you are relocating to. There, the Registry office will collect you application to start the processing.
Stay permit application
Finally, you have to apply or your stay permit. This type of permit will not allow you to work in Italy, though, but just to live here until you get your Italian citizenship.
Therefore, this is a great opportunity for those retirees who wish to enjoy their retirement in Italy and rediscover their Italian origins.
How long does it take to apply for the Italian Citizenship?
The timeline to become an Italian Citizen depends on the type of citizenship you’re applying for.
Generally, it may take between 6-18 months.
Favorable tax regime to move to Italy: the Italian 7% flat rate for pensioners
In recent years, Italy introduced a favorable tax regime for pensioners who are considering retiring to Italy. The regime applies a fixed tax rate of 7% to foreign citizens who hold retirement incomes from foreign sources.
However, the Italian 7% flat rate applies only in specific cases, like retiring in specific municipalities in the Italian territory, not having resided in Italy during the previous 5 tax periods or transferring the residence from a Country with which Italy has cooperation agreements.
Final considerations on retiring to Italy from USA
It’s no secret that moving to Italy is the dream of many, given all that the Italian culture has to offer. But Italy is also well-known for its bureaucracy, the paperwork that might discourage from following your plans of a new life in Italy.
However, international relations between Italy and the United States make it easier for American citizens to retire to Italy from USA, considering both immigration and tax aspects.
How We can help you retire to Italy from USA
We at Studio Arletti & Partners can help you retire to Italy from USA in every step of the process:
- Our Italian Immigration Specialists can help you:
- Apply for the Italian Visa
- Apply for the Italian Citizenship
- Find your new home in Italy and follow your relocation.
- Our Senior Tax Advisors can help you:
- Apply for favorable tax regime
- File Italian and foreign tax returns
- Avoid cases of double taxation
- Buy a property in Italy.
And much more!
To know more about how we can help you, fill in the free form below to contact our Experts. You can also book an online video-call for dedicated assistance.