Does Italy have a golden visa?
Yes! Italy has a golden visa program. Whether you call it Italian golden visa or investor visa, this Italian visa is an interesting solution for non-EU citizens who choose to invest in strategic assets for Italy’s economy and society.
The Italian Golden Visa is a government program introduced in 2017 Budget Law as a reward and as an incentive. It allows to reside in Italy for a minimum of 2 years up to 5 years, and to travel across Schengen countries for up to 90 days every 180 days. Following the start-up visa, it represents a step forward in attracting foreign investors and enhancing the Italian Visa System. Also known as the Italian golden visa, it is the perfect match for long-term investors.
Italy Golden Visa requirements
The Italian golden visa is addressed to all non-EU nationals who are interested in investing in strategic assets for Italy’s economy. The applicant can be either:
- An individual over eighteen years of age, or
- A foreign legal entity, identified in its legal representative.
Family members eligibility
Family members qualify to obtain a family visa and residence permit too, and to remain in Italy for the same period as of the main applicant. Two main procedures are available for family members to join the main applicant:
- family reunification;
- family cohesion.
For what type of investments may an investor visa be issued?
The Italian Law lists the types of investments that are accepted for the Investor Visa application:
- Securities issued by the Italian government: at least €2.000.000,00 of investment (maintained for at least 2 years);
- Shares or stocks of an already existing capital company operating in Italy (i.e. S.p.a; S.rl; S.p.a.p; or S.r.l.s): at least €500.000,00 of investment (maintained for at least 2 years). The amount is reduced to €250.000,00 if investing into an already existing Italian innovative Start-up company;
- A philanthropic donation to an Italian no-profit entity to support a project of public interest in one of the following sectors: culture, research, immigration management, restoration of natural or artistic assets: at least €1.000.000,00. The applicant shall also:
- Demonstrate that they are holders and beneficial owners of an amount at least equal to €2.000.000,00 in the case referred in letter a), or €1.000.000,00 in the cases referred in letter b) and this subparagraph. This amount must be in each case available and transferable in Italy;
- Submit a written declaration in which they commit to use the funds referred to in number 1) above to make an investment or philanthropic donation that meets the criteria set forth in letters a) and b), within three months from the date of entry into Italy;
- demonstrate that they have sufficient resources, in addition to the funds referred to in number 1) and in an amount at least above the minimum level provided by the law for exemption from participation in health care expenditure, for their own sustenance during their stay in Italy.
Can the applicant combine different investment types or split the investment into different moments?
An investor visa can only be issued for a single investment, falling into only one of the categories above described. It is therefore not possible to combine investments directed to different subjects, nor different types of investment that individually have a nominal amount below the minimum threshold provided for each of the abovementioned cases.
Furthermore, the investment must be executed after the visa application.
Investments executed, in whole or in part, before the visa application is submitted by the investor do not qualify for an investor visa.
Anti-Money Laundry statement
To start with, the investment resources must derive from legitimate activities. To prove the resources’ legitimate origin, the applicant must present an Anti-Money Laundry Statement, a document to be required to the credit institution where the funds to be used for the investment are held.
Through this statement, which must be drafted according to the specific guidelines provided by the Investor Committee, the credit institution guarantees to have effectively carried out adequate checks on the client according to the FATF international standards on anti-money laundry.
Is it advisable to transfer the funds to an Italian bank before applying for the investor visa?
Transferring the funds to a trustful Italian bank can be advisable and it assures more transparency on the whole visa application process and in the documents to be released and provided to the Italian consular representation abroad.
There is no direct exclusion of any nationality from accessing the Italian investor visa program. Moreover, the visa applicant can apply either in their or in the name of a foreign legal entity.
However, some aspects must be considered:
- When applicants invest in the name of a foreign legal entity they represent, a “reciprocity” clause conditions the possibility of the foreign entity to invest in Italy by buying shares or stock of an Italian Company to the recognized right of an Italian entity to invest the same in the country of origin of the investors (art. 26 bis, c. 3 bis of the Consolidated Immigration Act).
- In the event that the country of origin of the financial resources that applicants intend to use is:
- on the list of “High-risk third countries” provided for in Art. 9 of the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive IV;
- or on the list of countries and territories with favorable taxation systems (so-called “black listed countries“) identified by the Minister of Economic and Finance;
- or for any other requirement linked to the verification of the licit provenance of the financial resources.
The Committee reserves the right to request the applicant to transfer the funds to a Bank with a registered office in Italy.
Therefore, it is true that the nationality of the investor itself does not have any direct impact on the application, but the origin of the resources from certain countries can trigger further checks from the Committee or the request to transfer the funds to an Italian Bank or financial intermediary even before obtaining the Visa. In this case, a good strategy to anticipate the Committee’s request is to apply only after having already opened an investment and bank account with an Italian Bank or registered intermediary.
Other reasons why it is necessary to rely to a trustful Italian bank or intermediary when choosing the investment type
It is mandatory to do the right investment in compliance with the Italian Immigration Law provision.
When investing in an Italian Limited Company, the following should be highlighted:
- The investment has to make the investor a shareholder of the company: an investment in bonds does not qualify for the investor visa;
- As mentioned above, the choice of investing into an Italian company does not allow to differentiate the risk by splitting the invested amount into more than one company;
- The company chosen for the investment must be operating – i.e. have at least one year of activity and filed at least one balance sheet;
- The investment can be carried out both by buying stock or shares already issued from another shareholder or through a capital increase;
- The Company chosen for the investment cannot be already controlled by the investor at the time of the application.
Please note: the Investor Committee requires alterity between the investor and the target company. Situations where the Company is already controlled by a close family member (spouse, parent or sibling) of the investor may also result in a rejection of the application as they may be interpreted as an attempt to circumvent the investment requirement.
When investing in Italian Bonds, the following should be highlighted:
- The investor must buy bonds with a residual maturity of no less than two years (in fact, the investment must be maintained for this period of time). However, it is often advisable to buy bonds with at least 5 years of residual maturity. In fact, once the Italian bonds are cashed, the investor loses the possibility to renew the investor residence permit but, after 5 years of continuous residency in Italy, they can switch to a permanent residence permit.
How to get the Golden Visa in Italy
The online procedure for the obtainment of the Investor Visa for Italy can take place entirely in English. Application forms, information materials and a “customer care” service, as well as the website itself, are all offered in English. This aims to facilitate the applicants who are not proficient in Italian.
The application procedure for the Italian Golden Visa is also available entirely in English.
Moreover, the procedure is fully centralized, as a single administration handles all communications with the other administrations involved. Consequently, the time required for the entire process is significantly reduced.
Steps of the application and documents you will provide
The Investor Visa does not fall within the annual entry quotas provided for by the Italian Government. Therefore, applications for the Italian golden visa can be provided at any time and without the quotas limitations.
The first step in the process is the Nulla Osta (certificate of no impediment) application, which is released through the Ministry of Economic Development portal.
The documents and the information required in this phase are the following:
- Contact details (i.e. name and surname, place and date of birth, nationality, place of residence, personal e-mail address, personal telephone number);
- Copy of passport;
- Curriculum Vitae of the applicant;
- Indication of the type of investment in Italy;
- Proof of ownership of the financial resources;
- Proof of absence of criminal convictions and pending charges;
- Description of the characteristics of the investment and proof of consent from the recipients.
First of all, the Secretariat of the Committee makes a preliminary check of the application, which is followed by the Committee’s evaluation. Then, the Committee releases the certificate of no impediment, normally within 30 days from application submission. Finally, within six months from its issuance, you may apply for the investor visa at the local Italian diplomatic mission.
The Italian Golden Visa is valid for 2 years.
Within eight days after entering Italy, you shall apply for the investor residence permit at the local Questura. The permit is valid for two years from the date of entering Italy.
Arletti & Partners can help you submit the requests for both the investor visa and the residence permit.
Issue and maintenance of the residence permit in Italy
There are 2 conditions for the issue and maintenance of the Italian residence permit:
- The applicant shall make the investment or donation declared in the golden visa application within 3 months after entering Italy;
- The applicant must maintain the original investment for the entire validity of the residence permit.
If the conditions apply, you can ask for a 3-year renewal at least 60 days before the permit expiry. In order to apply, you need a new certificate of no impediment.
If the applicant does not satisfy one of the above-mentioned conditions, the investor residence permit may be revoked, even before the envisaged expiry date. In addition to that, the applicant will not be able to renew the permit anymore.
After some years of consecutive residency in Italy, you might decide to apply for the Italian citizenship. If you are interested in learning more about that, please check our dedicated article on how to obtain the Italian citizenship.
Benefits of the Investor Visa in Italy
There are several incentive measures, mainly of fiscal nature, for the investors who wish to transfer their residence to Italy. For example, an investor visa holder can benefit from the special tax regime for new residents.
Furthermore, the Italian golden visa allows the applicant to work in Italy.
It can potentially also be converted into a work permit, if the conversion requirements are fulfilled. Finally, the investor visa allows family members to obtain a family reunion visa. If you are thinking of relocating to Italy but you don’t want to make investments in the Italian economy, you might consider to obtain a study visa, that will allow you to relocate for 1 year. The study visa can eventually be converted into a work permit, if all the necessary conditions apply.
For more information on the other types of long-term visa, take a look at our dedicated guide.
Italian Special Tax Regimes
Italian special tax regime for “impatriates” workers
The tax regime for impatriates is intended for employees and freelance workers who transfer their place of residence to Italy in order to undertake a work activity on Italian territory. Under the scheme, for 5 years, income from work as an employee (or similar category) and self-employment produced in Italy is taxed on 30% of the amount, or 10% if the worker becomes resident in one of the Southern regions of Italy.
The scheme may be extended for a further period of 5 years under certain conditions.
During the extended period, 50% of the income produced in Italy will be taxable (10% in the case of workers with at least three children under 18 or otherwise dependent).
New resident “retirees” tax regime
The flat tax regime for retirees, non-Italian resident individuals holding foreign pension incomes transferring their tax residency in Italy are allowed to elect for a flat tax on foreign source incomes. More in detail, individuals holding pension incomes and other similar remunerations paid by foreign authorities having administrative cooperation agreements (e.g. DTA, TIEA, FATCA) in force with Italy; that have not been Italian tax resident for the 5 years preceding the one for which the option is effective; who transfer their tax residency in one of the municipalities with a population not exceeding 20.000 inhabitants located in one of the regions of Southern Italy (Sicily, Calabria, Sardinia, Campania, Basilicata, Abruzzo, Molise and Puglia), can opt for a 7% flat tax rate applied upon all their non-Italian sourced incomes.
Special Tax Regime (STR) for High-Net-Worth Individuals
Qualifying persons: individuals who have been non-tax resident in Italy for at least 9 years out of the 10 years preceding their transfer to Italy.
Benefits: high-net-worth individuals transferring their tax residence to Italy are enabled to apply a substitute tax to their foreign income, amounting to €100,000 for each fiscal year. The regime may be extended to family members (€25,000 per member).
Italian Tax incentives for foreign Professors and Researchers
Tax benefits for Professors and Researchers, applicable under certain conditions, involve a reduction of 90% of the taxable income so that taxes remain due only on the remaining 10% of the income received for research and teaching activities. The duration of the regime varies depending on the circumstances between 8, 11 or 13 years, provided that the taxpayer remains resident in Italy.