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Italy Self-Employment Visa

All the requirements and processes to get a Self-Employment Visa for Italy.

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Non-EU citizens who intend to move to Italy to engage in self-employment activities will need to obtain an appropriate visa.

Specifically, Italy Self-Employment Visa allows foreigners to enter Italy for a short or long stay, for the purpose of carrying out a professional or working activity of non-subordinate nature. The application procedure for a self-employment visa is quite complex and requires the possession of some basic requirements.

How do I become legally authorized to work in Italy?

To legally reside and work in Italy, non-EU citizens need to have a special work visa or other suitable residence permit.

Italian work visas are issued by the government under the quota system or out of the quota system. The quota system, in fact, established a maximum number of Italian work visas to be issued per calendar year for specific work activities. The extra-quota system, on the other hand, provides a range of unrestricted work visas “outside” this quota.

Entry to Italy is allowed under both modes. Nonetheless, foreign nationals must ensure that they fall into the right category of work activity. Specifically, a self-employment visa can be obtained either through the quota or the extra-quota system. However, the latter option is limited to very few cases.

Italian self-employment visa: Flows Decree

In Italy, the entry of foreign nationals for self-employment is generally subject to the quotas established by the flows decree. The decree itself also identifies a series of categories of self-employment from time to time.

What is the flows decree?

According to Decree-Law 286/1998, every year or every three years the Italian government establishes, through a special “Flows Decree”, the maximum number of non-EU citizens who can enter Italy with a work permit to perform specific types of work.

For the three-year period 2023-2025, 452,000 foreign workers are expected to be admitted to Italy. Applications must be submitted on the relevant click days and they will be evaluated in order of arrival.

Can I work as a freelancer in Italy?

Within the total quota, 500 foreign nationals residing abroad are allowed to enter Italy for self-employment for each of the years 2023, 2024 and 2025.

Based on the latest flows decree currently in force, the following five categories are allowed entry for self-employment work:

  1. Entrepreneurs who want to implement an investment plan of interest to the Italian economy. They must use their own resources (not less than €500,000) and create at least 3 new jobs;
  2. Freelancers who want to practice regulated or supervised professions, or unregulated but nationally represented professions
  3. Holders of corporate offices of administration and control;
  4. Artists of established reputation or high and well-known professional qualification, hired by public or private entities;
  5. Foreign nationals who intend to establish “innovative start-up” enterprises and who hold a relationship of self-employed nature with the enterprise. Check out our guide on Italy’s Start-up Visa for all the requirements that the company must meet.

Italy Self-Employment Visa application

Foreign nationals who want to engage in self-employment and fall into one of the authorized categories can apply for a Nulla Osta.

Italy Self-Employment Visa requirements

The procedure is different depending on whether or not the activity requires a registration in the public registers of professionals.

Article 26 of the TUI provides that a foreigner who intends to carry on an industrial, professional, handicraft or commercial activity in Italy, or who intends to establish corporations or partnerships or access corporate titles, must prove to possess:

  • Adequate resources for exercising of the activity intended to be undertaken in Italy;
  • The requirements provided by the Italian law for the exercise of the specific activity. These include, where required, the requirements to register in the public registers of professionals;
  • A suitable accommodation;
  • An annual income, deriving from lawful sources, of an amount exceeding the minimum level required by law for exemption from participation in health care costs.

How do I get a Self-Employment Visa for Italy?

Once the requirements listed above have been ascertained, the competent police headquarters issues the provisional Nulla Osta for self-employment.

At this point, having acquired the Nulla Osta from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior and the authorities competent for the specific activity that the foreigners intend to carry out in Italy, the Italian diplomatic representation can issue the entry visa for self-employment, within the entry quotas established within the flows Decree.

According to Article 26(7) of the TUI, Italy Self-Employment Visa is issued within a maximum of 120 days from the date of submission of the application. The visa must be used for entry into Italy within 180 days from the date of issue.

Extra-quota self-employment permit

There are also some cases in which Italy Self-Employment Visa can be issued outside the quotas of the flows decree.

This is the case with the investor visa, a particular visa type defined by Article 26-bis of the TUI.

Special cases for extra-quota entry

Presidential Decree 1999, No. 394 – Decree of Implementation of the TUI –established some special cases of entry for extra-quota self-employment:

  • For foreign artists performing short-term (less than 90 days) self-employment activities. However, the artists concerned must not perform work for a producer or patron of entertainment other than the one for which the visa was issued (Art. 40, paragraph 15, Presidential Decree 394/1999);
  • For foreign sportspeople referred to in Article 27, paragraph 1(p) of the TUI, for whom the work authorization is replaced by the nominative declaration of consent of the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI), even when the work is a self-employment activity (Art. 40, comma 16 e 17, DPR 394/1999);

Other categories

Another case is that of foreigners referred to in Article 28, paragraph 1, letters a), b), c), d) of the TUI. This includes:

  • Executives or highly specialized personnel of companies with headquarters or branches in Italy or rappresentative offices of foreign companies that have their principal place of business in the territory of a member State of the World Trade Organization, or executives of head offices in Italy of Italian companies or companies of another EU member State (so-called inter-company transfers);
  • University lecturers for exchange programs or mother tongue lecturers;
  • University professors with an academic position in Italy;
  • Translators and interpreters.

In these cases, applicants must submit a draft of the proposed professional contract to the provincial labor directorate of the province where the contract is to be performed.

The labor inspectorate ascertains that the negotiated contract indeed does not constitute an employment relationship. Then, it issues the corresponding Nulla Osta, with which the relevant self-employment visa can be obtained.

Self-employment residence permit

Within 8 days of entering Italy on a self-employment visa, foreigners have to apply for the relevant residence permit for self-employment.

The competent police headquarters issues the residence permit for self-employment. The permit’s duration cannot exceed two years.

Residence permit for self-employment: can I work as an employee?

The residence permit for self-employment allows the holder to also work as an employee for an Italian employer.

At the time of renewal, a new permit will be issued, in line with the activity performed.

How do I register as self-employed in Italy?

It is important to consider that there are a number of requirements to start a self-employment activity in Italy. These include:

  • Choose the activity code depending on the type of activity to carry out;
  • Choose the tax regime depending on the expected turnover;
  • Fill out the declaration of start of business;
  • Get an Italian VAT number;
  • Fulfill the obligations of registration with INPS (or any other social security fund applicable) and INAIL.

For more information about the obligations involved in starting a business in Italy as a foreigner, please contact our experts.

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Regulatory Framework

Legislative Decree 25 July 1998, n. 286

Reference (Italian only)

Presidential Decree 31 August 1999, n. 394

Reference (Italian only)

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