Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world thanks to its historical cities, varied and delicious food and breath-taking natural views, as well as a place where lots of foreigners decide to move. Beyond beauty and a non-excessive cost of living, moving to Italy requires some essential bureaucratic steps in order to enter and eventually stay in there, as will be explained below.
What to know before leaving
Since Italy takes part of the Schengen Zone, EU citizens do not require a visa for entering or living in there up to 3 months, but just a valid passport or identity card. After that period, they have just to register at the Register Office of the municipality where they live.
On the contrary, in order to enter legally, non-EU citizens – including UK – should own a valid, not expired, and recognised passport or other travel documents and an entry VISA which must be requested from the Italian embassy or consulates in the non-EU foreigner’s Country of origin or permanent residence, unless of visa waiver agreements.
Fulfilments to move to Italy
In order to legally enter Italy, you should fulfil some bureaucratic steps on the basis of your citizenship, the lenght, and the reasons of your stay.
In case you are staying in Italy for less than 90 days
If you are a non-EU citizen and planning on staying in Italy for up to 90 days, and within a 180-day period, you should apply for a short-term stay VISA, which includes categories such as:
- Tourism, required for:
- countries with which the Schengen member states have not yet concluded a visa liberalization agreement, or
- when previously denied entering Italy or any other Schengen nation although you are a citizen of a third-world nation that has signed a visa liberalization agreement with the Schengen states.
- Business: it is intended for non-EU/EEA travellers who need to enter Italy for business purposes;
- Study: it allows non-EU citizens to enter Italy and officially join the Italian Education System.
Please note that some Countries are exempt from short-term stay visas.
Furthermore, even if you are staying less than 90 days, you must anyway declare your presence, filling the form at the local police, if you are a non-EU citizen entering Italy from a Schengen Country.
In case you are staying in Italy for more than 90 days
In order to stay in Italy for more than 3 months, you must apply for a long-term stay VISA at Italian Embassy or Consulate in your home Country, indicating the reason of your application which may be:
At your arrival in Italy, you shall also apply for a long-term residence permit (Permesso di soggiorno), the immigration document that will authorize your stay in Italy on the long term.
If you are looking for further information on all the available Italian Visas and how we can help, have a look at our dedicated page about immigration services to Italy.
Please make sure you apply for the right visa, because you may risk being expelled, according to legislative decree July 25th, 1998, No. 286.
The Italian Healthcare System
The Italian Healthcare System is a public service accessible for free to everyone who qualifies for it. As a European citizen, you have the right to receive urgent medical treatment in all the other EU Member States – including Italy – using the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), and the costs of treatments are covered by your home country’s health authorities.
Furthermore, some categories of EU citizens who stay more than 90 days have a right to be enrolled into the Italian Health System and avail of the free healthcare.
On the other hand, as a non-EU citizens:
- Up to 90 days, you can use urgent and elective health services, paying regional rates.
- Over 90 days, having a residence permit, you can apply for the National Healthcare Service (NHS) at the local ASL (Local Health Authorities) via the iscrizione obbligatoria or by paying an annual iscrizione volontaria.
However, due to long waiting lists, many people decide going private, which means spending more money. Nevertheless, in case long waiting times bother you, opting for private healthcare insurance grants you easier access to private hospitals or clinics.
Tax identification number for foreign citizens
When you move to Italy, you need a tax identification number (Codice Fiscale), which is a 16 alphanumeric characters code, in order to be identified by the Public Administration, including signing a tenancy contract, opening a bank account, or obtaining benefits.
EU citizens may apply for it at any Italian Revenue Agency office showing a valid ID card and an Italian address.
Non-EU citizens must submit at least one of the following documents:
- a valid passport with visa (if required), or any other document accepted by the Italian authorities;
- a certificate of identity issued by the Italian diplomatic or consular authorities of the Country of nationality (with your photo);
- a valid residence permit (permesso di soggiorno);
- an ID card issued by the municipality of residence in Italy.
Moving to Italy with a child: Visa, Education and Healthcare
If you move to Italy with your children younger than 18 years, and you hold a residence permit or any other type of VISA, you can apply on behalf of your children for a Family Reunion VISA.
Education in Italy for Foreign Children
When moving abroad with children, education is one of the parents’ first concern.
In Italy, schooling is public, free, and mandatory for children aged 6-16, whether EU or non-EU citizen. Moreover, pupils have the opportunity to attend private or international schools, in accordance with their needs.
Public and private schools’ classes are mainly taught in Italian, having English as a second language, while English is the main language taught at International Schools.
Depending on the age of your children, they may attend:
- Nursery school (Asilo Nido): from 3 months to 3 years old – it is not mandatory;
- Pre- School (Scuola dell’infanzia): from 3 to 6 years old;
- Primary school (Scuola Primaria): from 6 to 11 years old;
- Secondary School (Scuola Secondaria di Primo Grado): from 11 to 14 years old, and
- High School (Scuola Secondaria di Secondo Grado): from 14 to 19 years old.
Foreign students can be enrolled any time during the school year (even when not registered or having irregular/incomplete documentation). All they need to do is just submit a certificate attesting the years of schooling or the qualification signed by the headmaster of the school attended in their home Country. The certificate needs legalising by the Italian diplomatic or consular authority on site. In some cases, a Declaration of Value might be required by the Italian school.
Healthcare for children
Regardless of the minors’ nationality and regularity of the stay, the application to the Italian Healthcare System is mandatory. The application also grants the choice of a paediatrician.
Here you can read further information about healthcare for foreign children and how to enrol them.
Where is the best place to move in Italy?
Italy is a very heterogenous Country: you can choose between rural or developed areas, depending on what suits you. It is basically divided into the Northern and the Southern regions, which differ in landscapes and accordingly in efficiency of infrastructures such as railway lines and airports.
For instance, the Northern lowland guarantees more train connections, while the hilly and mountainous shapes of the Southern may hinder it.
This results in a major industrial development, a hectic pace of life and more job opportunities in the Northern cities such as Milan or Bologna and a quiet environment and more touristic destinations in the Southern ones.
Clearly, the more efficient the city you are moving to, the higher costs you have to afford to live there.
Find a home in Italy
Alternatively, our professionals can support you in your home search, covering all the essential steps required.
How to rent a house in Italy
If you are planning to rent a house in Italy, bear in mind you will find two types of rental contracts in Italy:
- The free-market contract, which is freely agreed between the tenant and landlord. It is a four-year lease, possibly automatically renewed for 4 extra years, and
- the rent-controlled contract, fixed within locally established bands with agreements between townships and associations of the owners and the tenants. The rent amount depends on different parameters, for example location, room numbers, etc.
Please note that the lease contract is mandatorily written. The landlord and the tenant have to respect those duties indicated in the contract. Usually, the tenant has to pay one month rent fee as a confirmation of their house contract when it is signed.
In February 2023, the Italian Revenue Agency confirmed that the lessee’s tax code is not a mandatory requirement if the lessee is not a resident in the Italian territory, and obviously not in possession of the Italian Tax Code.
Can a foreigner buy a house in Italy?
Foreign citizens are allowed to buy properties in Italy without any restrictions, in accordance with the Italian law. If you are planning to buy a home in Italy, you should submit:
- A residence permit, if you reside in Italy;
- Being part of a Country adhering to an international treaty that allows the purchase of property in Italy, if you are a foreign citizen not residing in Italy;
- Being a EU citizens or part of an EEA country or stateless persons resident for more than 3 years;
- Having a tax number;
- Being in possession of a valid passport;
- Having a Current Account.
Can I live in Italy if I buy a house there?
Buying a house in Italy does not automatically entitle you to live there. On the other hand, it may facilitate the obtainment of an Elective Residence VISA.
For further information you can check on the dedicated idealista.it page.
Register your residency address in Italy
Both EU and non-EU citizens who decide to permanently move to Italy need to enrol to the Ufficio Anagrafe of the Municipality of the city where they wish to reside.
Specifically, the registration of EU citizens must be done within 3 months from arrival, as this substitutes the residence permit for EU citizens. It will be necessary to attach a proof of an accommodation available for the long term, such as a registered rental contract or a deed of purchase of a house or a long-term accommodation booking.
Find out more on the benefits of registering your residency address in Italy.
Moving to Italy with your pet
In order to legally introduce your pets to Italy, obtaining a European Community veterinary certificate is mandatory for each pet (which may not be superior to 5 for owner during a single trip).
Furthermore, there are some provisions for animals coming from EU Countries and non-EU Countries, as follows:
- they shall be identified by a microchip or a clearly legible tattoo;
- it is prohibited to introduce them in Italy, when:
- aged less than 12 weeks, not vaccinated against rabies
- aged between 12 and 16 weeks that, although vaccinated against rabies, do not meet the validity requirements, and consequently not yet protected against the disease.
In addition, each animal shall be accompanied by a European passport; they need a written declaration of the owner in case an authorized person carries out the non-commercial movement of the animal by written delegation of the owner, and be regularly anti-rabies vaccinated at least 21 days prior to arrival and no more than a year prior to arrival.
Importing your vehicle to Italy
In order to import to Italy a vehicle registered abroad, you should register it at the Motor Vehicles Office (Ufficio Motorizzazione Civile).
Having obtained the registration, the vehicle should be registered at the Public Register of Motor Vehicles (PRA) by submitting the following documents:
- Ownership certificate;
- Certificate of cancellation of registration in the country of origin;
- Application for registration (domanda di immatricolazione) form TT2119
- Personal identity document: translated into Italian in case of a foreign ID card;
- Residence certificate or residence permit of the applicant;
- NP2D form for registration with the PRA, also available at Motor Vehicles Offices;
- A copy of the registration certificate issued in Italy.
Having done that, you will receive your Italian vehicle number plate (targa) and a registration certificate. Within 60 days you need to enter your vehicle into the public registry at the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI).
Driving in Italy with your foreign license
EU citizens with an EU driver’s license don’t have to convert it into an Italian one and may drive in Italy until its expiration date. Those who hold an EU driver’s license with no expiration date must instead convert their license to an Italian driver’s license within 2 years after gaining residence in Italy.
On the other hand, owners of non-EU driving license may circulate in Italy with it, but it has to be translated into Italian and sworn or accompanied by an International driving permit, valid for no more than one year after obtaining residency in Italy. After that period, they must convert their driving license to an Italian one, if approved by particular bilateral agreements.
Customs for personal property – Carrying weapons and dangerous objects to Italy
The importation of weapons and dangerous objects for sports and hunting use is regulated by the Arms and Explosives division of the Italian Ministry of Interior, while the importation of firearms for military use is controlled by The National Authority – UAMA (Unit for the Authorizations of Armament Materials).
Within EU Countries, weapons can transit through the European Charter (Carta Europea), issued by the Police Headquarters to those in possession of a license to carry or transport weapons and it has no more than 5 years of validity.
As shown above, moving to Italy requires some preliminary bureaucratic accomplishments concerning different subjects, which means you should properly prepare before leaving.
At the moment of requesting an Italian VISA, make sure you apply for the best one that suits the reason of your stay, get professional support with all the necessary documentation to submit and finally enjoy your new life in Italy.