Can I work remotely from Italy without a work visa?

Jul 15, 2022

Italy does not have any specific provision regarding “remote working” carried out by foreign visitors. The only reference we have found and that be applied by analogy to this scenario, is in the guidelines for obtaining the Elective Residence Visa (a kind of retirement visa) issued by the Italian Consulates of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Consulate specifies that:

The Italian Elective Residence Visa is for foreigners – retired persons, persons with high self-sustaining incomes and financial assets – who have chosen Italy as the country of permanent residence and who are able to support themselves autonomously, without having to rely on employment while in Italy, whether as dependent employees, as self-employed employees or employees working remotely online. You cannot finance your residence in Italy through any type of work.

while the San Francisco Consulate:

Applicants are not permitted to work from home, blog for payment, offer consulting services to their previous employers, or otherwise dodge this restriction

From a strict legal point of view, it is our opinion that even though the individual would be working for clients outside Italy, he would still work and if she/he has entered Italy without a work visa (for tourism or business) he/she would violate the scope of his visa/scope of entry (if he is a non-visa national). The website of Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a online questionnaire to be used by foreigners willing to enter Italy.

https://vistoperitalia.esteri.it/home/en#BMQuestionario

If you select “work” as reasons of stay (and there is no difference if the work is for local or foreign clients) the answer is always that a work visa is required

EU Guidelines

Additionally, EU Guidelines (applicable for social security) provide for that the worker is subject to the rules of the country where he works:

As a basic rule, you are subject to the legislation of the country where you actually work as an employed or a self-employed person. It doesn’t matter where you live or where your employer is based”.

If you work in more than one EU country, but carry out a substantial part of your professional activities (eg, at least 25% of your working time and/or income) in your country of residence, you are covered by the social security system in your country of residence.

A ‘substantial part’ of your activities means at least 25% of your working time and/or income.  If you are self-employed, turnover and the number of services provided can also be relevant when calculating this percentage.

This applies to EU Social Security regulations but could be extended by analogy also to employment and immigration rules.

Possible Tax issues

Last but not least, working “remotely” in a country may have tax consequences both for the individual and for the company he is eventually employed by. OECD has issued a comprehensive analysis of tax issues to study the impact of the Covid-19 crisis also regarding the concerns related to cross border workers.

According to the OECD commentary, “salaries, wages and other similar remuneration” are taxable only in the person’s state of residence unless the “employment is exercised” in the other state. The Commentary on Article 15 explains that this means the place where the employee is “physically present when performing the activities for which the employment income is paid.”  But there are conditions attached to the place of exercise test. That other state (the source state) may exercise a taxing right only if the employee is there for more than 183 days or the employer is a resident of the source state, or the employer has in the source state a permanent establishment that bears the remuneration.”

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