Italy’s freelance visa: not as easy as it sounds!

May 31, 2021

This article is written by Marco Mazzeschi and contributed to our publication on

Follow us on for more latest articles.

Self employment visas are increasingly popular but very difficult to obtain

Italy is a popular tourist destination and after the pandemic has become attractive also for many remote workers and “digital nomads”. There are many rural areas where living is easy and not expensive, the weather is mild all year long and — last but not least — the food is delicious.

An increasing number of people are trying to move to Italy and continue working as free-lance so that they can also enjoy the Italian “dolce vita”.

Differently from what you can read in many articles, blogs, etc. this route is not as easy as it is presented.

EU citizens vs non-EU nationals

EU citizens can easily resettle in the country, they can work without need of any permits (except for regulated activities) and they just need to register with the City Hall (Comune) where they live.

For non EU citizens this choice of life is more challenging. In fact, any person who is not a citizen of a EU country cannot stay in Italy for more than 90 days any 180 period. For longer stays he/she will need a visa which will vary depending upon the intended reason of the stay.

Can you work remotely?

Be careful when you read about “remote working”. Italy, like most of the other EU countries, does not have a specific program allowing remote work for non EU citizens. If you enter the country for business or tourism, technically you cannot work even though your activities are for the benefit of companies/clients located out of the country.

What work visas are available?

Employees of large international groups that have a subsidiary in Italy can easily obtain an intra-company permit (ICT). Italian companies can hire highly skilled workers with no quota limitation, with te so called Blue Card permit.

And if I am a free-lance?

If a person wants to work in Italy and does not have a company that can sponsor an ICT permit permit or cannot find an employer who wants to hire him with a Blue card, the only option left ifs the “self-employment visa”. Recently, there are many articles, posts and blogs advertising this visa as relatively easy to obtain, luring people to move to Italy and work as free-lancers.

Is this true? It is not gold all that glitters

· Self-employment visa are subject to yearly quotas which are set by the Government. These quotas are usually very limited (the last Decree issued only 500 quotas for the year 2020);

· there is not a Government database where an applicant can check whether quotas are still available;

· Applicants are lured by the fact that general eligibility requirements are relatively simple: (i) a suitable accommodation; (ii) have financial resources exceeding € 8.500 Euro; (iii) obtain a Police Clearance; and (iv) obtain a certificates from a Gov.t offices confirming the requirements for carrying out the intended activity;

· The final decision on the visa issuance is on the Italian Consulates which have a wide discretion in approving/denying it;

· According to our experience, most Consulates have a very restrictive policy and are very cautious before issuing a visa to an applicant who cannot guarantee to have a stable occupation and substantial remuneration in the country;

· Despite obtaining the necessary clearances in Italy, we see that many applications are rejected by Consulates on various grounds.

is there an option B? The Start-up Visa

What can you do if you are denied the visa? If you are working in innovative sectors, you can apply for a “Start-up visa” which is aimed to non-EU nationals intending to set up an innovative start-up business or to join an already established start-up company.

For this visa, the applicant must:

(i) prove the availability of at least € 50,000 to be used for the sole purpose of establishing and operating the start-up;

(ii) submit a detailed business plan.

The key for obtaining the clearance from the Ministry is being able to submit an “innovative” project rather than the availability of funds.

What does it mean “innovative”?

Innovative is a company whose business model is characterised by a strong technological character and with has an exclusive or prevalent corporate purpose the production, development and marketing of innovative goods or services of high technological value.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this article (i) does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; (ii) are for general informational purposes only and may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information (iii) this website may contain links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader; (iv) readers should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.StudioMazzeschi

Insights on immigration and citizenship trends

  • Contact us

    To request an initial assessment or to arrange a consultation call with one of our consultants, please provide us with your contact details and we will get back to you within the next 24 (working) hours.

    Get in touch →
  • MAZZESCHI S.r.l. - C.F e P.IVA 01200160529 - Cap.Soc. 10.000 € I.V. - Reg. Imp. Siena 01200160529 - REA SI-128403 - Privacy Notice - Cookies Policy
    Copyright © 2019 by Mazzeschi - Web Designer Alessio Piazzini Creazione siti web Firenze