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How to Work as Freelancer in Italy: The Italian Self-Employment Visa


Martina Manfredi


March 12, 2023


08:21 AM

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While Italy introduced the Remote Work and Digital Nomad Visa in March 2022, the implementation decree for this specific Visa has not yet been published. In other words, you cannot apply for the Remote Work and Digital Nomad visa in Italy at the time of this writing.

Therefore, if you are a non-EU citizen looking to relocate to Italy as a freelancer, remote worker or digital nomad, you will need to consider alternative options.

One of the best options for those looking to live and work in Italy might want to consider a self-employment visa, or the Visto per Lavoro Autonomo.

Visto per Lavoro Autonomo - The Visa for Remote Workers, Digital Nomads, Freelancers and Self-Employed Individuals.

The Visto per Lavoro Autonomo is a self-employment visa that allows entry into Italy for the purposes of working as a self-employed individual. This visa is issued for both short and long-term stay durations and does not entitle you the right to work for an Italian employer.

While this might be the perfect visa for those who have the freedom to work for themselves or remotely, there are several important considerations and restrictions for this visa, including when you need to apply.

Applying for the Visto per Lavoro Autonomo

A limited number of visas are issued each year for the self-employment visa in Italy. This quota reserved for self-employed individuals are redetermined on an annual basis by the “Flows decree” or Decreto Flussi, which is published each year and defines entry quotas for immigration of non-EU nationals, as well as requisites for entry and application procedures.

For this reason, it is not possible to apply for a self-employment visa year round, and applications are limited to the timeframe as defined in the annual Flows Decree, which opens for a few months each year. The Flows Decree is usually published towards the end of the year or the beginning of the following year, and applications normally open in the first few months of the year. However, since there is no fixed publication date, it is important to periodically check for any updates through Italian press or Italian governmental official websites.

In some, very limited, cases it is possible to enter Italy outside of the Flow Decrees planning quotas. Specific exceptions, for example, apply to very limited categories of workers, such as visiting university professors or professional athletes. In practice, however, this is an extremely residual option.

Requirements to Apply for a Self-Employment Visa - The Nulla Osta

In order to apply for a Self-Employment Visa, individuals must meet the same professional and moral requirements that Italian law requires of Italian citizens. The first step is to request a Nulla Osta (Certificate of No Impediment), from the territorially competent Questura (Police Headquarter).

Italy immigration regulations distinguish between regulated and non-regulated professions, and non-regulated professions are further subdivided into activities which require registration with the Italian Business Register. According to the category the profession falls into, the paperwork and procedure for the Nulla Osta will vary. For example, a Certification of Economic Parameters, issued by the Chamber of Commerce, will be required for all those activities which require registration with the Business Register.

In general, however, it is always necessary to present the following documents: Application addressed to the Questura, with a 16.00 euro stamp tax; ID document of the applicant (e.g. valid passport) Registered rental or purchase contract of the property intended for housing or, alternatively, a declaration, signed by an Italian citizen or foreign national legally residing in Italy, that he or she has made suitable housing available to the applicant. A photocopy of the registered rental or house purchase contract in the name of the person who signed the declaration and a photocopy of the identity document of the person who signed the declaration must be attached to this declaration. Alternatively, proof of reservation at hotel facilities, apartments or residences.

Submission of the Nulla Osta Application for purposes of Obtaining the Self Employment Visa

The Nulla Osta application must be submitted online but requires a subsequent appointment to be attended in person, if the applicant is already in Italy (e.g. for education purposes); however, the applicant can appoint an attorney to represent them throughout the procedure. In this case, it is necessary to obtain a power of attorney, which must be translated and legalized by the Italian diplomatic authority in the applicant’s Country of Residence (Consulate or Embassy). The aforementioned documentation must be supplemented by the documentation pertaining to each specific case, for which a professional consultation is highly recommended.

Following the issuance of a Nulla Osta, it is then possible to apply for the Self-Employment Visa at the Italian Representation in your Country of Residence (Consulate or Embassy).

Next Steps for Obtaining The Residence Permit - Permesso di Soggiorno

The Italian Self-Employed Visa, issued by the territorially competent Italian Representation, grants entry to Italy but is not sufficient to live and work in Italy legally.

Within 8 days of entry into Italy, it is necessary to apply for an Italian residence permit, or Permesso di Soggiorno, to be able to legally work and live in Italy.

The application is filed through a specific postal kit, available at postal offices with a Sportello Amico counter. In general, the postal kit is the means by which a foreign national present in Italy must apply for the issuance, renewal, updating and conversion of a residence permit.

The following documents will be required to obtain the Permesso di Soggiorno: a valid passport (original document and a copy) the compiled and completed postal kit four passport-sized pictures all other documentation pertaining to the self-employed visa application.

The postal kit will therefore also be necessary to renew the residence permit once it has expired. A residence permit for self-employment lasts for two years and can be converted to a residence permit for employment if the requirements are met.

Once all documentation is submitted, it will be possible to book an appointment at the competent police station (Questura) for the release of the residence permit.

Living and Working in Italy for Remote Workers, Digital Nomads and Freelancers.

As you can tell from the above information, there are several steps in obtaining the legal right to live and work in Italy through the self-employment visa. As with many formal immigration and residency procedures in Italy, it can seem overwhelming, especially if you do not speak Italian.

While Italy has not formally launched a visa for digital nomads and remote workers, there are still options to explore!

Martina specialises in Italian immigration and labour law, and advises clients for relocation options, including residency, setting up a business, start-ups and employment.

👉 Contact Martina and schedule a consultation today!

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