A question about moving to Italy

Agostino Image
09/10/2012 - 14:24

Evening to all,I've no doubt that this topic is one of the most asked in this community, but no offence, this forum isn't the easiest to navigate and find relevant info. I am hoping to move to Italy next year. I have a job in the UK that is internet based, so as long as I have an internet connection, I can do my job.So, being in that fortunate position, I am looking for info on moving to Italy, but my efforts so far haven't been too successful. Italian websites are pretty poor (embassy sites, and such like)The questions I want to get answers to are things like: As an EU (UK) citizen, what is the length of time I can live in Italy before needing to fill out any official paperwork? I have a vague understanding that EU nationals can move within the borders of the EU freely, but I have no doubt in Italy it is more complicated than that! Will I need a visa for example? Also, what are the expenses that are incurred when renting? Obviously rent, but how about additional service charges or taxes, what are the general guidelines?As I said, I've no doubt questions like these are frequently asked, so if some kind soul could take pity on this noob, and point me in the right direction for answers (either on or off site), I shall be very grateful.Kind regardsAgostino



Good post Penny.  I'd add to that to check with an accountant as to the lower tax rate available this year (2012) as a freelancer on the contributi minimi regime.  I believe it could be 5% - but until I see it, I won't quite believe it.  You simply won't be able to stay tax resident in the UK if you undertake any work in Italy and don't spend at least 90 days/year in the UK, and neither will the UK give you the S2 if you admit to working in Italy (been there & had a long fight and lost.) Your income from your UK property I believe will be taxed in Italy, but you should receive a tax credit from the UK for tax already paid. I'm not an accountant by any means, but we've jumped through a lot of hoops over the last few years sorting out a lot of this stuff and it really does pay to go armed to an accountant with lots of "I've heard that...."   I do feel sorry for Italian Accountants are there are so many laws and they change so frequently that they simply don't have a hope of keeping up.  If you give them something to go on however, they will go away and look it up.

There is free movement and free labout within the EC, but you will have to apply for a codice Fiscale which you can do online. It's hard to anything in Italy without this damn card. They are paperwork crazy in Italy. I'm afraid trying to glean info from Italian websites is next to impossible, You will probably have to do what most people do when they get over to Italy and that is to wing it One thing you should be aware of though is that if your work is internet based, Internet can be very hit and miss in Italy. The towns have it but not with particularly fast speeds and some of the villages have it but most don't. The villages that do have it are not particularly fast. Out of interest Italy recently came down at 23rd in the World rankings for Internet usage, speed and infrastructure.

A codice fiscale is a must - you can get one on line through the italian embassy in London - you'll get your number in about 2 weeks (which is all you really need) the plastic card like our NI card arrives around a couple of weeks later - very straightforward - but don't leave it till the last minute apply sooner rather than later. You do need to check your internet connection - where I'm based in Liguria it's not a problem (maybe in very remote places)  I was renting there over the summer whilst waiting for our house to be restored and I got free wifi through the town - where my house is it's brilliant.  A friend of mine in Liguria was Head of Communications for a well known National Phone Provider in the UK and he says it's better than anything he had living in London - now that's impressive. If you're very remote you might need satellite with all the challenges that gives!!! In termsof renting - I've never done long term renting - many here have so will be able to help you As far as your business goes do your best to keep it in the UK as tax there is much better - you have to spend more than half the year in the UK so bare that in mind - and if you do decide to spend more time than that in Italy make sure you have a good commercilista (someone who does all your accounting for you) If you trawl through the search function you'll find lots of useful info Any ideas where you want to go?

Welcome! As you said, we have answered this type of questions quite a few times; however, it looks as if certain concepts are not clear to everyone. As EU citizens, we have the right to freely move and work within the EU and stay in any member country for up to 3 months. If we wish to stay for more than 3 months, we have to register with the local police and to obtain what in Italy is called a "permesso di soggiorno" and in order toobtain this we have to justify that we have a local address, enough money to survive without becoming a burden to the Italian government and health insurance (for up to 6 months you would be covered by your European Health Card, but keep in mind that this covers emergency treatment only, it is not a full health insurance. A "codice fiscale" is also necessary. You can obtain it from your nearest Italian Consulate or once you are in Italy. If you look at the right hand side of the screen, you will find the word "search". Enter the words "residency requirements" and you will find plenty of useful old threads. Good luck with your plans! 

The pds no longer exists for europeans.  If you stay for more than 3 months you have to get residency, even though it will be elective and not fiscal.  If you are here for more than 6 months there is a school of thought that you should have fiscal residence too.

I did not mention  the pds as under EU regs, if you are an EU citizen you have free movement and labour. No application for a permesso is required now. There was a similar situation in France where they were still issuing Carte de sejours when they were not nescessary. This stopped sveral years ago. It takes a while for beauracracy to catch up with the law. Some countries take longer than others. If your work is dependent on the internet I am assuming you do not want to sit in a village square or in a bar  all day using WiFi!! That's assuming the village has WiFi as obviously if there is no Internet infrastructure there is no WiFi. If your internet connection is crucial to your work and you want to live outside a town make sure there is internet, the majority of rural areas in Italy still do not have internet and the ones that do are slow, nowhere near the advertised speeds. Although the towns have them the speeds are not marvellous, and again not at the advertised speeds. Where as a slower speed may be OK just for the average person, if you are using it for mission critical usage it can become very frustrating and unreliable. You have to consider page loading and downloading times and of course uploads are slower than downloads so at the slower speeds upload can take a long time with more possibility of a drop out. On the subject of WiFi, WiFi, by it's nature is slower than a cabled in computer. I often advise friend that have WiFi in their home to, if possible use a Ethernet cable for their main computer. Italy, in comparison to other countries has very few hot spots. In fact, London has as many hot spots as in the whole of Italy. As I mentioned before, on the most recent league table from a reputable organisation founded  by the inventor of the internet, Italy is 23rd in the world rankings (this includes speed of connection, infrastrucure, penetration etc) France was 14th and the UK was way up there near the top at 3rd.

As others have said it depends where you are...........we live in a little hilltop village in Le Marche and it has broadband and wi-fi (which I use)............we receive a VERY stable 4mb connection which allows us to do anything and everything that we need - streaming, downloading.... pretty much everything ! S

In reply to by sprostoni

I'm not disputing that that there are villages that have Internet, but Italy has one of the lowest internet penetrations and lowest speeds. 4 meg although slow, is fine but it may not be OK for a business especially where large amounts of uploading (where speeds are considerably lower) are concerned. Stability will decrease when large amounts of bandwidth (typically for a business) are being used at lower speeds

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Judecas..............agreed, upload speed is very poor, and as a business user one may well need to do more uploading, I think for the private user, the upload is mainly for packet information purposes...............although, I do have all my data, photos and music backed up onto two seperate 'clouds' which sync every week. The initial uploads were (as you say) SLOW. S

In reply to by sprostoni

Upload speeds are always lower, so when you have the poor speeds you get  in Italy to start with, well....I dread to think how long your initial uploads to the cloud took. I uploaded a lot to my clouds but I did it in Sweden, where the speeds are blisteringly fast. Have you done a speed test to see the upload and download speed you are getting? There are some registry and browser hacks and tweaks that will slightly speed up the page rendering and downloading but does not help with uploading. Satellite speeds are not marvellous either and you also have to put up with a latency problem I also certainly agree with Agostiono about the Italian sites being dreadful.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

As I recall, I just left the original uploads running whilst we went for lunch, and when I next looked, they were done (it was hours later). I know my upload speed is something like .2mb (great eh ! surprise ), but as I mentioned, my need is leaning heavily towards downloading. Re satellite.............the latency can certainly be a problem, and the other thing that I have seen in our village is severe restrictions on download data volumes, making them very impractical for me (oh and very costly!). S

Agostino - I have worked like this for many years now in Italy. I too work via the internet for a company in the UK on a self-employed basis. I pay my taxes here in Italy and it is not overly complicated but fairly expensive as workers like us do not have large expenses to deduct. You can be setup as a 'Libero Professionista' which means you pay social security contributions of around 25/26% plus tax at a starting rate of 23%. Then there are small local income taxes 1-2% plus community charge (IMU - if you own a home) and rubbish tax to be paid to the local council (commune). It is very important to find a good accountant. I, sadly, have had several. Accountants fees are ridiculously high here. I pay more than I did to run a Ltd Co. in the UK in London. You can deduct many more things from your tax bill here than you can in the UK so how much tax you pay will depend on your circumstances. The worker's unions sometimes have very reasonable fees for accountancy services. To move here (as has been said before) you need to take out residency if you stay for longer than 3 months. To get residency you do not need health insurance if you have been paying your UK NI for the 2 years prior to your arrival. Ask for form S2 from the DWP and present that to the commune. You should get 2 1/2 years cover for free. If you are paying your taxes in Italy that will cover you after that. Once you have been here 5 years you get permanent residency and do not need to renew your health cover with the Italian authorities (although I know there are some slight regional variations on these procedures). Rural rents tend to be fairly low but will be surprisingly high at the coast or in big cities. You can either take a tourist contract for up to 1 year (can't have residency at that address) or do a residents' contract for 3+2 years or 4+4 years. Generally this puts all the rights in your favour and the landlord can't get you out before the contract break (at 3 or 4 years). The rent will increase each year in line with a government figure (whose name escapes me). Be prepared that you will be liable for all repairs and maintenance (except capital repairs) to the house/appartment and rubbish tax at that address if you have a resident's contract. Check and double check the internet connection at whichever property/area you choose. It will not be what you had in the UK in any rate but I have worked successfully with both telecom Italia 7Mb (not really 7Mb though) and Fastweb 10mb (also not really 10Mb but faster than TI). I am connected to the London network, use an IP phone, connect to the internet and use pier to pier systems to remote control user's PCs all at the same time so it works fine. Be prepared for outages though as storms seem to affect the service a lot. I find Italian email appallingly bad and many go missing. I have 4 different accounts (all with different providers) in the hope that one might work properly. Keep your UK email address and use it via the Web browser interface would be my advice. Other than that we are the fortunate few who can work in this way so don't be put off by the doom merchants. Oh - and learn Italian and join some clubs and societies here to meet people as being a homeworker can be lonely anywhere but especially in a foreign country without speaking the local language. Good luck.

Sorry, I made a mistake using the expression "permesso di soggiorno", as I should have said registration with the local Anagrafe. http://poliziadistato.it/articolo/10930/ In any case, for stays of more than 3 months, EU citizens have to fulfil the same requirements as for the ¨permesso¨, namely state the reason for your stay, justify that you have a job or independent means and that you also have health cover. The name may have changed because of complaints from some EU nationals, but the "spirit of the law" is still the same. Nobody can stay in an EU country for more than 3 months unless you can assure the authorities that you are not going to become a burden to the host state. Some people still do it... but then, they can also be legally kicked out. As I said before, good luck with your plans.

.2mb upload speed, that is painful and you are being charged on data volumes..Ouch. .2 is ridiculously slow, I'm curious as to what your true download speed is. In Sweden I was getting 77 with a download of 90 MPBS for a  cheaper price than the much lower speeds in Italy.  

This comes up a lot in Euro forums and it seems that these rules about being self sufficient are old rules and nobody seems to know of cases where a European citizen has been kicked out of another EU country because they couldn't show they had enough money. There are those who own properties in France and Spain who do not have sufficient income to comply with the rules.

I agree, it's laughable.  In the UK for example, who would you even go to to register your stay?  Equally, if you decided you wished to show someone your bank account statement, they'd probably refuse to look at it for fear of being accused of accessing private information ;)  I remember talking to a friend who needed a student work VISA for a year in Australia.  He got a loan from someone and paid it into his account and duly received his VISA when the Australian Embassy confirmed he had sufficient funds to support himself.  Then he transferred it to his mate.  A couple of weeks later, he got his VISA using the same cash - which they duly returned to its rightful owner. You might know that Italy would put great weight on seeing your bank statement too.  I guess it keeps people in jobs. Am I right in thinking that if you leave the country for one night, you can then stay a further 3 months without registering your stay or did they build in some kind of average into the requirements?

Thank you for all the replies, very informative and in a way highlights some of my naivety . Coming from the UK, healthcare has never been a consideration, so I shall seek out suitable insurance, and also BB is pretty much available anywhere & everywhere. I definitely do not want to be messing around with satellite! I have not yet decided exactly on location, although I am looking at Southern Italy. My Father is from Sicily, but I don't think I shall be going there. I've been to places in Calabria that I really liked, so that is where I am starting my search from for a suitable place to rent.  So far no one has mentioned the need of a visa, so I'm assuming this is something I don't need to worry about. There are some informative sites out there that have an American point of view, and visa is mentioned often. I guess having an EU passport removes that requirement. Eventually, I am looking to obtain an Italian passport, as I mentioned my Father is Italian, but I don't see him anymore. The pending load of paperwork that will bring though is not something I am looking forward to! 

AGostino, as an EU citizen you do not need a visa to enter Italy and to stay there for up to 3 months; however, you should register with the Anagrafe and get some health insurance to cover you while you are "in limbo". Get your European Health Card as well. Once you are definitely staying in Italy it may be worthwhile to register with the Italian Social Security as self-employed and then you will be getting the same benefits that Italians get. Also, keep in mind that within the EU Social Securityaccrued in any member state are transferable to your country of origin. Start thinking about retirement... it will hit you before you can realise it. Trust me! Regarding location, you will have to find where you really feel "at home". Keep in mind a few things. Italian cities are generally expensive. You will be able to find cheaper accomodation in smaller towns within a 30 minute drive radio.  Look for an area with good communication, preferably with a train station and an international airport, not subject to seasonality, within 100 km  distance. Check interner availability. Have a look at www.tim.it as they have good offers and cover. Best wishes! And do tell us how you go.

Ram, an interesting point, Italy's current government is actually unelected. Be warned, being self employed in Italy is a nightmare, high taxes, high costs and a beaureacratic nightmare. It is not like being a sole trader in the UK where it is incredibly easy. You need to register with loads of different bodies and get approval. Also register for IVA. The taxes in Italy are horrendous and the paperwork is never ending. Also if you are looking at southern Italy, internet availability is even less down there. If your work depends on your connection, check it out first.  

Thanks for your warnings on being self-employed in Italy Ram. I am also wondering how I will sort out my status in Italy. From March next year I should have residency and from the follwing September my son will start in the local scuola infanzia. Here in the UK I rent out my owned home and live in rented accomodation and will continue doing so when I move to Italy as this will provide a 'stable' income but i am also a free-lance classical musician and will be earning a little from this too. Probably mostly in the UK but hopefully also increasingly in Italy. I have been told by several people including my UK accountant that the taxes on the rental will simply stay within Uk and I'll be issued with some sort of paperwork that stops me being taxed twice but I am wondering how I'll sort out earning probably just a few thousand through musical earnings. Has any one else cracked this yet? I read somewhere that it is possible to seperate 'fiscal' and 'geographical' residency as it were - is that correct and what are the implications of that?

A tourist contract is technically a contratto transitorio and is valid up to 18 months.  You cant have residence in the same comune when you sign the contract, but there is nothing to stop you from transferring your residence after tha date.  If you renew the contract there is no problem.  Property should be furnished for a transitorio contract.  Before the recent law changes, the landlord didnt want you to take residence as the taxman would discover he was renting in nero.  Now with the contacts being registered, landlords arent so choosy.

Honestly, I wouldn't hold your breath about making an income in Italy, especially further down south. For example, unemployment in Naples runs at 35%. Souther Italy is one of the poorest areas in Europe. One of the reasons you get a lot of older pensioned types here is that they do not have to rely on the job market or the local economy and can afford to absorb the ever increasing prices in Italy. If you are able to carry on working for a company over the internet, hold on to that job for dear life!! Contrast this with France where you get a much larger cross section living of all ages from the struggling to the well heeled. The job market can be viewed if you live near the French border where literally thousand of Italian, every morning, flow into France and Monaco to go to work. They have the benefits there of higher wages and access to a far superior health system. If you want to get good, pro tax advice try Blevin Franks.

Agostino, my advice is to carefully study your possibilities and decide accordingly. There are thousands, I would even say millions of self-employed people in Italy. Perhaps, it requires a bit more effort to sort out the red tape than in some countries, but it is not as bad as it is portrayed by the self-appointed prophets of doom and gloom. Do a google search using the words self-employment Italy and you would find a lot of information. As for taxes, I would say that there are average for Europe, even if they have been increased because of the crisis, but this is what is happening everywhere. I have lived in several countries in Europe and I do know how much I was paying in France, not only in taxes but also in goods and services. Italy fares very well. Here you have some useful information http://www.worldwide-tax.com/italy/italy_tax.asp As I said before, you will have to find out for yourself, but try to ascertain the situation. Otherwise, you may be regretting not doing it for the rest of your life. Best wishes

Gala, I'm not sure when you were last in Italy, but It is mostly doom & gloom here, especially in the Bagni Di Lucca area, as the Comune is bust, there are more & more people without jobs, businesses are packing it in all over the place, and Tourism is down; add this to the increased prices of fuel, prescriptions, food etc and that makes it gloomy to me !! I know you want out as well as you've had your 'Water Mill' wink  for sale for years now; unfortunately for lots of others they do not have the luxury of being able to up sticks and pocket the cash. There are a lot of very poorly off people in this region and the attitude that you seem to hold seems to echo that of Snr Berlusconi who couldn't see a crisis even if it was pleasuring him orally.

All governments in italy are unelected! Since the porcellum, you cant even vote for your mp.  And then whatever happens in italy is always giverned by the vatican, so it will be interesting to see if M5S free us from that particular yoke.  

  How much of a tax burden would the Italians have if they didn't have such a large black economy then?? What 75%? Sounds ridiculous. I reckon that most of the 'black' money gets spent on consumer goods and basic necessities and therefore just becomes part of the big multiplier effect!! I'd give the 'dole scroungers' bigger benefits and get the economy growing ..spend spend spend, The resulting inflation would soon shrink the national debt Ho Ho!

Flip, I have been in Bagni in April-May and I know the situation. And we have not put our house for sale - very reluctantly I must say - not because we want to get out of Italy but because family commitments force us to go to the USA twice a year and we do not have enough time or energy to be everywhere. We will be back in Bagni in a few days and I am looking forward to it as I love the place, but my dear husband is not getting any younger and it takes us two days of travel to go from our home in Spain to Bagni. I have to be realistic. We have already withdrawn twice the house from the market and I think that, deep in our heart, we do not want to sell... 

Thanks for adding further clarification, and the additional replies have given some really useful information. For the person who raised language, you make a good point, and thankfully I have a good level of spoken Italian, I can follow TV and Radio and read to an adequate standard. But it is worth pointing out, as a few friends of mine have moved abroad, with the attitude 'they all speak English, don't they?' which really is a poor way of thinking.  I've changed my search criteria for a suitable location to include decent internet connection, which is something I had assumed beforehand would be readily available. Ideally my move will be in the middle of next year, once I finish a commitment here in the UK. Even if I end up coming back after my first attempt because 'things didn't work out', I know I will learn from my time in Italy. As someone mentioned, it needs to be tried, I don't want to look back and regret not making a go of it.

We are in the South - Northern Calabria - and the internet is awful!   TIM is 2G or nothing!  Rarely do you get a 3G connection and it takes ages to download the newspaper.   Vodafone is about the best (here) but even that is slow and poor. However, try contacting Francis at Woden (go for www.woden.com).  They are based in Birmingham... and Northern Calabria!   They will install satellite internet "with a UK ip address" because you are contracted to a UK company....  And with your IP phone (hard or soft) you can even have a UK landline number. Another alternative is the WiBe.  I'll let you read it on their website - not my choice but could be yours.  No. I'm not tied!   I also work remotely when in Italy (which is as often as possible) and this is my chosen solution.  And the prices are not outrageous (under £25 pcm gives me what I need)

I will certainly need a landline internet connection, how prevalent are cable internet services in Italy? Generally cable gives me better connections than via old fashioned phone lines. On the point of mobile internet, I was looking at smartphone tariffs from TIM and Vodafone yesterday, they are rubbish! Does no one offer unlimited mobile data in Italy? Would be nice to be able to use my phone or iPad, or my laptop with a dongle, without the old concerns of data limits. 

Flyingveepixie has hit the nail on the head - it's about getting as much information from others as you can before you move/decide to move. We've been visiting the area we're moving to for around 7 years now (in the beginning just once a year but several times now) and I feel like a sponge soaking up information from as many people as possible - both italians and ex pats. I think saying some of the advice here is pie in sky might be a tad harsh - people can only talk from their own personal experiences some of which will be fab and others awful.  I've had a mix of both - but boy am I learning fast - and knowing stuff for example about the DIY stores is really useful - however people will always have different views - so some people say the paint here is really awful and expensive - others say if you buy a certain brand it's thicker and you therefore need less and it will therefore be cheaper.....not having painted yet I coldn't tell you which is true from my experience!!!. Flyingveepixie some of the comments may seem more "positive" as they were in response to someone who was attempting to hijack the forum (as he has another forum) he has now left/been excluded from the forum he was having a rant about italy and putting post upon post of doom and gloom which have now been taken off.  He did have some valid points but they were often lost in the monologue - so people were trying to "counter" that perspective and create more of a balance And thanks for the heads up re the spades didn't know that - will add it to my ever growing list!!!!

I think alot of peoples experience of Italy depends on their attitude to life here. It is not the Uk .....surely the whole point of being here is because you want to live in Italy?. Its no good saying its not like this "at home"....for some this is your home now. It has its drawbacks, and frustrations as any country, but you wont get the most out of it if you are always comparing it with somewhere else. We have had our share of problems (the day the road collapsed....did we laugh!) but today picking our figs, grapes and almonds in the sunshine you are reminded of why you came here in the first place. This is just my observation not directed at any particular poster, La Dolcevita what you need is an Italian zapper...a long handled hoe/spade type thing......our neighbour gave us one of his...part of his lethal weapons of garden kit which he has had for years.

I agree with Angie, you cannot keep on comparing countries. Everyone is different It is up to us to enjoy it... or hate it and, in that case, my advice would be to move somewhere else. Living costs have increased in many countries which used to be quite cheap to live in. We have seen enormous changes in Europe in the past ten years.

Costly business joining this forum - so on my list to bring is now added a garden fork and spade (ours are knackered) and then when we arrive a zapper thing!  I'm just about to order some kids books and dvds to help with learning my italian and some adult movies (not those sorts).  Pales into insignificance though having just received an estimate over double what we were expecting for our renoovation!!!!

Proper Italian shovels are great. My OH swears by them as they have a long handle and don;t give you back ache. Never had one break but then that may depend where you buy them from. Forks are harder to find but you can buy them here where we are. Zappas are also really easy to use (again long-handled) and you can get hand ones for flower beds etc. Personally I've never had a problem with the paint here but then I had a listed cottage in the UK and bought lime paint anyway. The paint here contains a lot of lime and so behaves differently. If you are comparing it with the English washable and wipeable stuff then yes it is a) expensive and b) no washable or wipeable. If you are comparing it with Farrow and Ball or someone then it is a similar price (maybe a bit less) and just as good. If you want cheap paint, buy the big tubs of white from SELF or equivalent DIY store (last one I bought was €14 for 25 litres) and mix your own colours. You can buy the primary colours.

Just realised having merrily added spade/fork (which will now get from Lidl) and a zapper to my shopping list - but no blinkin land to use them on.................it will be a bit OTT for a terrace!!! 

Sorry about the rubbish title, blame Monday morning.  Just to report that I have ordered a burgon and ball fork and spade from Capital Gardens www.capitalgardens.co.uk and they ship to Italy. I'm awaiting shipping costs but since my plan was to buy and ship myself this seems an easier alternative.