Italy Plans to Introduce Digital Nomad Visa

Thu, 05/26/2022 - 08:21
Digital nomad in Italy

Picture yourself working remotely from anywhere in Italy you’d like — from a hilltop town in Tuscany, an apartment in Venice overlooking a picturesque canal, or near the beach in Puglia.

If you belong to the growing number of workers who define themselves as digital nomads, that fantasy may soon become reality as Italy has plans to introduce a digital nomad visa that would allow remote workers to live and work legally in il bel paese for up to a year.   

With the rise of remote work, a phenomenon that’s been accelerated by the pandemic, many countries in Europe have already launched digital nomad visas (among them Spain, Portugal, Germany, France, Croatia, and Greece), with the goal to attract talented and highly-qualified workers who can contribute to the national economy. 

Italy has decided to follow suit by making it easier for non-EU citizens to enter the country to work. The digital nomad visa would be available for “highly qualified” non-EU workers who are able to work remotely “as independent workers or for a foreign company.” They could also be hired by Italian companies. 

A work in progress

The visa, which has not been implemented yet, would last for a year and workers would have to purchase health insurance and comply with Italian tax and social security regulations. The biggest change introduced by the law is that it is no longer necessary to submit a request for work authorization, or the so-called “nulla osta,” which involves a complicated and lengthy process and often requires the help of a lawyer and, as of right now, is the only way non-EU citizens can enter Italy to work.

The Italian government has not yet specified the requirements needed to apply for the digital nomad visa, including which professional categories will be considered “digital nomads” and what income requirements they’ll need to meet. 

In addition to the introduction of the digital nomad visa, the government of Italy has recently announced that it plans to make a €1 billion investment in order to attract digital nomads to work remotely from Italy’s smaller, sparsely populated villages. The funds would be used to improve the hamlets and cover the installation of super-fast internet.

Digital nirvana

Thanks to the beauty of its natural landscapes, its artistic riches, vibrant social life, food and wine culture and overall laid-back, fun-loving attitude, Italy should not have any difficulty attracting remote workers. And the population of digital nomads no longer includes just freelance creatives, but also yoga teachers and fitness coaches who teach exclusively online, marketing professionals, computer scientists and programmers, and anyone who is able to work online.

We asked three remote workers who have been living and working in Italy for some time what makes Italy an attractive option for working remotely — and what doesn’t. Below are their answers. 

Sammi DiBacco

Senior Marketing Manager at Italy Magazine & Wandrian

Originally from Chicago, currently based in Rome

Why is Italy a good place to be a digital nomad? What makes it an attractive option for working remotely?

Italy is an incredible place to be a digital nomad because it's Italy! It's beautiful, the food is fantastic, and the Mediterranean climate is incredible. It's so easy to travel around the country and, with one destination being more beautiful than the next, it makes the perfect home base for travel lovers. All that aside, the Italian lifestyle is what I really connected with when I came for the first time and it's what I sought out when I decided to move here permanently. Italy puts such a strong emphasis on socialization and work-life balance. The priority for Italians is making time for friends and family by sharing meals, having an aperitivo or coffee, and going on strolls through the city center or parks — as long as you're spending time with your loved ones, it's time well spent. Also, as an added bonus, Italy is a super dog-friendly country — my sidekick can join me everywhere!

Are there aspects that make it challenging to live here as a digital nomad, if so what are they?

There are universal challenges that come with moving away from home — even if that’s to a different state in the U.S., such as making friends as an adult or finding a partner. When you decide to move to Italy, you have to add in the layer of a foreign language; the beautiful but complicated Italian language is an ongoing labor of love for me. I was fortunate as a dual-citizen to have leap-frogged quite a bit of the notorious Italian bureaucracy, but I have still had my run-ins over more than five years living here; will my tessera sanitaria (health insurance card) ever show up in the mail or will I use the printed paper copy they gave me until it expires? Probably the latter. On the day-to-day, I would say the most challenging part of living in Italy is that there aren't many working cafes like there are in the U.S. They are slowly popping up, but still not quite on a comparable scale. This can be difficult because I work from home 90 percent of the time, which can be a bit isolating. Luckily I have my dog, Spritz, to keep me company!

Scott Allen Wilson

Travel Photographer / Online Technical Support & Analysis 

Originally from Long Beach, California, currently based in Florence 

Why is Italy a good place to be a digital nomad? What makes it an attractive option for working remotely?

Italy is a great place to live, especially for digital nomads who can work remotely. The quality of life offered, combined with the ease of travel within most of the country via train, as well as a variety of accessible airports to travel to other European cities, makes Italy a highly sought-after destination. Most people that move here aren’t fluent in the language when they arrive, and getting a work visa can be a challenge. In addition, if you do get a work visa, the wages offered often aren’t as high as you were probably expecting — the norm then being possibly holding several jobs and likely sharing an apartment with several people. I’ve personally been lucky enough to work both as a professional travel photographer, while simultaneously “living that digital nomad life” by providing remote online support and analysis for American companies, both in the travel sector and to information businesses.

Are there aspects that make it challenging to live here as a digital nomad, if so what are they?

It’s worth noting that some Italian cities can be more challenging to work in if you’re looking for co-working spaces and cafes. I think that widely available (and reliable) high-speed internet is a definite pain point that we all deal with, or have certainly dealt with in the past. Fiberoptic connections, while available in Italy, still pale in comparison in terms of availability and speed to other countries like the U.S. I live in the historical center of Florence, as an example, and have 30mbps download and 2mbps upload. I sometimes have several video meetings per day, and these speeds can often cause delays and unstable connections. If you can get your hands on a fiberoptic connection, then you’re likely golden, but if you’re planning on a living in a place where this isn’t available yet, then this is something to expect.

All-in-all the pros definitely out-weigh the cons when thinking about living life here as a digital nomad. I’ve lived here for about 10 years and I’d definitely do it all over again if I could.

Nikki Taylor

CEO & Founder, Italy Property Consulting

Originally from Perth, Australia, currently based in Martina Franca (Puglia) 

Why is Italy a good place to be a digital nomad/what makes it an attractive option for working remotely?

What is not to love about Italy? I mean, if you could choose the possibility of being stuck in an office or having the freedom to be location free and working wherever you like, there is no better place than Italy. Imagine working with your laptop by the beach, or in a cafe in the middle of the piazza watching the world go by......there is honestly no better place I would rather be. I have been super fortunate to be working for myself here in Italy and having the flexibility to design my days has not only given me so much more freedom but also dramatically helped my mental health. Working full time in corporate before I moved to Italy resulted in the classic burnout situation and had a huge impact on my mental and physical health. I am so grateful to live in a country like Italy where we are surrounded by such beauty. Being able to connect to a wifi wherever I am and get my work done, without sitting in an office, is the ultimate in freedom for me. 

Are there aspects that make it challenging to live here as a digital nomad, if so what are they? 

I would say the only thing that was challenging as a digital nomad was when the pandemic first hit, everyone was working from home at the same time and the wifi connection was not stable and continuously interrupted. I do a lot of meetings via Zoom and it was difficult as it kept cutting out. That was really the only time for me that I found a challenge. 

Follow Italy Magazine for updates on the digital nomad visa.