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Visas, residence permits, and citizenship in Italy in 2024

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How to get a residence permits, residency and citizenship in Italy
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A common pathway towards migrating to Italy begins with obtaining a short- or long-term visa (type C or type D) that allows its holder to enter the country.

The applicant may then renew their residence permit over consecutive years, and obtain permanent residency after living in the country for five years.

Italian citizenship can ultimately be gained after living in Italy for ten years. 

Visas

Italy is a member of the Schengen Area, so visitors of certain nationalities must apply for a visa ahead of arrival.

Visa types by validity time

  • Type A Visa

This visa allows the holder to transit between terminals of an Italian airport, while restricting them from leaving the international zone of the airport. The validity period of a type A visa is 48 hours and only citizens of certain countries need this visa in order to transit through Italian airports.

  • Type B Visa

This was a transit visa that allowed the holder to stay in Italy for up to five days. However, the rules for such short-stay visas were revised when the EU visa code came into force in 2010. Travellers now have to apply for a type C visa in order to transit through Italy.

  • Type C Visa

This is a short-term visa for tourism or business that allows the holder to stay in Italy for up to 90 days in a given six month period. A type C visa may be single-entry, double-entry, or multiple-entry. A single-entry visa allows the holder to enter Italy once, whereas two entries are possible under a double-entry visa. A multiple-entry visa allows the holder to travel into the Schengen area an unlimited number of times.

  • Type D Visa

This is a long-term visa that allows the holder to live in the country for more than 90 days in a given six month period. This is a national visa intended for those who come to Italy for a long time and it permits holders to travel into other Schengen countries as well. A multiple-entry visa of this type may be extended beyond the initial time period granted.

Visa types by purpose

  • Tourist visa

This type C visa is issued to travellers who come to Italy for tourism or vacation, to undergo treatment at a health facility, to visit relatives and friends, or to take part in conferences and cultural or sporting events. A standard set of documents must be submitted in order to obtain a type C visa, including a bank account statement, proof of travel and hotel bookings, invitation to visit, or a purchase or lease agreement.

  • Business visa

This type C visa permits the holder to take part in business meetings and negotiations with foreign business partners, make supply or cooperation agreements, or participate in training sessions at production sites. The documents must be submitted along with an application that includes an excerpt from the companies registrar and an invitation from an Italian company.

  • Sport visa

This type C visa is issued to professional athletes to allow them to participate in international competitions.

  • Driver’s visa

This type C visa is requested by drivers who transport commercial cargo internationally via heavy-duty trucks,or  transport people by bus.

  • Transit visa

This type C visa is granted to sailors and cruise liner workers. It is also required for airport transit and to cross the Italian border when travelling to San Marino.

  • Family reunion visa

Both type C and type D visas are available for family reunions, permitting the holder to enter Italy and reach the domicile of a family member for the purpose of permanently residing together in Italy. An applicant for this visa type must submit documents proving their relationship, along with an invitation from an EU citizen. The holder of an Italian residence permit may also invite relatives but will have to obtain a special permit (nulla osta) from the Prefecture’s one-stop-shop Migration Service (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione).

  • Elective residence visa

This is a National Visa (type D visa) issued for long-term stay in Italy and requested by the applicants with a high passive income that allows them to live in a foreign country. A visa of this type does not permit the holder to work or carry on business in Italy.

The applicant must prove they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their family well into the future, out of income from the sale or lease of real estate, or interest on deposits, shares, notes, pension, etc. Employment income is excluded. The applicant is also required to buy or rent real estate for the long term in Italy.

The minimum income of the applicant must be EUR 31,000 per annum, and it must be 20% higher if the application is made for a spouse as well, This amount increases by another 5% for each dependent child included in the application. A foreigner applying for this visa must write a cover letter in English or Italian explaining why he or she wants to live in Italy for the long term.

  • Student visa

Students of private and public schools, colleges, and universities must obtain a type C or type D visa, depending on the duration of their education.

  • Work and Self-employment visas

A type C or type D visa is obtained for work, entrepreneurial activities, the launch of a start-up, or self-employment / freelancing. An applicant will need an invitation from the employer or business project and will have to prove they have sufficient funds. A special permit (nulla osta) must also be obtained from the Prefecture’s one-stop-shop Migration Service (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione).

  • Medical treatment visa

This type of visa is issued to applicants who need to undergo treatment at public or private hospitals in Italy. A medical treatment visa may be type C or type D, depending on the duration of the treatment.

  • Visa for religious reasons

This is a type C or type D visa available to members of the clergy, permitting them to take part in religious activities.

  • Volunteering visa

This is a type C or type D visa that is issued depending on the duration of the applicant’s volunteering work.

  • Re-entry visa

This type D visa is issued if the applicant’s residence permit expires, is lost, or stolen, or whose receipt for obtaining a permit to stay was not stamped at the border.

Residence permit

A residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) allows the holder to stay legally in Italy for over 90 days in a six month period. The residence permit is a plastic card with a chip that contains information about its holder.

A foreigner should first obtain a National Visa (type D visa) from the Consulate Office of Italy in their home country. A residence permit may then be obtained only after arriving in Italy. An application for a residence permit should be made within eight days of arrival. Depending on the reason for seeking residence, the application can either be made  at a local post office in Italy or at a police station (Questura) at the applicant’s place of stay. Following the submission of documents, biometrics screening and an interview at the Questura, the residence permit will be issued in about 60 days.

Note: Generally, an existing type D visa serves as the grounds for issuing a residence permit. This means that the application for a residence permit should give the same reason for stay as the applicant’s existing visa. The types of residence permits and type D visas also coincide.

Real estate. While owning real estate in Italy is not sufficient grounds for obtaining a residence permit,  it gives an applicant seeking any type of residence permit or long-term type D visa a substantial advantage. 

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Total area 250 m² 3 bedrooms

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Comfortable villa with a private garden, a swimming pool, a parking, a terrace and a Lake view, Tremezzo, Italy

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Taxes. If you live in Italy for more than 183 days in a year, you are considered to be an Italian tax resident. This means that you will be as tax liable as Italians, even if your income is derived from outside Italy.

Knowing Italian is not a requirement for obtaining or renewing a residence permit.

In order to have a permesso renewed or to live legally in Italy, foreigners must earn at least EUR 6,000 a year, which is the minimum amount needed for social security payments (assegno sociale). Another EUR 3,000 a year must be earned for each dependent family member. You can monitor the status of your permanent residence application on the Questure’s official website.

Grounds for temporary residence 

Investment (Investitori)

An investor and their family may obtain Italian residence permits in exchange for a substantial contribution to the country’s economy. As holders of an investor residence permit, they are entitled to work and carry on business in Italy. It takes 90-120 days to process applications for a residence permit of this type.

Investment options

  • €500,000 investment in innovative Italian start-ups,
  • €1,000,000 investment into the assets of Italian companies,
  • €2,000,000 investment in Italian government bonds,
  • €1,000,000 donation to important social projects in Italy.

All investments should be made for a time period of at least two years. The total invested amount must be channelled into the appropriate investment destination within three months of the investor’s arrival in Italy on an investor visa.

An investor residence permit is issued for a period of two years and may be renewed for another three years if the investment is maintained. Investors are not obligated to stay in the country for the entire time period, however, they should not leave Italy for more than 365 days. This residence permit allows the holder to apply for permanent residency after five years of residing in Italy. Citizenship may then be sought on general grounds after living in the country for ten years. Details about obtaining an investor residence permit and the online application process can be found on the official website of Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development.

Elective residence (residenza elettiva)

An elective residence visa can be obtained on the basis of purchasing real estate or entering into a long-term lease while receiving high passive income from outside of Italy. This residence permit does not grant holders the right to work, carry on business, or enjoy social security benefits in Italy.  

This is a route for financially independent applicants who have a stable income of at least €31,000 a year derived from rent, interest on deposits, securities, pension, etc. The applicant’s employment income is not taken into consideration. The income requirement is 20% higher for applicants seeking residence permits for spouses too. Another 5% is added to the qualifying income amount for each child included in the application.

Note: An elective residence permit does not entitle the holder to obtain permanent residency. This residence permit will need to be renewed regularly until the holder qualifies for citizenship.

Business migration or self-employment (lavoro autonomo)

Foreign proprietors setting up new businesses or looking to co-own existing entities in Italy must obtain a business residence permit. In order to carry on independent activity, the applicant must have the right to undertake professional activity in their chosen industry of commerce, trade, sports, arts, etc.

This type of residence permit requires the applicant to submit proof of financial capacity. The applicant must also obtain an official permit (nulla osta) from the Questura and confirm their place of residence  by leasing or buying real estate in Italy.

Employment or subordinate work (lavoro subordinato)

An employment residence permit is granted to an employee who enters into a work agreement with an employer in Italy. Such employees should obtain a quota, and their employer should have a permit to employ foreign employees (nulla osta).

The Italian Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Economy set the number of quotas for seasonal jobs and employment. A decree on the allocation of work quotas (Decreto flussi immigratori) is published in January every year and it specifies the maximum number of non-EU citizens that may come to Italy for employment.

Seasonal workers obtain residence permits for up to nine months. Work for a limited period of time (a tempo determinato) would require a residence permit issued for up to one year. Work for an unlimited period of time (a tempo indeterminato) would require a residence permit issued for up to two years.

EU blue card (carta blu UE)

This is a residence permit for highly qualified professionals that may be sought by senior management and employees of Italian companies and their family members. The applicant’s gross salary must be a minimum of €32,000 a year in order to be eligible.

The Carta Blu UE is a special migration document that entitles foreign professionals to live legally in the EU for a long period of time and it enables its holder to obtain a residence permit in Italy. See details about the programme on the Questura’s official website.

Work for particular professionals (lavoro casi particolari previsti)

Certain professionals are not subject to work quotas in Italy, such as senior managers and highly qualified professionals, university teachers and professors, scientific researchers, translators, officially accredited journalists, nurses, athletes, sailors, performers, dancers, artists, and musicians.

Waiting for occupation (attesa occupazione)

An out-of-work foreigner is entitled to a residence permit for the duration of their job search. Such applicants must register as unemployed with a competent municipal Job Centre and then apply to the Questura for a new residence permit. A residence permit issued on these grounds will be valid for one year and may not be renewed. A foreigner who fails to find a job or set up a new business in Italy over one year must leave the country.

Studies (studio)

This residence permit may be obtained for the purpose of studying in a school, college, university or any Italian language course, if the duration of such study does not exceed three months. A residence permit is issued for one year, but may be renewed for the duration of study. A student residence permit allows the holder to work in Italy for up to 20 hours a week. This permit is valid only for the duration of study and may then be replaced by a work residence permit and, in five years, a permanent residence. A residence permit of this type is the simplest to obtain.

Family reunification (recongiungimento famigliare)

Close relatives of an Italian citizen or residence permit holder may in turn obtain a residence permit for the purpose of family reunification. This permesso is issued for two years. The applicant must qualify as a second-degree relation, i.e., the one of a spouse, children or parents, in order to apply for this residence permit. An Italian resident inviting their relatives to the country must have their own or rented housing with suitable space and sufficient income to sustain their family. Qualifying family members must first obtain a Visa D to enter Italy and then apply for a residence permit. This type of residence permit allows the holder to work, carry on business, and study at a university in Italy.

Medical treatment (cure mediche)

Foreign patients may obtain a residence permit in order to undergo long-term treatment at a public or private clinic in Italy. Such applicants must submit a certificate proving their illness, a contract with a clinic and a bank statement. Applicants must also make a deposit for treatment amounting to 30% of the total cost.

Religion (motivi religiosi)

This residence permit is issued to foreigners who stay in Italy for the purpose of preaching or other missionary activity.

Political asylum and humanitarian protection (asilo politico, motivi umanitari)

This residence permit can be obtained by the refugees exposed to potential harm or persecution in their home country.

Documents needed to obtain a residence permit

  • Residency application,
  • Original and copy of passport with entry visa,
  • 4 photographs,
  • Documentary proof of the grounds for a residence permit,
  • State duty payment receipt,
  • Police clearance certificate,
  • Documentary proof of long-term residence in own or leased housing
  • Postage stamp (marca da bollo)

Permanent residency

One can apply for Italian permanent residence (permesso di soggiorno per soggiornanti di lungo periodo) after five years of legal residence in Italy. Permanent residents are allowed to leave the country for no more than six consecutive months in the five year period and no more than ten months in total.

Prerequisites for obtaining permanent residency

  • Live in Italy and have registered residence for five years.
  • Prove receipt of income sufficient to sustain the applicant and family,
  • Prove housing compliant with all the applicable regulations,
  • Pass an Italian language test at A2 level.

Italian permanent residency is essentially a limited permit that allows a foreigner to live in Italy and enjoy the same rights as Italian citizens, barring the right to vote. Permanent residents are permitted to live and work in the country, receive an education and seek medical help. See details about obtaining permanent residence on the Questura’s official website.

Important note: Permanent residency may become null and void if the holder is absent from the EU for 12 consecutive months or does not visit Italy for six years.

Documents needed to obtain permanent residency

  • Permanent residency application from the Questura,
  • Original passport and copy of all passport pages, 
  • Copy of existing residence permit (copia permesso di soggiorno),
  • Copy of tax code (copia codice fiscale),
  • Penal clearance certificates from the prosecutor’s office (Certificato casellario giudiziale and Certificato delle iscrizioni relative ai procedimenti penali),
  • Certificate of proper housing and public health compliance (Certificato di idoneità dell'alloggio, Ufficio Tecnico),
  • Certificate of family composition from the local council (Certificato stato di famiglia),
  • Certificate of registered residence for five years from the local council (Certificato di residenza storico),
  • A2-level Italian language certificate (Certificazione della lingua),
  • Tax returns for the last year (Dichiarazione dei redditi),
  • Bank statement showing account balance at the time of application (Copia del bilancino provvisorio d’attività). The amount must not be lower than the state security allowance (Importo annuo dell’assegno sociale) of €6,000 in 2020 for each applicant + 50% for each dependent family member.
  • Documentary proof of salary for the last year (CUD, Modello Unico or buste paga),
  • Police clearance certificate from home country,
  • A lease contract or certificate of ownership for housing in the name of the applicant or spouse.

All documents obtained from the applicant’s home country must be certified and translated into Italian.

Citizenship

A foreigner may obtain Italian citizenship after living in the country for over ten years. The applicant must prove B1-level knowledge of the Italian language, income for the last three years, housing, and clean criminal record. The minimum annual income for one applicant should be €8,300, and an additional €500 must be shown for each dependent.

Italy recognises dual citizenship, which means applicants need not renounce their previous citizenship when applying to become an Italian citizen. Italian citizenship grants the right to live and work in any EU country, to enter 188 countries without a visa, and to vote.

Applications for citizenship have been made online since 2015 and applicants need to register on the official website of Italy’s Ministry of the Interior. The process of gaining Italian citizenship takes 24 to 48 months.

Read comprehensive information about the grounds to obtain Italian citizenship and the required documents on the official website of Italy’s Ministry of the Interior.

Grounds for Italian citizenship 

Natural “blood” relation

The right of blood (Lat. ius sanguinis) is a key principle by which a child gains Italian citizenship. This means that if a parent is an Italian citizen, their child will automatically be granted citizenship irrespective of the child’s place of birth.

Birth in the country

The right of land (Lat. ius soli) applies only to specific cases in Italy. Citizenship is granted by virtue of being born in Italy to children whose parents are unknown or stateless.

Marriage

A foreigner marrying a citizen of Italy may apply for Italian citizenship after living together for two years in the country, or after 3 years of marriage if the couple lives abroad. These time limits will be halved, i.e., one year and a year and a half respectively, if children are born during the marriage.

Adoption

A foreign child adopted by Italian parents also obtains citizenship in Italy.

Long stay

Citizenship on the grounds of permanent stay (residenza anagrafica) in Italy is granted in certain cases to the following persons:

  • Non-EU citizens legally residing in Italy for at least ten years (provided their criminal record is clean and they have a source of income),
  • Foreign citizens born in Italy and living in the country for at least three years,
  • Foreign citizens who are the child or grandchild of former Italian citizens by birth, and have lived in the country for at least three years,
  • Foreign full-aged citizens adopted by Italian parents, who have lived in Italy for at least five years after adoption,
  • Foreigners working for Italian public authorities (in Italy or abroad) for at least five years,
  • EU citizens who have legally lived in Italy for at least four years,
  • Refugees or stateless persons who have legally lived in Italy for at least five years.

Documents needed to obtain citizenship 

  • Italian citizenship application,
  • Original and copy of birth certificate,
  • Home-country passport,
  • Copies of all pages in existing passport,
  • Original and copy of existing residence permit (titolo di soggiorno),
  • Police clearance certificate from home country,
  • General penal clearance certificate from Italian tribunal (Certificato generale del casellario giudiziale italiano),
  • Certificate of no criminal prosecution and clean criminal record (Certificato dei carichi pendenti),
  • Income disclosure statement for the last three years (Modello CU, Unico or Modello 730),
  • Certificate of registered residence that states all residential addresses since entering Italy (Certificato storico di residenza),
  • Certificate of family composition (Stato di famiglia),
  • B1-level Italian language certificate (Certificazione della lingua),
  • Postage stamp (marca da bollo),
  • State duty payment receipt for €250.

All documents obtained in the home country must be apostilled and translated into Italian. Once the authorities grant Italian citizenship, the foreign applicant must take an oath at the competent municipality at their place of residence within six months.

More reads

FAQ about residence permits and citizenship in Italy

How to apply for Italian citizenship by marriage?

The spouse of an Italian citizen has the right to apply for Italian citizenship if the spouse has lived in a legal marriage in the country for two years. 

In case of residence in another country, the period is extended to three years. The presence of children in the family, including adopted children, reduces the period by half.

After how many years of the official residence in Italy can I apply for citizenship?

In Italy, the application deadlines depend directly on the country of the foreign national:

  • For non-EU countries  - at least 10 years;
  • For foreigners from European Union countries - 4 years;
  • Stateless persons and political asylum seekers - 5 years;
  • Adopted adults - 5 years from the date of adoption.
When is a foreigner refused a residence permit?
  • A citizen is in direct danger to public order, including at the state level;
  • A foreigner is subject to legal proceedings which have not yet been completed;
  • Accusation of one of the crimes specified in points 1 and 2 of the Uniform Immigration Act (drug trafficking, prostitution, use of minors' labour);
  • A charge of copyright infringement (with a final verdict);
  • No proof of source of income;
  • An applicant has no place to live in Italy (no bought or rented property);
  • The reason to stay in the country for a long time has not been proved;
Documents for obtaining an Italian residence permit

A foreigner planning to obtain an Italian residence permit must submit the following documents:

  • Residency application;
  • Original and copy of passport with entry visa;
  • 4 photographs;
  • Documentary proof of the grounds for a residence permit;
  • State duty payment receipt;
  • Police clearance certificate;
  • Documentary proof of long-term residence in own or leased housing;
  • Postage stamp (marca da bollo).
Cost of residence permit registration in Italy

The prices for residence permits in Italy are as follows in 2020:

  • €40 for documents valid up to 1 year;
  • €50 for 1 to 2 years;
  • €100 for residents planning to stay in Italy on a long-term basis.

Additional costs for a residence permit may include (payment is mandatory):

  • €30.46 for the issuance of a residence permit copy on electronic medium;
  • €30 for postal services;
  • €16 - stamp duty.
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    Property buying guide for Italy
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