Another alternative for moving to Italy is to take advantage of the Italian Elective Residency Visa. This is the ideal option if you are looking to move to Italy when you retire, or if you have been living comfortably, relaxed, and letting your business do its thing. The key thing about this visa is its requirement of Passive Income.
So let’s see what you need!
Requirements for the Elective Residency Visa:
Just a note to be safe- always bring the Original and at least 4 COLOR copies, the Italians love copies. Also, make sure things are signed in blue to prove it is really signed.
1) Your US (or wherever) Passport, and it must be valid for another 3 months at least. Plus two passport-sized photos for the visa
2) A National Visa Application form- check with your nearest consulate for this, fairly simple to fill out but don’t sign it until you are in front of the consulate!
3) A letter where you specify the reason for his/her stay in Italy, length of stay, place of residence in Italy, name of persons accompanying you such as spouse and children. The signature on the letter must be notarized.
Right so this is where it might get a little confusing- You will already need a place to live in Italy before even applying for the visa, but actually getting a legal contract without having residency proves to be EXTREMELY DIFFICULT. (Even with a permesso di soggiorno, landlords have occasionally been hesitant about renting to me).
You will specifically need documentation regarding residence in the city where you will live. This must be a signed rental agreement, which qualifies under Italian rental regulations, ownership of a livable home in Italy. Unfortunately, multiple bookings for houses/hotels and third-party offers of hospitality are not accepted.
So where should you start? If you aren’t buying right away, get in touch with some vacation rentals or other ex-pats via various Living in Italy FB groups, and see if someone will offer you a longer lease to start, this crowd will usually be more supportive than trying to contact Italian agencies or landlords from abroad.
4) Documented guarantee of substantial and steady finances. What does this include?
-Letters from all your banks stating currently available funds. The type of account, the account balance, and steady monthly earnings. The rules are vague saying these must be “more than substantial” so consider having a few years of living expenses, a few tens or hundred of thousands of dollars. They also need to show proof of generating revenues.
– Documents from other sources that bring you financial income. Example: Social Security or other types of pension, property ownership and rental agreements, business ownership, and the related revenue documentation.
A single applicant must have a monthly income of a minimum Euro 2,596.60 (This has to be passive, it cannot be from a remote job, but rather owning a business that you don’t actually manage, or rental, etc). This increases by 20% for a couple, and an extra 5% for every child.
5) If you bring along your spouse or children you will need the marriage certificates and birth certificates.
6) Usually there is a handling fee, check with your closest consulate for the details and payment methods.
Different consulates provide different rules- you may also be asked for a certified background check proving no past criminal offences, and private health insurance to cover you in Italy.
The Process of getting an Elective Residency Visa
As you can see from above there are a few hoops you need to jump through to get this visa. The first thing you should do is check all your finances to see if you qualify. Make sure that you have plenty of savings, and that monthly you are receiving plenty, and that those streams of income do not risk being shut off or inaccessible if you move. Can you afford to make the jump? Ok great then on to the next step: a house.
Ideally, I think it is everyone’s dream to buy a house and retire in Italy, this sure can be hard from abroad. You may have to take a few trips first, or run the risk and buy a house online as many more are doing these days.
As I haven’t even looked at buying, i can’t give great advice about this but can promise there are plenty great Facebook groups and here are some other resources you might find helpful:
Once you have those two things sorted, make an appointment with your consulate. Depending on the consulate there may be a very long waiting list. So set your rental in Italy for a year out, and keep checking for appointments daily. Once you have the appointment, gather everything and head on over. After this they have 90 days to review your application.
Rules of Living in Italy under an Elective Residency Visa
As soon as you move to Italy, you need to apply for the Permesso di Soggiorno within 8 days. Grab your permesso kit at the post office and follow the instructions in there. You will probably have to renew this every two years.
Once you have your permesso and your residency sorted out you can apply for the national healthcare. You will have to pay for the healthcare yearly, from my understanding it should equate to 7.5% of your annual income.
Living in Italy with this type of permesso does not allow you to work or study. You cannot work remotely, you cannot work for a company abroad, you cannot accept work from an Italian company. Also, remember if you come from the
US, UK, or Australia, your driver’s license will only be valid one year and you will need to try for the Italian one after that.
Under this PdS you can also apply for the long term carta di soggiorno after 5 years in Italy, and citizenship after 10. You will need all your tax return documents for the years you resided in Italy.
As for taxes, if you live in Italy less than 183 days of the year you don’t have to pay taxes, however, I strongly recommend finding a professional accountant and/or tax attorney specialized in Italian & expat taxes in order to make sure you file everything correctly.