Visas & Immigration

Work permits and visas in Italy

Are the Italian people, food, and sunshine tempting you to stay? Find out how to apply for a work visa in Italy, including the requirements, application, and costs.

Italy work visa
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By Gary Buswell

Updated 5-4-2024

From investor and startup visas to business and research visas, there are many possibilities for internationals to set up shop in Italy. However, as with most European Union (EU) member states, you might need a visa or residence permit before moving to the country for a longer period of time.

Learn all there is to know about work visas in Italy, including the requirements and how to apply, by reading the following sections:

Working in Italy

Business is booming in Italy, with tourism, fashion, vehicle manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals among its biggest industries.

The country presents an attractive workplace for internationals lured to its shores by the rich cultural history, warm climate, world-famous cuisine, and cosmopolitan cities such as Rome (Roma) and Milan (Milano).

Aerial view of the landscape in the Franciacorta region of the Lombardy district, Italy.
Franciacorta, Italy (Photo: Michele Rossetti/Getty Images)

Italy’s economy offers reasonable living costs, good universities, and a decent work-life balance. The average net-adjusted disposable income is $29,431 a year, and in 2022, there was a projected unemployment rate of 8.8%.

Similar to other countries in the EU and European Free Trade Association (EFTA – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland), Italy has a two-tier immigration system. This means citizens from within those regions can come and work without restriction. Foreign nationals from outside that area (i.e., third countries) usually need a visa and residence permit.

In 2022, there were over 5 million expats in Italy. This represented 8.8% of the overall population and around 10% of the country’s workforce.

The Italian Ministry of the Interior (Ministero dell’ Interno) is responsible for all visas and permits, including work visas.

Who needs a work visa for Italy?

EU/EFTA nationals

Citizens from the EU/EFTA region don’t require a visa or residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) to work or live in Italy. If staying for more than three months, they only need to enter the civil registry (anagrafica) with the local municipality (comune) .

Other requirements include:

Non-EU/EFTA citizens

In general, third-country nationals from outside the EU/EFTA area need a visa and residence permit to come to Italy. That said, there are some exceptions.

Craftsperson at a work bench concentrating on sanding the back of a violin.
Photo: nautiluz56/Getty Images

Citizens from just over 60 countries – including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, the UK, Ukraine, and the US – can travel to Italy without a visa for a maximum of 90 days. If you extend your stay, you must apply for a work visa and residence permit.

You can check the exact requirements on the government visa portal.

UK nationals since Brexit

Following Brexit, United Kingdom (UK) nationals have become third-country nationals. That means that from 1 January 2021 onwards, they too are subject to immigration controls in Italy and other member states.

The UK is among the list of over 60 exceptions that can enter the country without a visa for up to 90 days. However, if you want to relocate to Italy for long-term work purposes, you will need a visa and residence permit.

If you have been living in Italy before 1 January 2021, you can benefit from the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. This gives you broadly the same rights as EU/EFTA residents, meaning you do not need a visa to work there.

You can find more information on the UK government website.

Types of Italian work visas

The length of your stay in Italy determines the type of visa. You can either apply for a:

  • Short-stay visa: also known as a Schengen type C visa, for visits that last up to 90 days within any 180-day period
  • Long-stay visa: also known as a Schengen type D visa, for stays that last longer than 90 days (i.e., three months)

Depending on the type of job, you can apply for the following short-stay work visas:

  • Business visa
  • Research visa
  • Salaried-employment visa
  • Salaried-employment – Entertainment field (artists)
  • Salaried-employment – Sports activities
  • Self-employment visa
  • Self-employment – Entertainment field (artists)
  • Sports competition visa
  • Transport visa
Man blowing fire in front of a circus tent.
Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

There are also several long-stay work visas available, including:

  • EU Blue card
  • Investor visa
  • Research visa
  • Salaried-employment visa
  • Salaried-employment – Entertainment field (artists)
  • Salaried-employment – Maritime
  • Salaried-employment – Sports activities
  • Seasonal work visa
  • Self-employment visa
  • Startup visa
  • Voluntary work visa (European Voluntary Service)
  • Voluntary work visa (national quotas)
  • Working holiday visa

Short-stay work visas in Italy

Business visa

The business visa covers the following:

  • All business meetings
  • Seminars
  • Recruitment trips
  • Training
  • Short-term work postings of both salaried employees and self-employed freelancers

Required documents for the application include:

  • A cover letter
  • A letter from your organization demonstrating their status as financial-commercial operators
  • A letter of invitation from a registered Italian company or organization, as well as their business license (Visura Camerale)
  • Proof of sponsorship and/or accommodation, along with the host’s ID if it is signed
  • Proof of income during the last three months (e.g., a personal bank statement)

Research visa

Third-country nationals who travel to Italy to conduct scientific research can apply for a research visa.

Young man with cool haircut studying his notes while sat at a table in a coffee shop.
Photo: Eugenio Marongiu/Getty Images

To qualify, you must provide a short-stay hosting agreement (convenzione di accoglienza) from an Italian-accredited University or Research Institute. This document needs to specify your program activity, salary, and insurance.

Salaried-employment visas

If you travel to Italy for a job with an employer, you can apply for a salaried-employment visa. Subcategories of this visa are available for those in entertainment (artists) or sports (athletes). If you are in Italy to compete, you can apply for a sports competition visa.

Documents required for this visa include:

Self-employment visas

Freelancers whose work benefits the Italian economy must apply for a self-employment visa. A subcategory visa is available for those in the entertainment industry (artists).

Requirements include:

Sports competition visa

The sports competition visa is given to professional athletes competing in a game. For the application, you must provide an invitation letter from either:

  • CONI
  • The relevant Italian Sports Federation
  • The organizers of the sporting event

Transport visa

If your transport of people or goods is not mentioned under the 1944 Chicago Convention, you can apply for a transport visa.

High angle view of a train exiting a mountain tunnel, driving on a bridge in Maratea, Italy.
Maratea, Italy (Photo: Giancarlo Scolari / EyeEm/Getty Images)

Required documents include:

  • Proof of employment (e.g., your aircrew member ID)
  • Evidence of the purpose of your visit

Italian long-stay work visas

EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is a combination of a work visa and a residence permit. It is available to high-skilled salaried employees (i.e., not to freelancers) and their families. If you have an EU Blue Card from another EU member state, you do not need an entry visa to move to Italy.

To qualify for an Italian EU Blue Card, you must:

  • Have gained higher professional qualifications through at least:
    • Three years of higher education (or 180 credits in total)
    • Five years of relevant work experience
  • Have a work contract for at least one year
  • Have an income of at least 1.2 times the national average
  • Meet the legal requirements for regulated professions
  • Meet other general conditions for entering the country

The visa is valid for two years when you have an open-ended contract, and three months past the end date of fixed-term contracts. You can renew the EU Blue Card for up to five years.

Investor visa

Also known as the Golden Visa, the investor visa is available to individuals willing to donate at least €500,000 to Italian businesses or the Italian economy (or at least €250,000 to a startup). The visa is valid for two years and renewable for up to five years.

Research visa

Third-country nationals who conduct scientific research at an Italian educational or professional institution can apply for a research visa.

Three women with headscarves studying at home, one is working on a laptop.
Photo: FilippoBacci/Getty Images

This visa is valid for the duration of your position.

Salaried-employment visa

If you are traveling to Italy for long-term work with an employer, you can apply for a salaried-employment visa. There are four subcategories of this visa:

These visas are usually valid for two years but renewable for up to five years.

The main requirement is having a job offer or employment contract. Your (future) employer must apply for entry clearance for work purposes (nulla osta al lavoro) from the SUI. It should be issued within 40 days but it often takes longer. After that, you have six months to apply for a visa.

Seasonal work visa

The Italian government allows seasonal workers to come to Italy for agricultural or seasonal work. They announce the number of available positions in the quota decree (decreto flussi) annually.

After that, Italian employers will apply for a seasonal work visa on their employees’ behalf. The visa will be valid between six months and two years and is non-renewable.

Self-employment visa

Freelancers can travel to Italy on a self-employment visa. Your job must benefit the Italian economy, for example, if you want to start a business or are a business owner looking to expand to Italy.

This visa is valid for up to two years but renewable for up to five years.

Startup visa

Anyone with an innovative startup idea and €50,000 in funding can start a business with the Italy Startup visa. EU citizens can apply from abroad, but non-EU/EFTA nationals must submit their application from within the Italian borders.

Three people in a loft, one is wearing VR goggles, while the other two are looking at him.
Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

Required documents include:

  • Completed application form
  • Presentation deck
  • Business plan
  • Cover letter

You’ll initially get a one-year self-employment visa. Depending on your business growth, you can get a new self-employment visa valid for two years.

Voluntary work visa

Volunteers for an EU program can apply for a voluntary work visa (European Voluntary Service). If your volunteer role is with a program that benefits Italy, you can apply for a voluntary work visa (national quotas).

Both visas are valid for up to a year.

Working holiday visa

If you are between 18 and 30 and want to travel and work throughout Italy, you can apply for a working holiday visa. This Youth Exchange program is available to certain nationalities only. It allows you to travel for three months and work for nine months.

The visa is valid for one year and is non-renewable.

The Italian visa application process

Short-stay visa requirements

Required documents for short-stay work visas include:

  • Valid passport or ID that expires at least three months beyond your departure date
  • Completed short-stay visa application form
  • Proof of accommodation (e.g., hotel reservation)
  • Proof of a booked return flight
  • Any other relevant documents related to your visit

Long-stay visa requirements

The long-stay visa requires you to provide:

Child hugging their mother, while she is working on a laptop.
Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

For EU Blue Card applications, you also need a job offer that requires you to have professional qualifications listed as level 1–3 in the ISTAT occupation classifications.

After arriving in Italy, you have eight days to apply for a residence permit. These are mandatory for non-EU/EFTA citizens. Depending on your visa type, you can get a residence permit from:

How to apply

You can apply for this work visa for Italy at any of the following:

During the application, you must provide:

Applications are typically processed within 15 days but can take up to 60 days. It is, therefore, important to apply in advance.

Visa costs

The standard cost of a short-stay work visa is €80. Citizens from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia pay only €35.

Two scientists examining a smoking volcano in Italy.
Photo: David Trood/Getty Images

Some groups can get a visa free of charge, including:

  • Family members of EU/EEA nationals (European Economic Area – Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway)
  • Researchers carrying out a scientific study
  • Selected holders of diplomatic, official, or service passports traveling for official purposes
  • Teachers on a school or study trip

Italian long-stay work visas cost €116.

Work permits in Italy

To get a work permit, your employer can apply for entry clearance for work purposes at the SUI. They will need to provide:

  • Your personal details
  • Copy of the employment contract or the terms of employment
  • Company/organization details (e.g., name, address, legal status, Chamber of Commerce number)

In theory, it takes up to 40 days to process, but it can often take longer. After it’s been issued, you have six months to apply for your work visa.

Italian work visas for students

Foreign students in Italy don’t need a separate visa to work part-time, as their study visa includes a work permit. However, keep in mind that you are limited to a maximum of 1,040 hours per year (around 20 hours per week).

If you have graduated and are looking for work, your future employer must apply for a work permit.

Work visas for family members in Italy

Foreign nationals with a residence permit for at least one year can invite selected relatives to join them in Italy on a family visa.

Young mother smiling lovingly at the toddler in her arms, with the old town of Ostuni (Italy) in the background.
Ostuni, Italy (Photo: Oscar Wong/Getty Images)

Eligible family members include:

  • Spouse/registered partner
  • Minor children under the age of 18
  • Dependent children over the age of 18
  • Dependent parents aged over 65

Your relative’s visa is usually valid for the same duration as yours. They must apply for a separate residence permit within eight days of arrival.

Their residence permit also includes the right to work if your employer has notified the SUI during your work permit application. Your family member may also do freelance work after getting the proper authorization from the ANPAL.

Appeals and complaints

If your Italian work visa is denied, you would receive the decision with the reason for the refusal in your native language. Failing that, the letter will at least be in English, French, Spanish, or Arabic. You can then submit additional documents and request your local embassy or consulate to reconsider.

If the decision stays the same, you have 60 days to take the case to the Regional Administrative Court (Tribunali Amministrativi Regionali – TAR). However, this can be expensive as you usually have to pay legal fees.

Useful resources