Looking at starting a business in Italy as a foreigner? Request a work visa

Foreign citizens who wish to start a business in Italy are required to hold a residence permit for self-employment; this is true for individual entrepreneurs as well as for managing partners within corporations or partnerships. Foreigners are to be considered those who come from countries that are not part of the EU, and countries which have not signed recognition agreements with Italy. Extra-EU citizens are those from Vatican City, Andorra and the Principality of Monaco, as well as stateless persons.

The ‘nulla osta’ authorization

Although cryptocurrency is one of the most popular investments in the world and is earned without leaving one’s home, there is plenty of non-EU citizens who choose to stay in Italy and start there their own business. In order to do this, they can apply to the police headquarters in Italy (Questura) for a residence permit for self-employment. To this purpose, it is necessary to possess a ‘nulla osta’ authorization and obtain a certification of economic capacity parameters to carry out the specific activity. Such a document is provided by the Chamber of Commerce and certifies the minimum amount of financial availability for the exercise of a self-employed activity, also for foreigners who work as cooperative partners or within different types of companies that have existed for no less than three years. International Law Firm Damiani&Damiani, offering legal advice for starting a business in Italy as a foreigner, informs that it is the Chamber of Commerce that issues the document whenever the activity to be carried out by the non-EU citizen has an entrepreneurial nature.

The Chamber of Commerce

The competence for granting the certification of financial capacity is always held by the Chamber of Commerce for all activities that can be registered in the Business Register. However, the Chamber of Commerce is not in charge to ascertain the actual possession of economic resources or to issue the document to foreigners, whether they be freelancers or consultants who wish to hold corporate positions within companies that are already active in our country. The Ministerial Decree of Foreign Affairs of 11 May 2011, updated the parameters at point 7 of Annex A of Article 2. Said decree specifies that the amount certified in the parameters must be not less than the sum of the capitalization of the monthly amount of the annual social allowance, multiplied by three.

What is needed for the application

What is then the procedure a foreign citizen wishing to open a business in Italy should follow? First of all, it is necessary to fill in an application form for the nulla osta, with the certification of financial capacity, both in Italian and in English. Moreover, non-EU citizens must provide a copy of the power of attorney through which they’ve given mandate to the prosecutor to manage their interests; in case the power of attorney is stipulated in a foreign language, a sworn translation must also be attached. Two 16 EUR revenue stamps must be enclosed, as well as a copy of the valid residence permit – if the applicant is staying in our country – and a copy of their passport.

The business start-up procedure

The residence permit necessary to start a self-employment activity in Italy – whether it be for administrative positions in operating companies, legal representative roles in foreign companies, director roles of joint-stock companies, partnerships or sole proprietorships – can be released for subordinate work, self-employment, pending employment, humanitarian reasons or family reasons.

The residence permit requirement does not apply to citizens of member states of the EEA (Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland, in addition to EU member states) and of states that are part of the EFTA (San Marino, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland).

How to proceed

Foreign citizens who hold a valid residence permit must attach a copy of said permit when submitting the online application to the Business Register, even when taking up an administrative role in an already operating company. Should the interested subject hold a residence permit about to be renewed, the file can be submitted to the Business Register, along with a copy of the expiring residence permit and the slip of the registered letter sent upon filing of the renewal request to the Administrative Services Center in Rome.

Should the file not be complete and not appear as such on the Immigration Portal, the registration in the Business Register is suspended until the regularization is completed.

The Immigration Portal

The Immigration Portal oversees all residence permits renewal and issue procedures; it reports to the Ministry of Interior, and in addition to receiving several types of requests, it also provides information on the facilities and institutions located in the area of reference.

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