4 steps for setting up work and self-employment in Italy

Getting Around By David Plaisant Jan 14, 2020

This article was created in partnership with Western Union.

Finding work or starting your own business can be tough if you’re new to an area. When migrants arrive in Italy, they have to navigate cultural differences, learn local business and working regulations and find contacts in the industry they’re interested in. But those who take steps before they arrive in Italy can set themselves up for employment or self-employment success. Here are four steps to consider when moving to Italy for work that can help you secure your finances and gain peace of mind.

1. Secure your visa

Before you move, determine whether you’ll need a visa to work in Italy. Because Italy is a member of the European Union (EU), you won’t need a permit to live or work there if you come from another EU country, listed on the EU website.

If you’re coming from outside the EU, however, you’ll need a work visa, which will often require you to have already secured a job in Italy before applying. For many migrants who work part-time, for a fixed term or seasonally in sectors such as caregiving, work permits will typically be organised by an employer. In other industries, employers will usually help organise your work permit with the immigration department of the Ministry of Interior. If you’re planning to start your own business, you’ll need to obtain your own visa documentation and application and obtain authorisation from an administrative authority to be self-employed in Italy. Your application documents should be sent to your local embassy or consulate for you to pick up prior to your arrival in Italy.

It’s worth checking the EU Immigration Portal, which can give you instructions on how to apply for a visa, how to obtain authorisation for self-employment and how to understand your rights as a migrant worker.

2. Establish residency

Once you have your work visa, you’ll need to register yourself within eight days of arrival. To register, you’ll need to go to the Prefettura nearest your place of work where all your personal and employment data will be verified. You’ll most likely need to go back for a second appointment to have your fingerprints and photo taken before you receive your residence permit. You will also receive your “codice fiscale” (fiscal code), which is used for tax registration.

3. Set yourself up financially

Once you have your work and residence permits, you’ll need to open an Italian bank account to receive your hard-earned money. You can easily open an account as a foreign citizen; you’ll likely only need your ID, fiscal code and proof of residency in Italy.

You might want to choose a bank with a national network of branches and ATMs as well as online and mobile banking applications, such as Italy’s largest banking group UniCredit, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti or Intesa Sanpaolo. Once you have your bank account set up, you can easily manage your payments by inputting your account information into your Western Union® app. Western Union money transfer services allow you to reliably send money straight from your smartphone to family and friends back home, pay bills and monitor exchange rates.

4. Make your business official

If you want to be self-employed in Italy and are from outside the EU, you’ll need to follow the previous three steps, but you’ll also need to be mindful of other regulations for self-employment in Italy. After you gain employment rights in Italy, for example, you’ll need to determine whether you’re a “lavoratore autonomo” (sole trader) or a “libero professionista”(freelancer). The sole trader category covers professions such as electricians, mechanics, hair stylists and craftspeople. A libero professionista, on the other hand, applies to doctors, architects, engineers and other highly trained professions. Both of these categories come with their own regulations for employment and require different paperwork. A lawyer or agent can help you navigate these documents and help you register with the Agenzia delle Entrate, Italy’s revenue agency, that will provide you with a “partita IVA” (VAT number), which allows you to charge tax on the services you provide.

Make the most of your money

Whether you’re working for an employer or starting your own business, earning a paycheck in your new country is rewarding. Once you’re finally set up with a job, a work visa and a bank account, enjoy seeing your earnings come in and start saving. But don’t forget to set up payments to take care of loved ones back home. By using money transfer services, you’ll be able to lock in exchange rates at the right time, avoid traditional bank transfer fees and track your one-time or recurring payments to ensure they’re delivered properly. Earning a living and taking care of your family back home? That’s a win-win.


Make the most of your money when working in Italy

Download the Western Union app