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Italy – Self-Employment

Italy is a beautiful country with a rich cultural heritage, world-renowned cuisine, and scenic landscapes. It’s no wonder that many expats choose to live and work in Italy. If you’re an expat in Italy, you may be interested in exploring self-employment or starting a business. In this article, we’ll provide you with a detailed guide on how self-employment works for expats in Italy, how to register as self-employed, how to start a company, and if there are any incentives or programs to encourage expats to become self-employed or start a company in Italy.

How Self-Employment Works for Expats in Italy

If you’re an expat in Italy, you can work as a self-employed person or start a business. As a self-employed person, you’ll be responsible for paying your own taxes and social security contributions. You’ll need to keep accurate records of your income and expenses and file your tax returns and social security contributions on time.

Registering as Self-Employed in Italy

To register as self-employed in Italy, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  1. Obtain a Codice Fiscale: A Codice Fiscale is a unique identification number issued by the Italian government. You’ll need this number to register as self-employed. To obtain a Codice Fiscale, you’ll need to visit the Agenzia delle Entrate, the Italian tax agency. You’ll need to bring your passport, a copy of your lease agreement, and any other documents requested by the agency.

  2. Choose a Legal Structure: You’ll need to choose a legal structure for your self-employment activity. The most common legal structures for self-employed individuals in Italy are:

    • Impresa Individuale: This is a sole proprietorship. You’ll be personally liable for any debts and obligations of the business.

    • Società a Responsabilità Limitata (SRL): This is a limited liability company. You’ll be protected from personal liability for the debts and obligations of the company.

  3. Register with the Chamber of Commerce: You’ll need to register your self-employment activity with the Chamber of Commerce. You’ll need to bring your Codice Fiscale, a copy of your lease agreement, and any other documents requested by the Chamber of Commerce.

  4. Register with the INPS: You’ll need to register with the Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale (INPS), the Italian social security agency. You’ll need to pay social security contributions based on your income.

  5. Register with the INAIL: If your self-employment activity involves any risks to your health or safety, you’ll need to register with the Istituto Nazionale Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro (INAIL), the Italian workplace accident insurance agency.

Working as a Digital Nomad in Italy

If you’re a digital nomad, you may be wondering if you can work in Italy without registering as self-employed. The answer is no. If you’re working and earning money in Italy, you’ll need to register as self-employed and pay taxes and social security contributions.

Starting a Company in Italy

If you’re interested in starting a company in Italy, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  1. Choose a Legal Structure: You’ll need to choose a legal structure for your company. The most common legal structures for companies in Italy are:


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    • Società a Responsabilità Limitata (SRL): This is a limited liability company. You’ll be protected from personal liability for the debts and obligations of the company.

    • Società per Azioni (SPA): This is a joint-stock company. The shares of the company can be traded on the stock exchange.

    • Draft the Articles of Association: You’ll need to draft the Articles of Association, which will include details about the company’s name, purpose, legal structure, share capital, and management structure.

    • Open a Bank Account: You’ll need to open a bank account in the name of the company and deposit the share capital.

    • Register with the Chamber of Commerce: You’ll need to register your company with the Chamber of Commerce. You’ll need to bring the Articles of Association, proof of share capital deposit, and any other documents requested by the Chamber of Commerce.

    • Obtain a VAT Number: If your company will be selling goods or services, you’ll need to obtain a VAT number from the Agenzia delle Entrate.

    • Register with the INPS: You’ll need to register with the INPS and pay social security contributions for your employees.

    • Register with the INAIL: If your company involves any risks to your employees’ health or safety, you’ll need to register with the INAIL.

Incentives and Programs for Expats

Italy offers a range of incentives and programs to encourage expats to become self-employed or start a company. Some of these incentives include:

  • The Start-Up Visa: This program provides non-EU citizens with a one-year visa to start a business in Italy. The visa can be extended for an additional two years if the business is successful.

  • The Smart Visa: This program provides non-EU citizens with a two-year visa to work remotely for an overseas employer or start a business in Italy.

  • The Innovative Start-Up Program: This program provides tax incentives and funding opportunities for innovative start-ups in Italy.

  • The Industria 4.0 Program: This program provides tax incentives and funding opportunities for companies investing in Industry 4.0 technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of Things.

  • The Art Bonus: This program provides tax credits for companies that invest in the preservation of Italy’s cultural heritage.

  • The Patent Box: This program provides a reduced tax rate for income derived from patents and other intellectual property.

In conclusion, self-employment and starting a business in Italy can be a rewarding experience for expats. If you’re interested in pursuing self-employment or starting a company in Italy, make sure to follow the steps outlined in this article and take advantage of any incentives or programs that may be available to you. With its vibrant culture, beautiful landscapes, and entrepreneurial spirit, Italy is an excellent place to launch your self-employment or business venture.


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