Citizens of the European Union (EU) don’t need a work permit to legally work in Italy since they have a right to work in EU member states. These expats must simply apply for an Italian residence card after arriving in the country so that they can be formally registered as residing in the country.

Expats from outside the EU must apply for a residence permit, work permit and work visa for Italy.

Residence permits for Italy

Foreigners who intend to stay in Italy for more than three months must apply for a residence permit. These permits allow foreigners to stay in Italy under certain conditions depending on the category of the residence permit.

Expats can apply for a temporary residence permit or a family residence permit if their family is to join them. Only after living in Italy for five years with a valid residence permit, can one apply for permanent residence.

Regardless of whether expats apply for a working residence permit before or after they have arrived (the ability to do so depends on their nationality), they will have to report to their local immigration centre within eight days of arriving in Italy. The residence permit is issued at the new arrival’s local police station. This requires filling out an application form specifying the type of permit required and proof of identification, fingerprints and photos must be presented. Different types of permits may have different requirements. The residence permit is in the form of an electronic smartcard to guard against fraud.

The duration of a working residence permit for Italy is valid for as long as the applicant’s entry visa. Residence permit holders have access to government services and benefits.

Work permits for Italy

Every Italian province has an office that the government describes a one-stop shop for immigration. This is the Immigration Desk or Sportello Unico per l'Immigrazione. These offices are responsible for the entire process of hiring foreign workers in Italy. 

Before an application for a residence permit can be made, the expat’s Italian employer must first apply for clearance (nulla osta al lavoro) at their nearest immigration centre. This is because there is a quota of foreign workers who can be employed in Italy each year.

While the expat applicant will be required to submit certain documents, the employer takes responsibility for much of the application. Expats must still provide personal details and certain documents. Requirements can vary over time, but expats should not worry too much, as their company will inform them of what is necessary. Generally, a copy of one’s ID, proof of accommodation and future employment details are required.

Work visas for Italy

After the employer receives clearance to hire a foreign worker, expats can apply for their work visa. Often, expats can only apply for their work visa from outside the country. Therefore, the expat employee must apply for an Italian work visa at their local Italian diplomatic mission.

Once the employee is cleared to work in Italy, the expat will be issued an entry visa at their local Italian consulate, which contains a tax code that is necessary for other bureaucratic and administrative processes.

Self-employment visas for Italy

To obtain this type of visa, expats will need a residence permit and a work permit for self-employment. The application for residence permits works the same. However, for the work permit, expats must contact the Italian Chamber of Commerce to apply. The immigration office then decides if the expat fits the quota and is eligible for the work permit.

Work permit validity in Italy

Expats with a permit that is valid for a year or more are required to report to the Italian Ministry of the Interior (Ministero Dell’Interno) where they will agree to fulfil certain integration objectives such as attending Italian language classes.

A working residence permit for seasonal work is generally valid for six months and can be extended by an additional three months. Permits for self-employment, employment under a local employer and family joining visas are valid for a maximum of two years.

Work permits for Italy are, however, position-specific and any change to the employee’s position must be reported to immigration. If an expat loses their job in Italy, their residence permit will not automatically be revoked. Instead, it is possible to register as being unemployed and stay for as long the permit allows.

* Visa and work permit requirements are subject to change at short notice and expats should consult their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.