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How to Become a Citizen in Italy

Relocating and Obtaining Citizenship in Italy: A Comprehensive Guide

Relocating to Italy offers a unique blend of vibrant culture, rich history, and idyllic landscapes. From the bustling streets of Rome to the tranquil shores of Sicily, Italy appeals to a wide range of preferences. Whether you're considering a temporary stay or permanent relocation, understanding the pathways to obtaining residency and eventually citizenship is crucial. This guide provides an in-depth look at the various options for moving to Italy, securing residency, and the steps toward becoming an Italian citizen.

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Short-Term Stays and Visas

For non-EU nationals, the journey to Italy begins with the appropriate visa. Italy offers several types of visas depending on the length and purpose of the stay:

  • Tourist Visa: Allows for stays up to 90 days for tourism or business without the option of employment.

  • Study Visa: Required for engaging in academic activities or attending courses lasting longer than 90 days.

  • Working Holiday Visa: Available to young adults from countries that have bilateral agreements with Italy, this visa allows them to work and travel in Italy for up to a year.

Long-Term Residency Options

For those planning a longer stay, Italy provides several residency options:

  • Elective Residency Visa: This visa is for individuals who can prove they have sufficient income from outside Italy to support themselves without working. It's popular among retirees and people who want to enjoy Italy's lifestyle without entering the local labor market.

  • Work Visa: To work in Italy, non-EU citizens need a job offer from an Italian employer who must apply for a work permit on their behalf. The Italian government sets quotas for work visas issued to non-EU citizens annually.

  • Entrepreneur Visa: Aimed at business people willing to make a significant investment in Italy’s economy. This includes innovative startup visas and self-employment visas for various professionals.

  • Family Reunification Visa: Allows family members of individuals legally residing in Italy to join them.

Each visa has specific requirements and durations, influencing the choice based on one's long-term plans.

Pathway to Permanent Residency

After five years of legal residency in Italy, individuals may apply for a permanent residency permit, which offers several advantages, including longer validity periods and less stringent requirements for renewal.

Obtaining Italian Citizenship

The process of acquiring Italian citizenship can vary greatly depending on your circumstances:

  • Citizenship by Descent: Individuals with Italian ancestors may claim citizenship through jus sanguinis (right of blood). This process requires demonstrating the Italian lineage and that the connection has not been interrupted by ancestors renouncing their citizenship before descendants were born.

  • Citizenship by Marriage: After being married to an Italian citizen for three years (or two years if residing in Italy), non-Italians can apply for citizenship. This includes providing evidence of a genuine marital relationship and a sufficient level of Italian language proficiency.

  • Citizenship by Naturalization: Non-EU nationals can apply for Italian citizenship after legally residing in Italy for ten years, while EU nationals need only four years. This process involves proving integration into Italian society through language proficiency and civic knowledge.

Dual Citizenship

Italy allows dual citizenship, enabling individuals to retain their original nationality while enjoying the benefits of Italian citizenship. This offers numerous advantages such as the right to work and live in Italy and other EU countries, voting rights in Italian and European elections, and access to public health and educational services.

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Special Considerations

Relocating to Italy involves not just embracing a new culture but also understanding and adapting to a range of legal, financial, and societal frameworks. Here are some special considerations you should be aware of:

Taxation in Italy

Italy’s tax system can be complex, especially for expatriates. The country operates under a worldwide income taxation principle, meaning that all residents are taxed on their global income. However, Italy offers various tax relief programs to attract foreign workers and investors:

  • New Resident Regime: Offers substantial tax breaks for workers who move to Italy and opt into the regime, allowing them to exclude 70% of their income from Italian taxes for five years, extendable up to ten years under certain conditions.

  • Impatriate Regime: Previously employed workers who relocate to Italy can benefit from a reduction in taxable income by 50% for five years, which is designed to attract high-skilled workers to the Italian job market.

Understanding these options can provide significant financial benefits and is crucial for effective tax planning.

Healthcare System

Italy is renowned for its high-quality public healthcare system, which is accessible to all residents through registration in the Italian National Health Service (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, SSN). Here’s what you need to know:

  • Access and Quality: Once registered, you have access to primary care physicians, specialists, hospital care, and even subsidized medications.

  • Registration: Registration with SSN is mandatory for residents and provides healthcare at a very low cost compared to many other countries. However, navigating the system can be challenging due to bureaucratic procedures and potential language barriers.

Education System

For those moving with families, understanding the Italian education system is vital:

  • Public Schools: Education in Italy is mandatory until age 16 and is predominantly public. Public schools do not charge tuition and provide a high standard of education.

  • Language: The primary language of instruction is Italian, which can be a challenge for expatriate children. However, there are international schools, particularly in major cities, which teach in English and other major languages.

Italy coastline

Challenges of Moving Abroad and Solutions

Moving to a new country is a significant life event filled with challenges. Here are some common hurdles faced by expatriates in Italy and strategies to overcome them:


Italy is infamous for its complex bureaucracy. Administrative processes can be slow and require a considerable amount of paperwork.

  • Solution: Patience is essential, and it often helps to hire a local expert or lawyer, especially when dealing with residency applications, registration with local municipalities, or tax compliance.

Language Barrier

Not speaking the local language can isolate you and complicate daily interactions and legal processes.

  • Solution: Learning basic Italian before moving is highly recommended. Consider enrolling in language courses upon arrival and practice regularly with locals.

Cultural Adjustments

Adjusting to a new culture can be challenging. Cultural norms in Italy regarding time, social interactions, and business practices can differ significantly from those in other countries.

  • Solution: Engage actively with the community and be open to new cultural experiences. Understanding and respecting local customs and traditions is key to a smooth transition.

Housing and Living Costs

Finding suitable housing can be challenging, and the cost of living varies significantly between rural areas and cities like Rome or Milan.

  • Solution: Research extensively before moving. Consider short-term rentals initially to better understand different neighborhoods and housing markets.


Moving to Italy and becoming a citizen involves navigating a complex array of legal pathways, each with its requirements and timelines. Whether you are moving for work, family, or retirement, Italy offers a richly rewarding experience for those who choose to call it home.

If you're considering making Italy your new home, it's essential to get the right guidance and support. Visit Citizen Remote for expert immigration services that can help streamline the process of relocating and obtaining citizenship in Italy. Whether you're applying for a visa, seeking permanent residency, or pursuing Italian citizenship, Citizen Remote ensures you have all the information and support needed to make your transition as smooth as possible.


Tim Marting is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Citizen Remote a site for remote workers and digital nomads. Although from the US, Tim currently lives in Spain, and has been a world citizen for the last 5 years, living in 3 different countries. He had other long-term stops in Australia, Italy, Indonesia, Thailand and the UK. His life goal is “to enable border-less travel and border-less relations for the rest of this beautiful world.