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How to move to Italy and do it properly

Vittorio Emanuele Monument - Luca Travels Around

Last updated on 03/07/2017 at 15:48:02

Have you ever considered to move to Italy? Every time I’m on a trip and talking to someone the fact that I’m Italian pops out, immediately begins the praises to the Belpaese: its culture, its art and history, its food, its landscapes. So, considering how many people likes my country or would like to see it in person, why don’t you move to Italy?

I fear it would take some time to explain this subject in the best way as possible, but I’ll do it keeping it as simple I can. It’s already complicated by itself to move in a new country, I don’t want to overcomplicate it!

I’ll make distinctions between EU citizens and not EU citizens because rules apply differently, but first some preliminary consideration valid for everyone, before coming here.


Tuscany hills - - Luca Travels Around

Hills in Tuscany

Before you move to Italy I assume you’ve already been here, you had a chance to experience our way of life, and that’s why you decided to make the big step. But what if you didn’t?

Take at least one trip to Italy first.

Italy is a country with several different realities, due to our history and our territory. North and South are quite different, and that could influence your choice. What are you looking for in Italy? For wich reason you want to move here?

Visit the South, enjoy the sea and the friendly people, live in a more relaxed way thanks to the sun and mild temperatures throughout the year. Southern regions have a lot of history too: Napoli was one of the main cities of Magna Graecia, Sicily is filled with Greek and Romans ruins. They have gorgeous coasts and beaches, islands and volcanoes, mountains and natural parks. Plus Matera will be the European capital of culture in 2019, just to name a few.

Do you prefer the mountains instead? Go North, towards the Alps. High peaks, snow in winter and green fields in summer. Colder climate during the twelve months, but many activities to do as well. There are lakes, castles, vineyards, everyone works hard and care about their land and nature. Plus you can see Milan, the most European city in Italy, Verona, the homeland of Romeo and Juliet, or take a gondola around canals in Venice.

Or maybe central Italy is the compromise you’re looking for. You can find both great places on the sea and on the mountains, incredible cities like Florence and Rome, amazing culinary traditions and local products wherever you go. Every hamlet is a jewel, you’ll fall in love instantly!

The bottom line is: come and see with your eyes before taking any decision.

If you want a general overview of the cost of living in Italy, you can check Numbeo, an online user contributed database with thousands of data about city and countries worldwide. That can help you to better understand how a specific city compares to the one you’re living in.


Cinque terre - Luca Travels Around

Cinque terre

Once you have decided where you want to go, the path splits depending on your citizenship: EU or not EU. Before speaking about that, there’s another thing that everyone should consider, regardless of the nationality: learn some basic Italian. Probably only if you speak Spanish or, maybe, French you could have some advantages here but if you want to work and deal with everyday life, you need to speak our language.

I don’t want to fool you, it’s not easy if you want to learn it properly, grammar is a hard one, but on a more “social” level is highly manageable.

Now it’s where the fun begins. If you’re an EU citizen, continue reading. If you’re not an EU citizen, click here.

Permits and visas (EU citizen)

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Well, in this case, you’re lucky. If you’re a citizen of one of the member states of the Schengen Area, you can come freely to Italy for up to 90 days. In case you’re not sure about you citizenship (!) or you’re planning to stay more than 90 days, you should need a permit or visa, depending on various factors. You can check it here, just answer the four extremely straightforward questions of the guided procedure.

In any case, no matter if you’re an EU citizen, if you plan to stay longer than 90 days on Italian soil, you need to declare it with a declaration of presence (dichiarazione di presenza. Here the .pdf). You can get it at a police headquarter (questura) and should be requested within eight days from the arrival in Italy. If you’re already in possession of a Uniform Schengen Visa you don’t need to make this declaration. Furthermore, always bring it with you, in the case of a Police control.

Anyone staying in Italy for more than 90 days is considered a resident, so be aware that if you fail to acquire the necessary documents you could be expelled from the country (plus 5,000 to 10,000 Euros fine).

Once you’ve decided to stay more than 90 days, you have to register yourself at a local population register of the place of residence (anagrafe), for the district you’re living in. You’ll have to bring proofs of what you’re doing in Italy (study, work, training, etc.) or prove that you have enough financial resources for the duration of your stay, as well as a health insurance policy.

Permits and visas (not EU citizen)

Depending on the country you’re coming from (such as the USA or Canada), Italy has some international agreement that let you enter as a tourist for up to 90 days. Check under wich requirements you fall into to see what you need or don’t. If you’re already planning to stay more than 90 days, you have to request a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno) within 8 days from your arrival.

If you need a visa to move to Italy, you have to go to the Italian consulate closest to your city and start filling for the procedure, at least three months before your departure (you know, bureaucracy). Always remember to have:

  • a passport valid for at least three months beyond the validity of the requested visa with a blank page to affix the visa sticker;
  • at least three passport-sized photographs on a white background.
Piazza anfiteatro Lucca - Luca Travels Around

Piazza anfiteatro, Lucca

As I said before, the visa changes depending on the reason you’re requesting it, so it changes also the documentation required. Some of the things you may need:

  • proof of residence in the country from which you’re applying;
  • proof or travel arrangements showing your name and exact dates of entry into and exit from Italy (if applicable);
  • proof of financial resources;
  • a health insurance certificate if you aren’t eligible for health treatment under Italian social security or through your employer;
  • employees require an authorisation to work in Italy issued by the Italian Department of Labour;
  • students require proof of admission from an approved educational establishment;
  • a non-EU national married to an Italian citizen or to a foreigner who’s resident in Italy requires a marriage certificate;
  • applicants under 18 need a written authorisation from a parent or guardian.

There are 20 types of visas in Italy, gathered in 4 categories. The most common ones are the student visa, the work visa, the family visa and the residency visa.

The student visa it’s the easiest to obtain, taking for granted you’re a student! You have to be accepted to an Italian university or join a specific program for foreign students. Usually, all the visa stuff is held by the university itself. You need to prove you can sustain yourself economically speaking since you’re not allowed to work.

The family visa is intended for those who want to join a family member already working legally in Italy. It’s quite easy if the person you’re willing to rejoin with is an EU citizen. It needs more paperwork and time if the person is not an EU citizen or has no job yet.

The residency visa it’s usually requested by retired people because you have to demonstrate you have enough wealth to live in Italy without working. That implies you can’t apply for a job with this visa and your income must come outside of Italy.

The work visa it’s the hardest one to get, basically for the kind of catch-22 situation this visa creates: you need a job to have the visa, but you need the visa to get a job. There are several subcategories under this visa, the artist one, the dependent worker one and the independent worker (freelance) one. The latter is extremely hard to obtain, just for you to know.

After several weeks of waiting, if everything has been done properly, you should finally receive your visa! I say “should” because the approval process can take weeks but it’s not a guarantee that you will have the visa. If you get it, check it thoroughly to spot any error, something to avoid once you did your move to Italy.

Moving with pets

Pets don’t need any visa, but you should bring a clean bill of health from the vet and have the pet vaccinated for rabies at least from 1 to 12 months before departure.

If you’re going to live in a city, consider if it’s suitable for a dog. And remember you have to clean up your dog’s “stuff” from the ground or you will be fined.

Once you arrive in Italy

San Giorgio Maggiore Venezia - Luca Travels Around

San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice

Find a place to stay

The worst part should already be at your back, so now it’s time to find somewhere to live into, be it a rent solution or a purchase. You should have done it before leaving, but considering how difficult can be to choose a house without seeing it live, you can stay in a hotel for some time and go hunting your accommodation.

Keep this in mind: usually, a phone call to book a visit to an apartment it’s better than sending emails, often unanswered. If you’re contacting an agency through an online form they should answer back by the day, otherwise try to call.

There are housing agencies all over the country but if you want to have a look yourself, you could check these websites:

Find a job

Well, if you manage to find a job here in Italy, write in the comments how you did it. Not even Italians nowadays know how to.

I leave you some website that could be helpful, plus if you did not, create yourself a LinkedIn profile, it could be handy.

There are dozens of websites about job hunting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something just answering at a local advertisement or bringing CVs everywhere. Just equip yourself with patience, a lot of patience, and a bright smile.


Aperitivo - Luca Travels Around

Aperitivo time with a spritz!

What you did moving to Italy is something huge, you should be proud of it! But remember, that’s only the beginning. You’ll face what means to face the Italian bureaucracy, you’ll learn new customs and traditions sometimes hard to understand, but you’ll meet also new nice people and make new friends! So, are you ready to move to Italy?

This article doesn’t want to be an official guide on how to move to Italy, but it’s a starting point for people who are thinking about moving here. I tried to be the more accurate as possible, but things change rapidly so everything could be obsolete in a few months. I’ll try to update it as soon as I realize something changed, but in the meanwhile, I’ll recommend you to visit these two websites, with all the info you need to prepare your new life:

Are you willing to move or did you already moved? Tell me in the comments below!

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How to move to Italy - Luca Travels Around


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43 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I’ve been through this process and it’s a Royal Pain in the Ass… It was about 16 years ago and I could only relax after 5 years of temporary residency: I had my first son and I became the “Mother of Italian Citizen”. That meant permanent soggiorno permit and saved me the hated annual appointment in the questura to renew all the permits.
    But I hated every minute of bureaucracy, disinformation and awful manners in every single questura I visited… Truth to be said, if you are friends with a questore, life gets easier, but not that much!

    • I’m sorry, I perfectly understand 🙁
      I know that, bureaucracy seems to be complicated for whatever reason, and in that situation it must have been overwhelming! And as you say, having some friends at the right places could help, but not that much!
      I hope now everything is only a bad memory of the past something you can tell about! “You know, my dear, when your mom was younger she endured an incredible odissey…”

  • I used to joke to my friends that I would one day want to move to an idyllic village in Italy. So this blog rekindled that fantasy. I loved the way your blog shows the way to ‘make it happen’. It got me thinking again, haha!

    • You’re absolutely welcome! Let me know if you this fantasy of yours will come true, sooner or later, first round of beer will be on me 😉

  • Lovely post. The information so clearly laid out is a great help! It is always scary to move to a new place. Posts like these encourage people like me. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Thanks 🙂
      Since I’ve been an expat myself, I know how hard can be, so I tried to be as clear as possible, even if the bureaucracy nullifies everything…

  • This is so thorough! I have some American family members of Italian descent who’d love to “move back” to Italy one day 😉 I’ll defninitely forward this on to them!

    • I just saw you’ve been to a city dear to me: Viareggio 😛
      I’m glad you enjoyed your stay in Italy, Puglia must be amazing too, but it’s still on my bucket list ^^

  • I studied French at university but I sometimes wish I’d done Italian instead so I could have spent a year there – I love it! Some great and thorough tips in this post, no doubt many people will find it very useful. I will have to settle for holidays there sadly…

  • This post is quite different from the ones we read usually. Really love your juxtaposition of pictures. I want to stay in one of the little villages of Italy. Quick question: Do Italians love their siesta??

    • We do love to have the right time to enjoy our launch there’s no hurry to go back to work! It’s not necessarily something about being lazy, but enjoy more the time without rush. Of course, the situation is different between north and south, more relaxed in the south, more work oriented in the north. 🙂
      A little village would be no doubt relaxed 🙂

  • I can’t wait for the day when this becomes a good reference point to me. Moving to Italy is a dream of mine. Deciding on where to stay would be such an issue. Great post, full of useful info and tips. Thank you.

  • ForbusbFilipino passport holders we need EU visa. Italy is on my travel list in 2018. I really have to save a lot so I can go around Europe and other nearby country

  • While I have never had to relocate to Italy, I have done my fair share of emigrating (I am currently living in my seventh country) and think that some of your tips are transferable to most place. Certainly, learning the language of your new home country is extremely important, not just as a means of surviving but also to show respect to your new neighbors and while no one expects you to become fluent, a little effort is always appreciated!

    • Absolutely! Trying to speak the language of the place I’m in is always one of the first things I work hard to do, but it’s not always easy (like when I lived in Japan!).
      It shows respect and broadens your mind 🙂

  • This was such an informative, creative read. I am looking to move out of the U.S and gain citizenship in the E.U. I was looking to come temporarily to work but now I am looking to full on move. Thanks for the post.

  • Great photos man! Also, very informative post on how to move to Italy. This will definitely be useful for any family or friends that are thinking of making that move. Thank you for sharing!

  • Thanks Luca for sharing the tips. I am not sure if i’ll ever move to Italy (though somewhere inside i hope i do), but your blog is a good insight to things one should take car of. Your pictures too are simply awesome.

  • This is very helpful for everyone with plan of moving to Italy. I, personally never think of moving to some other place permanently. But Italy is a beautiful place to live. Sharing this for a friend . By the way hope you’re all fine there.

  • Thanks Luca for this great comprehensive guide! I’ve only spent 2 weeks in Italy in a summer course but we rented an apartment, divided the garbage and all that jazz. So I kinda fell like I lived there for a bit even though it was not enough or “real”. With so many funny and awkward moments, I would prepare better next time. I like to say that I left my heart in Italy and it is one of the most amazing countries I have visited.

    • Living as an Italian for 2 weeks is still better than nothing, you had a real experience on how we live and deal with everything eheh 🙂
      Glad you appreciated my country!

  • Italy looks like a wonderful place to live, we’ve been a few times before and loved the visits. I’m not sure if we are ready to move to another country that isn’t primarily English speaking yet! You have a lot of helpful tips, We pretty much had to go though this same process when we moved to England.

    • Unfortunately, our proficiency in English is not really the best, but lately I saw many new courses and language schools around, maybe we’ll be properly able to deal with foreigners in a near future ^^

  • What a great resource for anyone considering such a move! You have have some really great advice and I think it would translate easily to a guide for moving to any new city/country! So much to consider!

  • Seems a long process but it is true for most countries. Thanks for taking so much effort to comprehensively explain everything. Someday hopefully even I will make it to the land of Felini and De Sica.

  • This is a very comprehensive guide, I must say! I somehow wrote a similar one for Germany, but those are with different topics and a part of a series. Anyway, I would refer my friends to this article when they want to move to Italy for study, work, etc. Overall a nice read.

  • Lots of details and tips for those looking to move to Italy. It is easy to see that a lot of effort has been devoted to collating the amount of information. Thanks for sharing.

  • Very informative. I’m the one who’ll move to the north where the Dolomites reside. I was in Italy for almost a month bouncing from one mountain to the next – one hidden gem you have is stromboli island – that volcano is majestic – very relaxing place. I’d love to spend time there. As an American, it’s rather tough and Italy is the not the cheapest. It’s the most expensive country from the one year I went trekking in Asia & Europe. But the food and coffee- amazing!

    • Compared to Asia, Italy yes is expensive. I know we have a lot to offer, not only naturalistic speaking, so you have to “pay” for those, but I think it’s worth the money, isn’t it? 😉
      Let me know if you’re going to move to the Dolomites! 😀

  • I was hoping to get an Italian Visa since my Grandparents and my Aunt migrated from there to the US, unfortunately Italy is Patriarchal when it comes this. My Grandfather was Naturalized as a US citizen years before my Grandmother and my Aunt finally joined my Grandfather in the states from Italy. My Grandmother wasn’t sworn in as a US citizen until 1959. Because he was “Naturalized” we cannot get an Italian Visa. I have been to Italy and love it. I love the countryside, hearing the language I heard growing up, and the smell of the food my Grandmother cooked every Sunday. It would be so nice to be able to live there. Beautiful people, beautiful lifestyle! Thank you for the article.

    • Thanks 🙂
      I’m sorry to hear that, I didn’t know you could “lose” your rights if someone gets naturalized, I knew that you only had to prove you Italian ancestry and then, after the usual Italian never ending bureaucracy, that was possible. 🙁

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