So you want to live in Italy: Figuring out Italian visas

 So you want to live in Italy: Figuring out Italian visas

So you want to live in Italy: Figuring out Italian visas

Please note this information is targeted toward American citizens. If you are of a different nationality you should check with the Italian Consulate in your country to see what visas, if any, are required.


By Sarah

If you've ever thought about going to Italy long term as an American, you've probably come across the Italian visa system. You may have also seriously debated how badly you want to go to Italy because of it. Unless you're a student, retiring or somehow managed to land a job working there, it can easily feel like you don't fit in to any of the offered visas. The Italian visa system is long and confusing so I've put together a short list of things you'll need to know to help with figuring out Italian visas. As well as what you'll need to have ready in order to make the process as smooth as possible. 

If you're an EU citizen congratulations! You can literally get on a plane, train or automobile and move. Just like that! Just know the rest of us are throwing serious shade.

For the rest of us, we have to fit into one of the offered visa options. If you're just visiting as a tourist, aka anything under 90 days, you do not need to worry about obtaining a visa before your trip. If you are staying for longer than 90 days you need to apply for an Italian visa before your trip. It can take several weeks to get the visa depending on when you can book an appointment/interview so make sure to check with your designated consulate to see how far out you need to file your paperwork. 


The standard types of Visas are:

Schengen Tourist/Transit (including business and academic conferences)

Schengen Business (Work Visa)


Subordinate Work

Religious Activity

Dependents of U.S. Military Serving Abroad

Civilian Employees Assigned to U.S. / NATO Bases

Family of non-EU citizens resident in Italy

Elective Residency

Independent Work (self employed persons)



Each of these visa have a set of guidelines that need to be followed in order to qualify. Expect to fill out a ton of documents (some may be in Italian), prove financial means and a reason to be in Italy. 

If you are going for work you will need proof of said job. You will also need to show bank statements for the last 6 months, and previous income tax forms. If you are working for an American company you will need to show that your company knows and is okay with you living in Italy. Should you be taking a job with an Italian company you have to show an invitation letter from the Italian company you will be working for. If you are self employed you will need to show your business license, bank statements for the last 6 months and income tax information.

If you are going as a student, honestly see if the University will help you out. Mine did most of the leg work when I did my study abroad. Otherwise you will need to get a copy of your acceptance into the university/program, a letter from your current school stating you are allowed to go (if you are doing study abroad). If you are trying to attend school outside of a study abroad program you will need an official copy of your transcripts as well has have them translated into Italian. You will also need to show/translate corresponding classes to their curriculum if you are trying to transfer in classes. Student visas can be a lot of work if you have to do it on your own. So check with your program to see if they will help.

If you have an Italian spouse you will need to show your marriage certificate as well as have it translated into Italian. 

If you are planing to retire to Italy you will need to show proof of pension and financial stability. Note that with the Elective Residency visa you are not allowed to work at all, this includes blogging and other digital work. 

You will also need to provide proof of housing, meaning a signed contract between you and the landlord. Please note that in order to get apartments you may need to provide proof of visa...are we having fun yet?

Welcome to Italy!


Other items you will need to bring to the Italian Consulate:

Passport photos (usually between 1-2  but bring 4)

Your passport (with an expiration date no less than 3 months before you return and at least 2 blank pages) 

Travel medical insurance

A cover letter explaining the reason for your trip

Flight reservations

Pay all necessary fees (you'll have to check the consulate site for pricing on fees as they can differ depending on visas.)

Proof of income or financial means

Proof of housing 

Self Addressed return envelope

You most likely will need to visit the consulate to turn in your documents and some visas require an interview. Be prepared to leave your passport along with all the documents at the consulate. They will mail back your passport and visa once it has been processed. It is not uncommon for them to ask for additional information that you must submit within a time limit. 




While Italian visas are messy and confusing you can do it! Make sure you photocopy EVERYTHING! Have duplicates or triplicates of everything. That's not a joke, you may and probably will be required to turn in multiple copies of everything. You also NEED to have a copy of everything for your own records.

Once you have your visa in hand (celebrate!) and remember that once you're in Italy you will need to visit a participating post office for a permesso di soggiorno (permit of stay) with in 8 days of arriving in Italy. You will also need to apply to the local Anagrafe of the Comune (Vital Statistics Bureau) to apply for residency. This process can take several months, because Italy...

Hopefully this will help you start your journey of a life time. It's important to check your consulate for the most up-to-date information as it can change at any time. 

Here are some sites that will help you with visas:

Italy Visa Application Requirements

US Embassy & Consulates in Italy