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Italy — startup

Italy’s start-up visa

A good option for enterpreneurs with innovative business ideas

By the end of the first quarter of 2021, there were 9.4 thousand startups in Italy operating in the sector of business services, the most common industry among Italian startups. In addition, 2.1 thousand start-ups were specialized in manufacturing activities, energy, or mining.

Non-EU nationals intending to set up an innovative Start up business in Italy or to join an existing start up can obtain a self-employment visa.

Which “start-up” company qualifies for the visa?

Not all “newly” established companies are considered “start-up” for this purpose. Law 221/2012 defines “innovative start-up” as a

new enterprise of a high technological value

Innovative start-up companies benefit of several administrative, fiscal and accounting advantages and are registered under a separate section with the Companies House (Registro Imprese).

What does it mean “innovative”?

Innovative is a company whose business model is characterised by a strong technological character and with has an exclusive or prevalent corporate purpose the production, development and marketing of innovative goods or services of high technological value.

What are the requirements ?

The first step is to apply and obtain a clearance (nulla osta) on the Ministry’s portal

The applicant must:

✓ have documented proof of financial resources (at least € 50,000 to be used for the sole purpose of establishing and operating the start-up (at least € 100.000 for joining an existing start-up);

✓ Write and submit a detailed business plan for a company having as core business the development, production and commercialization of innovative goods or services of high technological value

✓ The new start-up business must must be a limited company, based in Italy and incorporated under Italian law

(i) either 30% of the Company’s costs are related to Research & Development, or (ii) at least one third of the Company’s team is made up of people who either hold a PhD or are PhD candidates at an Italian or foreign university or have conducted research for at least three year, or (iii) the Company is the owner or the licensee of a patent registered with the Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori (Italian Society of Authors and Publishers — SIAE).

.. and if you obtain the Ministry’s clearance …

next steps are:

  1. apply for the VISA at the Italian Consulate where you are domiciled (you cannot apply in Italy or in the country where you do not have a residence permit)
  2. within 8 days from your arrival in Italy, you need to apply for Police Registration (Permesso di soggiorno) at the Post Office;
  3. after 1–2 months, the Police will contact you and fix and appointment for fingeprinting and filing the supporting documents;
  4. after 2–3 months your Permit should be ready and you will need to collect it personally.

What benefits can I obtain for my company?

Italy’s Startup Law has set up a vast range of tools to help entrepreneurs establish their own innovative business, including:

  • flexible labour law applicable to the whole startup’s life cycle:
  • variable pay depending on the company’s performance
  • workers and consultants can be remunerated with stock options, taxed only in the event of capital gain
  • robust tax relief (30%) on investments fueling startups,
  • possibility for innovative startups to raise money through equity crowdfunding portals (1st country in the world to make it possible),
  • free, fast-track public guarantee on bank loans covering 80% of the sum,

Additional Facts

  • FAMILY: NON-EU family members of Start up permit holders are eligible to apply for a family residence permit
  • EXTEND THE PERMIT: In order to be eligible for renewal, at the expiration of the one-year permit the applicant must submit a certificate of incorporation and articles of association of the innovative start up and evidence that the applicant has an adequate annual income from lawful sources.
  • JOIN AN EXISTING START-UP: Applicants intending to join a Start up already established, must make sure that (1) the investment is for at least € 100,000 (2) they are appointed in one the following positions: chairman; CEO; member of the board of directors or auditor (3) they will also work as self-employees for the company (i.e. as independent consultant) and receive a remuneration.
Photo by Mockup Graphics on Unsplash

Useful resources

Disclaimer: The information provided on this article (i) does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; (ii) are for general informational purposes only and may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information (iii) this website may contain links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader; (iv) readers should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal or tax matter.



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