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What You Should Know When Moving to Italy from the USA
Living in Italy as an American can be a wonderful experience. Moving to Italy from the USA for a short-term or long-term stay opens the door to cultural experience, personal history, and a lifestyle that appeals to many of us. Some Americans are blessed with Italian dual citizenship status, so they can live and work in Italy without any special requirements or restrictions.
Other Americans move to Italy as a foreign exchange student, seek sponsorship for various work-study programs, or receive sponsorship for employment opportunities. No matter how you intend to experience Italy, there are several things every American should know about moving to Italy from the US.
What Documentation Will I Need When Moving to Italy?
What type of visa or residence permit you will need as a US citizen living in Italy will largely depend on how long you intend to stay, and whether you intend to work in Italy.
Will You Stay in Italy Less Than 90 Days?
Italy allows US visitors to stay for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa, provided they do not have a job in Italy. You should check on any temporary travel restrictions that may be in place due to health emergencies or other causes.
Will You Stay in Italy Long Term?
Are you wondering how to move to Italy long term? Staying in Italy longer than 90 days will require either a visa or a residence permit. The process to obtain these may vary slightly depending on the region where you apply, but in general, you should consider these options:
- Obtaining a student visa. Many student exchange or study abroad organizations can help you apply for a student visa. Most students report that this is an easy process, provided they do not intend to work in Italy.
- Obtaining a work visa. Two types of work visas are available, the lavoro subordinato for those who have a company willing to sponsor them, and lavoro autonomo for self-employed people who meet certain requirements.
- Requesting a reunification visa. If you have a parent or child living in Italy, or you marry an Italian citizen, you may apply for this type of visa.
- Retirees and others who have the financial means to support themselves without working can take advantage of the elective residency visa, or residenza elettiva.
- Seeing if you qualify for Italian dual citizenship, based on the status of any Italian ancestors who immigrated to the United States. Being an Italian citizen or EU citizen means you do not need to worry about visas or residence permits.
You Will Still Need a Residence Permit
In addition to your visa, if required, you will need to apply for a residence permit within 8 days of arriving in Italy. You will need to deliver your application and supporting materials to the local post office, and pay a fee. If your permit is granted, you will have a scheduled interview and fingerprinting appointment at the questura (police station) within 3-6 months.
There are two types of residence permits:
- Permesso di soggiorno, which lasts one or two years
- Carta di soggiorno, which lasts five years
How Do I Set Up Residence in Italy?
Determining how to move to Italy from the USA includes planning for things like housing and health insurance. Italy is an incredibly diverse country, with notable differences between the north and south, and between the city and countryside.
You might find housing to be the same or even more affordable in some regions of the country, but if you are moving to Milan, Italy from the US, or relocating to Rome, Italy, you should expect and budget for higher housing prices. Spending time to find an affordable apartment or rural real estate that fits your budget will pay off in the long term.
Another factor of your cost of living will be health insurance. If you are not an Italian citizen, you should plan to pay for private health insurance. Unlike the United States, Italy provides healthcare for its citizens without cost, which may be a reason to seek citizenship if you qualify. Even after being approved for Italy’s Servizio Sanitario Nazionale health insurance, you may opt to keep your private health insurance, which many Americans do.
How Expensive Is It to Live in Italy?
The cost of living in Italy is often a bit higher than in the US. However, if you are coming from New York City, Los Angeles, or other high-cost cities, you may not notice much of a difference in the cost of living. It might actually be less, especially if you choose to live in the Italian countryside.
If you are moving to Italy from the USA, it might be helpful to visit the areas you are considering for your relocation. Investigate the costs of transportation, meals, and housing before you make your final decision. Living expenses are generally lower in the south, and higher in the northern regions.
Should I Apply for a Job in Italy?
There are jobs available in Italy, but EU citizens usually receive priority for these. You might find a position teaching English, or be sponsored by an Italian company for a work visa. However, many Americans living in Italy choose to work remotely for an American company during their residence.
In general, there is more tech-focused employment available in the north, while the south offers employment in the tourist and service industries. If you wish to work in Italy, and have difficulty finding a position, becoming a citizen would give you a leg up on nonresidents for jobs in Italy and across the European Union.
What Laws Should I Know About When Moving to Italy?
Of course we cannot cover all the differences between the laws of Italy and the laws of the United States, but there are a few legal considerations you should be aware of before you make your move1:
- As a nonresident, you may be subject to travel restrictions in other EU countries.
- As of 2007, nonresidents spending less than 3 months in the country must complete a declaration of presence, or dichiarazione di presenza, within 8 days of arrival.
- You may bring a vehicle with non-Italian plates into the country for less than 6 months duty free, after which it must be exported or registered with Italian license plates.
- As of 2012, American citizens who request a residence permit for more than 12 months must sign an integration agreement, or accordo di integrazione. This is an agreement to learn to speak Italian and obtain knowledge of Italian civil structure and culture by taking classes for credit. Failure to complete the requirements may result in expulsion.
Should I Become an Italian Citizen?
Before you pack your bags, it is also a good idea to consider applying for dual citizenship in Italy. There are several paths to dual citizenship status, which makes living in Italy even more enjoyable since you are considered a citizen. Becoming a citizen also allows you to purchase property, remain in Italy indefinitely, and import your household goods without fees or taxes.
To find out if you qualify for dual citizenship status and about the different paths available for Italian citizenship, please feel free to contact the Italian American Citizenship Assistance Program at (305) 812-5512 today!