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How Does Italy’s ‘La Dolce Visa’, Work? 

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How do you even begin to explain the charm of Italy for expats? 

Italy’s attractions include its Mediterranean climate, cuisine, cultural history, and beautiful surroundings. However, it is also a place where people enjoy the small things in life. 

Life here is infused with the mindset of savouring each moment of the day with a grateful attitude – a gelato with a friend, a casual stroll to absorb the many sights on offer, a coffee, a relaxed lunch and perhaps a glass of wine. 

Italian life is a celebration of family and friends, of time spent well in a slow and mindful way among fun-loving and affectionate people living la dolce vita – the sweet life. 

Italy’s Golden Visa, otherwise known as La Dolce Visa, is an increasingly popular choice for those seeking residence in Europe. 

The Italian Golden Visa program grants a renewable residence permit to non-European Union (EU) citizens who invest the country. And there are plenty of reasons to choose the boot-shaped peninsula that juts out of southern Europe. 

Italy Lump Sum Tax

Italy has the third-largest economy in the Eurozone and the eighth-biggest economy in the world, not to mention its position as a gateway to Europe and North Africa. 

Italy provides a stable economic environment and is an EU member state that offers passport holders free travel throughout the Schengen area, which includes all 27 EU member states.  

What Is Italy’s Golden Visa?

The Italian Investor Visa program was introduced in 2017 by the Government to promote foreign direct investment. The program grants a residence permit that is valid for two years.  After this, the permit can be extended for up to three years. 

The investment options range from a minimum of €250,000 to $2,000,000 in an Italian government bond. This visa is valid for two years after it is first issued. It can be renewed for three more years and after five years of temporary residency, applicants can become permanent residents in Italy. 

There are four options:

  • Invest €250,000 in an innovative start-up enterprise
  • Invest €500,000 in an Italian limited company
  • Donate €1,000,000 to an initiative that supports education, immigration management, scientific research and preservation of culture and natural heritage
  • Invest €2,000,000 in Italian Government Bonds. 

There aren’t any Italian language tests or physical presence requirements to maintain the residence, so you are free to come and go as you please. 

Some other requirements to get a La Dolce Visa include, for example, proof of income from the previous financial year, proof of suitable accommodation in Italy for the principal applicant and any family members, proof of funds to support the investment and evidence of no criminal record. 

An investor visa holder can obtain residency for family members, spouses or children under the age of 18 by applying for a family visa at the Italian consulate or embassy in their country of residence. This allows them to obtain a residence permit upon arrival in Italy with the principal applicant. 

Is La Dolce Visa Becoming More Attractive?

One thing to be aware of is that, as of now, the Italian Golden Visa does not have a real estate option. Because many people prefer to invest in property than companies and bonds, Italy is often overlooked compared to similar schemes in Greece and Portugal. But all that may well be about to change because Golden Visa schemes in Greece and Portugal have recently undergone significant changes.

Currently, Greece’s Golden Visa scheme requires a minimum investment of €250,000 or €500,000 in real estate, depending on the region where the property is located. However, in February 2024, the government announced plans to increase the minimum investment required to €800,000 in those in-demand areas. 

Meanwhile, in response to pressure on housing, Portugal changed its Golden Visa scheme by removing the option to invest in real estate.

So, while Italy doesn’t offer a real estate investment option, it does have one of the cheapest schemes at €250,000. The other upside to Italy is that the processing time is approximately 30 days, while in the countries mentioned above, it can take up to a year to progress your application. So, while it may take a while to collect all the documents needed for this process, the approval period is very short compared to some other countries. 

Another potential benefit, at least for those who wish to claim tax residence in Italy, is its flat-tax regime. This program allows new tax residents in Italy to apply to pay €100,000 per year as their entire tax obligation. 

This special tax incentive applies to non-Italian foreign-source income, with any income from within the country still taxed. In 2024, Italy’s top income tax rate is 43% on earnings above €50,000. The lump-sum regime can be extended to your family for an additional amount of €25,000 per family member.

Live in Italy and Pay 1% Tax

The Benefits of Italy’s La Dolce Visa

Applicants can get a permit to remain in Italy for two years, after which they can apply for a longer permanent residence and eventually Italian citizenship after ten years of permanent residency status for non-EU citizens.  The visa is also extendable to family members. 

Residence permits allow holders to travel visa-free around Europe, benefit from a special tax regime and access Italy’s national public healthcare. 

Italy Residence

The Italian Servizio Sanitario Nazionale provides all legal residents free or low-cost public health care. To enrol in public healthcare, you must register with your local municipality and a general practitioner.  However, you can also opt for private healthcare.

After ten years, it’s possible to apply for citizenship. According to the Nomad Capitalist Passport Index, an Italian passport gives visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 177 countries and territories.

How to Apply for The Golden Visa 

For Italy’s Golden Visa program, the Ministry of Economic Development has created an online portal for investors to apply for a Nulla Osta, a certificate of no impediment necessary to apply for residency. 

Applicants must provide documentary evidence of funds and a written declaration of plans to use those funds for investment. The investor then has six months to apply for the Golden Visa at the nearest consulate. This visa cannot be applied for in Italy. 

The application is separated into two parts: 

  • An online application for a Nulla Osta
  • An application for a visa at the Italian Embassy or Consulate.

Applying for the Nulla Osta:

  • Start the online application on the official website
  • Submit the required documents electronically
  • Download, sign and electronically submit the Final Declaration.  

When all documents are in order, the Golden Visa committee, made up of government agencies, will assess the application and make a decision within 30 days. 

Applying for the Visa:

Once the Golden Visa committee reaches a decision, you have six months to apply for a visa at the nearest Italian embassy or consulate. You will need the Nulla Osta, as well as hard copies of all the documents you have submitted. Once the visa is granted, you have two years to use it to enter Italy. 

La Dolce Visa Italy

Upon travelling to Italy, you must visit the Questura or police headquarters to get a Golden Visa permit. Your investment must be made within three months of applying for the residence permit, or you risk having your visa revoked. 

The Documents you will need:

  • A copy of your passport
  • A current curriculum vitae 
  • Document that proves the financial resources you will invest
  • Confirmation that your resources are licit and transferable
  • A maximum 1000-word description of the nature of your investment or donation 
  • A declaration of your commitment to use the funds for the purpose you have specified. 

After you receive the Nulla Osta, you must prove you have accommodation in Italy and show that you have the minimum income requirement (€8,500) for exemption from healthcare expenses. 

The government website can also be a valuable source for identifying projects of public interest in the fields of culture and preservation of cultural and natural heritage, which could be financed for a Golden Visa application. 

Its Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) register contains the pitch, sectors and business model of the startup and innovative SMEs that have registered for investment under the program. The list is updated every week by the Italian Chambers of Commerce system.

Go Where You Are Treated Best

The Nomad Capitalist lifestyle is all about ‘going where you’re treated best’ and planting flags in different countries that serve you better than any other. Italy, a stunning, fascinating, and truly welcoming country, certainly fits that bill. 

Its pleasant climate, high-quality health system, and the opportunity to avail of tax benefits and investment opportunities are all good reasons to consider living there. 

However, you’ll need to plan this carefully, and that’s where Nomad Capitalist comes in. 

We help seven- and eight-figure entrepreneurs and investors create a bespoke strategy using our uniquely successful methods. That will allow you to keep more of your own money, create new wealth faster and be protected from whatever happens in just three steps. 

At Nomad Capitalist, we have a worldwide network of lawyers, estate agents, accountants, and tax and company formation specialists. All that expertise and real-world experience come together when we advise on your holistic, bespoke action plan. Discover how we do things here.

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