The requirements and process to get a visa for Italy will vary depending on the applicant's country of origin and their reason for visiting Italy.
Citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and those from a designated list of countries drawn up by the Italian government are afforded visa-free entry into Italy for varying periods of time. This list includes Canada, Japan and New Zealand amongst other countries.
EU and EFTA citizens only need a passport valid for three months after their departure date to pass the border. No additional tourist visa or business visa is required. Citizens of the European Union (EU) may also legally work in Italy without a work permit. All they would need to do is apply for a residence card to navigate bureaucratic channels and tap into certain parts of local life, like opening a bank account.
Citizens of countries not appearing on the visa-free list must apply for a Schengen visa to gain entry into Italy for tourism or business purposes.
Schengen visas for Italy
There are several types of visas for Italy. The main types are the Uniform Schengen Visa (USV), the Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) visas and National Visas (NV).
The Uniform Schengen Visa (USV), or type C, is a short-term visa that is valid for up to 90 days and allows for travel to Italy and other Schengen states.
The LTV, however, limits travel to the specified Schengen country (in this case Italy). Expats with the LTV are only able to travel within Italy or any other Schengen states that are specifically mentioned in terms of the visa application and agreement.
The National Visa (NV), or type D, is a long-term entry visa that allows the holder to stay in Italy for specific purposes, such as to study, work or permanently reside in the country. The type D visa may allow for travel to other Schengen countries.
Type C and D visas are split into several different categories, each of which has its own requirements. Prominent among these are the visas for business, subordinate work, independent work, working holiday and study. Visas can also be obtained for purposes of religion, culture, sports, or medical requirements or where a spouse is an Italian citizen.
Schengen visas allow individuals access to other EU member states (except the UK and Ireland) and member states of the EFTA.
Non-EU citizens who want to work in Italy will need to apply for a work permit.
Tourist and visit visas for Italy
In some cases, a short-term visa is preferred, especially if expats are travelling for tourism, to visit family or friends in Italy or to initially familiarise themselves with the environment. Generally, a detailed itinerary and proof of financial means to support the trip will be required. However, for specifics on required documents, expats should contact their nearest Italian embassy.
Business visas for Italy
For those who are travelling for business-related reasons, such as having meetings, or for training or recruiting purposes, a business visa is needed. This involves providing more specific information about the company expats are working for.
Study visas for Italy
Individuals wishing to study or undertake an internship will typically need to apply for a study visa, which is generally valid for 90 days.
Residence permits for Italy
If staying in Italy for more than 90 days, expats will need to apply for a residence permit. Expats will need to provide a legitimate reason for their stay and this will determine the length of the permit's validity. For instance, a residence permit can be granted for seasonal work, study purposes, self-employment, open-ended employment or family reunification, valid for up to two years.
Expats will have to apply to renew their residence permits at least 90, 60 or 30 days before the expiry date, depending on the length the permit was granted for.
Many aspects of Italian life require having a residence permit, including opening a bank account, so applying for this as soon as possible is both necessary and useful.
*Visa requirements can change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details
►For information on entering the country to work, read Work Permits for Italy
"We were initially denied our visa due to a document error and had to reapply." Read Valerie's interview to see how she dealt with a visa issue.
"We get a lot of questions about this as Italy is famous for its red tape! The visa process was the most difficult aspect..." Ashley and Jason dealt with their visa nightmare. Read their interview to see how they tackled the visa process.
Are you an expat living in Italy?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Italy. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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