Relocating to Italy: FAQ

Damien O'Farrell
5 min readFeb 14, 2023

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Throughout the years, I have received thousands of questions regarding relocating to Italy. Here are my answers to some of the most frequent questions I have been asked, which I trust will be useful to others.

Q. Can my landlord increase the rent when they want to?

A. If you have rented a property in Italy with the standard 4+4 or 3+2 contracts, then the rent will remain the same for the duration of the contract. The rent can only be increased when the contract has either expired or both parties have agreed to end it prematurely. However, there is an exception to this. The landlord can review the rent annually based on the cost-of-living data issued by the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT). This review can only occur if the original contract contained this clause and was signed by both parties, thus allowing for the annual increase in rent. If the contract does not include this clause, the landlord cannot legally increase the rent on an annual basis.

Q. I have heard I can go to San Marino to stay out of Schengen for ninety days. Is this true?

A. San Marino is not a member of the European Union or the European Economic Area. However, it has an open border with Italy. Given that San Marino is only accessible via Italy, arriving there is not possible without first entering the Schengen Area; therefore, Schengen visa rules apply de facto. Simply put, this means that the 90- or 180-day rule applies to San Marino just like it applies to full members of Schengen, and one cannot go there for up to 90 days believing they will be outside the Schengen area. Currently, one of the nearest non-Schengen countries to Italy is Serbia. Again, for all immigration issues, please speak with an immigration expert.

Q. How can I extend my tourist visa for Italy?

A. A non-EU citizen who has entered Italy with a tourist visa or as part of a visa-free agreement can only extend their tourist visa in the following cases: 1) You experience an unexpected personal situation, such as illness, death, or birth. 2). The political situation in your country has deteriorated to the point that returning could put you in danger. 3). You encounter an unexpected problem due to “force majeure,” such as a pandemic, earthquake, storm, etc., which prevents you from returning to your country of origin.

Q. Can I acquire Italian citizenship through a DNA test?

A. Qualifying for Italian citizenship through ancestry is based on the principle of ‘Jure Sanguinis’. Simply put, a child who was born to an Italian mother or father, or indeed, to an Italian citizen, can claim Italian citizenship regardless of where they were born. Eligibility, however, depends on several factors that include, but are not limited to, the following: the date and place of birth of one’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Unlike many other countries that limit citizenship claims to one’s parents or grandparents, Italy does not place a limit on how many generations you can go back to claim citizenship. Italian citizenship law is very clear and specific — a DNA test is not considered one of the documents that proves one’s right to claim Italian citizenship.

Q. I am waiting for my work permit for Italy to come through, and I wanted to know if I could rent an apartment without it.

A. You do not need a work permit to rent an apartment. However, you will need an Italian tax code (Codice Fiscale).

Q. I am a non-EU citizen, and I would like to retire in Italy. Is this possible?

A. Yes, this is possible under the Elective Residency Visa. The applicant will need to show assets from a portfolio; the Consulate may request original financial statements from banks, investment or brokerage firms, social security, etc., and these should all indicate current balances. Also, note that balances cannot be derived from current employment or any other work activities. The deciding factor is showing wealth. There is no strict guideline, and each application is decided on a case-by-case basis.

Q. I am a non-EU citizen. If I buy a property in Italy, will this allow me to apply for a long-term visa?

A. Buying a property in Italy or taking part in the €1-house schemes in no way, shape, or form qualifies you for an Italian long-stay visa. If you are a non-EU citizen and you buy a property in Italy, you will still need to apply for a visa if you want to remain beyond the 90-day limit.

Q. I am a non-EU citizen, and I would like to move to Italy. What are the steps to be followed?

A. There are three steps. 1). You must obtain a visa at the Italian Consulate. This can be for work, study, or retirement. 2. When you arrive in Italy with your visa, you must then apply for your PSE (Permesso di Soggiorno Elettronico). 3. The last step is to apply for residency at the Town Hall; this is required to buy a car, register with the health service, as well as to open a full bank account.

Q. I have a driving license from Texas, and I would like to know if I can drive with this in Italy when I relocate there.

A. Before leaving the US, it is advisable to get an international driving permit (IDP). Your state-issued license must be present for the IDP to be valid. Once in Italy, you can drive with your Texas license for up to one year after becoming a resident, after which you will need to take the Italian driving test (only available in Italian, French, or German) to get an Italian license.

Q. I am a non-EU citizen, and I am looking for an employer to sponsor my work permit. Is this possible?

A. Yes, if you qualify for certain highly skilled positions, the potential employer can apply for a work permit outside the quota system (Decreto Flussi). Otherwise, the employer needs to apply within the quota system, which is possible but can be challenging due to the limited number of permits available.

If you require any case-specific assistance, please feel free to contact me www.damienofarrell.com

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Damien O'Farrell

Global Mobility Specialist and Expat Coach with thirty plus years’ experience in providing high-touch immigration, relocation, & coaching services in Italy.