Who needs a visa?

Holders of an EEA (EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Swiss passport do not require a visa and have no limitations to travel to, or to stay in, Italy, for a maximum period of three months.

Some nationals do not require a visa for a short term stay in Italy.

Business Visa

Foreign nationals who require a visa are generally required to obtain a Schengen Business Visa to travel to Italy on business.

Whilst in Italy, employees, who hold a Business Visa, are not permitted to undertake productive work but can attend meetings and conferences.

Type of Visa

Business Visitors normally apply for the Schengen Type C Visa.

Application Process

Applicants who are required to apply for a Business Schengen Visa should do so in their country of residence.

Processing Time

The processing time for Business Visas vary according to the country where the application is filed.

Business Visa applications submitted in the UK generally take 10 working days to process from the date of submission.

The application will take longer to be processed if the application is referred to the immigration authorities in Italy.


The Business Visa generally permits the holder to enter the Schengen area for a period of up to 90 days within a 180 day / 6 month period.

Work Authorisation

Nationals from the EU, EEA and Switzerland do not require work authorisation to undertake employment in Italy.  However, they must register with the relevant authority in their residential area of Italy. The registration process is dependent upon the length of time that the employee wishes to remain in Italy.

Nationals other than the above will require Work Authorisation in order to work in Italy.

Varieties of work authorisation exist.  The information below details of the most common type, the Intra-Company Assignment. 

Type of Visa

Intra-Company Assignment Application Process

  • There are 5 stages involved in the Italian work authorisation process that will form the basis of the application. Whilst the timing and the requirements vary from province to province, the basic steps essentially are as follows:
  • Work Permit Application – The Work Permit, also called Nulla Osta, must be requested from the immigration office (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione) of the province where the assignee will be based.
  • Visa Application – Once the Work Permit has been issued and the approval sent to the Italian Consulate that corresponds with the applicant’s place of residence, the applicant will be able to apply for an Italian Entry Visa.
  • Within 8 working days of arrival in Italy, with the Work Permit and Entry Visa, the assignee must go to the immigration office, accompanied by a representative of the Italian company, to sign the Contract of Stay (Contratto di Soggiorno).
  • Once the Contract of Stay is signed, the immigration office will provide a specific form to be used in application for the Residence Permit. At this stage the prefecture should also issue an Italian tax code (Codice Fiscale) to the assignee, this is required for personal matters, such as opening a bank account and buying or renting a car.
  • Residence Permit Application – The Residence Permit is also known as Permesso di Soggiorno. This is generally requested from the local post office by submitting the forms provided by the Immigration Office, during the Contract of Stay process.  Once the application has been filed, the post office will provide a receipt, which acts as proof of submission, which, acts as a Provisional Permit of Stay.  The post office will also forward the application to the relevant police station, who will then summon the assignee for identification purposes and fingerprinting.
  • Residence Registration – The final step is for the assignee to register their personal residential address in Italy with the local Town Hall.  This can be done as soon as the Residence Permit application is filed.  It is not necessary to wait for the actual permit to be issued.

Processing Time

Generally the overall processing time from submission of the application to be able to work in Italy, is 3 to 5 months. However, substantial time should be allowed for the preparation and the gathering of documents.


Both the Work Permit and the Residence Permit are normally issued for a period of two years. They can also both be renewed in country, however restrictions do apply.


The immigration status of a dependent is reliant on the type of permit and status of the main or principal applicant. In the case where a Permit of Stay has been is approved; dependents can work without the need for seperate work authorisation.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Should an employee or company not comply with immigration regulations penalties will apply. The type and severity of the penalties can vary.  Generally they include fines, deportation, and in some cases imprisonment.

Points to Note

The following identifies areas that the employee and the company should be aware of:

  • The lengthy processing time.
  • Documents are required to be legalised and translated.
  • It may be difficult to secure work authorisation for an assignment with a durations of less than 3 months.
  • Italian documents must contain an anti mafia stamp.
  • The employee must be able to demonstrate qaulifications to degree level and adequate work experience.
  • An Italian corporate entity is required, and many corporate documents will need to be produced.


The contents of this article are for information purposes only.  The information and opinions expressed in this document do not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal advice or a comprehensive statement of law or current practice.  Immigration rules and requirements frequently change without notice.  You should not rely upon the contents of this document but instead should seek appropriate professional and legal advice in the light of your personal circumstances.  No liability is accepted for the opinions contained or for any errors or commissions. Please contact our Global Immigration Team for further information.