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Italy Golden Visa guide: how to get a residence permit by investment and then citizenship

The Italy Golden Visa, or the Italian Investor Visa, allows non-EU citizens to obtain a residence permit by investing €250,000 or more in the country's economy. The Italy Investor Visa program is suitable for people wishing to live in Italy or travel without visas in Europe.

The residence permit card is valid for two years and can be prolonged for another three years. When investors remain Golden Visa holders for five years, they can apply for a permanent residence.

After another five years, they become eligible for Italian citizenship. All the stages are compulsory and cannot be skipped.

Italy golden visa

What is an Italy Golden Visa?

The meaning of the Italy Golden Visa program is pretty simple: it is a programme for obtaining a residence permit in Italy. In other words, it is the fastest way for wealthy people to become legal residents of Italy.

An Italian Golden Visa is not like any kind of visa that can be put in a passport. If investors receive the Italy Golden Visa, they receive a separate document — a residence card.

Italy’s Golden Visa is often referred to as the Investor Visa. Investor visas are granted irrespective of the annual entry quotas. Having a residence permit in Italy guarantees legal rights, including the right to live, work, study, and receive medical care.

The rules for obtaining an Italy visa for investors are set in the Consolidated Immigration Act in the Article entitled «Entry and Residence for Investors».

Benefits of the Italy Golden Visa program

Visa-free travel in Europe and Schengen countries. Investors and their family members with a residence permit in Italy may visit the Schengen countries without a visa and stay up to 90 days out of 180 days.

EU citizenship prospect. The Italy investment visa is the first step toward EU citizenship. Italian citizenship can be obtained after 10 years of residing in the country. Investors get citizenship by naturalisation under general conditions. Yet, they do not have to live in Italy if they do not wish to obtain citizenship.

A comfortable place to live, work and raise your children. The Golden Visa entitles investors and their family members to reside, study and work in Italy.

Italy is one of the most desirable countries to move to as it has beautiful cityscapes, magnificent nature and friendly people. The country is famous for its cultural heritage — unique architecture, music, and art — and leads the world in the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. More than 50 million people visit Italy every year.

European education for children. The child of an investor with Italian residence permit status can more easily enrol in an Italian university. Studying will cost less than international students.

Special tax regime. If a person spends more than 183 days a year in Italy, they become a tax resident. The new tax residents can apply for a special tax regime. Investors may pay an annual fixed tax of €100,000 for themselves and €25,000 for each family member and are exempt from tax on profits outside Italy. Gift and inheritance taxes will only apply to Italian assets.

Preferential conditions will be available to those applicants who have not been tax residents of Italy for the previous 9 out of 10 years and have previously obtained the permission of the local tax office Agenzia Delle Entrate. The period of validity of this exemption is 15 years.

Access to one of the world's major markets. Italy is the 3rd largest economy in the Eurozone and 8th largest globally, with a GDP of around $2 trillion. Its domestic market offers diversity for business, with a population of over 60 million and a GDP per capita of over $32,000.

Italian residency by investment: Piazza Venezia, Ancient ruins of Trajan Forum in Rome

Piazza Venezia, Ancient ruins of Trajan Forum in Rome. This forum was built on the order of the emperor Trajan with the spoils of war from the conquest of Dacia, which ended in 106

Italy Investor Visa: Milan's industrial centre

Milan is not just famous for its football club, opera house and high fashion week. It is also a significant industrial and economic centre in Italy and Europe. It is home to the headquarters of major multinational corporations

Italy residence by investment: education at the University of Milan

University of Milan (UNIMI) is regarded as one of the most prestigious institutions in Italy, with approximately 64,000 students. Tuition fees for international students are around €3,000 per semester, but for students with a residence permit in Italy, the fees are three times lower

Italy residency by investment

Lake Como is located in the middle of the mountains. On its shores are luxurious villas, beautiful villages and world-famous spa centres

Who can apply for an Italy Golden Visa?

Non-EU or Schengen citizens may apply for an Investor Visa in Italy.

An investor visa applicant has to be:

  • over eighteen years old;
  • with sufficient capital to invest;
  • prove the legal origin of the money;
  • make a written commitment to investing in the Italian economy;
  • have sufficient funds to reside in Italy;
  • without a criminal record;
  • with valid health insurance.

A spouse and children under 18 may be included in the application. Parents, regardless of age, and children over 18, may only be included if they are mentally or physically disadvantaged and cannot live alone. Other relatives cannot join the investor.

Requirements for the investor and family members

Investor18+
SpouseNo age limit
ChildrenUnder 18 
ParentsMentally or physically disadvantaged

Italy residence permit by investment requirements

Italy offers a range of investment options. To get a residence permit in Italy, applicants can invest in innovative Italian start-ups or socially important projects and purchase shares or government bonds. The minimum investment costs vary from option to option.

Italy golden visa investment options

€250,000+
Investment in innovative start-ups
€500,000+
Equity investment in Italian companies
€1,000,000+
Investment in socially essential projects
€2,000,000+
Purchasing of government bonds

The Investor Visa can only be granted for one type of investment. Applicants cannot combine different types of investments with a nominal amount below the minimum threshold. Investments made in whole or in part before the investor applies for a visa do not qualify for an investor visa.

An innovative start-up is an option that requires high risk and involvement but the least amount of investment. This option is more suitable for those planning to move to Italy. Applicants must prepare a business plan and a cover letter for confirmation of financial resources. The minimum investment amount is €250,000.

Investment in business means investment in listed or unlisted shares in Italian companies. Investment in business requires an investment of €500,000 in an existing Italian company. This option requires the filing of a tax return for financial reporting.

Charitable contribution in support of a project of public interest in the cultural, educational and environmental sectors. If investors decide to support culture and social projects, they need to invest €1,000,000. Although the investment is a charity, and the investor cannot return the money, this option is the most popular among investors.

Government bond purchase is the option that requires the least amount of risk and involvement, but  the most high-cost investment of €2,000,000. Investors can buy Italian government bonds with a remaining maturity of over two years, such as CCT, CCTeu, CTZ, BTP, and BTP Italia. Five-year Italian government bonds yield 0.40% a year. 

To obtain an investor visa, the applicant will need to get the Nulla Osta, or the Certificate of no impediment. When investing in a start-up, the applicant asks for Nulla Osta via the Italia Startup Visa Committee, in other cases — through the Investor Visa Committee in Italy. The Committee will issue a decision to approve or reject the application within 30 days. The investor can then apply for an investor visa at the Italian Consulate in their country of residence.

A residence permit for investment is valid for 2 years. The status can then be renewed for 3 years, provided that the minimum investment is maintained. Living in Italy or passing the Italian language exam is not mandatory. The exam will be required if the investor plans to get a permanent residence permit or Italian citizenship.

What documents are required for an Italy Golden Visa?

The investor applies for an Investor Visa at the Italian Consulate in the country of residence.

Required documents:

  1. A passport that is at least 3 months longer than the period of validity of the visa requested.
  2. A photo.
  3. The Certificate of no impediment Nulla Osta.
  4. Confirmation of accommodation in Italy, including hotel booking. 
  5. A certificate of no criminal record for 10 years in each country of residence since the applicant's majority.
  6. A letter from the Federal Bailiff Service stating that the applicant is not in debt.
  7. A written declaration with the obligation to make the relevant investment within 3 months of the date of entry into Italy.
  8. A free-form statement describing the education and professional experience of the applicant.
  9. Evidence of significant autonomous, economic resources, the continuity and regularity of which can be guaranteed in the future.
  10. A receipt for consular fee payment.

The applicant can prove the existence and legitimacy of his income with bank statements for the last 3 months and income tax returns. It may also be income from the ownership of property, ownership of a stable business, rental of real estate, shares or debt instruments, income from financial activities, pensions, annuities, or shares in mutual funds. 

All necessary documents must be translated into Italian or English, notarised and apostilled. The applicant can apply for a visa in person or be accompanied by a lawyer. 

Step-by-step procedure for getting an Italy Golden Visa

It takes 6—8 months to obtain a residence permit by investment in Italy. Investors can get legal support. Most actions can be carried out on behalf of the investor by lawyers based on a power of attorney.

6—8 months
Are required to obtain the Italy Golden Visa

1. Submitting a request  

1 day

Applicant creates a personal account on the web portal of the Italian Investor Visa Committee or the Italia Startup Visa Committee. They enter their contact details, CV, and information about the selected assets to be invested. They then upload to the website scans of the necessary documents: passport, proof of the required investment, legal income, and criminal record certificate. The application is then confirmed with an electronic signature and uploaded to the portal.

2. Obtaining authorisation

Up to 30 days

The Italian Investor Visa Сommittee's decision will be ready within 30 days. The Сommittee may request additional documents within or reject the application with reasons.

If the application is approved, the Nulla Osta certificate will be published on the committee's portal and available for download on the applicant's page. The Nulla Osta certificate is valid for six months from the issue date. 

3. Application for an immigrant visa in the country of residence

Up to 90 days

The investor applies for an Investor Visa at the Italian consulate in the country of residence.

Applicants submit the necessary documents, pay the consular fee and take biometrics. The application processing time is 90 days.

4. Entering Italy and applying for a residence permit 

Up to 8 days

Within eight working days of entering Italy, the investor must submit an application for an Investor Residence Permit at the local migration police station (Questura). Investors then need to log in to the Visa Committee website and enter the following information: the date of arrival in Italy, the date of application to the Questura, and the location of the Questura.

5. Making a contribution 

Up to 90 days

The investor must make an entire investment or donation within three months of the date of arrival in Italy. Otherwise, the residence permit will be cancelled. 

6. Obtaining a residence permit

Up to 30 days after making a contribution

Investors upload their investment confirmation on the Investment Visa Committee portal. The Committee evaluates the evidence of the investment and issues a residence permit in Italy within 30 days. The residence permit is valid for two years after arriving in Italy.

7. Renewal of the Golden Visa

Up to 30 days after investment confirmation 

The procedure is similar to the first application: gather the same documents and submit them electronically, submit biometric data, and receive new cards. To renew the Italy Golden Visa, the investor must obtain a new Certificate of no impediment Nulla Osta from the Investment Visa Committee. 

The renewal application must be submitted 60 days before the expiry of the current residence permit. A renewed residence permit is valid for three years.

Conditions for obtaining Italian citizenship

It is not possible to obtain Italian citizenship by direct investment. After participating in the Italy Golden Visa program, investors get permanent residence in Italy and then citizenship by naturalisation under general conditions.

To obtain Italian citizenship by naturalisation, one must have lived in the country for at least 10 years, passed a language test, and have no criminal record. Investors need to live there for five years based on a residence permit and five years based on permanent residence.

Conditions to be followed twice to get a permanent residence permit and then Italy citizenship:

  • rent or own residential property in Italy;
  • stable income and payment of taxes in the country;
  • knowledge of Italian at the B1 level;
  • no criminal record;
  • no debts for taxes and public levies.

Applicants for Italian citizenship by naturalisation can not leave the country for longer than 6 months in one year. They can not be absent for more than one year in the 5 years before the application. The rules do not cover foreigners who leave the country for studies or medical treatment.

Italy allows dual citizenship. Italian citizens may hold more than one citizenship, as long as this does not contravene the laws of other states.

Other Golden Visa programs in Europe

To obtain Italian citizenship, an applicant must have lived in the country for ten years. This route is not for everyone. 

Some European countries offer investors the opportunity to get a residence permit and permanent residence much quicker. Investors can live, study and work in their chosen country, enjoying the right of visa-free entry to other countries. Furthermore, their conditions are frequently milder than in Italy: in Portugal, for example, investors are granted citizenship after living in the country for five years.

Сomparison of the conditions of the best Golden visa programs in Europe

CountryStatusMinimum InvestmentTime required to get the statusMandatory residing in the country
MaltaPermanent residence€150,0006-8 monthsNone
GreeceResidence permit€250,0006+ monthsNone
PortugalResidence permit€280,0006+ months7 days per annum
CyprusPermanent residence€300,0003+ monthsVisit every 2 years
AndorraResidence permit€400,0002 months 90 days per annum
SpainResidence permit€500,0002—3 months None

Which Golden Visa to choose depends on your goal, budget and plans for obtaining citizenship in the future. Portugal, Malta, Greece and Spain Golden Visas allow visa-free travel to Schengen Agreement countries for 90 days within any 180 days. An Andorra residence permit allows visa-free entry to France and Spain.

Portugal, Malta and Cyprus Golden visas allow applying for citizenship after 5 years, provided that the residence permit or permanent residence is maintained and the necessary examinations are passed. 

Frequently asked questions

What is an Italy Golden Visa?

The meaning of the Golden Visa is pretty simple: it is a programme for obtaining a residence permit in Italy by investment. In other words, it is the fastest way for wealthy people to become legal residents of Italy.

How long is the Italian Investor Visa valid for?

The Investor Visa is valid for two years and can be extended for three years if the investment is maintained. 

To renew the Golden Visa, the investor must obtain a new Certificate of no impediment Nulla Osta from the Investment Visa Committee. The renewal application must be submitted 60 days before the expiry of the current residence permit.

What are the benefits of an Italy Golden visa?

The Golden Visa allows for residence, work and education in Italy.

Investors and their family members with a residence permit in Italy can visit Schengen countries without a visa and stay up to 90 days out of 180 days.

There is a special tax regime for investors in Italy.  They may pay a fixed tax of €100,000 and are exempt from tax on profits earned outside Italy.

Who can apply for an Italy Golden visa?

Non-EU or Schengen citizens may apply for an Investor Visa in Italy.

An investor visa applicant has to be over eighteen years old, without a criminal record, have sufficient capital to invest and prove the legal origin of the money.

Is my family eligible for the Italy Golden Visa program?

A spouse and children under 18 may be included in the application. Parents, regardless of age, and children over 18, may only be included if they are mentally or physically disadvantaged and cannot live alone.

Can I work in Italy on an Investor Visa?

Yes, you can. There are no limitations on work for investors. Foreign citizens with an investor residence permit can run a business, work as employees or be self-employed.

Can I obtain Italian citizenship?

Yes, you can. A residence permit for investment allows requesting permanent residence after 5 years. After 10 years of residing in the country, it is possible to obtain Italian citizenship by naturalisation under general conditions.

Does Italy allow dual citizenship?

Yes, Italian citizens may hold more than one citizenship, as long as this does not contravene the laws of other states.

Are there any other Golden Visa programs in Europe?

Several European countries offer residence permits by investment: Adorra, Malta, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Spain. Their conditions vary depending on each country’s minimum investment and residency requirements.

Can you buy Italy citizenship?

No, it is impossible to buy Italian citizenship or get it by direct investment. But a residence permit can be obtained through the Italy Golden Visa program.

Can I get residency in Italy if I buy a house?

Purchasing real estate in Italy does not entitle foreign citizens to a residence permit in the country.

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Italy Golden Visa guide: how to get a residence permit by investment and then citizenship