Italian Citizenship by Investment- Laws, Regulations, and Necessary Prerequisites

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If you talk about the economic force in Europe, you’ll always find Italy as one of the attractive prospects for investments. In fact, it is the third-largest economy in the European Union and is growing steadily year after year. 

While it’s widely known for its art, food, and rich history, investors explore the place for R&D, innovation, design, and manufacturing. Why? It’s because Italy has a well-established infrastructure for these areas of interest. It does not end there. Its location and environmental conditions make it the gateway to the European market. 

However, if companies wish to take advantage of the circumstances, they must adhere to the regulations and other standards set by the government. For instance, if you are a foreign citizen and wish to immigrate to Italy for investment purposes, you must look to obtain citizenship by investment, i.e., Golden Visa for Italy.  

Let’s understand the important aspects surrounding this Italian citizenship policy. 

The Golden Visa- A Gateway to Expand Your Reach 

This is a program launched by the Italian government to attract foreign investment. In this, foreign citizens can opt for permanent residence. Although it targets non-EU citizens, the idea is to attract investors with higher net worth who can possibly contribute to the Italian economy and community. 

Although you have a few restrictions to comply with, the following are the primary ways of entering the country via investment purposes. Let’s look at them below. 

Routes to Citizenship by Investment in Italy

There are various ways to enter the country through investment. You can either opt for the Investor Visa Program (Also known as the golden visa for Italy) and the StartUp Program (This is further divided into Italia Startup Visa and StartUp Hub).  

Other than these, you can also look for cheaper options, such as an entrepreneur visa, or self-employment residence permit. Since every visa has its fair share of ups and downs, it is better to opt for Italian citizenship assistance to avoid any legal issues thereafter. However, since the best option for entering Italy for business purposes is by getting the Golden Visa, let’s understand the ins and outs of this policy.  

But wait! The good news is that the Italian government recently cut requirements for applying for this visa.  

So, what changed? Let’s find out now!

September Amendments to “La Dolce Visa”  

With the world hit by the Covid wave, the country decided to lower down the investment requirements for the Golden Visa Program. Do you know the nitty-gritty details of the changes? Keep reading, and you’ll learn about the changed policies. 

As per Decree-Law no. 34, the minimum amount was reduced by 50% for foreign investors. The change took place keeping in mind the urgent health measures, economic changes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. So, here’s what you must have if you want to apply for the program.  

  • For innovative start-ups – €250,000

  • For companies that are already operating in Italy- €500,000

  • Government Bonds – €2 million

  • Philanthropic donations for culture, education, research, and so on- €1 million (minimum). 

Other than the amount, you must comply with the following as well-

  • You must be at least 18 years of age at the start of the application procedure.

  • You must be clean of any criminal records and in good health (you will have to add necessary documents to prove that. 

Note- The processing time of the application is approximately 30 days. A declaration on the use of funds is more than enough when applying for the program. So, you don’t have to invest until you get the final approval or rejection. 

How to Apply For This Program?

If you want to apply for this program, you must first file for the certificate of no impediment (also known as Nulla Osta). You can register online and apply for the same to IV41 (an Italian committee) free of charge. 

Once you are through with that, you are required to visit the Italian embassy in your country and apply for a 2-year visa (residence permit). You can extend the years for 3 years or more and also include your family or children for the same. 

But according to the immigration legislation, if you belong to these countries, you won’t require any visa. Other than EU citizens, the people from the following countries don’t need to apply for any golden visa. These include:

  • Norway

  • Iceland

  • San Marino

  • Monaco

  • Vatican City

  • Switzerland

What About The Documents Required to Obtain Citizenship?

The procedure might feel a bit lengthy if you don’t have all the documents ready. Other than Nulla Osta (obtained at least 6 months before entering the country), you must have a valid passport, documents regarding the investment through a bank statement, along with proof of whether the money obtained is from the right sources. 

In case if you are thinking of bringing your family too, you must file their information as well. But remember that when applying for Italian citizenship by investment, you can’t combine two assets that are supposed to serve different purposes to reach the minimum investment requirement. 

Who is Responsible for Ensuring The Visa Requirements? 

The Investor Visa for Italy Committee oversees all the visa applications and ensures they match the regulations set by the government. The committee comprises people who hold expertise in the migration, financial, and business aspects of the investment. The committee is headed by the Director-General For Industrial Policy that falls under the Ministry of Economic Development.

Now that we understand the prerequisites for obtaining citizenship by investment, the next would be regarding the tax package offered under this program. 

Tax Benefits

If you are moving to Italy (this is especially for investors who are investing around 100 000 euros), you’ll improve your tax exposure regardless of the income earned outside Italy. You can include your family members as well by paying around 25,000 euros per person a year. 

In fact, as per Italian law, Italian investments are exempted from income taxes (IRES or IRAP), which is around 3.9%. So, here is the ideal tax regime for Foreign funds. 

  • 26% withholding tax that applies on the outbound dividends.

  • 26% substitute tax that’s pertaining to the capital gains. 

But the Tax Bill is set to see some changes for FY 2021. As per the proposed guidelines, the bill would exempt the dividends payments and capital gains if it comes under:

  • UCITS funds

  • non-UCITS funds (EU/EEA or white list countries)

But, what about the domicile package? 

According to that, there will be a flat tax on all the foreign income for the people who become Italian citizens after 9 years of residence in another country. It will be paid on an annual basis for the period of 15 years. 

In the end, it all boils down to one thing:

Why Choose Italy For Investment Purposes?

2017 was the year when Italy first announced citizenship through investment. It simplified the process for foreign investors. Various programs have already attracted the attention of Russian, Middle-eastern, Chinese, and Brazilian investors. It is all thanks to competitiveness compared to residency schemes in other European countries. 

Other than that, Italy is the third powerful European country when it comes to opting for dual citizenship as per the Henley visa index. Besides that:

  • It has flat tax rates with a 0% rate if you are retiring there.

  • Its GDP is more than 2 trillion dollars.

  • It is the second-largest manufacturing economy after Germany.

  • It has more than 20 universities that rank in the top 500 academies worldwide.

  • It offers a marketplace with more than 500 million consumers. 

However, the complexity and level of bureaucracy might be a little time-consuming. So, it’s always a better idea to seek professional assistance. 

Key Takeaway

If you are thinking about expanding your reach to the European market, Italy is the best place to start from. And the “Golden Visa” is a great way to explore the market for further investment purposes. 

Summary of Prerequisites

In addition to the usual documentation, you must provide the authorities with:

  • Proof of any investment done earlier

  • CV

  • Education documents

  • Proof of the money sources and where it will be invested

It became operational in the mid of December. However, you must indicate where you want to settle when processing your application. Once the Nulla Osta is issued, the investor has around 6 months to apply for the visa. 

Other than that, you must inform the authorities about the time they will apply for the permit to stay. It must be done within 8 days after entering the country. You can renew the permit to stay for three more years if you can maintain the amount when staying back for those number of years. You’ll also need to prove if your extension is worthy. 

If you are not going through this route, others can opt for Italian citizenship by descent or marriage. And go for dual citizenship. 

I hope these points help you streamline the application process. Otherwise, you can also seek assistance to save your time and energy.