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FREELANCING IN ITALY: PROS & CONS IN 2020

Like the USA, the number of freelancers in Italy keeps rising year by year. Europe as well is following the American trends and by 2025 the freelance workforce is expected to count for as much as one third of the entire workforce.
In total, in Italy there are 5,5 millions of freelancers or “liberi professionisti”, and their contributions represents almost 16% of the entire Italian GDP; between 2009 and 2018 their number grew by 20%.
According to the Italian Institute of Statistics, 25% of all working forces in Italy are freelancers.
Who are they? Doctors, consultants, legal representatives, real estate agents and many more professions fit inside the category.
For many employers and in many sectors, hiring a freelancer has become the norm as it is cheaper and less risky than hiring an employee full time.
As a result, this increase of contractors in the working ecosystem, brought many benefits to expats and foreigners, who enjoy working remote in the “dolce vita” country. ​

Working in Italy with an established business

If you want to work in Italy and you have an established business back in your home country you will not encounter any problem.
If you are coming from the Schengen area in Europe you have the right to stay and work in Italy as much as you like.
If you are a Non- European Union citizen you may get a tourist visa, which gets you the right to stay in Italy for up to 90 days.
If you want to stay more, you should get an authorization for self employment, and a working visa, which varies according to country. You can consider as well getting a student visa enrolling the university. However, you should obtain that at least 8 days before entering Italian soil.Overall speaking, if the majority of your business got done in Italy, and your revenues come from Italian businesses you may encounter some fiscal problems.
At that point, to become 100% law compliant you should consider establishing an individual business in Italy (read the paragraph below for more information).

How to legally become a freelancer in Italy

In order to become a freelancer or libero professionista, you should open a so called “ditta individuale”, a sole proprietorship company.
When you open a “ditta individuale” you will get your partita iva, a compulsory tax number that allows you to make invoice and receive payments. In general, we would advise you to go to the chamber of commerce of the city you are resident in in Italy, and visit the local INPS, the National Institute of Social Security.
INPS is the main social security institution of the Italian public pension system. All the businesses public or private must be enrolled by law.
The whole process should cost around 150€ totally but it will probably takes a little bit more time to fill all the documents properly.
From the 2020’s you can also do online but we strongly advise to do that with a legal consultant following the entire process.

4 Things to consider before opening a company in Italy

  1. Consider how much money you are planning to make in Italy. Yes, we know it is not an easy question. However if you are planning to make less than 5k per year it may not be convenient to open a business in Italy.
  2. Different activities fall on different law, regulation and taxation. For every activity your business is planning to make money on there is a specific code you should communicate to the Revenue Agency or “Agenzia delle Entrate” in Italian. You may ask your accountant for advice.
  3. If you are receiving a steady income from your home country due to your former job or other investments you are risking to pay two times, both in your country as well as in Italy. You should be ready declare properly your income in every country you have interests in.
  4. If you open your sole ownership business you will be able to make up 65’000 euro per year, paying a limited amount of taxes. As said this depends on your age and your activity. Read also our article about Italy’s new flat tax, for more info.

4 Advantages of freelancing in Italy

From a working point of view Italy has many beautiful spots and many cities with excellent services, lifestyles and cost of living. You may want to stay in the north if you like the urban lifestyle, or in the south if you enjoy the countryside and a sunnier weather.

  1. Thanks to this rise of freelancer in Italy, you will now find many bars with wifi to work. From 2019 there are also several Starbucks in many Italian cities. You may consider as well a co-working space, since you will find several different options in the bigger cities.
  2. Overall wifi is cheap in comparison to many European countries. This gives the advantage to always stay connected with your smartphone everywhere you go, or use that as your hotspot as well.
  3. Join the many networking events dedicated to freelancers and entrepreneurs. Italian are very friendly and overall they like expats very much. Join these events to find useful connections to help you start your business adventure, and establish a long term working relationship.
  4. You will start paying taxes after one year of activity. Before you will not have to worry about it, however you may want to collect the right amount of money in advance when the government sends you the letters of payments. For more information about this read the article about filing your taxes in Italy.​​​

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Conclusion: what should I expect?

Opening a business is easier than it is said, and the taxation for sole ownership companies is definitely not high in comparison with many other European countries. However declaring taxes properly, and choosing the right fiscal solution may be harder; therefore for these we strongly advise to have a good Italian international accountant following in the process. ​

​Check out also our articles about filing your taxes in Italy, or airbnb taxes in Italy, or our guide for retiring in Italy.


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31 thoughts on “FREELANCING IN ITALY: PROS & CONS IN 2020”

  1. Hello Nicolo!

    Thanks for the post – its very informative. Question; if I freelance but all my clients are outside of Italy (mostly US, maybe UK) but I live year round in Italy do I need a Partita IVA? I have a Mission visa through my husband’s job. Thanks!

  2. Ciao Nicolo, sono una artista straniera e vivo in Italia. Vorrei iniziare a lavorare come freelancer, ma vorrei sapere cosa succede se apro la partita e per esempio, un mese non ho clienti? Devo pagare un rate mensile lo stesso? Oppure la partita è proporzionale ai guadagni? Grazie

  3. Ci sono cose che puoi scegliere di pagare insieme alla partita? per esempio rinunciare alla pensione? oppure è obbligatorio? Nel mio paese era possibile rifiutarla e cercare per via propia un’alternativa. Com’è sarebbe qua in Italia?
    Nel caso non fosse possibile…
    Se l’anno successivo mi trasferisco in un altro Paese dell’UE, posso continuare a mantenere la partita IVA in Italia? Come freelancer, il mio obiettivo non è quello di essere in un posto fisso. Quindi, se vado in un altro paese, posso trasferire i miei contributi in un altro paese?

    Grazie!

  4. Hi there! Great info! However, isn’t true that US citizens do not pay INPS? Instead they pay into the American Social Security system? I am trying to open a partita iva here and trying to set it up correctly. Any advice on how I can open a partita iva and link it to the american social security system? Thanks!

    1. True! US citizen must obtain the US Social Security Certificate of Coverage and they will keep paying in the US. If you need help with the setup we can help

      1. CATHERINE NIERVA

        Ciao Nicolo,
        I am a US citizen and freelance in Italy. Can you contact me about setting up the US Social Security Certificate of Coverage?

  5. Hello, Allow me to comment and ask for assistance – I am a freelancer, planning to move to Italy permanently at the end of 2021 and have never lived in Italy before. My income is from UK clients and my gross income is considerably low at approx 14,500 pounds sterling or 17,100 euros. I have in the past two months spoken to a number of Italian accountants and have received confusing information. I have a simple question, what tax regime should I be under? Some straight forward answer would be appreciated. If I have left out any information, do let me know.

    1. you don’t need a partita iva to register in England, however you may be subject to esterovestizione of your foreign business

  6. I’m an EU citizen and established residency in Italy in early 2021 and set up my partita IVA as a libera professionista. I’m applying to bring my Canadian husband here, and we went to the Questura to request a carta di soggiorno. They told me that the ONLY valid proof of financial resources in Italy (showing I could support us both) is proof of my having paid taxes, which will not happen until end May 2022. This seems absurd (and incorrect). I had showed both a signed “situazione contabile provvisoria” from my commercialista and a recent letter from my Italian bank showing my account balance (within days of the Questura appointment.) Is there a list somewhere of acceptable documents for this purpose? (Each of my two documents showed sufficient funds!) grazie

    1. Dear Laurel, normally a tax accountant like myself can sign a statement confirming your income sources, please get in touch

  7. Hello there. Thanks for your great post!
    I’m living in Italy with the stay permit of family reunification, my husband has the work permit. We’re having access to the health system from his job.

    If I decide to start a P.IVA, do I lose the access to this, and have to pay the fee myself? What if (hope not) I don’t have clients for months. I will still have to pay for the health?

    Thank you

  8. Hi,
    I was looking for an information about minimum annual income of a freelancer (lavoro autonomo) in Italy. I saw your article. It is really one of the best in internet. Every article talks about the application process and 8400€ income. But nobody writes about the obligation; minimum annual income requires to stay a freelancer in Italy. If you can show me a website link or gibe me any answers I would appriciate.

    Note: In your article you stress 5000K. Is that an answer? How can I be completely sure?

  9. Hi Nicolò
    Thank you very much for this article.
    I’m Argentinian-born French citizen, and I’m planning to move to Europe.
    I work remotely in IT field for a US company via Uruguay contract and my monthly income, should I move to Europe, would be of around 2100 to 2400 Eur.
    How much % from income should I expect to pay in taxes? I’ve seen numbers from as high as 36% to 13%.
    Thank you very much!

    1. This issue is very complicated, you can’t simply work remotely from Italy as you also need to pay social security to Italy. You may setup as a freelance in Italy. Please get in touch with us so we can help you

  10. I’m planning on moving to Italy for 3 years with my husband who is in the US military so I’ll have a spousal visa. I also run a freelance business in my home country and all my clients are from the US or UK. Will I still need to file taxes in Italy even though my clients aren’t Italian businesses? Is a partita iva all I will need to get?

    1. It depends if your spouse is covered under the NATO convention or not, if not you are required to disclose and pay tax to Italy

  11. Hi Nicolo,
    I’m planning to move to Italy for 2-3 years. I currently work remotely as a DevOps engineer (IT sector) from Romania and I earn around 50k euro gross income/year. What would be the most optimal fiscal schema for me? From what I understand, if you open a ditta individuale and have under 65k a year, you pay way lower taxes, but I cannot find a tax calculator to calculate exactly the net income and also I’m not sure if I am really in compliance to benefit from it. The main client will probably be my current company that I work for.
    What are the taxes I have to pay if I want to work from Italy as a freelance engineer for my current company?
    What social security/health insurance will I get? (if I get)
    Is there an online calculator for ditta individuale so I can calculate my net income?

    1. the regime forfettario is the best/cheapest option. You are covered by the universal health care system, and you get a pension once you retire

  12. Hi Nicola, Thanks for your useful information.
    I am Iranian and I live in Rome since 2017, now I found a job which Boss asked me to open the partita IVA for myself and they don’t give me a contract. is it ok to do this? and how many percentage I should pay for my tax? for example if my salary is 1200euro/month how much should i pay for taxes?

    1. You can do that, however watch out for fake employment regulations breach. on € 1200/month you will roughly pay 25% of it in taxes and social security if you opt for the regime forfettario

  13. Ciao Nicola. I’m an EU citizen currently legally settled in the UK, in full-time permanent employment. I am relocating to Italy in the future but I have been told I’d need to set myself up as a self-employed individual company, since my company doesn’t have an appropriate legal entity in Italy.
    Do I go set my partita IVA myself? At what point should I do that – months before moving or new contract, weeks after…? What about the other obligations, like National Insurance and Healthcare – what actions are needed there?
    Thanks!

    1. You may be hired by a local EOR or you can ask your company to setup a local rep office. Alternatively you can setup a Partita IVA, and register as a freelancer in Italy

  14. Hi Nicolo,

    I’m a Freelance ( Sole Trader ) photographer from London, Uk.
    I have a potential client in Italy for the summer, that would like me to do a job for them for over 2 months and they are asking me, that The photographer (me) should have:

    – Vat Number (I’m not VAT registered as I’m a sole trader ad my business doesn’t do 65k a year, so I don’t have to be registered as one )

    – SUAPE website registration of the business: https://www.sardegnaimpresa.eu/it/sportello-unico ( I don’t understand why they ask me to do this? )

    – Fiscal cash register for electronic Receipts – ( I’ll be taking some payments directly to guests at the venue, but I don’t know why I have to do register for electronic receipts if I’ll be using an on the go POS called Sum Up )

    I pay all my taxes in Uk, as I’m based here. Could you please advise and let me know if you could help with these matters?

    Thanks
    Gabi

  15. Hey there,
    Im a foreign student studying in italy and i have a regional scholarship and i do some freelance project a couple of times in month in freelancing websites in web designing area earning less than 700 euros a month.i was wondering what is my situation tax wise and what should i do and if the money that im earning(from fiverr or upwork or etc) is taxed already or what?

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