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FREELANCING IN ITALY: PROS & CONS IN 2020

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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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7 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

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