The concept of the Italian Elective Residency visa is (very basically) for well-heeled, retired, non-EEA nationals to acquire permanent residency in Italy, as long as they don’t work in the country and have more than sufficient means to support themselves.
It would seem that the complexity in applying for it depends on the country in which you are resident. In order to be sure that you have all the necessary documentation, be sure to look up the website of your local Italian consulate, where you will also find the application form which can be downloaded directly from its website.
Applications would seem to be granted at the discretion of the individual consulates and can take two to three months to be processed. The consistent message across all websites providing information on the subject, including the Italian immigration website, is the necessity to provide proof of substantial (passive) financial resources.
Having read numerous websites – over and over again in the hope of getting full clarity – this is my ‘take’ on the process:
- Ample personal funds are required to prove you have sufficient and significant financial resources to support yourself and not become a burden on Italian state coffers; the more the better, but the minimum requirement is E.31,160 for a single applicant, E.38,000 for a couple and approximately 5% more for every added dependent.
- Ownership of a home will help your application; a 12 year lease on a rental property is acceptable.
- Financial resources must derive from ‘passive’ income i.e. savings, investments or pensions.
- The short and long-term stability of your financial resources will be assessed.
- No income at all can be generated on Italian soil.
- Application forms and requisites are onerous and processing times – which include surrendering your passport for the duration - can take months.
- The visa is not intended for people wanting to extend their vacations beyond the current – visa exempt - 90 day limit in every 180 days (but perhaps worth a try!).
- It is a pathway to obtaining permanent residency – for self-supporting retirees - with the added advantage of not necessarily becoming tax liable in Italy.
- Once you have the visa, there is no guarantee it will be renewed on expiry.
- N.B. You will need to provide evidence of residing a minimum of 183 days in Italy – not necessarily consecutively – for each of the five years it takes to acquire permanent residency, so get your passports stamped when entering or exiting the country.
Important to know, is that if you are fortunate enough to be granted the Italian Elective Residency visa, the ordeal is not yet over! It is not the elective residence visa itself which legally allows non-EEA nationals to settle in Italy, but the permit to stay (permesso di soggiorno) – which you need to apply for within eight days of your arrival in Italy and which will ultimately be issued by your local Immigration office (Questura).
The application, at least regarding Arezzo’s immigration office, is not made at the Questura, but obtained from local post offices that will provide you with an official ‘kit’.
Currently, there is just one post office indicated for the Cortona area.
To assist you – free of charge – in the compilation and collation of the necessary forms and documents, there are also various agencies one can contact.
In the Cortona area, they are the following:
For other areas go to www.portaleimmigrazione.it
(where unfortunately, the translated English version of the website is under construction!)
NB: It is not clear whether or not these agencies also issue the kit.
When you consign the completed kit, to be handed into the post office unsealed, you will be given a receipt and details of a subsequent appointment at the immigration office. The receipt also contains a password and user ID which will ultimately allow you to follow online the processing status of your permit and when it is ready to pick up (which can be as long as 6 months after the initial application!!)
Largely speaking, all documents you presented for obtaining the elective residency visa, will be required for obtaining your permit to stay, so take lots of copies.
Permesso di soggiorno:
This initial permit, giving you temporary elective residency status, is generally issued for one or two years and can be renewable – although there is no guarantee - if you continue to meet all requisites and don’t spend longer than six months of the calendar year outside the country (the idea being that as a resident, Italy is your permanent home and where you spend most of your time).
If, however, you successfully manage to reach the five year mark with both visa and permit still valid, you hit gold dust ….and are entitled to acquire a permanent residency permit!
With regard to whether or not you would be taxed in Italy, especially if you were to take up permanent residence in the country, there is a very interesting article – Citizenship, residency and tax liability - by Michele Capecchi in The Florentine magazine online, he writes:
“If you are living in Italy for more than 183 days a year (regardless of whether you have registered as a resident or not), you must pay taxes on your worldwide income here. If you are living in Italy for fewer than 183 consecutive days over a 12-month period, you will only pay taxes on the income you earned in Italy.”
Given that with the Elective residency visa you are not allowed to work in Italy, as long as you have more than sufficient means to support yourself and most importantly, can – over the course of the five years of temporary elective residence - pass the onerous visa and permit tests, you can retire permanently to Italy and enjoy up to 183 days per calendar year without being liable for Italian income tax.
For those who do intend to live in Italy the year round – whose global income would effectively be liable for taxation - there are double taxations systems in place with many countries. Professional assistance on the subject, may be useful.
Come July, in the hope these UK applicants are granted their Italian Elective Residency visa, we hope to post a personal and documented piece on the entire experience: from application for the initial visa to the successful application for the permesso di soggiorno for elective residency.
Some useful websites if you’d like to find out more about the Italian Elective Residency visa:
This article has been written for general information purposes only. It is not a substitute for obtaining your own legal or professional advice.