Italy is one of the leading countries in the European Union, with stable economic development indicators and prospects for further growth. Comfortable geographical location in the southern part of Europe allows Italy to effectively interact with other countries and strengthen trade relations.

Germany, France and the USA account for the lion's share of Italian exports. When choosing a city to do business in Italy, one should take into account the division of the country into the developed industrial north and the agricultural south, which needs financial support from the state.

Business in Italy

Despite some of Italy's problems in recent years, associated with the growth of public debt, a slight decline in industrial production and rising unemployment, the country with a population of about 60 million people is a promising market and a reliable labor force.

In the rating of Doing Business agency Italy ranks 58th out of 190 countries in terms of accessibility of doing business. Moreover, the country is one of the leaders in terms of international trade. In this article we will consider the question of how to open and run a business in Italy to a foreigner.

Specifics of doing business in Italy

Business immigration to Italy is a great way to move to Europe for permanent residence and in the long term to obtain Italian citizenship. Before starting a deep study of the legal aspects of doing business in Italy, it is necessary to take into account some peculiarities of the business climate in this country. The specifics of local life, mentality of Italians and the resulting rules of behavior in the business environment can greatly affect the achievement of success.

For example, although the level of corruption in Italy is not comparable to many countries in Eastern Europe, the problem still exists. It is just in other forms. One of which is the achievement of business goals and career growth through family or friendly ties. In Italy, family business is passed from generation to generation for many years. It is almost impossible for a foreigner to break into some niches, and no one will take a bribe from a stranger.

Another peculiarity is the measured life of Italians. For example, the norm of behavior in Italy is 20-30 minutes late for a business meeting, or even more. At the meeting it is not customary to immediately discuss business issues, some time is given to talking about extraneous topics. Hence the need for conversational skills. Much attention is paid to the appearance and neatness of a person, as it is known Italy is the world trendsetter.

Therefore, a big advantage before opening your own business in Italy, will be living in this country for some time. And not just as a tourist, and as a student at an Italian university or an employee for hire. By the way, doing business in Italy as a sole proprietor does not prohibit parallel employment in Italian companies.

Starting a business in Italy

The most common forms of entrepreneurship in Italy are small and medium-sized businesses. About 98% of more than 4 million companies, have a staff of no more than 20 people, on average 4-5 employees. However, if starting from scratch, small business is the best option for a foreigner.

There are no special restrictions on the choice of type of activity in Italy. To register a company, most likely, will require the services of local specialists. For the purpose of entrepreneurial activity must be legally in the Italian territory, that is, to obtain a residence permit in Italy.

Cost and procedure for registering a business in Italy

Starting a business in Italy

In order to register a business in Italy it is necessary to apply for registration of a new company in the business register at the local branch of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Today the registry database contains information about more than 6 million companies and 10 million citizens (entrepreneurs, shareholders, directors). Anyone can freely use the information available there. Having correctly filled in all the necessary forms the applicant will be given:

  • company registration code

  • taxpayer identification number

  • notification of registration with the Social Security Administration

  • notification of registration with the Accident Insurance Office

The application is submitted through a special website – All notifications will be sent to a certified e-mail address. Formally the procedure can take up to 7 days, in reality 2-3 days. The cost of registration is about 220 euros. Also to register a company you need to do the following procedures:

  1. Open a bank account.

  2. Notarize the statutory documents and the state Act of Incorporation (ATTO costitutivo). The cost is 150-190 euros.

  3. Buy corporate and accounting books, pay the state tax of 310 euros.

  4. In case of hiring workers, notify the local labor office one day before the start of the employment relationship, through the website

  5. Some activities may require a license.

For more information about the intricacies of business registration in Italy, you should contact local specialists. It is quite problematic to go through this procedure on your own.

Popular forms of ownership for doing business in Italy

Depending on the purpose and scale of the business, Italian legislation provides for different forms of ownership for companies. As in most European countries, the most popular are Limited Liability Company (LLC), Joint Stock Company (JSC) and Individual Entrepreneurship (IE).

LLC (SRL). The most suitable form for small and medium-sized businesses in Italy. Comparatively easy registration procedure and financial reporting requirements. The minimum authorized capital of 10,000 euros can be contributed in cash and in kind.

The amount of the initial contribution is 25% of the authorized capital, if the shareholder is one – 100% The number of shareholders is not limited, the liability is proportional to the shares in the authorized capital.

JSC (SPA). Suitable for large companies. The minimum amount of the authorized capital is 120,000 euros. Liability of shareholders is equal to contributions to the authorized capital. More serious requirements for accounting and tax reporting than in LLC.

IE (Ditta individuale). The best option for young and inexperienced foreign businessmen. Simple opening procedure, flexible taxation and the possibility of simultaneous employment.

Taxes in Italy

Taxes in Italy

Italy has a rather complicated taxation system, with high interest rates. In some cases, you will have to give more than 50% of income. Much depends on the type of activity, the city and the size of the business.

The rates of the main taxes of Italy in 2024:

  • Corporate tax – 24% (state) and 3.9% (regional).

  • VAT – 22%, reduced rates for some goods and services – 10, 5, 4 and 0%.

  • Income tax – progressive rate from 23% to 43%.

Due to the fact that in Italy there is no single document regulating tax legislation, it is very difficult to understand the intricacies of tax payment and ways to optimize them independently. At first you will need the help of local consultants.

Popular destinations for business in Italy

When choosing a field of activity in Italy, in addition to skills and experience, you need to take into account the demand for this type of business in the region and the bureaucratic delays that will have to face. For example, very attractive business seems to open a restaurant, because Italian cuisine is known throughout the world. But immediately you need to take into account how many licenses and permits will need to be issued, what hygiene and quality standards will need to meet. If and start a business in this area, then with something small, a cafe or bar, a small store.

Italy occupies the top positions in the ratings on the annual visit of tourists to the country. Therefore, do not limit yourself to individual nationalities, it is better to cover as many potential buyers as possible. And in general, the tourist industry is one of the most profitable in Italy.

Popular areas for business in Italy are food, clothing and fashion, cosmetics, construction, automobiles, pharmacology. Many of them require special licenses. For example, a building permit can wait up to 6 months. Who allows financial situation can buy a ready-made business in Italy. Options here are a lot, the price depends on the city and the type of activity. Beauty salon can be purchased for 30 thousand euros, pizzeria for 500 thousand euros, and a well-known chain of supermarkets for 5 million euros.

Business visa to Italy

Business immigration to Italy implies legal realization of business activities on the Italian territory. For this purpose it is necessary to apply for a business visa. Usually a long-term national visa (D) is issued with the possibility of staying in Italy for more than 90 days.

Documents for a business visa to Italy

  1. Application form and two color photos (3.5×4.5 cm).

  2. Civil and foreign passport with copies of all pages.

  3. Medical insurance.

  4. Document confirming the conduct of business in Italy (certificate of registration).

  5. Proof of financial security.

  6. Availability of a place to live in Italy.

Sometimes the Italian Consulate staff may require additional information. All documents must be translated into Italian or English.

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