Golden Visa Italy: Citizenship by investment step-by-step


Updated on May 05 • 8 minute read

Mediterranean climate, amazing food, beautiful sights and profound culture… What would be a better place to live, work or raise children than Italy? To top it off, the Italian passport ranks third in the world in terms of the number of visa-free destinations. And thanks to Italy's Golden Visa program, foreign investors can get an Italian residency in just a few months.

The Golden Visa is a name often used as a synonym of the Italian Investor Visa program. It’s also often referred to as Italian citizenship by investment because it’s one of the most direct paths leading to a permanent residence permit, and eventually an Italian passport.

The Italian Investor Visa program is aimed at the high net worth individuals intending to make a large investment or donation in Italy.

After reading this guide you'll understand:

  • the benefits of acquiring the Investor Visa Italy,
  • the requirements for getting the Golden Visa Italy,
  • how to apply for the Investor Visa Italy,
  • how to renew your residence permit,
  • special tax regime for foreign residents in Italy

and other important aspects of this program.

What are the benefits of applying for the Italian Golden Visa?

Italy has one of the world's largest economies, offering businessmen access to the huge internal and EU markets, as well as many other opportunities. It’s not surprising that the attention of foreign investors to this country is steadily growing. And recently, additional interest was aroused by a reduction in the minimum requirements for Italy's Golden Visa.

It's safe to say that the Investor Visa is one of the most straightforward ways to get an Italian residence permit.

First of all, these visas are prioritized and therefore the application process is way faster than with other visas. It’s also known as a fast-track visa.

Secondly, the application can be done completely online and in English. Other types of visas require the presence of you or your representative in Italy.

Finally, there are numerous other benefits of obtaining the Golden Visa for Italy.

With the Italian Investor Visa you can:

  • travel to all other Schengen Zone countries without a visa, for up to 90 days
  • work in employment or as a self-employed professional without restrictions
  • bring your family to Italy and they’ll be granted the same unrestricted privileges as you
  • apply for a permanent residence after 5 years and obtain citizenship after 10 years of living in Italy
  • opt for a special tax regime where you pay a fixed amount of € 100 000 a year regardless of your income or assets abroad
  • register for Italian national healthcare service and receive free healthcare in Italy

What are the requirements for getting the Golden Visa for Italy?

You’re eligible for the Italian Investor Visa if you’re a non-EU national who’s older than 18.

You can apply for an Investor Visa by investing:

  • € 250,000 in an innovative start-up
  • € 500,000 in a limited company
  • € 2,000,000 in government bonds, or
  • making a € 1,000,000 philanthropic donation

Curious about other visas you can get as a non-EU citizen? Check out our guide for moving to Italy from the US.

Application for a Golden Visa step-by-step

1. Apply for a Nulla Osta

Getting a Nulla Osta (certificate of no impediment) is the first step of applying for any Italian visa. Luckily, in the case of the Golden Visa for Italy, it can be done online and relatively quickly.

You’ll need the following documents to apply for Nulla Osta:

  • copy of your passport
  • CV showing your academic and professional experience.
  • bank statements proving that you possess the financial resources that you’re going to invest/donate
  • letter from your bank declaring that your funds are lawful and transferable
  • declaration issued by the relevant authorities in your country proving that you have no criminal charges
  • letter of maximum 1,000 words describing the nature of your future investment or donation as well as your past experience with donating or investing
  • proof of consent from the investment/donation recipient
  • digitally signed declaration of commitment stating the significance of investment/donation and your intended place of residence in Italy

After you’ve gathered all the documents, you can apply for the Italian security clearance.

The process of applying for Nulla Osta is as follows:

  1. Register on the official Investor Visa portal and start your application by filling out the forms.
  2. Submit the scans of all the necessary documents via the same website.
  3. Download the final declaration, sign it digitally and submit it.
  4. The Investor Visa Committee Secretariat will check if your documents are complete and compliant. If anything is missing, you’ll be given 30 days to submit additional documents.
  5. Once the documents are complete, the Investor Visa Committee will assess your application and you’ll receive a decision within 30 days.
  6. If the decision is positive, you’ll be able to download Nulla Osta on your personal page on the Investor Visa portal

2. Apply for Investor Visa

After you get your Nulla Osta, you’ll have 6 months to request your Golden Visa at the nearest Italian Embassy or Consulate.

You’ll need:

  • valid passport
  • passport-size photo
  • hard copies of Nulla Osta and all the documents submitted earlier
  • proof of accommodation in Italy
  • proof of income from the previous financial year showing that you earn above € 8 500.

All the documents must be submitted in Italian or English. If they’re not, make sure you get a certified translation.

You can enter Italy within 2 years after you get your Italian Investor Visa.

3. Request an Italian residence permit

Once you’re in Italy, you’ll have 8 days to apply for a residence permit.

You’ll need:

  • a hard copy of the entire passport
  • 2 passport-size photos
  • proof of accommodation in Italy

After you prepared the above items:

  1. Go to the Ufficio Immigrazione (Immigration Office) of the Questura (Police Headquarters) and request a residence permit.
  2. Log in to your personal page on the Investor Visa portal, and enter the date of your arrival in Italy, the date of your application at the Questura and its location.

Your residence permit will be valid for 2 years, starting from the day you entered Italy.

Note: To speed up the process, you can let the Secretariat of the Committee know the date of your visit to Questura in advance.

4. Submit the proof of investment

To be able to keep your Italian Investor Visa, you need to submit the proof of your donation or investment within 3 months from the date of your application for the residence permit. If you fail to fulfil your commitment, your visa will be revoked.

The investment has to be maintained as long as you want to keep your visa. After living in Italy for 5 uninterrupted years with the Italian Investor Visa, you can apply for a permanent residency and let go of your investment.

Note: If your investment involves purchasing government bonds or shares, you have to deposit them in an Italian financial institution.

To prove that you made an investment/donation:

  1. Log in to the Investor Visa portal.
  2. Upload the documents that prove you fulfilled your commitment and fill in the requested fields.
  3. Download the final declaration and sign it digitally.
  4. Upload the declaration to the portal.

Proving the investment in government bonds

You can invest in the following government bonds issued by the Italian Republic:

  • Treasury Certificates (CCT/CCTeu)
  • Zero-coupon Treasury Bonds (CTZ)
  • Long-term Treasury Bonds (BTP)
  • Long-Term Treasury Bonds index-linked to Eurozone inflation

Note: A minimum residual maturity of no less than 2 years is required for each category of the government bonds.

These are the documents you’re required to submit as a proof:

  • copy of securities dossier, indicating their form, issue date and maturity date
  • deposit certificate from an Italian financial institution

Proving the investment in a limited company or an innovative start-up

The documents you need to prove your investment in a limited company or an innovative start-up are:

  • bank statements from the previous three months demonstrating the execution of the investment
  • letter of validation of the bank statement signed by an authorized representative of the entity (bank, investment fund, etc.) that owns the account from which the transaction was made
  • in the case of a share acquisition; a certificate of deposit of shares at an Italian bank or financial institution
  • if the company is unlisted; a copy of atto di cessione (transfer deed) filed by the recipient company and a letter from its legal representative confirming they received the investment
  • if it’s a publicly-traded company; a copy of your securities dossier

Proving a philanthropic donation

The donation must be made in a project of public interest in the fields of culture, education, immigration management, scientific research or preservation of cultural and natural heritage.

The following documents will be required to prove your donation:

  • copy of the public donation deed
  • bank statements from the previous three months demonstrating the execution of the donation
  • letter of validation of the bank statement signed by an authorized representative of the entity (bank, investment fund, etc.) that owns the account from which the transaction was made
  • a letter from the recipient company's legal representative confirming they accepted the donation

How long is the Italian Golden Visa valid?

As we mentioned earlier, the Investor Visa for Italy is valid for 2 years. During this period, you can use your visa to enter Italy and request a residence permit.

The validity period of your residence permit is also 2 years from the date of your arrival in Italy.

Can I renew my residence permit?

Yes, if you maintain your original investment, you can renew your residence permit for another 3 years via the Investor Visa portal.

You need to apply for the renewal of your residence permit at least 60 days before its expiration date. That way you ensure the absence of “gaps” in your residency, so you can apply for the permanent residence permit after 5 years.

Can I change the purpose of my residence permit?

If you meet the requirements for another type of visa (e.g. self-employment visa), you can change the purpose of your stay by going to Questura.

The application can be done either at the time of expiration of your permit or before that date.

Can I obtain Italian citizenship by investment?

The Italian Golden Visa program doesn’t grant you Italian citizenship.

The program does however allow you to obtain Italian residency by investment. And after living in Italy for at least 10 consecutive years, you can apply for Italian citizenship by naturalization.

Can I change the composition of my investment portfolio?

No, you must maintain the original investment portfolio for the entire duration of your residence permit, or it will be revoked.

Can I work in Italy with the Italian Investor Visa?

Yes, the Italian Investor visa grants you and your family the right to work in Italy freely.

Take a look at our guide to the average salaries in Italy, to know what to expect from the Italian job market.

What’s a special tax regime for new Italian residents?

Every Italian tax resident is subject to income tax on their worldwide income.

The standard income tax rate in Italy is:

  • 0.2% tax applies to the value of foreign financial assets
  • 0.76% tax applies to the value of a foreign real estate

To attract high net worth individuals to the country, Italy implemented an optional tax regime targeted at new residents with substantial sources of foreign income.

The regime allows new residents to pay a lump sum of € 100,000 on their entire income generated outside the Italian territory. The amount has to be paid in one instalment, once a year, before 30 June.

This flat tax regime can be extended to some or all family members. The lump-sum equals € 25,000 for each additional person.

You can request the flat tax regime by choosing the substitute taxation option in your tax return or by applying for an advance tax ruling at the Regional Directorate of your place of residence.

Note: Make sure to apply for your Italian tax identification number (code fiscale) as soon as you move to Italy. It’s one of those things you can’t do anything without!

Now you know all there is to know about getting your Golden Visa for Italy!

This beautiful country offers some of the most exciting destinations for expats so there is a lot to look forward to! The next step is to start planning your move and searching for your dream home in Italy.

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