Did you know that Italy has its very own investment residency program – the Italy Golden Visa?
For a minimum of €250,000 invested in Italy, you and your family can access a whole host of benefits – with the opportunity to secure a valuable second citizenship that allows freedom to live, work, study, do business, and retire anywhere in Europe.
Let’s dive right in and explore the details of the Italy Golden Visa investment residency program – including an evaluation of how it measures up as a pathway to EU citizenship.
What is the Italy Golden Visa?
With the Italy Golden Visa, investors from outside the EU can start a new life in Italy. Otherwise known as the Italy Investor Visa, this Golden Visa is a residency-by-investment program that offers successful investors a five-year temporary residency permit in Italy.
Italy is one of the EU’s most visited destinations, thanks to its world-famous cuisine, exceptional climate and rich history. The chance to take up residency in this beautiful corner of Europe is an appealing opportunity for many people.
The Italy Golden Visa allows you to do exactly that. What’s more, it’s one of the cheapest European residency by investment options – with investment thresholds starting at just €250,000.
After receiving the five-year temporary residency, investors may apply for permanent residency after five years.
The Italy Golden Visa is also a pathway to EU citizenship, which investors will be eligible for after 10 years residency in total (five years temporary + five years permanent, then apply for Italian citizenship).
Going for EU citizenship via Italy would give you an excellent passport – one of the world’s most powerful – ranked third worldwide for visa-free access to 189 countries, according to the Henley Passport Index.
With an Italian passport, you can also benefit from 90 days visa-free travel per year to the United States, via the ESTA visa waiver program.
Italy Golden Visa In Brief
|Minimum investment threshold||€250,000 (innovative startup)|
|Timeline to permanent residency in Italy||5 years|
|Timeline to be eligible for Italian citizenship||10 years|
|Minimum stay requirements to maintain permanent residency||None|
|Minimum stay requirements for citizenship||183 days per year|
|Language requirements for permanent residency||B1 Italian|
|Language requirements for citizenship||B1 Italian|
|Dual citizenship allowed?||Yes|
Benefits of Italy Golden Visa
Let’s now weigh up the pros and cons of the Italy Golden Visa – especially in terms of your pathway to EU citizenship.
Benefits of the Italy Golden Visa Program
- LOW MINIMUM INVESTMENT THRESHOLD – €250,000 is the minimum investment needed to get the Italy Golden Visa
- MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY – No need to relocate to Italy to maintain your residency rights
- TRAVEL EUROPE FREELY – Go anywhere in the Schengen zone without additional visas or permits
- DUAL CITIZENSHIP OK – Italy recognizes dual citizenship, so you can keep your original passport alongside your new Italian one.
- EDUCATION & HEALTHCARE – Access both of these with the same rights as Italian citizens
- VARIETY OF INVESTMENT OPTIONS – choose from real estate, investment funds, or investing in Italian companies
- FAMILY MEMBERS INCLUDED – Your whole family can enjoy access to the unique benefits of Italy and the wider EU (including your spouse or long-term partner, any children under 21, plus your parents and parents-in-law!)
- NO APPLICATION FEES – unlike most EU Golden Visa programs charging substantial application fees, the Italy Golden Visa is free to apply for.
Disadvantages of the Italy Golden Visa Program
- NO REAL ESTATE ROUTE – This takes away the convenient option of using the Italy Golden Visa as both a residency pathway and a place to live or rent out. May be a deal breaker for some.
- 10-YEAR TIMELINE TO CITIZENSHIP – The Italy Golden Visa is NOT a fast track to EU citizenship
- LIVING IN ITALY REQUIRED FOR CITIZENSHIP – The Italy Golden Visa lets you maintain your residency rights in Italy without living there. BUT, if you want eventual citizenship, you’ll have to move to Italy.
- MUST PAY TAXES IN ITALY – Along with moving to Italy, paying taxes every year is another requirement for citizenship
- LANGUAGE TEST REQUIRED – You’ll need to pass a test at B1 level in Italian
- CITIZENSHIP TEST REQUIRED – You’ll also be tested on your knowledge of Italian history, society and culture
The Italy Golden Visa is a great choice for those who want to live in beautiful Italy, and take advantage of everything it has to offer.
However, reaching permanent residency status takes a long time (5 years). Becoming eligible for Italian citizenship by naturalization takes even longer (at least 10 years).
If you have Italian ancestry, you’ll be able to get citizenship a lot more quickly.
Having two passports is better than one, because you always have a Plan B in the event of crisis. Fortunately, Italy recognizes dual citizenship. So acquiring an Italian passport would allow you the benefits of using it alongside your original one – as a dual citizen.
Please note, this would also depend on your original passport country’s dual citizenship laws.
Who can apply?
To be eligible for the Italy Golden Visa, you must meet the following basic requirements:
- Be aged 18 or over
- Be a third country national (i.e., not a citizen of an EU/EEA country, or Switzerland)
- Have a clean criminal record
- Invest a minimum of €250,000 in Italy
- Have full medical insurance covering yourself and any dependents
- Pass a due diligence check, in line with international anti-money laundering regulations
Italy Golden Visa: All 2022 Investment Routes
There are four investment routes to choose from for the Italy Golden Visa. However, there is no real estate route available at present.
Here’s a full summary of all available 2022 investment routes for the Italy Golden Visa.
|Investment Route||Minimum Threshold|
|Invest in an innovative Italian startup||€250,000|
|Invest in shares in an Italian limited company||€500,000|
|Donation to an Italian charity or NGO||€1,000,000|
|Investment in Italian government bonds||€2,000,000|
#1. Innovative startup: €250,000
This is the lowest investment threshold for the Italy Golden Visa. Investors must put at least €250,000 to buy shares in creative Italian startups. The Italian Chamber of Commerce maintains an official and regularly updated list of eligible startups. You can view the list here.
#2. Shares in an Italian limited company: €500,000
if you don’t want to invest in an Italian startup, another option is to invest in shares in a limited company. To be eligible, the company must be active, incorporated and based in Italy. It can be either publicly traded or privately held.
#3. Donation to an Italian charity or NGO : €1,000,000
The third route is a donation rather than an investment, so you won’t receive any returns. You can get the Italy Golden Visa by donating at least €1 million to a public interest initiative in any of the following areas: culture, education, immigration control, scientific studies, or cultural and natural heritage protection.
#4. Investment in Italian government bonds: €2,000,000
The final (and most expensive) Italy Golden Visa investment route is to invest a minimum of €2 million in any of the following:
- Treasury Certificates (CCT/CCTeu)
- Zero-coupon Treasury Bonds (CTZ)
- Long-Term Treasury Bonds (BTP)
- Long-Term Treasury Bonds index-linked to Eurozone inflation
Documents needed to apply
Stage 1: Documents to apply for Nulla Osta
- Passport copy
- CV of main applicant
- Statement of investment choice plus origin of funds
- Criminal record certificate showing clean criminal record
- Description of the investment or donation, along with proof of consent from recipients
- Declaration of your commitment to use the funds., validated with an electronic signature.
Stage 2: Documents to apply for Investor Visa (Golden Visa)
- Copy of the Nulla Osta (certificate of no impediment)
- Passport photo
- Your passport
- Proof of being resident in the area covered by the Italian embassy at which you wish to apply
- Proof of accommodation in Italy (you can use a hotel booking, Airbnb, or staying with friends or family)
- Proof of sufficient income (at least €8,500 pr year) from your country of residence (to cover the previous financial year)
Stage 3: Documents to apply for your residence permit
- Passport copy (all pages)
- 2 passport photos
- Proof of payment for printing the electronic document (€30.46)
- Proof of payment for issuing residence permit (€50)
- Revenue stamp to the value of €16 to support evidence of your accommodation status in Italy
Source: Investor Visa for Italy
What is a Nulla Osta?
Known in English as a ‘certificate of no impediment’, getting your Nulla Osta is an essential first step towards securing your Italy Golden Visa. The Investor Visa for Italy Committee (IV41) handles this process. You should apply for your Nulla Osta through their online portal.
Once you have your Nulla Osta in hand, you can go to your local Italian embassy (in your country of citizenship or permanent residency), to apply for your Investor Visa.
One important benefit of the Italian Golden Visa process is that you can get visa approval before actually making the investment.
Renewing your Italy Golden Visa
Your initial Italy Golden Visa will be valid for two years. If you maintain your investment for the whole two years, you can then ask for an extension of three years. Renewals need to be submitted at least 60 days before the residency permit expires.
The key factor for successful renewal is to prove you’ve maintained your investment or donation at the minimum threshold.
You also need to submit:
- Application form for renewal
- Certified copy of passport (and those of all dependents)
- Copy of your current Italian residence card
- Proof of medical insurance valid in Italy
Get the Italy Golden Visa after Brexit
Post-Brexit, many Brits are seeking ways to regain their EU rights. The Italy Golden Visa is one option for them to do this.
However, if EU citizenship is your ultimate goal, Italy probably isn’t the best choice. Italy has a LONG 10-year timeline to be eligible for citizenship – although on the plus side, at least it recognizes dual citizenship (unlike Spain).
The citizenship timeline is shorter if you have Italian ancestry. But if you’re going for naturalization, even the Italy Golden Visa won’t speed things up.
Italy Golden Visa vs Portugal Golden Visa – Full Comparison
The Portugal Golden Visa is another popular option for those seeking a foothold in Europe. But how does it measure up to the Italian option?
As you can see from below, the Portugal Golden Visa is a better overall choice for EU citizenship. Compared to Italy, it has a much shorter timeline and much lower annual stay requirement. Portugal also offers eight different investment options, including three levels of real estate.
On the other hand, the Italy Golden Visa might be a good choice for those who just want the option of residency in Europe – even though there’s no real estate option available for the Italy Golden Visa at present.
Italy could also be good option for those who prefer the security of having their Golden Visa application approved before actually making the investment.
|Portugal Golden Visa||Italy Golden Visa|
|Number of investment routes||8||4|
|Direct real estate route available?||Yes (3 options)||No|
|Timeline to be eligible for citizenship||5 years||10 years|
|Minimum annual stay for citizenship||7 days||183 days|
|Tax residency required for citizenship?||No||Yes|
|Special tax program available?||Yes, NHR, non-habitual residency (10 years)||Yes, new residents can pay €100,000 annual lump sum instead of regular taxes on their worldwide non-Italy-sourced income.|
|Minimum investment threshold||€280,000 (rehabilitation real estate in a low-density area)||€250,000 for investing in an innovative startup from the official list|
|Typical timeline for issuing residence permit||Around 9 months||Around 2 months|
|Language requirements for citizenship||A2 Portuguese||B1 Italian|
Get EU Citizenship with your Italy Golden Visa
You can use the Italy Golden Visa as a pathway to Italian ctizenship and an EU passport.
This requires living in italy for at least 183 days every year, for at least 10 years before applying for citizenship.
You would also need to become tax resident in Italy and pay tax on your worldwide income.
Italian citizenship also has a language requirement of B1 level Italian, along with a civics exam covering Italian history, society and culture.
FAQs: Italy Golden Visa
Can you buy citizenship in Italy?
No. Italy’s Golden Visa program only offers residency by investment. Investors can obtain Italian permanent residence after five years, and be eligible to apply for citizenship after 10 years.
Can I live in Italy if I buy property?
This depends on whether you’re a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland, or a third-country national. If the former, you can live in Italy regardless of whether you buy property. If the latter, you’ll need a residency visa to move to Italy. The Italy Golden Visa currently doesn’t include a property investment route.
How much do I need to invest in Italy to get citizenship?
Italy doesn’t have a citizenship by investment program, but it’s possible to establish residency there by investing a minimum of €250,000 in an innovative Italian startup. After 10 years of residency, you’ll become eligible to apply for Italian citizenship (subject to meeting language and other requirements).
Can I invest in property to get the Italy Golden Visa?
No, you can’t invest in property to get the Italy Golden Visa. At present, the scheme doesn’t include a property investment option.
In this article we’ve explored the Italy Golden Visa program in detail, including the pros and cons, the process, and its value as a pathway to EU citizenship.
The Italy Golden Visa allows investors to secure a European residency permit with a fast approval timeline.
Although the minimum threshold is a low €250,000, that’s for investment in one of Italy’s innovative startups, as defined by an official government list. Italy doesn’t have a real estate investment option in its Golden Visa program.
The lack of a real estate option could be a dealbreaker for some applicants. Having an investment do “double duty”, both as your home and your route to residency is an appealing aspect of Golden Visa programs across Europe, such as Spain, Greece or Portugal.
What’s more, Italy has a long timeline for citizenship: 10 years. Although Italy does allow dual citizenship (unlike Spain), 10 years is a long time to wait to access the benefits of having EU rights.
Portugal offers the best EU Golden Visa program at present, followed by Greece with its low-cost (€250,000) real estate pathway and fast approval timeline.
Check out our other Golden Visa Europe Guides:
- Guide to the Portugal Golden Visa
- Guide to the Greece Golden Visa
- Guide to the Golden Visa Spain
- Guide to the Ireland Investor Visa