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
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.
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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After moving back to Italy from the United States in 2013, I realized how much an accounting and tax firm was needed to help expats living in Italy to comply with the local tax regulations.