Do I need a visa to buy a property in Italy?

Do I need a visa to buy a property in Italy?

Exquisite apartments steps away from the world’s most spectacular artistic masterpieces, picturesque abodes in the hills and charming countryside haunts. Falling in love with a house in Italy is easy, but… what about actually buying it? Is a foreigner allowed to purchase property in Italy? Do you require specific documents and/or permits to do so? And, first and foremost, do you have to have a Visa to buy property in Italy?

This is probably one of the first questions that will pop into your mind when you start dreaming about having a house in Italy to call your own. Alongside what kind of taxes you’ll be subject to, and what legal requirements you will have to comply with. As regards a Visa, specifically, the answer is no, you do not need to have a specific Visa, nor be resident in Italy, to buy property in the Italian territory. Needing a Visa is connected with being able to spend time within Italian borders, and is required for certain countries’ citizens depending on the length of their stay and reasons of the visit and permanence. 
But purchasing property in Italy does not necessarily imply having a Visa.
Hence, the issue to be addressed is which foreign nationals are allowed to purchase real estate, in Italy. The critical element is, in fact, nationality. Citizens of all EU nations, i.e. European Union member countries, and EEA member countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) are subject to no restriction or requirement whatsoever.

On the other hand the citizens of all non-EU and non-EEA countries are subject to standing legislation, specifically Legislative Decree N. 286, issued July 25 1998, which defines reciprocity. Reciprocity means that a non-resident foreign national is allowed to purchase property in Italy provided the existence of an international treaty that allows for reciprocity between this citizen’s country and Italy. This kind of treaty is an international agreement between sovereign states that defines what citizens can do in the other state involved as concerns buying property and other kinds of commercial ventures.

What this practically means is that a foreigner may buy real estate in Italy if there is an international agreement ruling that an Italian citizen can purchase property in that foreign national’s home country. Citizens of the United States of America, for instance, are enabled to buy real estate in Italy just as Italians may do so in the United States.

The concept of reciprocity is not always applied. Apart from citizens of EU and EEA member states, in fact, the reciprocity condition is also overlooked in case of resident foreigners in possession of a regular immigration visa and residency permit. Regularly employed foreigners, certain self-employed non-Italians and sole traders may all be granted residency permits, which are also bestowed for humanitarian, familiar, educational reasons. Stateless persons and refugees resident in Italy for over three years are also not subject to the reciprocity condition.

The above clearly exemplifies that all EU and EEA nationals and reciprocity country nationals, as well as specific cases, may buy real estate in Italy. Where this citizen actually resides, and pays taxes, is irrelevant. What all foreigners desirous to buy a house in Italy will, however, need to do is get an Italian tax code number, the Codice Fiscale. This is a personal number, assigned by the Agenzia delle Entrate (Italian Revenue and Tax Office), which identifies all physical persons and businesses in Italy. Italian citizens are issued their Codice Fiscale as soon as their birth is registered, and foreigners wishing to buy property in Italy, or perform other relevant operations such as opening a bank account or buying a car, need to apply to the local Revenue Office to obtain one.
How to obtain a Codice Fiscale? A foreigner may contact the Agenzia delle Entrate (Italian Revenue and Tax Office), or the Italian consular authorities in his/her country of residence, and go through the proceedings and paperwork. In alternative, one may secure trustworthy local legal and fiscal advisors for advice and support.

Contact us for assistance. Our team of lawyers, accountants and fiscal advisors is ready to help you through the labyrinth of Italian legislation and bureaucracy. Proficient in Italian and international law we facilitate your property purchase, inform you about reciprocity status with your home country, and offer advice as concerns Visa requirements, when applicable. Committed to your satisfaction and perfectly English-speaking we ease you through the needed paperwork, such as obtaining your Codice Fiscale, quickly and in full compliance with local regulations. 

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