Both a classic tourist destination and a hot spot for American expatriates, Italy is a great choice if you’re looking for a chance to work or run a business abroad. Despite economic concerns and a crowded market for certain jobs, working in Italy is still an attractive prospect.
Italy Work and Business Requirements
Before making the big move, the most important piece of information is to know how to get a work visa in Italy. An Italy work permit visa is an absolute requirement for a US citizen working in Italy, including freelancers. You should apply with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs at an embassy or consulate in your area before leaving the US.
Work in Italy also requires a social security card and registration for health insurance. You can obtain these through your employer or directly from the INPS authorities.
While work in Italy for English speakers is widely available, it can also really pay to know the language. If you don’t speak Italian, consider hiring a translator to prepare your CV.
To start a business in Italy, the easiest route is to hire a professional notary. He can handle every aspect of your company’s legal formation and registration with the Business Register. Self-employed people and freelancers usually also have to register with the tax authorities, although they may be treated as individuals for tax purposes.
Work Opportunities in Italy
Whether you want to work in Italy for a year or find a new career and settle permanently, there are a number ways for Americans to discover how to find work in Italy. Jobs range from traditional temporary expat work to professional positions in major industries.
Industries that historically cater to foreign employees are still plentiful in Italy. Still though, there tend to be fewer job openings than in developing countries. With proper certification, expats can find work as teachers of English, au pairs and nannies or other positions in the education field. The tourist industry also remains popular with expats. Hotels, restaurants and other travel destinations are always in need of both seasonal staff and permanent skilled employees. From ski instructors in the Alps to staff positions on yachts off the coasts, Italy brims with opportunities in tourism.
If you’re looking for work in a professional field outside of the traditional expat jobs, the situation is more complicated. Italians usually receive preference for these positions, and foreigners may lack specifically Italian credentials, even if they have the appropriate education and experience. Nonetheless, if you have skills in a high-demand field with a shortage of qualified aspirants, the prospects are better. Especially if you speak Italian. Once hired, you’ll receive the same benefits as any Italian employee. Fields with significant need for qualified foreigners include bio-technology, IT, and finance industry.
Work opportunities also vary according to region. Work in Rome is the choice for those seeking government, international relations and social work jobs in Italy. Milan is the country’s financial center and home of the Italian stock exchange. If you’re after more traditional expat jobs in service or education, you will have options all over the country. Tourism positions are concentrated in the major historic centers like Florence and Venice.
Entrepreneurship in Italy
If your dream is to start your own business or move an existing enterprise abroad, Italy offers a number of attractive prospects. Recent legal changes make it easier than ever before to open a business in Italy, particularly for younger entrepreneurs.
Aside from the services of a licensed notary to get over all of the necessary legal hurdles, experts also recommend retaining a “commercialista.” This means an Italian professional who combines some of the services of a lawyer and accountant into one office. A solid relationship with a trustworthy commercialista can help you navigate the difficult opening stages of doing business in this developed and competitive economy.
Openings For Business in Italy
Openings for foreigners are diverse, and include Italy’s surprisingly undeveloped tourist sector. Bed-and-breakfasts and tour companies are popular choices for expat business owners. Many other foreigners have also had success with professional services. Medicine and dentistry are popular careers, using their language skills to serve the expat communities.
Rome and other major cities, along with coastal destinations, are popular with entrepreneurs in tourism and leisure. If you’re planning on having English-speakers among your clientele, it also makes sense to locate in a region of Italy with a thriving expat community.
On the other hand, less well-known regions only now coming to the attention of foreigners, like Abruzzo, provide a number of opportunities. These include both in tourism and other fields. House restoration and historic preservation are popular with expats in regions like Tuscany. Sicily and Sardinia are crowded markets, but still great locations for entrepreneurs with new ideas.
Even more than those seeking work in Italy, expat entrepreneurs should do their best to learn the language. The notorious Italian bureaucracy has made some important reforms in recent years. Still, navigating the country’s institutions will be much easier if you speak Italian.
Most important of all, the language will help you integrate into the country’s business culture. This is a culture which differs in important ways from American ideas of entrepreneurship and start-ups. Prepare for different ways of operating when it comes to meetings, business relationships and making deals.
An Opening to Europe
As an important member of the European Union, Italy provides expat job seekers and entrepreneurs with a perfect launching point for European opportunities. English teachers, for example, may choose to work for Italy for a year and then move on to other destinations in the EU.
For business owners, operating in a strongly-integrated EU country like Italy means that the whole of Europe may become your market. Free travel in the Schengen zone puts travelers from the entire continent at your doorstep, and the EU’s 500 million consumers are all potential customers.