Among all the available Italian long-stay visas, there is a lesser-known type for foreign nationals who want to live in Italy and have the financial means to support themselves without working.
This is called an Elective Residency Visa (residenza elettiva), and it is mostly used by foreign nationals who wish to retire in Italy – and have the financial means to do so. This is why it is often referred to as an Italy retirement visa.
Italy has a mild climate, great food, and a high quality of life. As such, many foreign nationals make the decision to retire in Italy. And retiring in Italy is made not only possible, but easier, through the Italian Elective Residency Visa.
This article is a guide on how non-EU nationals can retire to Italy, or otherwise move there permanently without working.
What is the Italy Elective Residency Visa?
The Italian elective residency visa is a type of Italian long-stay visa. It is the type of Italian visa you must apply for if you want to permanently relocate to Italy and have sufficient funds to provide for yourself. These funds cannot come from active work while you are in Italy, but rather from savings, investments, or pensions.
This means that if you apply for an Italian Elective Residency Visa, you cannot take up any sort of work in Italy.
Once you obtain an Italy Elective Residence Visa, you can enter Italy where you will have to promptly apply for an Italian Residence Permit. It is the permit which actually allows you to live in Italy for longer than 90 days.
Who Needs an Italy Elective Residence Visa to Retire in Italy?
Anyone who is not from an EU (European Union) country, or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Lichtenstein, has to apply for an Italian Elective Residence Visa if they want to live in Italy for longer than 90 days without having to work.
This means, even the non-EU nationals who are exempt from holding a Schenegn visa to Italy must obtain an Elective Residence Visa (and any other type of long-stay visa).
If you are not from the EU or one of the other aforementioned countries, you cannot apply for an Italian residence permit if you are not holding an Italian long-stay visa.
Italy Elective Residency Visa requirements
When you submit an application for an Italy Elective Residency Visa, you must have a set of documents proving you are eligible to receive it. The requirements for an Italy Elective Residence Visa are:
- Proof of sufficient financial resources to support yourself without working. You must have a minimum of € 31,000 per year, if you are applying alone, and € 38,000 if you are applying as a married couple. The amount is increased by 20% for every dependant that comes with you. Remember, you are not allowed to work with the Elective Residence Visa, so you must prove you can support yourself in other ways, such as through pensions, annuities, property income, income from joint stock or shareholding in a company, etc.
- Proof of lodging. Before you move to Italy, you will need to find a suitable place to live. You can prove you have adequate lodging in Italy either through a lease/rental agreement of proof of purchasing.
- Proof of health insurance. You must purchase international health insurance before you apply for your visa. This has to cover € 30,000 a year and all medical expenses in every EU member state.
- Valid passport. It has to be valid for a minimum of three months after the visa expires and have two blank visa pages.
- Italy Long-Stay Visa Application Form. Duly completed, dated, and signed.
- Passport-size pictures. They must have 35mm x 45mm dimensions, a white background, and your face must take up 70-80% of the picture.
- Civil status documents. Such as birth or marriage certificates, as applicable.
- Police clearances from your home country.
How to apply for an Italian Elective Residency Visa?
Just like with other types of Italian visas, you have to apply for it at the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country. The application process goes as follows:
- Book an appointment at the Italian embassy or consulate in your country which is responsible for your jurisdiction.
- If your country does not have an Italian embassy or consulate, you can submit the application at the embassy/consulate of the other Schengen country that Italy has outsourced visa submissions to, or a Visa Application Center.
- Download, complete, and sign the Italy Long-Stay Visa Application Form.
- Gather all the required documents.
- On the date of your appointment, show up in person and on time, holding all the required documents.
- Pay the Italy Visa Fee.
- Wait for your visa to be processed.
- If your visa is approved: Travel to Italy and apply for an Italian Residence Permit.
Residence permit for the Italy Elective Residency Visa
Within eight days of travelling to Italy, you must apply for an Italian Residence Permit (permesso di soggiorno). The process for applying for an Italian Residence permit is as follows:
- Get the residence permit application kit from a local post office where you will live.
- Complete the application kit, and submit it (along with photocopies all the required documents) back at the post office. They will give you a receipt and an appointment for the next phase of the permesso di soggiorno application: the Questura.
- Go to your local Questura (police headquarters) and submit the originals of all your required documents. They will also take your fingerprints and ask you some questions.
- Wait for processing. The Questura will notify you when your Residence Permit card will be issued.
- Get your Italian Residence Permit card.
Your residence permit will be issued for one to two years, after which you have the opportunity to renew it. Once you have lived in Italy with a temporary residence permit for at least five years, you become eligible to apply for a permanent residence permit. After living in Italy with a permanent residence permit for at least ten years, you can apply for Italian citizenship.