How to apply for Italy Startup Visa

The program offers benefits both for business and immigration, making it an attractive option for those looking to start a business in Italy
9 min
World
December 14, 2023
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The Italia Startup Visa program, also known as the Entrepreneur visa, is one of the Italy's initiatives to attract foreign entrepreneurs and talents to contribute to its growing startup ecosystem. The program offers benefits both for business and immigration, making it an attractive option for those looking to start a business in Italy.


There is a quota for the number of applications per year, so you should prepare in advance and apply among the first.


What is an “innovative startup”?


The company must meet specific requirements, including having a business plan based on technological innovation, being established for no more than 5 years, and having an annual turnover of no more than €5 million.

Also, it should meet one of the following criteria:

👉 Highly qualified personnel (at least 1/3 of staff are PhD students, holders or researchers, or at least 2/3 with a master's degree)

👉 Its expenses on research and development equal to at least 15% of the greater value between the cost and the total value of production

👉 The enterprise is the holder, depositary or licensee of a registered patent, or the owner and author of original registered software.

This definition is sector-neutral: a company that meets the requirements may operate in any economic sector.

Are there any limitations?

You should be older than 18 years to qualify for this visa. It does not affect your family members.

The number of applicants is limited. In 2023 the quotas for employment, seasonal and self-employment visas (including startup visas) are set to 38,705 entries.

Where to apply?


Option 1.
In your country

You can apply for an Italian startup visa directly from your country. After you arrive in Italy, you should obtain a 1-year residence permit. You can apply for a 2-year residence permit no later than two months before it expires.

You can apply via Direct Application or Certified Incubator if you have already accessed their support.

Option 2. In Italy or EU

If you hold a valid residence permit (e.g. study, work, relatives of a holder of a residence permit) or long-term permit of other European country you can convert it to a startup one without leaving the country. You can also apply via Direct Application or Certified Incubator if you have already accessed their support.


How to apply from my country?

Step 1. Pitch your business idea

👉 Fill out the Application form for Italian Startup Visa (ISV). If you apply through a startup incubator instead of this form, you should provide a Confirmational letter signed by a legal incubator’s representative. They should confirm they assist you in incorporating and launching a new innovative startup in Italy.

👉 Create a presentation deck of your project (in .ppt format or equivalent).

👉 Describe your business plan (forecast of costs and revenues). Consider the Italian tax system, laws and current economic situation to succeed.

👉 Fill out the cover letter form  for proof of financial resources not less than 50,000€. It can be your own funds, financing arising from a third-party investor (e.g. venture capital funds) or a combination of both

👉 Provide proof of financial resources like a bank statement or signed contract of investment. The latter should be provided with confirmation from the investor’s bank or other financial institution.

👉 Make a copy of your passport

You need to send these documents to italiastartupvisa@mise.gov.it with the following subject: APPLICATION ISV FIRST NAME: Your name LAST NAME: Your last name.

After the visa committee receives your application, they will assess it in no longer than 30 days.

After a successful decision, you will receive The ISV Certificate of No Impediment (“Nulla Osta ISV”). You should obtain your visa within three months of the certificate’s issue date. If you decide not to participate in this program, you should notify the Committee of your intention.

Step 2. Apply for a Startup Visa in the Embassy or Consulate of Italy


The Italian Startup Visa Committee will make an appointment for you for a desired date. On this day you should submit the following documents:

👉 Nulla Osta ISV you received on a previous step

👉 Certificate of suitable accommodation in Italy (e.g. hotel booking)

👉 Certificate of a minimum income for the previous year (e.g. income tax return). Italy has no minimum wage, so you should have a higher income than the legal minimum for exemption from

contributions to the National Health Service (about 8,500 euros).

👉 Printed copy of submitted Application form for ISV

👉 Printed copy of submitted Cover letter for proof of financial resources and attached files

👉 Passport

👉 4 passport-size photographs

👉 Proof of residence in the local consular district

👉 Crime record

Step 3. Travel to Italy

With your Italian Startup Visa you have 180 days to enter the county.

Step 4. Obtain a self-employment residence permit

Within 8 days after your arrival, you should apply for a residence permit. You should visit the Questura (province police headquarters) with the following documents.

👉 Receipt of payment of a € 30.46 postal bulletin, for the printing of the electronic document. The payment is made at a Post Office.

👉 Receipt of payment of a € 50.00 postal bulletin, as a contribution to the issuance of the residence permit. The payment is also made at a Post Office.

👉 A photocopy of the entire passport (all internal pages included).

👉 2 passport-size photographs.

👉 A € 16.00 revenue stamp (marca da bollo).

👉 A proof of accommodation in Italy.

Here your police officer will collect your fingerprints. After a few days of the customary background checks, you will receive your 1-year residence permit.

The holders of the Italia Startup Visa and their family members have priority over the other applicants who take place at Questura. But you should inform the Startup Visa Committee in advance regarding the day of your visit to Questura.

Step 5. Register your company and start your business!

Step 6. Renew your residency

Up to 60 days before the expiry date of your residence permit, you should renew it. You should make an appointment at the local Questura and provide the following documents:

👉 Chamber of Commerce company registration details (visura camerale) of the innovative startup, including its articles of incorporation and by-laws, and proof of its registration in the special section of the Business Register.

👉 Proof of an annual income in the previous year higher than the legal minimum for exemption from contributions to the National Health Service (about 8,500 euros).

Remember that your business should meet the requirements of an “innovative startup”, otherwise, your permit wouldn’t be extended. Also, you should not leave Italy for more than 6 months.

After a successful application, your residence permit will be extended for the next two years.

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How to apply from Italy?

This program has a different name — Italia Startup Hub, though the application process is almost the same.

To apply for this type of residency, you should already possess a valid Italian residence permit (e.g. work, study, family member) or a long-term residence permit issued by another European country. The only type of residency that cannot be converted is an elective residence (passive income), in this case, you will need to leave the country and apply for a Startup Visa.

Step 1. Pitch your business idea

This step is almost the same as the visa application:

👉 Fill out the Application form for Italian Startup Hub (ISH). If you apply through a startup incubator instead of this form, you should provide a Confirmational letter signed by a legal incubator’s representative. They should confirm they assist you in incorporating and launching a new innovative startup in Italy.

👉 Create a presentation deck of your project (in .ppt format or equivalent).

👉 Describe your business plan (forecast of costs and revenues). Consider the Italian tax system, laws and current economic situation to succeed.

👉 Fill out the cover letter form for proof of financial resources not less than 50,000€. It can be your own funds, financing arising from a third-party investor (e.g. venture capital funds) or a combination of both.

👉 Provide proof of financial resources like a bank statement or signed contract of investment. The latter should be provided with confirmation from the investor’s bank or other financial institution.

👉 Make a copy of your passport.

You need to send these documents to italiastartupvisa@mise.gov.it with the following subject: APPLICATION ISH FIRST NAME: Your name LAST NAME: Your last name.

After the visa committee receives your application, they will assess it in no longer than 30 days.

After a successful decision, you will receive The ISV Certificate of No Impediment (“Nulla Osta ISV”).

Step 2. Change your residency type

There are two different procedures for holders of different types of permits.

For employees, researchers, or family members of people holding a residence permit:

You should purchase and fill out a “conversion kit” at the qualified post office (“Sportello Amico”) and send them to Questura (police headquarters) of your province.

For students, trainees, and other EU-countries long-term residents:

👉 You should make an appointment at Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione (Single Desk for Immigration) of your province on the web portal nullaostalavoro.dlci.interno.it  account is required). After a confirmation email, wait for a call from the local Prefettura.


At the meeting at the Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione you should provide the following documents:

👉 A printed copy of the Italia Startup Hub nulla osta.

👉 Your current residence permit.

👉 A proof of your accommodation.

👉 A proof of income higher than the minimum level required by Italian.

law for exemption from participation in health care expenditure (€8 500);

👉 Your national identity or passport.

👉 €16.00 revenue stamp.

After approval by the Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione you should purchase and fill out a “conversion kit”  at the qualified post office (“Sportello Amico”) and send them to Questura (police headquarters) of your province.

Step 3. Register your company and start your business!

Step 4. Renew your residency

Up to 60 days before the expiry date of your residence permit, you should renew it. You should make an appointment at the local Questura and provide the following documents:

👉 Chamber of Commerce company registration details (visura camerale) of the innovative startup, including its articles of incorporation and by-laws, and proof of its registration in the special section of the Business Register.

👉 Proof of an annual income in the previous year higher than the legal minimum for exemption from contributions to the National Health Service (about 8,500 euros).

Remember that your business should meet the requirements of an “innovative startup”, otherwise, your permit wouldn’t be extended. Also, you should not leave Italy for more than 6 months.

After a successful application, your residence permit will be extended for the next two years.

Can I bring my team?

You can apply to Italia Startup Vasa with a team of up to 10 members. They should be not employees, but co-founders or hold shares in its capital. Financial resources should also be 50,000€ or higher for the whole team. The amount of each member's share in funding is not limited.

However, it’s better to have a larger amount of funds for a big team because the ISV Committee may consider higher resources in this case.

Every team member should fill out the Application form on their behalf. The sections of the form that refer to the startup project shall be identical for every applicant.

The application for all teams should be sent in one email. The rest of the process is the same for every team member is same as during a single-person application.

What about my family?

You and your team members can bring their spouses and children to Italy. Great news: there and no special requirements for your income size! Your partner will receive a permit that allows them to work in Italy.

What if I want to join an existing startup?

You can join an existing startup in Italy to acquire Italy Startup Visa. However, there are some limitations and requirements:

👉 The business should be registered as a limited liability company (s.r.l. or s.p.a.).

👉 The business should operate for 3 years at least.

👉 The company must be an innovative startup.

👉 Your role in the business should be a chairperson, CEO, member of the board of directors, or auditor.

👉 Your academic and professional experience must be relevant to the core business of the innovative startup.

Can I obtain a long-term permit with this program?

After 5 years of living in Italy with a self-employment permit that you revived with your Italian Startup Visa, you can apply for a long-term residence permit. After 10 years of living in Italy, you can apply for citizenship.

I got a refusal. Can I object?

There are several reasons why your application for Italy Startup Visa was refused. The main causes usually are a lack of innovativeness, a weak business plan or a lack of financial resources to launch the business.

The Committee will send you a detailed explanation of why they decided not to proceed with your application.

You can reach Committee within 10 days after you’ve received the notice, asking them to re-examine the case.

Further reading

👉 Italia Startup Visa/Hub website (you may need VPN to access it).

👉 Official Italia Startup Visa and Italia Startup Hub guidelines

👉 Application documents for visa and for permit convertion


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Ioann De
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