start up visa program

What is a Start-up Visa?

The Start-up Visa program is a fast-track procedure for self-employment Visa application outside the annual quotas mechanism for foreign entrepreneurs willing to establish innovative business companies in Italy.

This application is:

  • fast: it last no more than 30 days from when your full application has been sent to the Technical Comittee Italian Start-up VISA (ISV Comittee). This Comittee is composed by important members of the main national innovation organizations. It communicates to you the result of its examination, after having received the Nulla- Osta issued by the competent police office addressed to you. If the result is positive, you will receive via email the Nulla Osta for the incorporation of your Start-up (Nulla Osta ISV), which is directly delivered to the competent Consulate;
  • centralised: it is managed by a Commitee which is coordinated by the Economic Ministry;
  • free: the all procedure can be done online, by sending the application to the programme website:

You can also benefit from the programme fast-track Visa from a certified Hub. In order to be certified, the Hub must fulfil some specific requirements, related to location, the personnel and the equipment. Mainly, it must be demonstrated its experience in supporting activities for the start and improvement of innovative enterprises, by its physical hub services and its influence in the business area of the territory. The innovative Start-up and the certified Hub must be registered in the specific sections of the Companies Register.

What is an innovative Start-up?

An innovative Start-up is a new enterprise which have an innovative and technological business model. An innovative Start-up is a capital company, which can be also a cooperative, not listed having the following requirements:

  • It has been incorporated for no more than 5 years;
  • It has its main headquarter in Italy or in another EU Member State, or in a EEA Member State, as long as it has a productive office or a subsidiary in Italy;
  • It has a production annual value less than 5 million euros;
  • It did not and it does not allocate the profits;
  • The exclusive or main object of the company is the development, the production and sale of innovative and high technological product or services;
  • It does not come from a merger, from a company split, or from a transfer of an enterprise or a business sector;
  • Finally its innovation character derives from the possession of at least one of these requirements:
    • It address a share of 15% of the highest between the value of the turnover and the annual costs to the research and development sector;
    • Its personnel is composed by 1/3 PHD students or researchers or by 2/3 shareholders or employers having a 5 years bachelor degree;
    • The enterprise is holder, has the deposit or the licence of an industrial registered patent or it is holder of an original elaborator registered programme.

The definition of Start-up does not include only a specific sector. If the Start-up fulfils the above-mentioned requirements it can operates in every economic field.

Can I benefit from the Start-up Visa program, if I already have another kind of Italian long term residence permit?

Yes, you can. Thanks to the launch of the Start-up Hub in December 2014, this procedure can be also applied to third-country nationals who are already residing in Italy with a residence permit or to third-country national who want to stay in Italy to incorporate an innovative Start-up.

You can convert your previous permit in a “start-up self-employment permit” without leaving the Italian territory and you will benefit from the same fast and easy procedure who is addressed to Start-up Visa owners.

How can I apply for it?

You can do a direct online application.

Which documents do I need to apply?

All applications are made up of three mandatory documents:

a. An application form. Its format contains:

  • the personal details and contact information, date and place of birth, place of residence, email address, phone number and other useful contact details; a brief description of the main academic and professional attainments of the applicant (curriculum vitae);
  • detailed information about the innovative start-up project: idea and business model, type of product or service to be developed, innovative aspects, target markets, previous relations with the Italian innovation ecosystem;
  • the province and the region where the candidate intends to settle, so as to allow a preliminary security check, required by law, from the local Questura. The applicant must submit also a brief “presentation deck” of his project as integration.

In the event that the non-EU citizen is hosted by a certified start-up incubator – i.e., the incubator will assist them in setting up a new innovative start-up in Italy – the application procedure presents some significant differences. When backed by a certified incubator, the applicant must not submit a standard application form. Instead, they must provide a certificate, signed by the legal representative of the incubator, which confirms that the latter intends to assist the non-EU citizen in incorporating and launching a new innovative start-up in Italy.

b. A formal statement whereby the applicant declares financial availability of at least 50,000 euros, supported by documentary elements of such availability: the documentation may be attached to the email. These resources, to be attached to the request submitted to the Committee, may originate from:

  • the investor’s own funds. Such resources should be liquid (e.g. a bank deposit) or readily convertible into cash (securities are generally allowed, real estate is not);
  • financing arising from venture capital funds, corporations, and other third-party investments;
  • other financing issued by government agencies or non-governmental actors, both Italian and foreign;
  • a combination of the above.

c. A copy of a valid passport.

The applicant can submit the full documentation in two languages, Italian or English. It is not necessary to submit certified translations unless requested for the purposes of investigative enquiries.

Which is the procedure to obtain the Start-up Visa?

As already mentioned, the procedure to obtain a start-up Visa is a simplified, digitised and fast-track variant of the normal procedure followed for self-employment Visas. It is possible to sum up the main steps as follows:

  • Application submission with an application form, a copy of his or her passport, and a formal statement whereby they declare a financial availability for no lower than 50,000 euros, which are to be invested in the creation and the day-by day running of the new innovative start-up. The application documents can be filled out in Italian and in English. The Secretariat of the Italia Start-up Visa programme, established at the Ministry of Economic Development, carries out a preliminary check of the documentation submitted.
  • Evaluation: as soon as the preliminary check has been successfully completed, the documentation is sent to the body responsible for the assessment, the Italia Start-up Visa Technical Committee, comprising prominent representatives of the main organisations of the national innovation ecosystem. Within 30 days from submission, and after the acquisition of a provisional Certificate of No Impediment to entry, issued by the Questura, the Committee must inform the applicant of the outcome of the assessment. If successful, the applicant will receive, by email, the scan of a Certificate of No Impediment for the establishment of an innovative start-up.
  • Visa issuing: within three months from the date of issue of the Nulla Osta, the applicant must go to the competent Italian consulate abroad. At that stage, after a supplementary check, they will be able to collect a start-up self-employment Visa, with a duration of one year.

How many application can I do for the same project?

The Italia Start-up Visa programme can also include up to five non-EU citizens, of any nationality, that apply as entrepreneurs who wish to set up a single new innovative start-up in Italy. To be eligible for ISV, all applicants must meet the conditions required for the issue of self-employment Visas. In exceptional circumstances, the ISV Committee may agree to grant more Certificates of No Impediment, up to a maximum of 10 per project. In case of more than one applicant for the same project, the declaration of financial availability needed to start the activity can be only one and it is valid for all the applicants.

Is it possible to submit an application to join an innovative start-up already in existence?

Yes, the Start-up Visa Committee can also evaluate the issuing of an ISV Certificate of No Impediment for non-EU citizens intending to play an executive role in a registered innovative start-up that has already been in existence for at least three years, investing a sum of no less than 100,000 euros if the requirements are as follows:

  • possession of the standard requirements of general self-employment Visa legislation, in particular of Inter-Ministerial no.850/2011, along with further parameters, which are meant to ensure the consistency of applications with the overall rationale of the Italia Start-up Visa programme:
  • the company that the non-EU citizen wishes to join must be a limited company; in particular, it must be incorporated as an s.r.l. (limited responsibility company) or s.p.a. (company limited by shares);
  • the company must have been operative for at least three years;
  • the company must be an innovative start-up registered in the Chamber of Commerce;
  • In the target company, the non-EU citizen must assume one of the following positions:
    • a. Chairman;
    • b. CEO;
    • c. Member of the board of directors;
    • d. Auditor.
  • The entrepreneur and the innovative start-up undertake, in a written document signed by both parties, to carry out all the necessary tasks to meet this condition;
  • The non-EU citizen proves they have financial availability of at least 100,000 euros (or equivalent in other currencies) arising from their own resources, which shall be invested in the innovative start-up.
  • The non-EU citizen undertakes to have a self-employment relationship with the innovative start-up. The entrepreneurial contribution that the applicant intends to provide to the company must be well detailed in the application.
  • The academic and professional curriculum of the candidate must be relevant to the core business of the innovative start-up, and consistent with the tasks described in the Job Agreement.

As for the standard procedure, applications to join start-ups already in existence may be submitted by the applicant either directly or with the support of a certified start-up incubator.

How can I apply for an electronic residence permit, after having obtained my Start-Up Visa?

After collecting your entry Visa for start-up self-employment, you will have 180 days to move to Italy and apply for a 1-year self-employment residence permit, within eight days of your arrival in Italy. You must fill out a special set of forms (a “postal kit”), available at most local post offices, with the payment of tax issuance, copy of the Security clearance to your entrance in Italy, Visa and the whole passport. The competent desk will issue a receipt with the data of the first appointment to the competent police Headquarters for your personal appearance and the fingerprints. After this appointment, the police headquarters will contact you for the withdraw of your electronic permit card.

Can I renew it?

Yes, up to 30 days prior to its expiry date (and one year since the day of application at the post office), the residence permit for self-employment may be renewed for a maximum of two years. It is then renewable at expiration and can be extended for a further two years. After five years, you can apply for a residence permit for long-term residents, which has no expiry date.

How can I apply for a permanent residence permit?

As per the current law provisions, after 5 years of legal stay in Italy, you can request a permanent residence permit (i.e. EC residence permit for long term residents).

The permanent residence permit has no expiry date, must not be renewed but only updated, and it assigns the foreigner the right to enter in Italy without a Visa, and is not related to any investment or donation made in the past. The permanent residence permit may be requested by third-country nationals who:

  • are legally residing in Italy for at least 5 years;
  • are holders of a valid temporary residence permit;
  • have an annual income from legitimate sources equal, at least, to the amount established yearly by governmental authorities (€ 5.977,79 for 2020);
  • pass an Italian language test.