There are many types of Italian long-stay visas; considering the amount and purpose of these 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). It is mainly 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 high quality of life. As such, many foreign nationals decide to retire and live in the country. Living in Italy is made not only possible but easier through the Italian Elective Residency Visa.
More so, Italy is part of the Schengen Agreement, which consists of 26 European countries that can freely travel among them without a visa. In addition, several other non-Schengen countries can travel to Italy if they intend to only stay there for a maximum of 90 days.
However, the rules change for any stay in Italy that exceeds 90 days.
Most foreign nationals who wish to stay in Italy for more than 90 days for any reason must apply for an Italy Long-Stay Visa.
What is a Visa?
A visa is an endorsement placed within a passport that grants the holder official permission to enter, leave or stay in a foreign country for a specified period. It’s a document that permits an alien to enter a new country and live for a long time, depending on the purpose for which the visa was led.
What is an Italy Long-Stay Visa?
An Italy Long-Stay Visa is also known as a D-Visa or a National Visa. You must apply for this visa to stay in Italy longer than 90 days. However, a long-stay visa isn’t the only permission you need if you want to live in Italy.
With an Italian long-stay visa, you can enter Italy. After that, you must get your Italian residence permit, which authorizes you to stay in Italy for more than 90 days. You cannot apply for an Italian residence permit if you are in Italy with a short-stay visa (Schengen).
The type of Italy long-stay visa you apply for depends on the purpose you want to live in Italy. So, if you want to go to Italy to study, work, or join a family member, you must apply for a visa. One of the long-stay visas in the country is the Italian Elective Residency Visa, which is our primary concern in this article.
What is Italy Elective Residency Visa?
The Italian elective residency visa is a type of Italian long-stay visa that a foreigner has to get if he/she wants to relocate to Italy permanently and have sufficient funds to provide for herself. The visa type allows the holder to leave permanently with enough funds to take care of herself while in Italy. These funds cannot come from active work while you are in Italy but rather from savings, investments, or pensions.
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 must promptly apply for an Italian Residence Permit. The permit allows you to live in Italy for longer than 90 days.
Italy Elective Residency Visa requirements:
When you apply 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 apply alone and € 38,000 if you apply as a married couple. The amount is increased by 20% for every dependant 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 adequate lodging in Italy through a lease/rental agreement or proof of purchase.
- 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 and 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?
Like other types of Italian visas, you must apply for them 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.
Suppose your country does not have an Italian embassy or consulate. In that case, you can apply 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 your appointment date, 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.
What is Residence Permit?
A residence permit is a document or card required in some regions, allowing a foreign national to reside in a country for a fixed or indefinite time. These may be permits for temporary residency or permanent residency.
The exact rules vary between regions. In some cases (e.g, the Italy temporary residence permit is required to extend a stay past some threshold and can be an intermediate step to applying for permanent residency.
Residency status may be granted for several reasons, and the criteria for acceptance as a resident may change over time. The current conditions in Italy include being a skilled migrant, a retired parent of an Italian National, an investor, and several others.
Residence permit for the Italy Elective Residency Visa
Within eight days of traveling 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 the local post office where you will live.
- Complete the application kit and submit it (along with photocopies of 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.
See a more detailed guide on how to apply for an Italian Residence Permit here.
Your residence permit will be issued for one to two years, after which you can renew it.
Once you have lived in Italy with a temporary residence permit for at least five years, you can 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.
Who Needs an Italy Elective Residence Visa to Retire in Italy?
Anyone not from an EU (European Union) country, or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Lichtenstein, must 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 Schengen 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 countries above, you cannot apply for an Italian residence permit if you are not holding an Italian long-stay visa.
Who can apply for permanent residency in Italy?
Permanent residency is available for both EU and non-EU citizens who have lived in Italy for the prescribed periods under the country’s Immigration Law. Non-EU nationals have the right to apply for permanent residence permits after five years of continuously living in Italy, while for EU citizens, the requirements are less stringent. They can apply for permanent residence if they intend to live in Italy for more than 90 days or three months.
Italy’s Elective Residency Visa is a long-stay document that allows foreigners to enter and live in a new country and care for themselves without working permanently.
The article further gives the requirements for the visa, how to apply for the visa, and the meaning of a residence permit.