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Reader question: Will Italy follow Spain in introducing a digital nomad visa?

A growing number of European countries are introducing new visas which allow remote workers to move from overseas. But will Italy join them? Here's how the situation looks at the moment.

Reader question: Will Italy follow Spain in introducing a digital nomad visa?
Several countries in southern Europe now have a special 'digital nomad' visa but Italy is not among them - yet. Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Question: “Is there any news on whether Italy’s government intends to introduce special visas for digital nomads? I note that Spain has just done this and Portugal has something similar.”

There was a piece of good news in January for remote workers hoping to move to southern Europe, as Spain finally brought in its much-anticipated ‘digital nomad’ visa.

Known in Spain as the visado para teletrabajadores de carácter internacional or visa for remote workers, it will allow non-EU freelancers and remote workers entry and residency rights (our sister site The Local Spain has the details about how it works HERE.)

Portugal too has a digital nomad visa available, allowing remote workers to live in the country for up to one year.

As a growing number of European countries recognise the benefits of allowing remote workers to move from overseas, will Italy be joining them?

In fact, Italy was widely expected to have created its own digital nomad visa by now. It’s almost one year since the country’s government approved a law allowing for the creation of a visa similar to that introduced in Spain.

This news was greeted with enthusiasm by many of The Local’s readers who hope to live and work in Italy short-term but currently have no good options for visas allowing remote work.

What's going on with Italy's digital nomad visa?

Italy was expected to introduce a digital nomad visa in 2022. Photo by BARBARA GINDL / APA / AFP).

So what happened to the plan? A year is a long time in Italian politics: the government that passed this law collapsed the following July, and a new administration with an entirely different set of priorities took over in October. 

During this transition it was unclear what would happen with the digital nomad visa. In our last update on the topic in October, we wrote that the plan seemed to have fallen through the cracks and was likely to be forgotten about, not least because the party which pushed the law through, the Five Star Movement, was no longer in government.

READ ALSO: What happened to Italy’s planned digital nomad visa?

Since then, not much has changed: none of the parties in the new ruling coalition have mentioned the digital nomad visa during their first months in office, nor given any indication that they intend to draw up the inter-ministerial plans necessary for making the visa scheme a reality. 

Perhaps this apparent lack of interest isn’t too surprising from a government with a staunchly anti-immigration stance – Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is an impassioned promoter of nativist policies who has accused previous administrations of trying to “replace” the Italian population with foreigners.

However, as readers point out, allowing more international workers to move to Italy would no doubt be a positive move for a country known for its flagging economy and suffering ‘brain drain’ as large numbers of Italian university graduates seek work elsewhere. There’s also a steady population decline, combined with an ageing populace which needs to be supported by an active workforce. 

The Italian MPs who promoted the digital nomad visa law suggested it could be one part of the answer to these complex and long-standing problems.

The increasing digitisation of the economy means that the number of digital nomads in Europe is expected to increase again in 2023. There are an estimated 37 million remote workers around the globe currently, of which 10 million are from the United States alone.

Between them, these usually affluent mobile workers contribute some 780 billion euros a year to the countries they choose to call home: it’s little wonder that more countries are now seeking to make it easier for them to move in.

READ ALSO: Remote workers: What are your visa options when moving to Italy?

While the current Italian government hasn’t given any indication as to whether or how it intends to move ahead with the plan to introduce a digital nomad visa, it hasn’t actually ruled out doing so, either. Which means there is some hope.

The law approved last March still stands and, even if this government doesn’t use it, a future one could – which is something to bear in mind given the highly changeable nature of Italian politics.

In the meantime, The Local will continue to publish any updates related to the digital nomad visa.

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For members


Reader question: Do I need an international permit to drive in Italy?

If you're visiting Italy from the US and plan to drive during your trip, will an international driving permit be necessary? Here's a look at the rules.

Reader question: Do I need an international permit to drive in Italy?

Question: “We’re planning a trip to Italy in May and we plan to rent a car. We’ve read conflicting information about whether or not we (as US nationals) will need an international driver’s permit. What should we do?”

There’s no shortage of information out there about driving in Italy as a visitor, but the rules aren’t always made crystal clear.

For example, the official website for the US Embassy and Consulates in Italy says travelers “should obtain an International Driving Permit before leaving the US.” 

But then it also says: “Tourists may also use their valid American driver’s license if accompanied by an official translation in Italian.”

So what do you actually need?

Italy’s official rules state that US nationals (and other visitors to Italy from outside of the European Union, not including from the UK) essentially have two choices. 

READ ALSO: Who needs to exchange their driving licence for an Italian one?

“Unless your national driving licence was issued by an EU/EFTA-member state, it must be accompanied either by an international driving permit, to be obtained prior to departure, or by a certified translation (traduzione giurata) into Italian,” according to information provided in English by motoring association ACI (Automobile Club d’Italia).

In practice, most people find that getting the international driving permit (IDP) is by far the easier option.

As anyone who has applied for Italian residency or citizenship can likely tell you, obtaining a certified translation into Italian of any foreign-issued document is no walk in the park and can also be expensive.

READ ALSO: How to pay Italian traffic fines from abroad

ACI says you’ll need to get it from an embassy or consulate, or through a certified translator or interpreter who “will need to declare before a court registrar that the translation is a true copy of the original”.

By comparison, the process of getting hold of an IDP is straightforward. For US nationals, applying (in person or by mail) via AAA costs $20 plus tax, and the only requirements are that you are aged over 18 and already have a valid driver’s license.

AAA says an IDP will be valid for one year and you can apply up to six months before your trip.

Do I really need to get an IDP?

You may have heard that travelers don’t need to bother getting either document for a trip to Italy – some people will tell you they’ve driven on Italian roads plenty of times without being asked to show an IDP.

Anecdotally, it sounds as though most visitors to Italy are unlikely to ever be asked to produce it, although some regular visitors have told The Local that they find checks have become more frequent in recent years.

And, unfortunately, not having the required document when needed could prove problematic and expensive.

READ ALSO: How to avoid car hire scams in Italy

Rental companies may ask you to show both your US license and your IDP when you pick up your vehicle, though it depends on the company.

More importantly, if you get pulled over by the police in Italy (you don’t need to be doing anything wrong; random roadside checks are common) or get into a car accident, and you don’t have the permit when asked for it, you could be fined anything between 408 and 1,634 euros.

As with so many things in Italy, experiences vary enormously depending on where you go: police in each Italian region or city tend to have different priorities and often interpret and apply certain rules differently.

Considering the large fine you could end up with, we’d advise following the rules and getting your IDP if your licence was issued in the US or another country where the Italian rules specify that this is a requirement.

Even if you never need to show it to anyone, it’ll give you peace of mind and help make your trip to Italy a more relaxing experience.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on individual cases. For more details about how Italy’s road rules may apply in your circumstances, consult the Italian embassy in your country or read more about the rules on driving in Italy on the ACI website (in English).

Do you have a question about living in or travelling to Italy which you’d like to see answered on The Local? Submit it here.