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Italy’s citizenship by investment? It’s a hoax!



Recently there have been some articles posted on the web, mostly targeted to South African citizens, publicizing the possibility of obtaining citizenship by investing in Umbria, a region in the centre of the country. The articles allege:

“a new programme created by the Italian Revenue Agency (Agenzia delle Entrate) to encourage economically active people to immigrate to Italy now offers South Africans a relatively inexpensive way to gain residence in that country, followed by citizenship and an Italian passport, in less than a year.”

or

“The main program under which foreign citizens can obtain permanent residence followed by citizenship by investment in Italy is called the Investor Visa Scheme”

or

“the costs attached to the new Italian initiative are just €100,000 (R1.7 million) for the main applicant to obtain residency followed by citizenship and a passport”


Don’t believe it!


Check the information available on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on how to acquire Italian citizenship by residency. You can find out that such options are not listed.


As a general rule, for non-EU foreigners, legal residence on the territory of the Italian State for at least 10 years is required, but there are many cases for which the period of residence required is lower:

  • 3 years of legal residence: for the foreigners whose father, mother or any of the ascendants in a direct line of second degree were Italians by birth or for the foreigners born in Italy and residing there;

  • 4 years for the citizen of an EU Member State;

  • 5 years of legal residence following adoption for the foreigners of legal age, or following the recognition of status for stateless people or political refugees.

Residency by investment

Actually, Italy has indeed an Investor Visa but:

  • the program offers Residency and not Citizenship; and

  • it is run by the Government, while single regions (like Umbria or Calabria) do not have powers or authority to offer any different or ad hoc immigration options.

The official source for information about the Investor Visa is the website of the Ministry of Economic Development (MISE)

  • Why invest in Italy (mise.gov.it)

Any information different from those provided in Government websites and official sources that you read in articles, blogs, etc. it is a fake news and potentially a fraud.


Do not confuse possible tax benefits offered to new residents with residency/citizenship rights


Some people think that applying for a tax incentive scheme will automatically grant a resident visa, but this is not correct.

Italy offers some favourable tax schemes for new residents:


Yearly flat tax (€ 100,000)

Individuals transferring their tax residency in Italy can apply for a special yearly flat tax of € 100,000. To qualify for the option the applicant must not have been resident in Italy for at least nine tax years during the previous 10 years.

  • Individuals — Personal Income Tax — Irpef — Benefits for transferees of residence to Italy — Agenzia delle Entrate (agenziaentrate.gov.it)

Special regime for foreign retirees (7% tax)

Foreign retirees who move their fiscal residence from abroad in the small Municipalities of Southern Italy (Sicily, Calabria, Sardinia, Campania, Basilicata, Abruzzo, Molise and Puglia) with population not exceeding 20 thousand inhabitants, can benefit from a substitute tax of 7% to be applied to any category of income produced abroad. The option is valid for 5 years.

  • See the Tax Agency guidelines — Archivio — Pensionati che dall’estero trasferiscono la residenza nei piccoli Comuni del Sud-Italia. Pronte le regole delle Entrate per l’imposta sostitutiva al 7% — Agenzia delle Entrate (agenziaentrate.gov.it)

… But applicants will still need to obtain a Visa to live in the country

Applying to such schemes, in fact, does not automatically grant a visa to the applicants. Available visa options are:

  • Elective residence visa

  • Investor Visa

  • Self-employment visa

  • Subordinate work visa

  • Enterpreneur visa

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