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Retirement for Expats in Italy

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: July 2014

Italy, like its neighbouring country Spain, is a popular country for people looking to retire abroad.  Unless you are a citizen of a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, you will need an visa to retire there. If you are a family member of a citizen of an EEA country or Switzerland, you should be able to get a visa through the family reunion or an EEA family resident visa.

If this is not applicable, you can apply for a long term Residence Permit. To qualify, you need to meet certain requirements. First of all, you need to have appropriate accommodation in Italy. Owning your own property would be beneficial but is not compulsory.  You will need to have a sufficient monthly income to live in Italy without needing to work. You will qualify for a one-year resident visa if you have an annual passive incomes of no less than EUR31,000. Passive incomes include income from any investments, pensions and other incomes but not income from employment. The visa can be renewed before it expires. A legal five years residency will lead to a permanent resident permit for a further five years. If you are moving to Italy as a couple, the financial requirement will be higher. You can get further information from this webpage: https://www.esteri.it/visti/home_eng.asp.

Health care is major consideration. The National Health Service (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale – SSN) in Italy is ranked No. 2 among all healthcare providers in the world. It is generally subsided to all long term residents for their basic medical needs. Make sure to register yourself if you qualify.  For more information about Italian healthcare, please see National Health Service for expats in Italy.

In Italy employees, certain self-employed persons and individuals earning business income through a trade activity are obliged to pay contributions into the state pension scheme (Istituto Nazionale per la Previdenza Sociale — INPS) or into different funds, either state-run or private, participation is mandatory.

If you retire from another country, you do not need to worry about this. You will need to make sure your pension income can be paid to your account in Italy if you want to live there for a long time.

Pensions paid by public organizations or by private insurance are considered to be income from employment and, therefore, taxable at the same rates. Italy’s tax treaties may provide for the taxation of pensions in either the country of residence or the country from where the pensions are paid.

You should note tax residence is the primary determinant of Italian tax liability. Individuals residing in Italy are subject to tax on their worldwide income, non-residents are taxable only on Italian sourced income. The number of days spent in Italy is an independent criterion in determining tax liability. If an individual stays in Italy for more than 183 days he or she is deemed to be a resident of Italy for the whole year, whether or not the stay is continuous in a calendar year. Therefore, it is always recommended to consider the tax consequences before retiring to Italy as a long term resident. 

Most people would like to keep their living standard similar to what they have been used to before retirement. However, many studies show that people are highly likely to run out of savings a lot earlier than expected. It is therefore recommended to establish a detailed retirement plan and start saving now, regardless of age. A retirement plan should include your expected retirement age, the lifestyle you would like to have during retirement, the expected cost of living, sources of income and the level of risk from these sources of income and a strategy to meet your goals. If you want a general idea about the cost of living in Italy, this is a useful link: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Italy.



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