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Blog>Guides>Working in Italy as an American: An Expat Guide

Working in Italy as an American: An Expat Guide

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As the costs of living and unemployment continue to rise in the United States, more people are looking for ways to make a better life for themselves. One option that’s becoming increasingly popular is finding a job in another country. Italy is a popular destination for American expats, and there are plenty of opportunities for those who are willing to make the move.

The following article explores some key reasons why Italy is such a great place for Americans, including useful resources to help you get started.

Why Work in Italy?

If you're looking for a country with a rich culture, stunning scenery, and delicious food, Italy might just be the perfect place for you! Beyond these very important aspects, Italy is also a great place to work. Here are a few benefits of working in Italy:

  • With an average work week of fewer than 36 hours, the work-life balance in Italy is much better than in many countries. It leaves plenty of time to enjoy all that Italy has to offer outside work.

  • Italy has a strong economy with the current unemployment rate at a 10-year low. Plus, the addition of favorable tax laws makes the country an attractive hub for businesses to set up shop.

  • Italians are known for their hospitality, and the workplace is no exception. In Italy, you can expect a friendly environment that helps foster good working relationships.

Do Americans Need a Visa to Work in Italy?

The short answer is, yes, U.S. citizens need a visa to work in Italy. While the process of getting the correct work permit or visa may seem daunting, it's actually a pretty straightforward process. With a little bit of planning, you can be on your way to working in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

The first step to take when considering how to get a job in Italy is to determine the type of work visa you need. If you're planning on working in Italy for up to 24 months, you'll need to apply for a work visa. However, if you're planning to live and work in Italy for an extended period surpassing 24 months, you'll need to apply for a residence permit. If you're unsure which visa is right for you, consult with an Italian consulate or embassy, or ask your employer.

It’s important to keep in mind that even if you’ve secured a job, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be granted a visa. The Italian government uses a quota system to limit the number of Italian work visas available to foreign workers depending on country of origin, visa type, and length of stay.

How to Work in Italy as an American

U.S. citizens looking to work in Italy have several visa options available to them. Here are the main pathways you can choose from.

Infographic explaining the numerous ways Americans can legally live and work in Italy.
  • Work Visa. There are various types of work permit visas available, depending on job type. Your employer should advise you on the right one for your individual situation.

  • Business Visa. Italy offers various types of business visas, aimed at foreign investors who want to live and work in Italy.

  • Family Visa. Holding a work visa with a minimum duration of one year means that family members are eligible for a family reunification visa. This includes spouses, children under the age of 18, adult children with disabilities, and dependent or elderly parents.

  • Self-Employment Visa. This visa requires applicants to register with a local Chamber of Commerce to confirm their self-employment work status.

  • Start-Up Visa. The start-up visa is aimed at innovative business owners who are looking to base their start-up companies in Italy.

  • EU Blue Card. Highly-skilled workers can apply for the EU Blue Card — the European equivalent of a green card. It allows holders to live and work indefinitely in most EU countries.

Most visa applications cost €116, which equates to roughly $120 depending on the exchange rate. You can apply for them at an Italian embassy in your country of residence.

Do I Need to Speak Italian?

You don't need to speak Italian to work in Italy. While speaking the language will certainly improve your experience and help elevate your career, it's not a requirement. There are, in fact, many jobs in Italy for English speakers. A lot of companies choose to use English as their primary language — especially in the business and technology sectors.

Top Companies That Hire Americans in Italy

From major corporations to small businesses, there are many jobs for U.S. citizens available in Italy. Some reputable companies with offices or headquarters in the country that actively hire Americans include:

  • IBM

  • Exxon

  • Accenture

  • Deloitte

  • Amazon

  • KPMG

In addition to these major corporations, there are also many more opportunities for American talent to make a mark on small businesses and startups in Italy.

Top Cities for Expats Working in Italy

When contemplating moving to Italy for work, location is one of the most important things to consider. As one of the best places for expats, Italy has excellent job opportunities, high quality of life, and plenty of things to do in your free time. Read on to learn more about some of the best places to live in Italy.

Unlike many European countries, Italy has no official minimum wage. Instead, minimum wages are set via collective bargaining agreements on a sector-by-sector basis. This means minimum wages are likely to be similar across the country, regardless of location.

Rome

In Rome, the ancient architecture mixes with more modern accoutrements under a blue sky and clouds.

As the capital city of Italy and former center of the Roman Empire, Rome is one of the most historical places in the world. It's a great place to work in the tourism, fashion, and high-tech industries.

While the cost of living in some of the city’s most popular neighborhoods is fairly high, there are also more affordable, less touristy areas to choose from. Rome has a thriving economy, which has helped attract a number of multinational companies. And despite the fiercely competitive job market, there are opportunities for everyone. This extends from entry-level blue-collar employees to highly experienced white-collar professionals.

Milan

A series of string lights over a canal cast their reflection in the waters below on a bustling night in Milan.

Living and working in Milan is a truly unique experience. The city is home to some of the world's most iconic fashion and design brands, while also being a major center for finance and business. If you're after a buzzing, cosmopolitan city that’s very safe to work and live in, you can’t go wrong with Milan.

Leisure time outside of work doesn’t get much better anywhere else thanks to the city’s seemingly endless list of things to do. From world-famous museums to art galleries, restaurants, sports, and outdoor retreats, there are lots to keep you entertained during your downtime.

Venice

A lineup of boats navigate a canal in Venice during the day.

There's something special about Venice. Built on canals, the city has a sense of history and charm like very few places in the world. It's no wonder why so many people dream of living and working there.

To advance your professional career, some of the most attractive industries in Venice include tourism and hospitality, IT, and education. It’s also turning into a burgeoning hub for start-up companies, creating more job opportunities for both local as well as international talent.

Italian Work Culture

Italy is known for its relaxed and informal work culture. Despite seeming antithetical to business productivity and efficiency, it actually has a positive impact on the workforce. Italians also have a strong sense of family and community, which spills over into the workplace. Colleagues often become friends, and work starts feeling like a second home.

Italian Working Hours

In Italy, the workday is typically eight hours long including a one-hour lunch break, but there can be a lot of flexibility regarding how the hours are split up. For example, many businesses close early on Friday afternoons so that employees can enjoy a longer weekend. In summer, it's not uncommon for businesses to close for a couple of hours in the afternoon so that employees can take an extended break to enjoy the warm weather. On average though, employees work around 36 hours per week.

Holidays

Italy has a number of public holidays throughout the year. Some of these holidays are religious in nature while others are secular. Here is a list of the country’s standard public holidays that occur every year:

  • New Year's Day: January 1st

  • Epiphany: January 6th

  • Liberation Day: April 25th

  • Labor Day: May 1st

  • Republic Day: June 2nd

  • Feast of the Assumption: August 15th

  • All Saints' Day: November 1st

  • Immaculate Conception: December 8th

  • Christmas Day: December 25th

  • St. Stephen’s Day: December 26th


In addition to public holidays, Italian employees receive a minimum of four weeks of paid holiday per year, protected by law.

Maternity & Paternity Leave

In Italy, both mothers and fathers are entitled to paid time off work for the birth or adoption of a child. Maternity leave can last up to 18 weeks, while paternity leave is typically two weeks. This benefit is just one of the many ways the Italian government supports families. It helps to create a strong foundation for the child's future.

Taxes for American Expats in Italy

U.S. citizens who live and work abroad in Italy may have to pay taxes to both the United States and Italian governments. Thankfully, there is a tax treaty between the two nations that can help minimize your tax liability. Under this treaty, you may be eligible for the Foreign Earned Income exclusion. At the time of writing this in July 2022, this exclusion allows you to exclude up to $112,000 of income generated abroad.

However, as a resident of Italy, you will be entitled to pay taxes to the Italian government. These are calculated on a progressive scale depending on your level of income and can fluctuate depending on which municipality or region of Italy you live in.

Review & Plan

There are many opportunities to find jobs in Italy for Americans. With a little research and careful planning, you can find a job that suits your skills and interests. Here are a few things to keep in mind before actualizing your dream of living and working in Italy:

  1. Thoroughly research the culture, costs, and requirements of living and working in Italy

  2. Find potential employers that are open to hiring U.S. citizens

  3. Apply for jobs that match your individual skillset

  4. Get all your paperwork together and apply for the correct visa

Once you have everything in order, you’re free to realize your goal of living and working in Italy. Get the ball rolling by finding your dream role on Joblist today! We list millions of new positions across a wide range of industries daily, so you can be sure to find something that matches your unique skills and experience.

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