Working in Italy

In Italy's economy, there is still what is called the traditional north-south divide. While in some parts of the "rich" and heavily industrialized north, there is almost full em­ployment, large parts of Italy's south suffer from high unemployment.

Qualified personnel is in high demand, especially in the IT area, but things also look quite good for job seekers in the education sector. In general, a good command of English is more important than Italian language skills, though this may vary according to which industrial sector you're looking at and which job you're looking for. Despite all this, there is still a large number of Italians whose English is less than accept­able, and this is why it's always an advantage to know some Italian.

Requirements for assuming a job in Italy

Residence permit for EU citizens

EU citizens are not subject to any restrictions in matters of access to Italy's job mar­ket. A person with a member state's citizenship is automatically entitled to a work permit. After three months' residence in the country, you require a residence permit that can be applied for at the Foreign Department (Uffi­cio Stranieri) of the Police Headquarters (Questura). When applying for a residence permit, you always have to show your passport or similar identification including passport photographs. Whether you need to produce any further documents depends on why you want to continue your stay in Italy or what kind of job you're looking for.

Persons who want to work in Italy as self-employed businessmen may have to pro­vide evidence that they earnestly intend to run an independent business in that country.

Employees who apply for a residence permit need to produce a certificate of em­ployment or an equivalent formal statement from their employer.

Both these groups receive a residence permit for a period of up to five years, which may be extended after expiry.

Non-EU citizens

To work in Italy, non EU citizens require an entry visa, a residence permit as well as a work permit.

Visa

To enter Italy, you require an entry visa if you're not a citizen of an EU member state. However, citizens of third countries, who already have a visa for a member state of the Schengen Agreement, do not require a special entry visa for It­aly. The visa indi­cates both the reason and the duration of a person's stay in Italy. Due to the fact that visas are issued for special purposes, there are a number of types of visa.

Tourist visa - Visto turistico

This type of visa is issued for tourist purposes only and has a validity of up to three months.

Student visa - Visto per studio

This type of visa is issued exactly for the duration of a person's study visit to Italy. If a person studies longer than one year, a visa for one year will at first be issued. After expiry this visa will then have to be extended. For this purpose, the person has to provide evi­dence that he or she attends an Italian school or university.

Employment visa  - Visto per lavoro

This type of visa is issued for a period of up to two years. To receive an employment visa, a person needs to produce evidence of employment, made out in his or her name and signed by the employer.

Health visa  - Visto per cure sanitarie

This visa's period of validity depends on how long a person intends to stay in Italy to undergo treatment or therapy. When applying for a health visa, a person needs to provide evidence that he or she is undergoing or is about to undergo treatment or therapy in Italy. Such evidence, issued either by the state or by an approved private institute, has to be ratified by the Italian embassy in one's home country.

Visa for a relative's visit - Visto per visite a familiari

This type of visa, issued for a period of up to three months, can be extended. As a rule, it is issued only to first-degree relatives.

Family reunion visa

A foreign jobholder whose residence in Italy is legal, i.e. who has both a residence permit and a work permit, may be visited by his or her family, spouse, minor children or parents if these are financially dependent on him on her. To apply for this visa, a person needs to provide evidence of at least two years' employment, a place of resi­dence as well as a job.

Note that evidence has to be provided for the relationship(s) existing between appli­cant and foreign jobholder.

Residence permit

After eight days' residence in Italy at the very latest, a non EU citizen has to apply for a residence permit in accordance with the purpose indicated in his or her visa. This can be done at the Police Headquarters in charge of the person's Italian place of residence. After doing so, this person will be given proof of having submitted a resi­dence application. Af­ter one week at the latest, an answer will be given. If the request is rejected, this must be done in a language that the applicant can understand.

A residence permit is a foreigner's most important document. Foreigners must carry it with them at all times and produce it upon demand.

If you want to alter the intended purpose of your residence permit, say, in order to change your status from being an employee to running a business of your own, you need to wait until the Police Headquarters in charge of your case have received a response from the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Economics and from the Minis­try of the Interior. So you ought to decide as soon as possible which status of em­ployment you want to assume in Italy.

Work permit

Italy grants equal rights within the Italian job market to all persons who do not have the citizenship of either Italy or a different EU member state. To receive a work per­mit, a person needs to produce a residence permit, which indicates the specific purpose of his or her stay, at the local Labor Office. A work permit allows a foreign jobseeker to accept all kinds of la­bor contracts, to register at the Italian Board of Trade or to join an Italian trade union.

Compensation received by a foreign jobholder must not be less than that of an Italian employee performing a similar job. In fact, it is unlawful for paid compensation to be consid­erably below the average compensation common to the relevant sector of in­dustry.

Social insurannce

The system of social security in Italy covers all important aspects such as illness, mater­nity, occupational injuries, as well as pension provision and provision for de­pendents. All Italian citizens have a right to these social benefits. To assert your claim, all you need to do is register at the health department (Unità Sanitaria Lo­cale - USL) in charge of your Italian place of residence.

Health insurance (Sanità)

In the relationship between Germany and Italy there is the so called "country of em­ployment principle", i.e. you need to be insured in the country where you work unless you have been officially posted there.

In Italy there is compulsory health insurance (Azienda Sanitarie Locali). To obtain membership you require an Italian place of residence. It is advisable to get in touch with your local USL (Unità Sanitarie Locali) office shortly after arrival, in order to make sure you have sufficient insurance protection.

If you have private insurance, you should clarify the extent of your insurance protec­tion directly with your insurance company.

Pension insurance (Pensioni)

According to EU regulations the abovementioned "country of employment principle" also applies to pension insurance. In Italy, the national pension insurance carrier is called the INPS (Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale). Employees do not have to worry about the required formalities, for all these are taken care of by their employers. Two thirds of all pension contributions are paid by em­ployers, one third is deducted from employees' salaries. Employers have to ensure the total amount of all contributions is transferred to the Italian pension authori­ties.

Self-employed businessmen have to ensure they register with the insurance car­rier in charge of their occupational group. These persons pay contributions propor­tionate to their declared annual income. They are not insured against unemployment.

Looking for a job in Italy

You can apply for jobs via online job exchanges, as for instance StepStone.it, or  newspapers. The largest daily papers are 'Il Corriere della Sera' and 'La Repubblica'. Also, there are large regional papers such as 'Il Messaggero' in Rome.

If you want to register at the Labor Office (Ufficio di Collocamento), you require the so called Booklet of Labor (Libretto di Lavoro) or, failing that, proof of having applied for one at your Labor Office. For EU citizens, the libretto di lavoro is available at the Regis­tration Office of their local community (Anagrafe del comune). To apply for a libretto, you require valid identification, a residence permit (carta di soggiorno) or, failing that, proof of having applied for one, as well as a copy of your record of study or training.

Recipients of unemployment benefits may continue to draw benefits for another three months via the INPS (Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale), provided they have given due notice of their departure at their local German Registration and Labor Offices and they have registered at an Italian Labor Office within a period of seven days.

Bulky application folders are not common in Italy. It is enough to send a short letter with your CV (without a photo) as well as, possibly, important job references. Do not hesitate to mention personal interests or hobbies in your application if it helps with the position you're applying for. Pay special attention to the outer appearance of your application as elegance and cleanliness will help ensure you get the job you want.

If you have any personal contacts in the corporation you want to join, do not hesitate to use these contacts. But whatever happens, remember one thing: Do not get dis­couraged if there is no response to your application. Keep at it and get into the habit of inquiring regularly - your tenacity may pay off.