Italy is one of the most-visited countries in the world, welcoming millions of international tourists every year who come to visit ancient sites, lounge on Mediterranean beaches, and dine on the world's most recognized cuisine. Anyone traveling with a passport from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K., the EU, or 58 other visa-exempt countries can enter with just a passport for up to 90 days, as long as it doesn't expire for at least three months after you plan to leave.
Italy is one of the 26 countries that make up the Schengen Area, a group of European nations that have abolished border checks between each other. Because these countries are considered to be one entity, the 90-day limit for visiting applies to the entire Schengen Area, not each individual country. Countries that are a part of this agreement include Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
If you have a passport from a non-exempt country, you'll need to apply for a Schengen Tourist Visa in order to enter Italy—which also allows the holder to travel freely around the Schengen Area for up to 90 days.
Anyone who isn't from the EU and is planning to move to Italy for a period longer than 90 days must apply for a national visa. This applies to workers, students, and relatives of Italian residents.
|Visa Requirements for Italy|
|Visa Type||How Long Is It Valid?||Required Documents||Application Fees|
|Schengen Tourist Visa||90 days in 180-day period||Bank statements, proof of medical insurance, hotel reservations, roundtrip plane tickets||80 euros|
|Work Visa||1 year||Employment contract, "nulla osta"||116 euros|
|Student Visa||Duration of program||Letter of acceptance into education program & proof of financial means, health insurance, and lodging||50 euros|
|Family Visa||1 year||"Nulla osta", certificate proving family relation||116 euros|
Schengen Tourist Visa
Only nationals from certain countries need to apply for a tourist visa, but the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs offers an easy-to-use tool for determining if you need one or not. If you have a passport from a non-exempt country, the Schengen Tourist Visa allows you to freely travel around Europe for 90 days just as a visa-exempt visitor can. Depending on what you're approved for, the tourist visa may allow you multiple entries into the Schengen Area or just one, so pay close attention to what your visa says.
Visa Fees and Application
If you need a Schengen Tourist Visa, first confirm you're applying through the right country. If you're only visiting Italy or Italy is the primary destination of your trip—meaning the most number of days—you'll have to apply through an Italian consulate. If you're visiting multiple countries for an equal number of days but Italy is the first Schengen county you visit, you'll also apply at an Italian consulate.
- Find your nearest Italian consulate and make an appointment to present your documents.
- Bring a completed application form, your passport, a color photo of yourself, bank statements to show financial means, roundtrip airfare, travel insurance, and accommodations for the entire trip.
- The visa fee of 80 euros is payable by money order or cashier's check in the local currency at the time of your appointment. Check your consulate's webpage for the current exchange rate.
- If your application is approved, your passport will be mailed to you within seven to 14 days with the visa affixed inside.
If your plan is to move to Italy to work, you'll need to apply for a national long-term visa. These visas are granted for individuals who have already been offered a job by an Italian company or who are self-employed and have business in Italy. These visas are initially approved for periods up to one year, but you'll need to apply for a residency card in the local police station—Questura—upon arrival, which can be renewed annually.
Visa Fees and Application
The first step is obtaining the nulla osta lavoro, which is a work permit that comes from the provincial immigration office in Italy (the office is the Sportello Unico dell’Immigrazione). If you've been hired by an Italian company, your employer is responsible for completing this step. It's more complicated if you're applying for a self-employed work visa since you'll need to hire a proxy in Italy to complete this step for you.
Once the Italian immigration office approves the request, they'll send the nulla osta to your local Italian consulate in your home country, where you'll need to make an appointment to turn in the remaining documents.
- Bring with you a completed application form, your passport, and a color photo of yourself.
- You'll pay the visa fee at the time of your appointment, which is 116 euros payable in the local currency by money order or cashier's check.
- After your appointment, the processing time takes about two weeks for your passport to be mailed back to you with the visa inside.
Italy is the most desired country in the world for study abroad students and its many prestigious universities—which are some of the oldest in all of Europe—also attract plenty of foreigners who come to study full-time. Whether you're studying abroad for a term or enrolling in an Italian university, if you'll be in Italy for longer than 90 days you need to apply for a student visa.
If you're from a visa-exempt country and your program is less than 90 days—such as a summer program—you don't need a visa to study and you can enter as a tourist. If you're from a non-exempt country and your program is less than 90 days, you'll apply for a Schengen Tourist Visa and mark that the reason for your trip is educational (which also waives the visa fee).
Student visas are granted for the duration of the program for up to one year, and all visa holders must apply for a residency card at the local police station (Questura) upon arriving in Italy. For programs that last longer than a year, you can renew your residency card within Italy.
Visa Fees and Application
As with all Italian visas, you'll need to physically turn in your documents to your nearest consulate after making an appointment.
- Bring your completed application form, passport, a color photo of yourself, a letter of acceptance into an education program, proof of financial means, travel insurance, and proof of accommodations.
- The letter of acceptance must be written in Italian and include the contact information for a school administrator who resides in Italy.
- The fee for a student visa is 50 euros, which is payable in the local currency via money order or a cashier's check. Check your consulate's website for the current exchange rate.
- Visas are usually processed within two weeks from your appointment. If approved, your passport will be mailed back to you with your visa affixed inside.
If you are a legal resident of Italy, you can sponsor your spouse or domestic partner of the same or opposite sex, your minor child, your child over 18 who is dependent on you, or your parents if they are over 65 to join you by applying for a family visa. The family visa only applies when the sponsor is a legal resident of Italy—such as with a work or student visa—but not a citizen of Italy or any other EU country. In the latter case, there is a more streamlined process that is done through the police station in Italy.
Visa Fees and Application
The initial process for obtaining a family visa is similar to the work visa—the sponsor must already be in Italy and request a nulla osta from the immigration office in the province where they reside for their family members. Once the nulla osta is approved, the applicant can schedule an appointment at the Italian consulate in their home country.
- The applicant must bring to the appointment a completed application, passport, a color photograph, and legal certificates that show the relation to the sponsor.
- All certificates must be legalized and translated into Italian.
- The fee for the family visa is 116 euros and must be paid with a money order or cashier's check in the local currency.
- Unless further information is needed or something needs to be clarified, family visas are typically approved within two weeks.
Whether you're from a visa-exempt country or you're granted a Schengen Tourist Visa, you're allowed to be in Italy and the entire Schengen Area for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. To make sure you don't go over, pull out a calendar and go to the date you expect to leave the Schengen Area for good. From there, count back 180 days—roughly six months—and add up all of the days you were in a Schengen Area country. If the total comes out to 90 or less, you don't have to worry.
If you count more than 90 days, you'll be overstaying your visa which is a serious problem. The exact punishment varies depending on your particular circumstances and what country you're caught in, but expect anything from a hefty fine up to detention, deportation, and being banned from returning.
Extending Your Visa
If you want to prolong your vacation for longer than 90 days you can request an extension, but you'll need a good reason for doing so. Potential reasons include a natural disaster, humanitarian crisis, medical emergency, or an unexpected death. You'll need to visit a police station in Italy to ask for the extension and the final decision lies with the officer who happens to help you. Most important, you must request the extension before your initial 90-day limit runs out. If you wait until after, you'll have already overstayed your visa and you may be immediately deported.