The state of the British economy is unlikely to improve any time soon, the business climate in the UK is depressed and the actual climate is depressing – so if you’re thinking of moving abroad to find a better life, let’s just say you’re not alone and we don’t blame you either!

The thought of living ‘la dolce vita’ in incredible Italy is one that increasing numbers of people share, after all, whilst the Italian economy may be no better or worse than that in the UK, at least the climate is better, the landscape is more interesting and the people more passionate…oh, and the food and wine are great too!

Those who’re below retirement age will need to think about how they’re going to earn an income if they move abroad, and so in this guide we’ll show you all you need to know about working in Italy.

If you’re moving to Italy from anywhere within the EU – i.e., you’re an EU passport holder, the good news is that you can move freely and look for work.  However, once it is your intention to reside permanently in Italy you’ll need to get your permesso.  This document is valid for five years and is issued and tailored depending on your reasons for being in Italy – i.e., whether you’re living there as a retiree, working there, being self-employed or whatever.

To get your permesso you will need a variety of pieces of paper and documents that also depend on your reasons for being in Italy.  The bottom line is that you’ll need to show you’re self sufficient and you won’t actually end up being dependent on the state.  You may therefore need to take a letter showing you’re employed in Italy or the UK, that you receive an income from a pension or investments, or some proof that you are financially self-sufficient.  On top of this you will need to have proof that you have a roof over your head, that you have medical insurance or your E111, you’ll need to take at least 4 passport sized photos, your passport and a copy of it and also your codice fiscale.

You should go to the nearest police station to register yourself for your permesso within 10 days of arriving to stay permanently in Italy.  To get your codice fiscale visit the nearest ministry of finance (Ministero Dell’Economia e Delle Finanze) with your passport and proof of address.  Without this little code you can’t do anything, not even open a bank account or get a mobile phone!

If you arrive in Italy with a job already secured, it’s highly likely that your employer will help sort out all your paperwork and tax forms for you.  You’ll need a permesso di soggiorno per lavoro which is also renewable every five years, and your tax and national insurance contributions can be taken from your wages at source.  If you arrive and want to look for work, this is also perfectly acceptable, but know that unless you want to work in the tourism industry or in a part time, non professional role, you will need to have a good grasp of the Italian language to stand a good chance of winning a decent role.

In terms of where to look for employment, this will of course depend on what sort of job you’re looking for.  The more industrialised North of Italy is where the majority of jobs are found by the majority of people, and from Rome upwards the unemployment rate drops significantly.  Probably the best place to start looking will be in the major towns and cities where there are more employers, more businesses and more opportunities.  As an EU citizen you have the same employee rights as an Italian, you are entitled to a contract of employment, state healthcare and also pension rights – but at the same time you are also required to abide by the same rules as your Italian counterparts.  So, you will have to pay the same taxes and the same national insurance contributions.

Wages for professional contracts in Italian cities will be similar to those in much of the UK, although not London, but once you move into more rural areas or into less well qualified roles, pay can differ quite substantially.  This is something you will have to bear in mind in relation to your new cost of living in Italy.  In terms of minimum wages, there is a bare minimum but most people are paid well in excess of this unless they are trainees.  There is also a maximum working week in Italy as well, and this is enforced quite rigorously across the nation so that everyone remains competitive.  The maximum is 40 hours across 5 days with a certain amount of allowable paid overtime.  As is the norm in many European nations, Italians often receive their salary split into 13 or 14 monthly payments with an extra payment sometimes received in June or July for summer holidays, and another paid in November or December for Christmas.  The amount of holiday entitlement you get can be upwards of 6 weeks, with many companies still closing for 4 weeks in the summer and 2 at Christmas – in which case, employees have to take this time off.

Note that your qualifications may not directly translate into an Italian equivalent and may not therefore be recognised by would-be employers.  You may therefore need to get a full translation of all certificates and diplomas, and if you’re still struggling to have your qualifications recognised, consider consulting the local chamber of commerce who may be able to advise you.  If you want to become self-employed this can be even more important, as those considering using your services will want to know that you’re well qualified.  The good news is that becoming self-employed in Italy is very straightforward.  A simple change of status on your permesso is required, and then you’ll need to find an accountant to advise you because the tax forms and obligations for self-employed individuals are complicated!  Again, the chamber of commerce is a great place to start because they can advise you on everything from finding a good accountant to networking to secure business.