A guide to setting up your business in Italy

March 12, 2021

Night view of the modern architecture in Milan, Italy

Source: Shutterstock/Arcansel

As of 2020, Italy is the eighth largest economy in the world, particularly in the fields of pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and industrials. It is also one of Europe’s main hubs for the creation of startup businesses.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that many organisations are keen to set up business there. However, there are many challenges to overcome when setting up a business in Italy. 

In this blog post, we’ll talk through the biggest of these challenges and discuss how to overcome them. 

Challenge 1: Language

Being able to speak Italian is essential for companies looking to set up work in Italy. Business documents are likely to be written in Italian and business meetings are likely to be conducted in Italian, so having a strong understanding of the language is very important. 

Companies new to the country should therefore be prepared to invest in workers who can speak Italian to native proficiency. Alternatively, outsourced translation and interpretation services, or other outsourcing partners can take charge of areas where a language barrier may be an issue.

You should never rely on internet translations sites either - these are often inaccurate or misleading, especially where legal documentation is concerned.

Challenge 2: Global mobility logistics

There is always a lot to consider when it comes to mobilising your workforce to another country, such as visa applications, work permits and other legal documents. 

For example, it can take 2-4 weeks to open a company bank account (including company and legal representation credit checks). However, to open a bank account you must have full residency, and to obtain residency you must have an Italian tax code. 

Before getting a tax code, your employees must have a visa and work permit. in order to get a visa, your staff must be high-skilled, qualified employees. 

In addition, all legal documents and certificates must be

  1. translated into Italian by an accredited translator
  2. legalised
  3. and then authenticated with an apostille by the Italian authorities.

This is executed by either the embassy or clerks in regional courts. In order to have an apostille officially issued, legal documents must be presented in good condition, written in Italian and with clearly readable signatures and stamps. 

When it comes to setting up in Italy, planning is key

The legal aspects of mobilising can be overwhelming, which is why it’s beneficial to work with a professional global employment and mobility team.

They will have vast experience and knowledge in immigration and relocation matters, meaning that you can focus on other aspects of your business.

They can also act as your legal entity in the country, so you won’t need to go through the process at all and can focus on other aspects of your business. 

watch our on-demand webinar on the challenges  to avoid when expanding your business globally

Challenge 3: Local workforce experience 

In Italy, students tend to finish high school at age 19, and are usually educated to degree level at age 24.

Finishing education later in life means that workers in Italy aren’t entering permanent employment until they are in their late 20s or early 30s. This can make it more difficult to hire for local senior roles. 

The idea of hiring a staff from the local area might seem overwhelming, particularly if you don’t have any prior experience or knowledge of the area.

Working with a specialist recruitment company can help with this, as they will have local expertise. Those with global employment outsourcing experience can also help you to mobilise a workforce to Italy, as they can assist with labour laws, talent mobility and international tax implications.


Source: Shutterstock/Viltvart

Challenge 4: Costs

Setting up business in Italy can be an expensive process and there are several costs to be aware of:

Company opening 

The matrix below is just an example; costs may vary depending on factors such as exact region and province destination, company size, type of business/industry and accreditations required by specific industry national collective agreements, and change in local labour law and trade.

The below matrix reports an example for a small company with less than 10 employees and does not include HR costs, such as employee payroll costs. 

For an accurate estimation of your case, contact our team.

Invested share capital (minimum)
Notary services €1,500.00
Duty stamps and admin fees €350.00
Registry tax €200.00
Licence tax €309.87
Corporate books and endorsement fee €100.00
Certified email costs €30.00
Chamber of Commerce registration fee  €2,000.00
Cost to open a bank account €20.00
Total: €14,509.87


Fixed maintenance costs 

In addition to the company opening costs, there are a number of fixed maintenance costs to factor in as well:

Annual Chamber of Commerce dues €120.00
Corporate books endorsement fee €309.87
Balance sheet declaration  €250.00
Certified Public Accountant €8,000.00
Mandatory National Social Insurance trade association fees €3,360.00
Yearly office rent and maintenance (for a small office) €45,000.00
Bank account annual fees €400.00
Legal Representative's tax for business registry listing €3,000.00
Total: €60,439.87


It is very important to work out a budget before you set up an entity in Italy. Again, working with an employment agency can help you to navigate some of these costs (where they relate to your workforce) and simplify the process.

Need more information about expanding to Italy? Airswift can help

At Airswift, we have more than 40 years of experience in providing international workforce solutions to companies within the energy, process and infrastructure industries. 

Want to find out more about how to expand your business globally? Watch our on-demand webinar for expert insights from our very own team.

Watch the webinar here

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This post was written by: Chiara Navigante, Business Development Manager for Europe and Africa, at Airswift