This page contains basic information for anyone thinking of purchasing a property in Italy. In practice, requirements and procedures vary depending on nationality (in particular, whether or not you are an EU citizen) and whether you intend to buy a property as a primary residence for long-term stays or as a secondary residence for holidays. For more detailed, nationality-specific and regularly updated information, please consult your local Italian consulate and the websites listed below, which specialize in providing such information.
PURCHASING YOUR PROPERTY
Please read carefully the detailed information given in the external links at the end of this section, but bear in mind that they can make the process of buying a property in Italy sound more daunting than it is in reality.
In our experience, the most time-consuming and frustrating aspect of buying a property in Italy has always been actually finding the perfect place and negotiating a deal with the sellers. The purchase process itself — with the support of a competent geometra (a figure found only in Italy, who at this stage more or less plays the role of surveyor), accountant and notary — is somewhat long-winded, but generally straightforward.
PURCHASE TAXES AND CAPITAL GAINS
Purchase taxes in Italy are set for primary and secondary residences respectively at 3% and 10% of the ‘catastale‘ value (an archaic Italian valuation of properties held by the local building registry and normally a fraction of the market value) of the property. If a property is bought as a primary residence, but actual residence is not taken within 18 months or the property is sold within five years and without the purchase of a new primary residence within one year, then the 3% tax break is forfeited (i.e. the difference between 3% and 10% must be paid) and a modest fine is imposed.
Capital gains tax of 20% (if paid directly at the time of sale) is payable on both primary and secondary residences if they are sold within five years, unless the property has been the actual residence of the owner for at least half of the ownership period. After five years, no capital gains is payable on either primary or secondary residences.
VISAS, PERMITS TO STAY AND RESIDENCY
The complexity of the procedures varies depending on whether the applicant is an EU or non-EU citizen. EU citizens may come and go as they please, and have the right to live and work in Italy. Nevertheless, if they wish to stay for longer than three months or take up residency, they should, with minimal formalities, apply for an ‘attestazione di soggiorno‘ (certificate of permanent stay) at the municipal registry office.
Most non-EU citizens require tourist visas to enter Italy, allowing them to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. If they wish to stay for longer, all non-EU citizens require a visa and a Permesso di Soggiorno (Permit of Stay, a limited-validity document that is applied for on arrival in Italy). With this in hand, residency can be applied for.
The following links give more detailed and frequently updated information on the buying process:
The Overseas Guides Company: Italy – detailed information on many aspects of buying in and moving to Italy
Expats in Italy – detailed information on moving to and living in Italy. See Property section, under Making the Move tab
Homes in Italy – see Buying in Italy, Fees, Tips under Buying in Italy tab