Working in Italy used to be a dream for many expats, which quite a few have made come true. Red tape is rather a nuisance, though, which makes mastering the bureaucratic aspects of employment in Italy a test of patience. Nonetheless, the prospect of a new job in Italy should not be daunting.
Italy’s economy was ranked the 8th largest in the world and the 4th largest in Europe by the IMF and World Bank as of 2014. Among other things, Italy exports motor vehicles, chemicals, energy, food, and fashion. Many employees working in Italy find an occupation in tourism. This sector is one of the most important industries in a country with an annual 46 million visitors.
Working in Italy’s north offers more jobs in the service industry, while the south is rather rural. Italy’s north and south are very different in terms of economic prosperity. The north is generally wealthier and more industrialized, while the southern parts still focus on agriculture.
However, even the traditionally prosperous north has been severely affected by the general economic malaise. Though Italy’s economy seemed to slowly recover after the financial crisis of 2008/2009, this positive trend did not last. Since 2012, the country has been going through a serious recession, and the government introduced lots of budget cuts to curb expenses. This, in turn, has had an impact on the domestic market and consumption, as well as unemployment figures, especially among the young generation.
Such typical fields of employment as automotive engineering, the chemical industry, construction, electronics, finance, and logistics are struggling. However, the tourism industry appears to have stabilized, and there are still job opportunities in green technology, food and drinks, as well as mechanical engineering.
Before you start working in Italy, you must make sure to acquire a social security number and health insurance. Applying for a social security card is a one-time-only affair. You do this at the INPS (Instituto nazionale della previdenza sociale, the National Social Security Institute).
While working in Italy, you will be automatically registered with social security by your employer. If you are self-employed, you must contact the INPS yourself. Ask for more information regarding the payment of social security contributions, as these figures vary based on income and type of work.
As an EU citizen or a member of the Schengen Agreement countries (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein), you do not need to apply for a special work visa. The European Union allows you to work in any EU member state.
However, if you are not a national of the abovementioned countries, you must apply for a work visa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs via the nearest Italian Embassy or Consulate. You have to take care of this long before entering the country to start your new job there.
Moreover, all non-EU nationals must apply for a residence permit within eight days of their arrival. This can be done by filling out a special application kit that is available at many (though not all) local post offices. The residence permit may or may not be granted within 120 days — although it’s rare that it will be rejected if you have a job lined up for you.
Finding work is generally more complicated for expats working in Italy outside a traditional foreign assignment. Preference in job openings is given to Italians. Therefore it is very useful to offer a certain skill or expertise in a field that may be lacking qualified labor, such as bio technology. You will be treated like any other Italian employee and receive the same benefits once you have officially started working in Italy.
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