Expert advice on how South Africans can explore Italy on a digital nomad visa

Enjoy a gondola ride in the canals of Venice while on a digital nomad visa. Picture: Supplied

Enjoy a gondola ride in the canals of Venice while on a digital nomad visa. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 4, 2024


On April 4, Italy joined the list of over 50 destinations offering year-long digital nomad visas for remote working South Africans.

According to Flight Centre South Africa’s general manager, Antoinette Turner, with fewer professionals bound to an office each year, they’re expecting more travellers to embrace that dolce vita lifestyle.

“Italy’s one-year digital nomad visa opens up this sought-after destination to remote workers without the 90-day Schengen visa restriction. It offers the chance to live and work like a local Italian – to escape to the Amalfi Coast for a month or hide out in the Tuscan countryside this spring.”

If you don’t need to be in an office, at home, or even in the country to work, here’s what you need to know before making Italy your new workspace abroad.

Who is eligible?

Turner says self-employed freelancers and corporate professionals are eligible to apply for Italy’s new digital nomad visa.

“The regulation refers to self-employed professionals as digital nomads and company employees as remote workers, but they both have nearly identical application requirements,” Turner said.

She said applicants must be considered highly skilled, which the Italian government defines as university graduates or workers with at least five years of professional experience.

They should also have the ability to perform work remotely, with proof of at least six months of remote work experience, provide evidence of employment with a company based outside Italy or evidence of self-employment, have an annual minimum income of no less than €28 000 (about R568 748) and provide evidence of no criminal record in the last five years.

She said they should provide proof of valid health insurance covering the duration of their stay, documented evidence of accommodation for the length of their stay and evidence of being tax-compliant in Italy before applying for the visa.

“If you meet all the requirements and have the opportunity to go – then go. This is a rare opportunity to live like a true local and not just an observer.

“You’ll have the luxury of time to take a language course and sign up for pasta-making classes with village nonnas. Or better yet, to join a local co-working space and build your community abroad,” Turner said.

She said you need only one international return flight and visa application: “If you meet all the requirements, you’ll be rewarded with total flexibility to explore Italy at your own pace according to your workload throughout the year.”

How to apply?

To apply for Italy’s digital nomad visa, Turner said applicants need to book an in-person appointment at an Italian consulate office and prove they meet all the criteria listed above.

“You’ll be required to bring additional documentation, including a valid passport, proof of employment, proof of income, health insurance, proof of accommodation in Italy, and a clean criminal record certificate,” Turner said.

She said that within eight days of arriving in Italy, applicants must apply for a residence permit, also known as permesso di soggiorno, at the police headquarters in the province where they reside and remote workers arriving with family will need to apply for a residence permit for each member.

To ensure a smooth application and arrival process in Italy, Turner encouraged interested applicants to consult an accredited travel expert.

“To avoid unnecessary costs, you’ll want to ensure you meet the requirements before you apply. Along with booking affordable flights and accommodation, and securing your travel insurance, there is a significant amount of paperwork needed for the digital nomad visa compared to a Schengen.

“A professional can offer peace of mind and help point you in the right direction,” Turner said.