top of page

visa for italy from usa?

While some of this information will be helpful to everyone, most of it will only be applicable to Americans. I urge you to check your country's State Department website for specific visa information if you aren't American.

Just like traveling anywhere in the world, you first question should always be "what kind of visa do I need to visit?" And if you're here from the Digital Nomadism side of the website, that question is even more important. (House sitters, worry not, you will be fine!)

Thankfully, when it comes to American passport holders, the answer is surprisingly simple. And not so simple.

Before even getting into it, there are a few things you'll need.

  • A passport with more than 90 days of validity remaining. Even if you aren't planning on staying the full 90 days, border officials will assume that you are, even if you have a round trip ticket to prove otherwise.

  • Proof of sufficient funds. This is not that necessary for a tourist, but if you're planning on getting a student visa, then you will need to be able to prove that you can pay for rent and groceries without getting a job.

  • A reason for travel. "Pleasure" works just fine.

At the end of the day, I want to remind you all that going to any country is a privilege, not a right. If you make jokes that one might deem unwise (whether they're drug, bomb, or similarly related) or start yelling at them because you're worried about missing a connecting flight, they can and will prevent you from entering. They don't care if you don't have a flight back home, they don't care if you are planning on studying, or that you've always wanted to visit. I cannot urge your strongly enough to remain respectful and grateful throughout the process.

the complicated bit

To boil down a whole lot of treaties and signings into something simple, here's what you need to know.

There is something called the Schengen Agreement which, in turn, outlined a "Schengen Zone." This Agreement created "visa-free" travel between all of the signed-on countries. For Americans, we are given a 90-day visa stamp, at the airport upon arrival, which gives us hassle-free travel between the countries in the Agreement. What started as 5 countries is now 27. They are:

  • Austria

  • Belgium

  • Croatia

  • Czech Republic

  • Denmark

  • Estonia

  • Finland

  • France

  • Germany

  • Greece

  • Hungary

  • Iceland

  • Italy

  • Latvia

  • Lichtenstein

  • Lithuania

  • Luxembourg

  • Malta

  • Netherlands

  • Norway

  • Poland

  • Portugal

  • Slovakia

  • Slovenia

  • Spain

  • Sweden

  • Switzerland

A passport filled with visa stamps.

This means that once you enter one of the countries listed above, you can travel to any of them without having to pass through another passport control and get another stamp. In effect, it reduces the amount of visas required from 27 to 1.


But wait, it doesn't end there. Some of the eagle-eyed readers might notice that some of those countries, while European, aren't members of the European Union. And that's true. While Switzerland, Norway, Lichtenstein, and Iceland are not part of the EU, they are still part of the Schengen Zone. So while your euros won't work in Iceland, you're still on the same 90-day timer.

Missing from the Agreement, but still abiding by it, are Vatican City, San Marino, and Monaco. So if you're planning to go there to reset your visa, it won't work.

However, the UK and Ireland are not part of the Schengen Agreement, and have their own visa programs which do not share the same 90-day timer with the Schengen Zone.

What does all of this mean?

so, which visa for italy do i need?

If you're planing on staying in Italy for 90 days at a time, and then leaving the Schengen Zone for 90 days (like to go back to the States), then you don't need any other special kinds of visas. This tourist visa works just fine for Americans who want to buy a house, or rent, in Italy and only visit in the summer (or winter).

But if you're planning on living in Italy, then you'll need something more substantial than the tourist visa.

Do you have income from something other than a job or work you're planning on finding in Italy? Then you want what's called an "Elective Residency Visa". This is Italy's version of a "retirement visa" and as such it's only for those who are making 31,000 euros a year from their pension, retirement fund, or investments. 

If you're a digital nomad, consider checking out the "Self-Employment Visa". While it's currently closed for applications (it only opens once a year for a few months, and only accepts a few thousand people from the pool of applications), you only have to make more than the average annual minimum of 5,000 euros a year to apply.

Some people prefer to apply for a student visa since there are more openings, and the only caveat is that you have to be at school. The student visa also require you have more than the average annual minimum in your bank account before you apply, however, you can work up to 20 hours a week at a part-time job if you need to make up the difference.

Are you from Canada, Australia, South Korea, or New Zealand? if so, then you can apply for the "Working Holiday" visa! A total of 1,000 visas are issued, so if this appeals to you, it's better to check it out sooner rather than later.

If none of these are applicable to your situation, then you can always try to apply for citizenship, or look into residency visas for other countries and visit Italy on your vacation!

bottom of page