Topic 1 Steps & tips on how to set up a business in Italy/legal framework for starting up a business in Italy as a TCN

Starting up a business can be at the same time terrifying and exciting. The entrepreneur has to consider a lot of practical things such as the location, the quality control, the size of the business, the employees, etc.
All these difficulties confuse anyone who has a business idea – even if it is a very good one – especially if it is someone who does not have in-depth knowledge of the local market. Therefore, good organization and a good deal of courage are essential.

A business idea requires an assessment of current local market conditions, planning of actions and time.

In the beginning, the entrepreneur has to build a business plan, assess the financial and economic situation and meet legal requirements. Then he/she will have to learn how to increase sales and marketing techniques, along with much more.

The unit will provide you with all the basic knowledge on the first steps to starting up a business and also come up with an inspiring story of a woman TCN who is an entrepreneur in Italy.

Everything starts with believing in yourself!

Motivation - business motivation for entrepreneurs

Steps to setting up a business in Italy as a TCN

According to the legal form that was chosen for the company, there are different requirements and procedures.

  1. Opening of a VAT number by sending a request to the Revenue Agency. In particular, each VAT number is associated with an ATECO code, i.e. a code that identifies the type of economic activity to be carried out.
  2. Registration in the Commercial Register at the Chamber of Commerce;
  3. Registration with INPS (National Social insurance Agency)
  4. Sending the Certified Notice of Commencement of Business (Segnalazione Certificata di inizio attività SCIA). The document must be sent electronically to the Suap (Sportello Unico per le Attività Produttive) competent for the territory where the business activity takes place.

In addition, depending on the activity, the entrepreneur need to obtain the necessary authorisations and comply with professional requirements.

Legal framework for starting up a business in Italy as a TCN

The TCN who intends to work as self-employed in Italy must have an appropriate residence permit, i.e. valid for self-employment. The procedure is different on whether the entrepreneur is already in Italy (he/she has a residence permit) or has not yet applied to enter Italy.

TCN that already reside in Italy

  • pending employment
  • family reasons
  • subordinate work contract (non-seasonal employment)
  • asylum
  • subsidiary protection
  • for minors’ assistance
  • EC long-term residence permit
  • EU family member residence card
  • Humanitarian Protection

The residence permit remains valid until its expiry date. At the time of renewal, the person will have to request the conversion of the residence permit into a self-employment type.

NOTE: The residency permit issued for the reasons listed above allows the exercise of self-employment only if the person has the titles or authorizations provided for everyone by Italian law and if he/she met all the other requirements and conditions.

TCN who is not in Italy


  • The Questura (specifically the immigration office) competent for the territory verifies the available quotas in accordance with the Flows Decree published annually by the Italian Government and issues the nulla osta for entry into Italy.
    • Minimum annual income from lawful sources higher than the statutory minimum for exemption from participation in health care costs;
    • Having the availability of accommodation that complies with health and hygiene requirements,
    • there must be no obstacles to the issue of a license for self-employment
    • there must be no grounds for preventing the worker’s entry (deriving from the Italian Civil or Criminal Code or alerts in the Schengen database).
  • Send all the documentation, within three months, to the Italian Embassy or Consulate in the country of origin or habitual residence to obtain the Visa.


Apply for a Permit of Stay for self-employment, within eight days of entering Italy, using the appropriate kit and sending it by post.

Main Legal forms

Italian Corporate law deals with the relationship between employer and employee. Specifically, the Italian legal system provides the kind of legal forms to set up a company. In fact, it is possible to become an entrepreneur by fulfilling certain requirements and conditions.

“An entrepreneur is an individual who creates a new business, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the rewards. The process of setting up a business is known as entrepreneurship.”

The creation of a company within the Italian market is also a wide topic, but the first question every entrepreneur should answer is:

“Do I want to be alone or with other parties?”

  1. Alone → Individual company or self-employed
  2. With other parties → Society
  • It is the simplest form of enterprise
  • It is the cheapest form
  • It is owned by a single person
  • The entire responsibility fell on the entrepreneur
  • The entrepreneur is liable with both properties of the company and personal, as a guarantee for his/her actions
  • The decisions are taken more quickly
  1. Individual Enterprise (Ditta individuale)
  2. Family Business (Impresa familiare)
  • It is more expensive, both to set it up and to manage it in accounting terms
  • The responsibility and risk are shared with others
  • The decisions are shared with others
  • More money due to the presence of more partners
  • Availability of members’ competences and work
  1. General partnership (Società in nome collettivoS.n.c.)
  2. Limited partnership (Società in accomandita semplice – S.a.s.)
  3. Limited liability company (Società a responsabilità limitataS.r.l)
  4. Cooperative society (Società Cooperativa)
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Tips on how to set up a business

at the basis of a successful activity there must be an original and innovative business idea, but above all one capable of responding to a real market need.

studying the reference sector, the local market, direct and indirect competition, demand and the needs of potential customers will be the basis on which to build a winning and truly profitable business activity.

careful business planning allows one to understand the feasibility of the project and the profitability it will have in the current market. The business plan is the most important tool through which to plan every aspect and detail of the business start-up, but it is also the key tool with which to present one’s business idea and its potential to the outside world (financiers, partners, etc.).

the correct identification of the target audience and its analysis will make it possible to shape the activity, business idea, sales and communication strategies in an efficient and targeted manner.

if the new business involves employees, creating a team capable of collaborating and bringing value to the new business will be fundamental. For this purpose, their training, coaching and team building should be taken care of. Even when working alone, however, it will be important to create a network of knowledge and collaboration that can benefit the new business.

As mentioned above, estimating start-up and running costs correctly is a prerequisite for any successful business. In addition to this, it will be necessary to define the contribution of equity capital, find possible financing in case it becomes necessary and estimate the payback time of the investment and the expected revenues, thus understanding the sustainability of the business.

creating a strong brand and taking care of the company’s image and reputation is today indispensable for any business that wants to acquire and retain customers. Communication and initiatives both online and offline are fundamental to achieving this goal.

constant dialogue with one’s customers will enable one to obtain the feedback necessary for constant improvement of the business, products and services offered, as well as sales and communication strategies.

to open a successful business, it is necessary to outline effective pricing, sales and communication strategies, in line with the market and your target audience.

constant updating of business and knowledge, the anticipation of market trends and those of the reference sector, as well as the flexibility of the company, entrepreneur and management, will be the keys to starting a profitable and successful business and to maintaining it over time.