Starting a Business

Find out where to begin with this general introduction to starting a business in Italy. Professional assistance is recommended before undertaking a new venture; here's what you'll need to know...

The bureaucracy associated with starting a business (azienda) in Italy is complex and rates among the most difficult in the world.

It is even more difficult for foreigners who don't speak Italian, as there the many official documents are in Italian. However Italy is traditionally a land of small companies (there are over 3m employing fewer than 50 people) and individual traders, and the culture and economic philosophy encourage and even nurture the creation of small businesses - once the paperwork is complete.

Type of Business

The most common businesses operated by foreigners in Italy include holiday accommodation, caravan and camp sites, building and allied trades (particularly restoring old houses in Tuscany and Umbria), farming, catering, hotels, shops, franchises, estate agencies, translation and interpreting bureaux, language schools, landscape gardening, and holiday and sports centres.

The majority of businesses established by foreigners are linked to the leisure and catering industries, followed by property investment and development. Many professionals, such as doctors and dentists, have set up practices in Italy to serve the expatriate community. There are also opportunities in import and export, for example importing foreign foods for the Italian and expatriate market and exporting Italian handicrafts and clothing. There are some niche markets in providing services for expatriates and Italians that are unavailable in Italy.


Extract from Living and Working in Italy (3rd Edition, 2007) edited by Graeme Chesters (Available as eBook or order from Amazon) Published by Survival Books Ltd Copyright © Survival Books Ltd All Rights Reserved