How to set up a business entity in Italy | finder.com
Business entity in Italy

How to set up a business entity in Italy

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To incorporate in Italy, start by choosing the right business structure and hiring knowledgeable liaisons.

Italy is a developed economy with a wealth of potential. Which means that if you’ve considered doing business in the country, it could be a smart move.

As it stands, creating a business in Italy can be tricky. But with the right knowledge and expert help, you can incorporate to legally operate in the eurozone’s third-largest national economy.

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What kind of entity makes sense?

Generally, Italy does not impose any specific requirements on foreigners wishing to establish a business presence in the country.

There are four common entities for foreign investors who want to do business in the country: limited liability company, partnership and branch office.

Limited liability company (LLC)

With an LLC, there’s a separation of ownership and managing powers, with each owner’s liability limited to the investment they’ve contributed to the LLC. There’s a separation of ownership and management, whereby owners are not necessarily directors and vice-versa.

Partnership

You don’t create a legal entity by entering into a partnership. Instead, you simply create a contract between one or more partners to conduct business. The partners usually have joint and several liability for the partnership’s obligations.

Branch office

Creating a branch office is the easiest way to build a business entity in Italy. It’s also an inexpensive option. However, a representative office excludes you from performing many operations in the country. For example, you can’t sign contracts or even earn money. Essentially, a representative office gives you a presence in Italy, and not much more.

Should I hire a professional?

It’s an excellent idea to hire a liaison to navigate tricky incorporation waters. Work with someone from mainland Italy who speaks fluent Italian. They’ll interact with officials on your behalf, and they’ll tell you the appropriate places to register your business entity.

The Italy-America Chamber of Commerce and US Commercial Service are great places to search for a qualified contact.

What kind of documentation will I need?

Here are a few documents you’ll need to register your business:

  • Certificates of incorporation
  • Bank reference letters
  • Passport copies
  • Resume and photo
  • Description of the scope of your business
  • Lease contracts of Italian office address
  • Business license

You may need different documentation depending on where you’re registering and which officials you meet with. Strongly consider working with a company that helps foreign investors create businesses in Italy.
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Where do I file my information?

You’ll submit documentation to the Business Register at the Italian Chambers of Commerce. Your business may also need to be approved by other authorities.
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Other factors to consider

  • Consider paying for a notary. All the procedures to start a business can be completed by a notary (notaio), from providing legal checks for your company’s incorporation to filing paperwork with the Business Register. Find one at the Italian Trade Agency.
  • Stating your business purpose. You’ll need to draft and execute a public deed of incorporation that documents your business’s bylaws and includes your company name and address.
  • Corporate name requirements. Create a Italian name for your business entity — it will be the sole legally binding name of your company. You may need approval to use certain words, such as “Italy” and “international.”

International billing and payments

Your new business will require you to make and receive international payments, which means you’ll make transactions between currencies and across borders.

You can safely and affordably manage your business payments — with lower fees and stronger exchange rates — by comparing the services of a money transfer specialist.

Use a money transfer to manage your international business payments

Companies like Payoneer and XE can help you set up regular transfers to your vendors overseas.

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Bottom line

It’s important to choose the right business entity to operate in Italy. Consider working with an organization that specializes in helping foreign businesses incorporate in the country — this will streamline your progress and help you avoid pitfalls along the way.

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