How to: Register the VAT number in Italy

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VATEvery Italian company has a VAT tax number (Partita IVA) on top of the company number. The two numbers are usually identical but there is an exception: if you have a non trading entity that cannot have a VAT number – such as a Representative office or a Light Branch – and you upgrade it to a company – such as a full Branch – the two numbers will always be different.

Contrary to other EU countries, getting a VAT number in Italy is quite fast. If the company formation is managed correctly, the company get its VAT number in 24-48 hours. Unfortunately the VAT number could be not enough to trade.

The new VAT regime in Italy

From 2011 the VAT number can be used to sell to Italian clients only. If you want to trade with foreign clients, you need to register your company in a second VAT Registry (in Italian “Registrazione del VIES“).

The main reason of the new regime is to prevent VAT frauds. As a result, all the existing Italian companies have been deleted from the online VAT Registry of the European Union, and they should apply again. This could be quite frustrating because the European Registry is used by your clients to be sure that you run a legitimate company. If they check – and if you haven’t get the VIES registration – they will not find your company, like if the company doesn’t exist.

In short, if you run an international business the VIES registration is a must. On the contrary, if all your clients are Italian, the traditional VAT registration is fine.

Who can register your VAT number in Italy and where

A) The first registration (Partita IVA) is usually managed during the company formation, by the notary public or by your lawyer. Any Italian company is required to apply for a VAT number, even if dormant.

The only exceptions are the entity that cannot trade: the Representative Office and the Light Branch (they can’t invoice thus they can’t have a VAT number. Only a company number).

B) The registration of the extra VAT number (VIES) is managed by a chartered secretary or by your accountant. It usually takes anywhere between three weeks and two months, and the process takes place at the local Tax Agency.

Because the Italian Tax Agencies are often overflow with their job, it is useful to remind your accountant from time to time that a regular and direct contact with the Tax Agency could be very effective to speed up the process. The accountant could be annoyed to be schooled by a foreigner like you, but in my experience it could be very useful. Be diplomatic – as usual – and you will rarely fail.

Image source: the VAT number search engine of the Italian Tax Agency

 

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76 Comments to How to: Register the VAT number in Italy

  1. Richard says:

    Hi Stephano. I sent you a question in the other post (the one about subsidiary vs branch). Do we get the PARTITA IVA for our US LLC when we start the subsidiary or branch? Or do we have to pay these guys as an extra expense?

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Yes Richard the Partita IVA (VAT number) is included in any subsidiary and branch (if your consultant does the job properly). You don’t need to pay any extra.

      However if you don’t need to issue invoice in Italy, it’s better to avoid subsidiary and branch (they are expensive) and go for a representative office or light branch. I replied to this point in the comments here:
      http://attorneyitaly.com/subsidiary-in-italy

      Kind regards
      SteFano … with F :)

      • Glenn says:

        Hello,

        I have openenned a consulting firm in italy, and need a VAT (IVA) Number.

        As you say you are retired, who can I talk to in order to help me process an application.

        Thanks

  2. petr chlusmky says:

    Hi, i have a question – I sold goods to my italian customer in 2010 – he has a partita IVA, but now i cannot see him on VIES and my czech goverment want me to pay a IVA my myself. As i cas read in 2011 all companies with p.IVA was deleted from VIES and has to register again? Is there any chance to get the proof of registration by p.IVA in italy for this company? Or how should i step forward?

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Yes you can. A lawyer would be to expensive. Contact any Italian company that provides certification services, like http://www.companiesinitaly.com (disclaimer: they are my clients) and ask them a “visura”. If your former client is still registered at the Chamber of Commerce, they can prove it trough a certificate with apostille valid in your country. All the best. Stefano

  3. Duncan Pauline says:

    Hi Stefano,

    Just found your website and looks really helpful.

    I am looking into setting up a business where I would like to bring food products from the UK to sell wholesale in Italy and in return to buy food products in Italy and sell in the UK.

    I would be most grateful for any advise for TAX , Vat , regulations

    Thanks
    Duncan

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Hi Duncan, against my interest, I would use a UK Limited company to trade wholesale food between the two countries. Thanks to the European Union, you don’t need to setup a company in Italy. If your business growth, you can always open an Italian branch or an Italian presence. Just my general opinion, always ask to a professional for your specific case.

  4. Iris Gray says:

    Dear Stefano,

    I am a company residing in Germany with many Italian clients. For me it is the easiest to sell the client something if he has the P.IVA (VIES).
    But what I do not know and would like to ask you, is whether the Italian client has to pay the Italian tax directly to the tax office at all? Say he pays for the goods + transport I sell, but does he have to pay tax in Italy or is he completely exempt of that?
    Thanks
    Iris

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Hi Iris. I can’t provide detailed opinion on the website. But I am happy to give some general tips. Trading between two countries of the the European Union (for instance Germany and Italy) is a “cross border” transaction. As a general rule (i) there is NO vat tax on services (for instance if you consult them by phone), on the contrary (ii) a vat tax is usually charged on goods. However there are exception. Check your specific case with an accountant or a tax lawyer as soon as you can. EU countries are extremely concerned on VAT tax fraud, and they are more aggressive than in other field. If your clients go busted, you risk to be forced to pay their debts in another country. All the best.

  5. Junaid Masood says:

    Hello, Sir My Name is Junaid. I live in Rome.sir i want to get some information.that i have to sale my products door to door in hand byself. So how to make my licence and open my p.Iva?thanku.

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Hi Junaid. A lawyer is probably too expensive for what you need. I am used to help companies and manage inheritance. For a door to door activity, try the local Chamber of Commerce. Let me know if it will be successful. Cheers

  6. Junaid Masood says:

    sir if i Make my own business here so is this possible to get loan around about 20 to 30,000 euro? I don’t have big investmemt but i want to make business here. Thanku im waiting for ur answer. Thanx

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Small loans are not my area, but I think that it’s going to be VERY hard to get one. This issue is not limited to Italy. Small business are suffering all around Europe. Ad majora (“all the best” in Latin)

  7. vincent says:

    HI Stefano ,

    Thx for your great website .
    Do you know if it’s always mandatory for a freelancer to be registered to P.Iva to invoice customers or is Codice Fiscale enough on invoices under certain circumstances ?

    Thx again .

    Best wishes.

    Vincent .

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Hi Vincent. A freelance without a P.IVA (VAT number) can be paid once a year, for one project, for a limited sum. If you need recurrent work from the freelance, he needs to open his own personal VAT number. The fact that a number of entrepreneur ignore this limit doesn’t make it legal. It’s the I-hope-nobody-catch-me strategy, unfortunately very common in Italy.

  8. Fahamah says:

    Hi Stefano ,
    Your site is really helpful to understand the Italian Laws for everyone. kindly tell me how much it cost me to go for the legal process to open my P.IVA (VAT number),as I want to open an Amazon store to sell my goods in other countries.
    Best Wishes

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Hi. Most of the time, an accountant will open your personal VAT for free or for a symbolic cost, if you appoint him to keep your books. I can’t speak for all the accountants, but know many of them in this position. Check in your city, or online. You can also have a look to my resource page. There is an group of accountant who speak English.

  9. cliff says:

    Hi stefano, i want to open a P.iva on a business of buying of secondhand vehicles to africa, what type of P.iva do i need, and can i have also a targe-prove to be transpoting the vehicles to port? Thanks. cliff

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Hi Cliff, that’s a consultancy. I am afraid is a bit too much for a comment on a blog. I will pass your email to my friend.

  10. Saj says:

    We are UK Based business wants to start concession in Italy, the concession company is requiring an Italian VAT number, How we can get an Italian VAT number do we need to register a new company in Italy or we can open a branch or subsidiary.

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Two options:
      1) setup an Italian limited company (owned by your company)
      2) setup an Italian subsidiary
      You can find more information in this website. As a rule of thumb, usually for fashion companies the best solution is a subsidiary. It’s cheaper than an Italian limited company and doesn’t require share capital (on the contrary, an Italian limited company requires Eur 10,000). Eventually you can ask your lawyer.

  11. jerrodarsenault says:

    awesome article.

  12. christopherbrowder says:

    Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  13. jenna says:

    first-of-its-kind thank you

  14. Bev says:

    Thanks man

  15. RawPreerve says:

    great

  16. Sondra says:

    most excellent contents, thanks

  17. janell says:

    Thank you Stefano

  18. Thomas Buehner says:

    Hello Stefano Tresca
    great information in your site.
    I am a (German0 retired Hotel executive living in Italy and have been approached to do some consultant work in the Hospitality business. I am very interested to do this, but found that in order to do this and get compensated, I need a IVA number. The consultant work I would be doing is mostly outside of Italy. It could be one time a year or as many times as I want to accept such work.

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Hello Thomas,

      your question is very common and often a source of frustration in Italy. Yes you need a VAT number but starting a limited company or even a sole trader business in Italy is more complex than in other countries (and since you live in Italy you already know).

      I’m going to give you the same suggestion that I give to my students, when they want to open a startup: “Start small and fast”.

      The VAT number is NOT required for “lavoro occasionale” (occasional business). It means that you can provide a few consultancy (in theory related to the same project) and don’t get too much money. Start as an occasional contractor and see how it goes. If the income is good (and you like to be back in business) you can open a sole trader in Italy or maybe abroad.

      Contact a local account to help you. In this first stage, a smart account is going to charge you a small fee to get the client later.

  19. Mikel De Crus says:

    Dear Stefano,

    Thank you for your website. I am a Non-EU Malaysian citizen but married with an italian.I have a valid passport, permesso di soggiorno,codice fiscale and work in Varese for Whirlpool Srl.However, i would like to teach english part time over the Internet under my own brand/company.Do i have to have a partita Iva VIES if my earnings are leas than 5k? And what if i employ teachers to help me? Your help would be very much appreciated.

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Dear Mikel, as you can imagine I can’t provide a consultancy to a specific case (especially in the comment of a post). Anyway, as a general rule:
      1) If you manage a recurrent business, you are required to get a VAT number (Partita IVA).
      2) Working as an employee + providing services in your name = means a sort of double tax declaration. Not a piece of cake in Italy.
      I strongly (very strongly) suggest to get a good accountant.

      Out of records, maybe you would like to start joining a service like oDesk.com or Elance.com etc. When the revenue are good, you can setup a limited company (SRL) and get the VAT number in automatic. All the best

  20. kathie mchugh says:

    Hello colleagues, wish u the best

  21. mary thorne says:

    I used to be seeking this particular information for a very lengthy time. Thanks and good luck.

  22. randy says:

    Have you ever considered about including a little
    bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is
    important and everything. But think of if you added some great photos or videos to give your posts more, “pop”!

  23. jenny says:

    Talking of VAT…I was wondering if you knew if it is possible/legal to be living in Italy with a Partita IVA as a libera professionista AND have a VAT no. in the UK for the work carried out there (via internet). Thus pay italian tax on italian work and UK tax on UK work (I think an office address is necessary in the UK). This would facilitate our move over there, but I’m not sure if it is allowed….

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Hi Jenny, I don’t know your specific case. In general is possible to have VAT number in different EU country. Tax is different though. If you live in Italy, and do business online from Italy, the Italian Tax Agency will probably request tax in Italy on the whole income. I suggest to contact an Italian accountant

  24. Michael Adu says:

    What type of iva do i need to by from italy and sell in africa.

  25. deway says:

    This post truly made my day. You can’t imagine just how much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

  26. Milly Boatman says:

    Hi Stefano. Your website has many backlinks, including Wikipedia. Do you use any special service?

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Reply no.1: No I don’t use any service. And no, I didn’t register any link to Wikipedia (although I should have), someone else did. I never really used this blog to sell anything, although this can change in the future.

      Reply no.2: Just in case. I don’t plan to buy any web marketing service :)

  27. Marvis says:

    Dear Stefano, what VAT apply to financial advice?

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Same VAT than every other service (at the moment 21%). But you need a special licence to provide financial advise. If you plan to provide this service on a personal scale, you should contact an account. At company level, I would suggest to contact a lawyer or a bigger accountancy firm focusing to consultancy.

  28. Patricia Fontenot says:

    Excellent website. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends ans also sharing. Thank you to your effort!

  29. Jane says:

    Dear Stefano, is any special requirement to start an insurance company in Italy?

    • Stefano L Tresca says:

      Yes. Very tough. Don’t even start if you don’t have a big budget and expertise (in that case, feel free to call cheers!)

  30. Ahmed Adil says:

    Dear Stefano,

    I am working as an online affiliate marketer for some US companies, and I’m also selling my own stuff (ebooks and computer based training videos) for US-based clients. Each month I generate between $5000 and $10000 in revenue. Additionally, in the next few months I will move to Italy and also want yo move my current activities there. I’d like to know what the best way to declare my revenues and how much taxes I will have to pay. Finally, is there a way to minimize taxes legally?

    Kind Regards.

  31. Fouad says:

    Is it possible for an immigrant to open a self-employed company in Italy?

  32. haroon says:

    hello Stefano I need your help I want to ask you that I am student here in Italy I have student permit I want to start little business to sell things door to door or shop to shop so I need partita iva or not and it is possible for international student to start
    His own work here in Italy

  33. Ernest says:

    Hi stef. thanks for your sit, I´m interested in buying goods from Europe to Africa, can the italian VAT number be use to purchase goods from all Europe?. If no, is there any means to aquire VAT number that can serve this purpose?.
    Thanks

  34. Lewis says:

    Hi Stephano
    I live in the UK,and a few months ago did some work for a company in Italy, I’m not VAT registered. They paid the invoice no problem. Since then i have done some more work for them and there is no more work for me in Italy after this.Now they say they cannot pay the invoice without an IVA number, how can i resolve this issue.
    Thanks Lewis

  35. Marina says:

    Hello, Stefan,
    I’m very glad that I’ve found your site!
    At this moment I’m collecting information about taxes to be paid dor commercial activity of our Italian company. We’ve just opened it and have some partners in the USA and Russia.
    Can you help me with this questions please?
    Which taxes are withheld or paid from the payments received by the Italian company under the advertisement service contract with Russian/American companies?
    Has the Italian company to add VAT tax in the invoice for its service?
    Thank you very much!

  36. Jessamyn says:

    Dear Stefano,

    I hope you are still taking/answering questions several months after the blog post date. Thank you if you are!

    I am a dual US / Italian citizen opening a corporate event planning business in Milan. Initially, my main customer base will be US companies needing assistance developing business events, trade missions, and meetings in Italy. Eventually the business will expand to provide similar services for Italian firms seeking similar event planning in the US and around Milan.

    I am a sole proprieter business (according to US standards) and realize I need an IVA. However, I am a little confused as to exactly what I need as most billing (in early stage) will be through the US.

    Could you clarify, or direct me to websites and information that will?

    Many thanks!
    Jessamyn

    • Michele Spadaro says:

      Hi Jessamyn,

      In your situation, I think the best option is a light branch of your company: in this way, you can bill in Italy from the US. Please let me know if I can help yet.

  37. George Thomas says:

    Hi,

    I just married with an Italian girl, and moved to Rome, Italy to live for some years. But as a freelancer, I have most of my clients in the United States. I would be very grateful if you can give me as much information as possible about the taxes, permissions, registrations, charges, and everything I’d need to know to legally work from here.

    Thanks a lot in advance!

  38. Morgan Eriksson says:

    Hi
    I’m thinking about providing transport of goods from Italy to Malta, The people buy it and I will just bring it to Malta.
    Since the item is bought in Italy and the transport starts in Italy I should charge Italian VAT on the transport.
    I don’t live in Italy myself so how can I get a Italian VAT number?

    • Michele Spadaro says:

      Hi Morgan

      You could arrange a company with somebody that is living in Italy (Italian, UE citizen or foreigner living in Italy).
      Ask if you need help
      Michele

  39. Jayne Randle says:

    I would like to initially open up an office and work from there. I am a freelance teacher and translator and my bulk of work is in company. However I would like to have a base that isn’t home. Do I need to have a partita iva. Of course my intention is to invite students eventually into my studio that is big enough to hold up to 10 people, but currently I wish only to work from there and visit my students out of office.
    Can you guide me in the right direction

  40. basit says:

    hello
    i am basit from pakistan and doing business in pakistan with name of al fateh expo.
    i have NTN national tax number of that company. this small business start in 2011.
    so
    i am in italy and i have permesso di soggiorno (work card) but my work card has been expired in 16 oct 2014. for renewalof my work card want job contract. but here in italy no more job for forigners, so i want to start business in italy and i wana sell my product here..
    please tell me how can this possible.
    thanks

  41. Jane.T says:

    Hi Michele and Stefano,

    First and foremost, thank you for this very informative site. I am a speech therapist living in Italy and thinking about providing freelance therapy (on a small and personal scale) in Italy. I have a codice fiscale and permesso soggiorno. From your article, I understand that I will need to apply for a Partita IVA in order to provide recurrent services. My questions are:

    1) Do I need to open a Sole Proprietorship/Limited Liability in order to get my Partita IVA?
    2) In your article, you mentioned that a lawyer or Notary Public can apply for the Partita IVA. But in your response to Marvis, you mentioned “If you plan to provide this service on a personal scale, you should contact an account.”

    So does this mean that if I am doing it on a freelance basis (small scale), I can get an accountant to apply for the Partita IVA?

    Looking forward to your advice and many thanks in advance!

    Cheers
    Jane

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