Start-ups - Italy
Legal corporate structure
In order to set up a business, it is first necessary to define the structure and the type of activity which you intend to carry out.
Different business forms exist:
- sole proprietor;
- company, varying from partnerships (simple, limited partnership, general partnership); business corporations (limited liability companies, public limited companies, shared partnership companies);
- non-commercial bodies;
To succeed, a new business needs a sound commercial strategy and secure financing.
Some standard requirements to be completed when setting up a business are the same as when opening a branch.
Registering a company
Businesses intending to trade in Italy must perform the various advertising and fiscal tasks.
The EAI, the Italian Economic Administrative Index, contains economic and administrative information pertaining to parties, both those that do not fulfil the conditions for registration to the Business Register (e.g., associations, foundations, committees, non-corporate bodies and local units of foreign companies), as well as members of the Business Register, concerning notice of startup, modification and winding up of activities and the opening, modification and closure of local units.
A sole proprietorship is created simply by setting up a VAT number (prior to tax identification number request) and signing up to the Business Register for the Chamber of Commerce, without, therefore, needing a notary.
Companies on the other hand, are created once the establishing deed drawn up by the notary has been signed, also undertaking to register at the local Revenue Agency within 20 days.
Registering in the Business Register should take place within 30 days for partnerships and within 20 days for corporations.
From 1 April 2010, it will be compulsory to carry out all tasks for starting up a company with a single notice, to the Business Register. This is a simplified online procedure which includes all tax, welfare (INPS registration) and insurance information (INAIL registration). This procedure can be accessed on the Business Register website after logging in with a digital signature and a posta elettronica certificata (PEC) [certified e-mail] mailbox.
If a company prefers to send the single notice itself without consulting professionals, the specific software (starweb, fedra), which can be downloaded from the Business Register website for free, must be used.
Paperwork is sent to the Chamber of Commerce using the Telemaco e-government tool.
The Services Directive: One-stop shops
The Services Directive is a European law that aims to make life easier for businesses that wish to provide services in the European Union – in their home country or abroad. The Directive defines the rules that apply to entrepreneurs wishing to establish a business or perform temporary services in the EU/EEA area (the 27 EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). It obliges member states to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy, simplify formalities for businesses and make public administrations more efficient.
For the implementation of the Directive, each member state had to set up ‘Points of Single Contact (PSC)’ , e-government portals which help businesses complete their administrative procedures on-line. The PSCs provide comprehensive information on all administrative matters related to setting up or expanding a services business in a given country. This includes for example:
- Which licences, notifications or permits do I need to obtain to start a business (at home or abroad)?
- What do I need to do when I want to offer my services abroad on a temporary basis?
- What do I need to do to apply for a licence? Which authority is responsible?
- Are the licences subject to a fee? What kinds of deadlines apply?
- Which acts and decrees apply in my sector?
- What do I need to do to establish, for instance, a restaurant or a shop? Or to work as a tour operator in another country without actually setting up a company?
- Where can I turn for personalised advice and further information?
With the PSCs, you no longer need to approach various authorities one by one!! The PSC allows you to find all relevant information and to send in your online applications to the responsible authority through one single contact point, the PSC. You can complete your administrative formalities electronically through the PSC. Just contact the PSC of the country that you want to do business in.
All PSCs are part of the European EUGO network; through a central website you can easily access all PSCs in Europe. Of course, the services of the PSCs are optional. You may always address yourself directly to the relevant authorities, too.
For certain sectors, the startup of business activities is subject to the granting of licences, authorizations and permits. Information on this can be requested from the one-stop shop for production activities, the local Chamber of Commerce, or can be found on the Italian Chambers of Commerce website:
The Ministry of Economic Development and the the Treasury Department periodically provide incentives, above all financial support instruments and subsidised loans, for new businesses, particularly those set up by young people and/or women.
The National Agency for inward investment promotion and enterprise development promotes and finances investment programmes submitted by existing or new businesses.
Numerous economic incentives are provided by local (province, municipality, chamber of commerce, region), national and European funds. Businesses receive funds according to the sector in which they operate.
Check also the legislation on this topic in: