Programmes and Admissions for foreign students in Italy

Underaged students’ admission: compulsory education

Underaged foreigners that live in Italy may benefit from the right to education and this does not depend on the regularity of their residence permit.  Every foreign student can be enrolled in a class at any moment during the year, even if the school year has already started.  The choice of the right class depends upon:

  • The age;
  • The school and the course attended in his/her previous nation;
  • The level of his/her preparation, abilities and skills;
  • Special qualifications or certificates.

Admission to degree programmes

All international citizens may get admission to one of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd cycle programmes of Italian higher education.

The two essential admission conditions are that they hold the minimum educational requirements and have a good competence in Italian.

If you want to attend university in Italy, you can find more information about types of higher education institutions (university and non-university sector), admission procedures, study programmes and degrees, student life, welfare services and other useful advice from the following website:

Academic calendar

The academic year in Italy is made up of two semesters. The first semester starts in September/October and ends in January/February. The second semester starts in February and ends in July. The actual start and finish dates will vary in the different universities but each semester lasts around 20 weeks and is made up of a teaching period lasting around 14 weeks and an exam period lasting around 6 weeks.


Exams are held after the teaching period and are mainly oral exams although some courses will have written tests taking place during the semester or before the oral exam. Each exam will have a number of dates offered during the exam period and students can choose which date they wish to take the exam. They are also entitled to turn down a mark and take the exam again if they are not satisfied with the result. Rules apply as to how often a student can take an exam within an examination period.

Grading systems

Examinations are graded according to a scale ranging from 0 to 30, with 18 as a pass mark.
A “cum laude” may be added to the highest grade (30; 30 e lode) as a mention of special distinction.
All examination results are used to calculate the overall degree mark on a scale of 0 – 110. The final result is based on exam results plus the presentation of a project or dissertation in front of a Board of Examiners. The pass mark is 66 and students who obtain full marks of 110 may also be awarded ‘summa cum laude’ (110 e lode).

Famous Universities






Finding Property

The internet is one of the best property searching tools.  For information about renting or buying a property in Italy you can contact the following online estate agencies:

Renting property

There are two types of tenancy contracts:

a ‘free market contract’ which lasts for four years with an option to renew for a further four years; a ‘convention contract’, which is for three years with an option to extend for a further two.

Buying property

Non-residents are free to buy Italian property without any restrictions.  It is advisable to appoint a bilingual lawyer to represent your interests, especially if you are not fluent in the local language.


Holidays and Leisure


National Holidays

New Year’s Day 1st January
Epiphany 6th January
Easter Sunday
Easter Monday
Liberation Day 25th April
Labour Day 1st May
Republic Day 2nd June
August Bank Holiday (Ferragosto) 15th August
All Saints’ Day 1st November
Immaculate Conception 8th December
Christmas Day 25th December
Saint Stephen’s Day 26th December



New Year’s Concert: it is celebrated at the Scala Theatre in Milan and it is a classical music concert with the best International opera singers.

Sanremo: it is the most important music festival since 1951 which takes place in February.  This town is situated near Genova and is famous also for its Casinò and flowers (there are beautiful flower fields). The festival is celebrated once a year at the Ariston Theatre and famous Italian and international singers take part in it.

Venice Carnival: it is an attraction where there is a parade in the main streets and squares of the city. In this parade there are decorated chariots and a lot of people dress up with famous and beautiful Venetian masks.

2nd June Parade: on this day the founding of the Italian Republic (1946) is celebrated.  The President of the Republic Head makes a speech reminding us of the importance of the Republic. There is also a parade of all the armed forces and the Frecce Tricolori, the aerobatic demonstration team of the Italian Airforce, soars high in the skies in an incredible display.

Venice Film Festival: it is a film festival that takes place in Venice in September and the best International movies, directors and actors receive important awards. Giro D’Italia: it consists in a bike race around Italy.  The most talented Italian and international cyclists of Italy take part in this competition.

Milan Fashion Week: it is the most important event of the fashion business. There are two: one in February, for the Fall-Winter Collection, the other in September, for the Spring-Summer Collection.  The most famous Italian Fashion Houses like Armani, Dolce&Gabbana, Valentino put on show their latest collections. It attracts the most popular International fashion journalists.

New Year’s Eve Concerts: there is a concert in almost every important city. The most famous singers perform in these concerts and at Midnight there is the countdown for the New Year.




People like going skiing: there are a lot of ski resorts all over Italy. In fact there are two important mountain chains called the Alps and the Appennines situated in the northern and in the central part of the country. Some important ski resorts are, for example, Roccaraso (central Italy) and Cortina D’Ampezzo (Northern Italy).

Other popular pastimes are going to the cinema or for a walk in the city centre with friends or shopping.  Shopping centres are open from 9.00 am to 8.00 pm while shops in the city centres are usually open from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm and from 4.00 pm to 7.30 pm.





Italy is surrounded on three sides by the sea. People who live in cities on the coasts like Pescara, Naples and Genoa rent a beach umbrella and deck chairs for the summer time and go to the beach to relax, sunbathe and swim in the sea. Instead, people who live in big cities that are situated in internal areas of the country like Milan, Florence and Turin, usually visit the most important monuments and museums of the city or go to the seaside in cities on the coast.  Another important aspect of Italy is the food: in fact Italians love getting together and sharing a good meal and enjoying a superb glass of wine.


Social Security


Italy has an extensive social security (previdenza sociale) system covering the vast majority of the population. Social insurance provides benefits for unemployment, sickness and maternity, accidents at work and occupational diseases, as well as old-age, invalidity and survivor’s pensions, and family allowances. It does not include the national health service (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale/SSN), which is funded from general taxation.

The system is run by a number of state agencies, which have been brought together under the National Institute for Social Security (Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale/INPS). All resident employees and self-employed workers pay social security contributions (contributi previdenziali), with a few exceptions.

Employee’s contributions are deducted at source from their gross salary by their employer, who pays around two-thirds of pension contributions, while the remaining third is paid by the employee. There are different contribution rates for employees in industry, commerce and agriculture, and for workers (operai), office staff (impiegati) and managers (dirigenti), who also receive different benefits.

The self-employed (lavoratori autonomi) must register and make contributions either to a separate organisation (called cassa), which is a social security fund allied to their profession, or directly with the INPS.

Self-employed people who make contributions to their own cassa include architects, accountants, lawyers, engineers, surveyors, medical specialists and other freelance professionals, who each have different rates of contributions.

The self-employed who make contributions to INPS may be part-time employees (collaboratori), such as university students, freelance workers (indipendenti), including small businessmen, shopkeepers, traders, tenant farmers, sharecroppers and smallholders, or employees of relatively new industries (e.g. computer consultancies) who do not have their own cassa yet.

Contributions are automatically credited for periods of unemployment where an employee has paid contributions for unemployment benefit (indennità di disoccupazione), for periods of military service, maternity leave, and illness of not less than a week and no longer than 12 months.

 Maternity and paternity leave allowance

Female employees are entitled to mandatory paid leave for a period of two months prior to the expected date of delivery and three months following the expected date of childbirth. In addition, female employees may also take an optional additional six months following the expiration of the mandatory leave. Female employees are afforded extensive protection from discrimination following their return to work and are entitled to return to the same position or similar position at the same level within the company. The employee is also entitled to receive any benefit or raise issued by the company while on leave and, upon return from leave, the employee may not be fired if not for exceptional circumstances concerning misconduct, the expiration of a fixed-term contract, or closure of the business.

Both male and female employees are entitled to paternity leave governed by the Legislative Decree n.151 of 2001. The parent-employee may take parental leave in the amount of 10 months for each child, during the first 8 years of the child’s life. Throughout mandatory leave, the employee is entitled to receive a daily allowance of 80% of the salary amount. During optional leave, the employee is entitled to receive 30% of his or her normal salary amount.





Public healthcare in Italy
The national health service in Italy, Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN), provides residents with free or low-cost healthcare that includes access to general practitioners (GPs), treatment at public hospitals, subsidised medicines, lab services, ambulance services and certain specialist care.

Patients who make social security contributions may have to make copayments, but most of a medical bill is paid by the government.

The SSN is a socialised system, however regional governments are in charge of managing it on a provincial level, meaning that there are differences between regions. Usually hospitals in northern and central Italy offer a higher standard than those in the south.

How to apply for Italian health insurance

Foreigners who are EU nationals can take advantage of reciprocal health agreements which makes access to public healthcare in Italy easy.

Non-EU expats will, however, need to formally register for the SSN. Expats who have their residence status finalised and have an Italian identity card (carta d’identità) can then apply for an Italian health insurance card (tessera sanitaria).

In order to get a health card an expat should go to the nearest local health authority (Azienda Sanità Locale/ASL) and provide various documents: residence permit, official identification and proof of employment.

Expats who want to claim benefits for their families will require a family status certificate (certificato di stato di famiglia).

After registering, applicants have to choose a family doctor and a paediatrician for their children. They are then issued with their health card, which must be presented in order to receive care under the SSN.

Private healthcare in Italy

Although public healthcare in Italy is free,  foreigners may choose to use private healthcare.
There are a number of excellent specialist facilities and university hospitals in the large urban centres.

Language and Currency


The official language in Italy is Italian, a Romance language, the closest to Latin in terms of vocabulary. It is also widely spoken in Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City and Istria. The Italian language adopted by the state after the unification is based on Tuscan, which previously was a language spoken mostly by the upper class of Florentine society.

Throughout Italy, regional variations of Standard Italian, called Regional Italian, are influenced by various factors: the openness of vowels, the length of the consonants, and influence of the local dialects.

Italian is a major European language, being one of the official languages of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and one of the working languages of the Council of Europe. Italian is the third most widely spoken first language in the European Union with 65 million native speakers (13% of the EU population) and it is spoken as a second language by 14 million EU citizens (3%).

Italian is the main working language of the Holy See, serving as the lingua franca in the Catholic hierarchy, as well as the official language of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Italian is known as the language of music because of its use in musical terminology and opera. Its influence is also widespread in the arts and in the luxury goods market. Italian has been reported as the fourth or fifth most frequently taught foreign language in the world.


As a member of the European Union, Italy is also part of the Economic and Monetary Union, which introduced the Euro as the common currency in 2002.

Nowadays these banknotes and coins are in circulation:

  • Banknotes with face-values of  5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros
  • Coins of €1 and €2 as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents

Italian euro coins have a design unique to each denomination, though there is a common theme of famous Italian works of art from Italy’s renowned artists.  The 1 euro coin presents the Vitruvian man of Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo’s work is highly symbolical as it represents the renaissance focus on man as the measure of all things, and has simultaneously a round shape that fits the coin perfectly.

Italian euro design

Italian coins

  • 2 € Portrait of Dante Alighieri by painter Raphael
  • 1€  Vitruvian Man, drawing by Leonardo da Vinci
  • 0,50 € The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius
  • 0,20 €  The Futurist sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space by Umberto Boccioni
  • 0,10 € The Birth of Venus by painter Sandro Botticelli
  • 0,05 €  The Colosseum in Rome, famous Roman Amphitheatre
  • 0,02€  Mole Antonelliana, a tower symbolising the city of Turin
  • 0,01 € The Castel del Monte, a 13th-century castle in Andria

Permits and Visas


Anyone planning to stay in Italy for more than 90 days is considered a resident. Whether you are a student or seasonal worker, if your stay exceeds this period you must make sure you are in possession of the required documents since failing to acquire these can lead to expulsion from Italy.

Depending on the purpose of your trip to Italy, there are different types of visas that foreign visitors can apply for.  Whether you are planning to go on a visit, study or work and reside in Italy on a permanent basis, you will have to apply for a different Italy Schengen Visa accordingly.

You can apply for an Italian Schengen Visa since October 1997 when Italy, as a Member State of the European Union also became a member state of the Schengen Area.

For more information about Schengen Visa types:



As of 2007, the Italian residency permit has been replaced by a declaration of presence on Italian soil. A declaration of presence can be obtained by filling out a form at the police headquarters (Questura). You will receive a stamped receipt which should be kept safe in case you are asked to show proof of it in the future. If in possession of a short-stay visa (Uniform Schengen Visa) you do not need to make a declaration of presence. However, EU nationals and anyone else who does not possess the USV sticker on their passport and intends on staying for a period of more than three months must file for a declaration of presence in Italy.


Foreigners require different permits depending on their national status and on how long they have lived in Italy.

  • The Permit to stay (Permesso di soggiorno) is required by non-EU nationals and is valid for a limited period of time. There are several types and most can be renewed. They can be issued for the first 5 years of residence in Italy.
  • The Non-EU permanent residence card (Carta di soggiorno) must be required by non-EU nationals after residing in Italy for more than 5 years.  It is valid for an indefinite period of time.
  • The EU citizens’ permanent residence card (Carta di soggiorno Cittadini U.E.) is required by EU nationals and their dependents that are staying in Italy for more than three months.


In Italy, a permit to stay (permesso di soggiorno) can take up to more than three months to obtain and can be issued only for the purpose stated on the visa.  There are several types of permits to stay, the most commonly issued ones are:

  • Permesso di soggiorno per turismo– for tourists. Technically anyone visiting Italy for over a week who isn’t staying in a hotel, boarding house or an official campsite should apply for one, although in practice this rarely happens;
  • Permesso di soggiorno per coesione familiare– for the foreign spouse and children of an Italian citizen when they move to Italy together;
  • Permesso di soggiorno per lavoro– a work permit for an employee;
  • Permesso di soggiorno per lavoro autonomo/indipendente– for independent or freelance workers;
  • Permesso di soggiorno per studio– for students;
  • Permesso di soggiorno per ricongiungimento familiare– for the spouse, children (under 18) and dependent parents of foreigners married to Italian citizens and also for family members from overseas who come to join others already in Italy;
  • Permesso di soggiorno per dimora– for foreigners establishing residence in Italy who do not intend to work or study.

Other classes of permits to stay include refugees and employees on religious missions. If you are a non-EU citizen and have not obtained a specific visa, the local police headquarters normally would issue you a permit for tourism (permesso di soggiorno per turismo). This is non-renewable and valid for only three months. You cannot apply for residence with this permit, nor study, and you cannot take on employment or establish a business.


The EC residence permit for long-term residence (Permesso di Soggiorno per Soggiornanti di Lungo Periodo, SLP) was introduced in 2007 and, unlike the old residence permit, is now permanent. If you have been living in Italy continuously and legally for more than five years, then you are entitled to apply for an EC residence permit. EU citizens can and should apply for one if they intend on staying in the country for more than 90 days. Since the end of 2010, it is now necessary to pass an Italian language test in order to obtain the EC residence permit.




The law provides for a system based on five taxes:

  1. the Imposta sul reddito(income tax);
  2. the Imposta sul reddito delle società(corporate tax);
  3. the Imposta sul valore aggiunto(VAT or sales tax);
  4. the Imposta sui servizi(tax on services);
  5. the Accise(excises).


It is an individual income tax. Tax rates are progressive and range from 23% to 43%. Additional taxes are due at the regional (0.9% to 1.4%) and local (0.1% to 0.8%) levels.

If you are a foreign resident working in Italy, you are only taxed on the income earned in Italy. However, if you are an Italian resident, spend more than 183 days a year in Italy, and your “center of economic interest” (i.e. your business and investments) is in Italy, your worldwide income is subject to IRPEF.

After allowances have been taken into account, rates are on a sliding scale. They are currently as follows:

  • 23% for amounts up to 15.000 Euros
  • 27% for amounts between 15.001 and 28.000 Euros
  • 38% for amounts between 28.001 and 58.000 Euros
  • 41% for amounts between 58.001 and 75.000 Euros
  • 43% for amounts over 75.001 euros.

The reporting agent is entitled to a series of deductions (19%) from taxable income relating to health care  (medical expenses), education (university tuition fees) and life insurance.


It is a personal and proportional tax based on the corporate income. The percentage rate is currently 27,50%.


It is an indirect tax burden on consumption. The percentage rates – 4%, 10%, 22% – vary according to the type of product.


It is a tax on public services provided by the local authorities such as rubbish collection, maintenance of streets and street lighting as well as public safety. It must be paid by owners and tenants of buildings, both dwellings and stores.


It is an indirect tax on the production and sale of certain categories of goods (for example fuel). It is applied on quantity and not on prices.

Work Rules




Through this kind of contract companies provide young people with professional training in order to achieve further levels of qualification and make the apprentices more competitive on the labor market. However, employers pay lower salaries and social security and benefit from several other incentives.

At the end of the training period, the employer:

  1. can withdraw from the agreement;
  2. can convert 50% of apprenticeship contracts into permanent work contracts. In this case, the employer is allowed to avail of apprenticeship contracts again.


It is a written contract, with no pre-determined termination date. It specifies the tasks of the employee, labor schedule, wages etc. It is not applicable to those under 15 of age. High social security wages, around 33%, are paid almost entirely by the employer.


It is a written contract which specifies the termination date and tasks. It cannot be longer than 36 months, this working period can be extended one more time, with the same tasks, and the employer can withdraw from the agreement on the termination date. Wages for part-time employees are the same as those of permanent contract employees in the company. High social security wages are paid almost entirely by the employer.

SUPPLY CONTRACT (dependent job)

It can be of two types:

  1. signed by the work agency and the employee;
  2. signed by the work agency and the user.

It can be a permanent or temporary contract. It is a labor contract of a specific time length decided by both the employer and the employee. Staff Supply enables clients of employment agencies to avail of the labor activity performed by workers holding employment agreements with employment agencies. Both clients and employment agencies are jointly liable for payment of employee wages and social security contributions and for compliance with workplace safety regulations in force. Staff Supply contracts set down the rights and obligations of employment agencies as well as their clients, and can either be open-term or fixed-term contracts. According to the law, a worker with a fixed term contract may not work for the same employer more than 36 months, if the tasks established have never changed. Therefore, between the first fixed term contract and the following extensions, the contract may last for a maximum for 3 years. Nevertheless, the national collective contracts may infringe this rule since it is only the limit which affects fixed term contracts and not supply contracts. As a result, over 36 months the employer may employ the same worker drawing up a supply contract.

JOB SHARING (dependent job)

It is a written contract which provides a structured form of part time contract, where two people share one job.  The contract specifies the different tasks and wages of each employee. The two employees are not supposed to be substituted by a third one. If one of the two resigns or is fired, then the contract is considered as concluded, and both employees are responsible for all the work results. High flexibility of working schedule can be decided and modified at any moment by the two employees. Social security contributions are paid entirely by the self-employee.


It relates to a professional activity performed on a discontinued or on an intermittent basis. It can be a temporary or permanent contract. It is an on-call job that permits a company to employ the worker at any time.  Regardless of the professional nature, the job on call can be performed by employees under 24 or those over 55 of age only.  The wages, for the effective working time, must be the same as those of another employee of the same level.


Ancillary occasional labor relates to a professional activity performed on a discontinued or intermittent basis by the same worker.

Contract payments do not have to exceed the following sum:

– 5.000 Euros yearly referring to the total number of purchasers

– 2.000 Euros yearly referring to a single purchaser, entrepreneur or professional figure.

Payment will be through vouchers, which will guarantee, in addition to the salary, the social tax for INPS (National Social Security Institute) and the social security cover for INAIL (National Institute for Insurance against Industrial Accidents.)


It is a short-term temporary contract which can be used only up to a maximum each year of 5,000 euros in total. It cannot be longer than 30 days with the same employer. It is not generally drawn up as a contract. The employer is not charged with contribution wages.


It is a dependent employment with open-contract, targeted to provide the apprentices with a professional qualification. This type of contract is for individuals between 18 and 29 of age. Social security wages are paid almost entirely by the employer.


This kind of contract is related to specific projects and cannot imply repetitive tasks already mentioned in a similar contract between the same employee and the same employer. The contract must describe the sort of project, specifying the main activities and the final result that is to be achieved. The salary must not be less than the national wage salary. Two thirds of social security wages are paid by the employer and one third by the employee.


           The Jobs Act represents the most comprehensive labour market reform in Italy since the introduction of the “Workers’ Statute” in 1970. The main goals of the Jobs Act are to create a more inclusive, resilient and flexible labour market, to attract foreign investments and business and to reduce the scope of discretionary decisions of Labour Courts in the resolution of labour disputes. To pursue these objectives, the Government was delegated by Parliament to:

  1. Strengthen and reorganise the social safety network;
  2. Improve employment services and active labour market policies;
  3. Review types of contracts, reduce atypical employment relationships also by introducing a new open-end contract with increasing levels of protection;
  4. Support working mothers and fathers especially during the early years of their children.

For more information about the Jobs Act: