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Migrant Millionaires Are Choosing to Live La Dolce Vita in Italy

Jacopo Zamboni

Jacopo Zamboni

Jacopo Zamboni is Executive Director Private Clients, Henley & Partners Switzerland, and Program Manager for the Italy Residence by Investment Program.

Introductory remarks on Italy usually tend to focus on it being a country that stands out for its unique historical heritage, its cultural diversity, and of course its exquisite cuisine and breathtaking landscapes. These are just a few of the factors that explain why in recent years the European country has proven to be a magnet for high-net-worth individuals, many of whom are relocating to well-known places such as Milan and the Lombardy region in general, Rome, and Tuscany. 

Alternatively, to explain why so many are irresistibly drawn to Italy, one could simply quote Percy Bysshe Shelley, who wrote “How beautiful is sunset, when the glow of Heaven descends upon a land like thee, Thou Paradise of exiles, Italy!” and close the discussion. But digging just a little deeper into the reasons that a net relocation of more than 2,200 high-net-worth individuals is projected in Italy in 2024 will reveal abundant reasons that the country ranks among the Top 10 most popular destinations for millionaires on the move.

An economic powerhouse  

Well known globally among high-net-worth individuals for its economic opportunities despite past challenges, which impacted the economy and primarily local companies catering to the domestic market due to external factors and pro-cyclical fiscal policies that adversely affected domestic demand, Italy remains at the forefront in multiple sectors that represent the zeitgeist of the moment.

The Rome skyline

In greentech, Italy is the third largest producer of renewable energy in Europe, and a major exporter of technologies in this sector. As the third highest contributor to the European Space Agency’s budget, the country also has a thriving aerospace industry, from production of components to assembly. And in the microelectronics sector, leading firms have welcomed the government’s push to make Italy a key hub in Europe for the semiconductor industry in Europe, with a major international player recently investing over EUR 3 billion in the sector.

Many high-net-worth individuals either own multi-national firms that import high-quality goods from Italy or have invested in Italian businesses in the above and many other sectors. 

A combination of pull factors for relocating millionaires

While high-net-worth individuals have long been familiar with Italy, and wealthy business owners have established strong economic ties with the country, historically, personal involvement — as in relocation to Italy — was lagging.

Now, new forces have come into play that are removing barriers that might have prevented many from acting on their appreciation of Italy, which was primarily seen as a good place to do business, enabling them to enjoy the quality of life it has to offer on a more permanent basis. 

A simplified migration path for non-EU investors

Those who invest directly or via their company in Italy can now be granted a residence permit based on their economic contribution to the country, significantly reducing the bureaucratic barrier that was often perceived to be a hurdle. Italy’s Residence by Investment Program, which ranks 4th on the Global Residence Program Index, has investment options that range from EUR 250,000 in innovative start-ups, to EUR 2 million in Italian government bonds. 

The processing time is three to four months and a key benefit is the right to live, work, and study in Italy. An Italian golden visa enhances global and economic mobility, enabling visa-free travel throughout Europe’s Schengen Area, and although it is not mandatory to be physically present, some investors do relocate, and citizenship may be available after 10 years of residence, under special conditions. 

Italy is top of the Henley Passport Power Index, with visa-free access to over 90% of global GDP, and has a Total Opportunity Score of 62% in the Henley Opportunity Index, performing best in economic mobility, and with strong career advancement, top-tier employment prospects, and high livability scores. 

Interest in Italy’s Residence by Investment Program has been building since 2019 but there was a significant jump of 74% in enquiries Henley & Partners received in 2023, and this year it is one of the Top 10 most popular programs enquired about. 

Attractive tax incentives for high-net-worth individuals

Regardless of their nationality, new tax residents can relocate to Italy and benefit from various tax regimes on an opt-in basis. The most popular for executives and employees provides a 50% tax break on average, while the regime that is proving to be the standard for high-net-worth individuals is a one-off tax of EUR 100 000 for eligible residents who are fiscally domiciled in Italy and generate their income from abroad. This tax is paid in lieu of ordinary tax rates on foreign income, hence capping taxation to this amount in most cases — a very attractive option. Another incentive worth mentioning, which is slowly gaining traction, is a 7% flat rate for pensioners who relocate to certain regions of Italy.

The UK a new source of millionaire arrivals

The UK’s announcement in the first quarter of 2024 that it would abolish its advantageous non-dom tax regime with effect from 6 April 2025, and which effectively made it a tax haven for new tax residents, has led many high-net-worth individuals in the UK to look at attractive alternatives, such as Italy.

In Italy, the constellation of elements that make a country attractive to relocating high-net-worth individuals have all aligned: its excellent reputation and quality of life, its immense economic potential, and its welcoming investment migration program and tax regime have enabled the southern European country to achieve the results we are seeing today, making it one of the world’s most popular destinations millionaires seeking to relocate.

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Henley & Partners assists international clients in obtaining residence and citizenship under the respective programs. Contact us to arrange an initial private consultation.


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