Salento Freelance

Per l’italiano, vai qui.
Every day when I open the laptop it shows me a wonderful view, more often from America. Today it showed me this image:


Before the writings appeared, I already knew that it had to be Italy. It wasn’t just the Vespas parked on the side of the road (which I saw later), but the breathtaking yet sweet beauty of almost all Italian landscapes (apart from the Dolomites: those are only breathtaking, there is nothing sweet in those powerful and majestic shards).

I clicked, and it showed me Italy as an amazing holiday destination, and a list of all the amazing UNESCO sites in Italy (we have 53, more than ANY OTHER COUNTRY in the world)

I thought: we’re not just that.

We are not just a wonderful holiday destination, offering everything from skiing weeks on the snow to mountaineering, climbing, incredible biodiversity and wildlife, breathtaking sea, tropical beaches, forests, architecture, culture, art, rocky beaches, wine, food, hills, landscapes… the list is long.

We are also a great place to live.

Forget the propaganda and protests, and the complaints of the Italians themselves (we love to complain, especially about ourselves!): here you can do, here you can even work on your own and pay taxes regularly. I gave up in 2006 and moved to England because:

(a) I did not have enough confidence in myself, and

(b) at the time, things were in fact a little more complicated, and two accountants were unable to follow and advise me properly.

This post is about starting work in Italy as a freelancer. Freelancing is the best way to live because:

  • Life is too short to have to ask permission to enjoy life that day or couple of hours instead of work and
  • You can choose to live in any area of this amazing country.

As mentioned earlier, we chose Puglia, and more precisely Salento. Much of the advice will therefore be dictated by our daily reality. You can continue to read all the tips to become a freelancer in Italy below. If you too decide to move here or set up your own business, or you need a hand for residence, tax code, health card, etc., you may find it useful.

Premise: as you have chosen a wonderful place to live, put your mind at ease, and always start your day of sorting out bureaucratic stuff knowing that there’s probably no way you’ll be able to do everything in a single visit. So go, enjoy the view, choose the most beautiful route, have a lovely cappuccino in a nice bar for breakfast (preferably facing the sea)… in short, start your journey with gratitude that you are living in a wonderful place and receive patience that way. If you’re heading to Nardò, or similar parts that don’t seem to be very modernised, don’t rely on websites, emails, or even the phone. Much, much better to go in person.

Bear in mind that to achieve all this, which began in 2017 when I wanted to apply for an Identity Card, I did more or less twelve trips Demographic Services, not counting the Inland Revenue (Agenzia delle Entrate) and Protocol (Ufficio Protocollo) and NHS (ASL) etc., for one reason or another: if you follow my advice, you might avoid it!


Step 1: Tax Code

Step 2: Residence

Step 3: Choose your doctor – Health Card

Step 4: Put yourself in Own

Step 5: Ask for the Identity Card

Step 1: Tax Code

You are coming from another European country (if not European I’m sorry, I don’t know enough), so you think you can do everything just with your lovely European passport.

This is not the case. The first thing to do absolutely immediately is the tax code.

If you’re Italian: if you already have the new one, connected with the health card, go to Step 2: Ask for the Residence

If you are European or just back in Italy after living abroad for years like we were and it is therefore connected to your old address, you must go to the Inland Revenue (here the addresses, choose the one where your municipality is listed.) For Nardò (and therefore Santa Caterina, Santa Maria al Bagno, Sant’Isidoro) (Via S. Nicola, Lecce). Best parking spot: tell your sat nav to take you to the cemetery behind.

Bring your European passport or ID card (passport probably better) or Italian ID, and a photocopy of the same because you will have to give it to them and they won’t do it for you there.

As soon as you enter head to the gentleman at the reception and say what you’re there to do: he will give you a number and the necessary forms.

After the request has been made, ask that it be sent to the address where you are domiciled, and hold on to the temporary paper with the code. It may not come! If you don’t receive it within a couple of weeks, ask your ASL for it once you’ll have completed your Residence.

Step 2: Ask for Residence

It’s true that as European citizens you can stay as much as you like etc.

But: if you’re moving just for a couple of years:

  • Whoever changes city or address must inform the Register Office within 20 days by transfer.
  • The legal effects of registration begin on the date of submission of the declaration (read: waste tax, become “visible” to the Revenue Agency, etc.)
  • From the moment you ask for your residence, it may take more than a year for your electoral residence to be transferred as well. If you want to vote in the meantime, alas, you will have to go to your old town (if you are Italian). If you are a European, I imagine that you should do the same as we do in the UK, namely register at your consulate, tell them that you are here and hope that they will allow you vote by post.

You will necessarily need a 4 + 4 years rental agreement, or a Contract for Right of Use (Usufrutto), or you will have to say that you are permanently residing at someone’s address, and this someone will have to declare you in their family unit (Stato di Famiglia). My advice is therefore to tell the person who will rents you the house that you intend to take up residence right away, to know if it is ok or not for them. Various documents are required, and I had to go back several times. Many sites in various municipalities have forms to download and fill out, but my advice is: go directly to the Demographic Services Office (Servizi Demografici) of your municipality, and ask the person in charge what you need.

In Nardò, the place to go for the residence request is the Demographic Services Sector:

The municipality is scattered around the city in various sectors, which have also changed recently: do not trust the directions on the net! Old/not working numbers, people who do not answer… Go in person. In person, they are very kind and helpful. And go with the awareness that you will almost certainly not have everything you need to do it in one visit.

Step 3: Choose your doctor – Health Card

You’ll have to ask the ASL, when you’ll have requested the residence. In the case of Nardò, the ASL was also scattered around a bit. To request your choice of doctor you need to enter the former hospital, (recommended parking if not full is Via XXV Luglio, it often has shade) ignore the main entrance and go left and go to the separate offices at the back. Always carry a photocopy of your ID and tax code, in addition to the originals.

There you can also apply for exemption from paying for exams, etc. (once you have something that proves your income), and you’ll choose your doctor. I recommend calling to find out the times, but usually it will be 8:30.-12:00 with opening (perhaps, check) from 16:00 to 18:00 on Mondays and Thursdays. Times vary according for the specific sector! For this reason, it is convenient to call and hope that they will pick up. Or, with the above philosophy, just go there one day and ask anybody/look for signs.

By the way, if you’re in Salento, they will always tell you: ASK. People are extremely helpful and if they can’t help you, they will usually think of someone who can.

Until you have your residence, you can still, as a European (for the English too, at least for now!) take your health card with you and access the medical out of hours service. At the time of writing in this post, the doctor in Nardò is also there on weekends in the former Hospital, at Santa Maria al Bagno is here: (Via Aurelia 57/bis)

Step 4: Become self-employed!

If you only have to declare occasional income, (ask me about this stuff, this is in Italian, or translate it with

The provision for occasional self-employed work, are now applicable in very few cases. If you work independently, even if you make very little money, you will HAVE to have a VAT number (Partita IVA).

Trying to be as tight as possible (obviously I’m NOT an accountant, on the contrary! This is the fruit of months and months of research, and is current information at the time I write. ALL can change in no time!):

If you really do the occasional random job here and there and don’t exceed 5000 a year, you don’t need a VAT number.

If you do similar jobs every month, for similar customers, of a similar nature, even if you earn very little, you must open your VAT Account. If you earn less than 15000 you can apply for the very convenient flat rate (forfettario), if you earn between 15000 and 30000 you can still make the facilitated (Regime Agevolato).

In theory you could open it by mail with modules, etc.. In practice, if you’re here in Nardò, at least, it’s not worth it. At the Inland Revenue, they do NOT answer the phone, and I don’t know what happened to stuff I have sent (and received a receipt for) by post, and they do NOT answer e-mails.

Before you go, request your details to register for the Online Revenue Telematic Services (Fisconline). The second part of the PIN you can ask when you go there: along with a photocopy and the originals of passport and tax code, which by now you know you must always carry many copies.

The next steps, briefly:

  1. Select your ACT code.
  2. For Translations it is 74.30.00 “Translation and interpretation”
  3. For Concept Artists/Graphic Designers/Illustrators it is 74.10.29 – Other activities of graphic designers – advertising graphics, illustrator (graphic designer, illustrator)
  4. For Web Designers it is 74.10.21 and so on. The complete list can be found here:
  5. Fill in the form AA9_12+mod (google it, or ask me!)
  6. Go with a photocopy of your tax code and passport and the form to the reception of the Inland Revenue, and tell them you want to open the VAT Account with a flat rate, he will give you stuff to fill out and a waiting number. Wait, go sit down, the gentleman at the desk will be duly impressed that you’re doing this alone, tell him that you want to sign up for VIES (mandatory if you want to work with European states), if you’re lucky they will know what it is and they do it for you, otherwise don’t worry, you can do that at home too).
  7. Declare the start date of your activity, which will be necessarily within thirty days from the date on which you open the VAT Account.
  8. Walk out happily with your VAT number.

Now, if you’re lucky and have a good accountant you trust and who knows what the flat rate for your specific sector is all about, and knows what it means to work with Europe, and so on, go for it, get an accountant. This year I’m trying to do it alone, because (I mean no offence to any accountants who read this post! On the contrary, if you live near me and you know about working online with countries in Europe, contact me because I would love to have someone to refer to). I will let you know if I make a big mess of it.

Meanwhile, the declaration of the very low income I made last year was made! Moreover, by doing the SPID (a kind of login for many important Italian institutions) and registering for the Online services of the Inland Revenue, you can use the Pre-filled (Precompilata) tax declaration and it’s EASY!

You should then sign up for INPS (sore point) to pay your lovely INPS tax instalments (this is the social security, basically, your pension). But consider that you can have free school buses, reduced prescriptions, various exemptions, refunds, etc.! In short, I tell myself that I cannot complain about the state and taxes if I don’t pay them, these taxes, and since I like to complain, I WANT to pay them. If I don’t pay mine, the state will get them up from the pay slip of those who have no choice. I also suffer from anxiety, and the thought of always looking behind my back for fear that they will catch me… no, thank you!

Step 5: Ask for your identity card

This they told us and I got. Every municipality may want slightly different things, although these are the state level requests:

    1. Bank transfer receipt of €22.21 for the first issue or expiration of the previous one, or €27.37 for loss, deterioration or theft. Causal: Diritti di Emissione CIE (Electronic Identity Card Emission Duty). Beware! If you do the transfer online, you must make sure you wait two days before you go. Also, if, like me, you have a bank like N26 (excellent, apart from this inconvenience), or otherwise foreign, it may NOT issue the Code of successful transfer. The lady of the municipality explained to me that she has to enter that number, so what can she do? In my case, thank goodness, the lady entered another random number (the BIC of my bank) and finished the procedure. So at least make sure you have a number along with a statement confirming that the transfer has actually been made. The big flaw with N26 is that even when the transfer was made months ago, the only document I can print still has the wording below saying that “this document only certifies that you made the request, and not that it was actually made”, which didn’t help me much! If you have pleeeenty of time, you can also make the payment directly at the bank, with queues etc., but at least you’ll be safe: c/o Unicredit PIazza Mazzini, IBAN Municipality of Nardò B020 0879 8220 0001 0398 683


  1. 1 Passport photo 
  2. Your Tessera Sanitaria. Watch out! In many municipalities, you just need to know your tax code and tell it, photocopying would be enough, and so on. In this municipality, they want the new health insurance card, which also contains the tax code, etc. So you must obviously have run both the Step 1-Get your Tax Code and Step 3: Choose the doctor – Health Card
  3. ID document (and usual photocopy, you never know) (passport but maybe also European driving license: check with your municipality!)
  4. If you have children who are minors, you absolutely need the other parent’s consent on the correct form. Otherwise they will do one that is not valid for leaving the country! I also brought a photocopy of my husband’s passport and that of my daughter.

If you are a person who wants to move here and you want advice, a chat about it, let’s get together for a coffee or write me an email!

I hope this post is useful to you. Contact me if: you need a hand to do research, you want to correct some information that is here, you want to offer other relevant info for other professions, etc.! Remember that the best way to contact me is by email. Or you cna chat through my Facebook page.

After every time that you’ve done one of these things, remember that if you’re in Salento, you can go and enjoy a break in a place like this:

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