Enter the Italian market – To enter the Italian market, the discipline divides the access modalities in different cases in order to operate within the territory of the state. We divided them in 5 steps, gradual between them:
- The representative office:
This is the first step for that type of entrepreneur who decides to have a presence across the border. The representative office represents the fastest, easiest and least expensive solution to establish a minimum presence in Italy. It does not present critical issues or particular problems, neither from the regulatory point of view nor from the operative point of view; in fact, it does not enjoy legal autonomy, not even from a fiscal point of view. This means that the representative office is not subject to tax payments in the country in which it is established. For a presence in foreign territory to be qualified as a representative office, however, it should be remembered that it can not exercise any type of management, industrial or commercial activity; it must limit its operations to the promotional, informative and, indeed, representation; it could, for example, show products to potential customers, but it will not be able to conclude contracts. Using simple words, the representative office will be used by foreign operators who intend to carry out market research only or advertise their products in Italy. Let’s call it a first “exploratory” step on the Italian market.
- Direct identification:
If the foreign operator resides in the EU, he can opt for the direct identification tool. This choice is made when the foreign operator decides to carry out operations that are relevant for VAT purposes, or when the operator sells his own goods or services to private consumers; non-commercial entities without VAT number; non-resident subjects even if in possession of Italian VAT number. In this case, the first step will be to request the VAT number from the Pescara Revenue Agency office that will assign the Italian VAT number to the foreign company.
This modality will keep the status of foreign subject to the EU company, authorizing it to operate in the Italian market, thus facilitating the payment of taxes in Italy for the supply of goods or provision of services
made in Italy, thus avoiding double taxation between the two countries.
- The Fiscal representative:
If the foreign operator, unlike the previous case, resides in a non-EU country or in the extra EU customs territory, he can choose to opt for the appointment of a tax representative (EU subjects can opt). In this case the foreign operator will appoint an Italian subject, company or natural person, who will operate on his behalf becoming jointly responsible in case of non-compliance with the Italian tax authorities. The representative will obtain a VAT number exclusively for the operations to be carried out on behalf of the represented person.
- The permanent organization:
This fourth step is chosen by all those operators who not only intend to operate in the Italian market, but to establish a PHYSICAL presence within the territory of the state. When the foreign company decides to build warehouses, offices, extraction plants, a workshop, a laboratory in Italy, it will choose the permanent establishment.
- Law Society:
The company of law is the final step, which guarantees the foreign operator complete autonomy, becoming in all respects a subject of Italian law. This case is usually implemented when the foreign operator decides to set up an Italian company (normally in the form of an SRL or SPA), which is owned and controlled (completely or partially) by the foreign company.
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