Types of legal structure for a business

Foreign investors in Italy can choose from various different legal structures:

  • a company under Italian law
  • a representative office of a foreign company
  • a subsidiary office of the foreign company
  • a sole trader (individual or family enterprise)


The main company models offered by the Italian law are the following:

  • Company of persons (simple partnership, general partnership, limited partnership)
  • Capital companies (joint stock company; limited liability company; share company)
  • Cooperative companies

The Representative Office
The Representative Office is a simple method of entry into the market. It allows investors to promote themselves directly in the Italian territory at a low set-up and management cost, without being subject to income tax.

The representative office is a possible solution only on these conditions:
1. storage, display or delivery of goods or services belonging to the foreign company;
2. purchase of goods or services, information gathering, scientific or market research for the foreign company;
3. performance of activities that are preparatory and auxiliary to those of the foreign company.

Branch or secondary office of a foreign company
Foreign investors can operate in Italy by establishing a branch or secondary office of the foreign company.
A branch is a permanent establishment under Italian law and, therefore, is subject to normal business taxation and is obliged to keep account books, VAT records and file the annual financial statements of the foreign company.

The branch office of a foreign company is subject to the same obligations as an Italian company as far as the publication of financial statements and other company documents are concerned.



Strumenti personali

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