Setting up a company

Learn about the types of businesses and how to set them up

Setting up a company

There are several ways to structure your business in Italy, and it is important to know which one is right for you and your future clients.


Limited Liability Company (SRL - Societa a responsabilita limitata)

This is a typical type of company foreigners choose when starting a small business in Italy. Along with at least one shareholder, the minimum investment of 10,000 EUR is required for this type of company.

At least 2,500 EUR (a quarter) must be paid as a deposit upon incorporation. In the case of only one shareholder, the deposit as the start-up capital must be paid in full. Capital is considered acceptable both in cash and kind, however capital in kind requires evaluation by a registered auditor.

Shareholders generally hold limited liability to the extent of their contribution and the capital is strictly split into interests without the possibility to list on the stock exchange market.

Companies can choose whether they want to have one director, 2 or more directors who have independent powers, or a board of directors. Additionally, a board of statutory auditors must be created who will monitor and maintain the accounting of the company, including transactions, balance sheets and financial statements.


Joint Stock Company (SPA - Societa per azioni)

If you have plenty of capital and want to start an SPA company, a minimum investment of 120.000 EUR is necessary for start-up. A quarter of the capital needs to be deposited before the incorporation of the company.

This business type requires at least 1 shareholder, with the capital normally divided into shares with the possibility of listing them on the stock exchange. When there is only a single shareholder in the company, all of the start-up capital must be paid at once before incorporation.

Each year the shareholders must hold an ordinary meeting with the aim of improving financial statements. The company also needs to have its own accounting system supervised by the board of statutory auditors.

The management of that type of company can differ depending the preferences of those involved. There are 3 possibilities:

  • Traditional board - formed by a single director
  • A board of directors
  • A management board - which is assigned by the supervisory committee (supervisory committee is elected by the shareholders)


General Partnership (SNC - Societa in nome collettivo)

If you are planning to set up a company based on a partnership, at least 2 individuals or legal entities are required to sign an agreement document. You don’t need a sufficient amount of capital while establishing the partnership. All members are general members and hold full liability and management responsibility.


Limited Partnership (SAS - Societa in accomandita semplice)

The main conditions for setting up a limited partnership are the same as for the general partnership, except that at least one of the partners has to be limited and, accordingly, hold limited liability to the extent of his contribution to the company. The other partner has to be general, owning full liability for the obligations.


Partnership Limited by Shares (SAPA - Societa in accomandita per azioni)

This type of a partnership requires two or more partners. Partnership Limited by Shares has similar conditions to the limited partnership. Limited liability requirement goes to at least one of the partners and and at least one of the partners must act as a general member. Minimum requirement for capital is not required while capital is divided into shares rather than quotas.


Is governmental financial aid available to set up a business?

Italian law provides various forms of grants for new businesses, particularly in the rural areas and the southern part of Italy. Those grants can include:

  • EU subsidies
  • Central government grants
  • Regional development grants
  • Redeployment grants
  • Grants from provincial authorities and local communities

You might be entitled to monetary assistance in buying buildings and equipment, for research and technological purposes, for job creation and more.

For more information please contact the Italian chambers of commerce or the embassy of your country of origin.

Further reading

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