HomeSearch NewsHow can a foreign nurse enter and work in Italy?

12 November 2021

How can a foreign nurse enter and work in Italy?

Answers to frequently asked question

There are about 38,000 foreign nurses working in Italy. Their entry from abroad is possible through a simplified procedure, outside of the quotas established annually by the flows Decree.
The procedure is regulated by Art. 27, paragraph 1 letter r-bis) of Legislative Decree 286/98 (Single Text on Immigration) and by Art. 40, paragraph 21 of Presidential Decree 394/99, which regulate the employment of foreign nurses in both public and private healthcare facilities.

What is the procedure for employing a foreign nurse still living abroad?
Public or private healthcare facilities that want to hire a foreign nurse residing abroad must submit an application for work nulla osta (authorisation) to the Sportello Unico (Unified Immigration Desk). The hiring of foreign nurses is permitted outside of the quotas and can, therefore, be sent at any time of the year, without having to wait for the government to issue a Flows Decree. Cooperatives are also entitled to apply for the nulla osta if they directly manage the entire health facility or a department or service of the same where the persons concerned will be employed. Temporary employment companies can apply for the nulla osta to hire such staff, after obtaining a copy of the contract signed with the public or private healthcare facility.
In order to be hired, the employer must apply for the nulla osta for employment (Model O) through the specific computerised procedure available on the website of the Ministry of the Interior (, which can be accessed by registering on the site.
Only once this nulla osta has been obtained (which the Sportello Unico sends electronically to the competent diplomatic representation and gives to the employer) will the foreign worker be able to go to the representation of his country to request an entry visa.

How does one obtain recognition of a nursing qualification?
A necessary condition for entry from abroad to be authorised and, in any case, for the lawful practice of the profession of professional nurse in Italy is recognition of the relative qualification by the Ministry of Health and subsequent registration in the appropriate Professional Register.
The procedure for recognition, described in the Circular of the Ministry of Health of 12 April 2000, must be activated by the same employer interested in hiring from abroad or by the interested party if he is already legally residing in Italy. The application should be addressed to the Ministry of Health-Department of Health Professions, Human Resources and Technology-Office II°, in Rome.

Attention: until 31 December 2021, the measure of recognition of the qualification for the temporary exercise of healthcare qualifications and the qualification of socio-healthcare operator is not required of personnel also working in private or accredited healthcare facilities, provided that they are engaged in the COVID-19 emergency. (Derogation provided by Article 13 of Decree-Law no. 18 of March 2020, converted into Law no. 27/2020 and subsequent amendments).

Do you have to be registered with a professional association to work as a nurse in Italy?
Yes, in order to practice as a nurse in Italy, it is necessary to be enrolled in the relative Professional Register (OPI). Enrolment in this register is subordinate, in addition to possession of the recognized qualification, to passing an examination aimed at ascertaining the foreigner's knowledge of the Italian language and of the special provisions that regulate professional practice in Italy. For this reason, once the work nulla osta has been obtained, the foreign worker is issued with a short-term entry visa for subordinate work (see Interministerial Decree of 11 May 2011), which allows him to enter the country to take the exam and, once he has passed, to enroll in the relative Professional Register and thus be legally employed.

Can foreign nurses also be employed on a permanent contract?
Yes, nurses can also be hired with an open-ended contract and can establish a new employment relationship in the nursing sector.
If foreign nurses meet the requirements of Article 9 of the Single Text on Immigration, after five years of legal residence in Italy, they can apply for an EU long-term residence permit.