There are several kind of companies by which you can carry out a business in Italy and we thought that it could be useful for a foreign reader to find some initial information about that. Please consider that this short note is only meant to provide a very limited set of basic information that we will be glad to discuss with you in more details in case of interest.
In Italy, businesses can be carried out either by one person (who is known as an imprenditore individuale, a sole trader) or by two or more persons putting resources together with the view of profit (società). There are several kinds of companies in Italy, but let us start from the beginning…
When two or more persons agree to carry out a business by putting resources together, they are starting either:
As a general rule, with limited exceptions concerning only the società in accomandita, partners in a partnership do not enjoy limited liability and therefore are jointly and severally liable with the partnership for its obligations. Although very unusual, partnerships can be set up by oral agreement and there is no minimum amount of money or assets required to start them.
In order to enjoy limited liability, the partners have to set up either:
The srl is a multi-purpose vehicle that can fit the needs of SMEs in most cases. It easier to run than a spa, which is the model company generally used to run larger businesses.
Both srls and spas, as a general rule with some limited exceptions, have to be set up by means of a notarial deed.
While srls can be started with as little as one-euro initial corporate capital, the minimum amount required to start a spa is euro 50.000.
It is important to add that the law allows to start companies in Italy with a sole shareholder, who still enjoys limited liability.