Foreigners are allowed to purchase properties in Italy in the following cases:
1) Foreigner who is not a regular resident: only if permitted by an internationl treaty or in case of reciprocity, meaning that in their Country of origin an Italian is allowed to purchase a house;
2) Foreigner “regularly residing”, their relatives, and stateless persons who have been residing in Italy for less than three years: with residency permit for specific reasons, or residency card;
3) EU and EFTA citizens and stateless persons who have been residing in Italy for more than three years: no limitations.
In general, in order to make documents coming from a foreign Country become valid in Italy it is necessary – in conformity with what happens in most juridicial systems – that they are submitted to a process of identification and validation carried out by the Italian diplomatic-consular representation operating abroad, and this process is called “legalisation”, with which the aforementioned authority certifies that the document in question was issued lawfully in the Country of origin and therefore it is suitable for attesting the data contained in the document itself. Given that this legalisation is a process involving an expenditure of time and resources that is not very compatible with the needs of the commercial activities of the present-day era, the major part of world Countries – including Italy – have undersigned the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 abolishing the legalisation of foreign legal documents. With the aforementioned convention, the contracting Countries have permitted that legalisation is replaced, with regard to the documents coming from another contracting Country, by the application of the Apostille upon the document that will need to have legal validity in the foreign Country. The Apostille consists of the certification, drawn up according to a standard model provided for by the Hague Convention, of the legal qualification of the public official (or agent) who undersigned the deed, and the certification of the authenticity of their seal or stamp. The peculiarity of this process consists in the fact that the foreign citizen who’s in possession of the document that needs to be used in Italy has the possibility to go to the national authority of the Country wherein the document was issued, and that authority is designated by each of the contracting Countries – and indicated by each Country within the acceptance deed of the Convention – in order to obtain the application of the Apostille on the document and thus make the document valid in Italy in accordance with all rules of law. The national authority designated by the Italian government for the application of the Apostille on the Italian documents that need to be valid abroad is the Public Prosecutor’s Office (Procura della Repubblica) for notarial deeds, juridicial deeds and for the deeds related to the registry office, while the relevant authority for administrative deeds is the Prefecture (Territorial Office of the Government) of the place where the deed was issued.