Working in Italy as A Military Dependent

Photo (c) Jenny Rollo

Military spouses are a pretty portable group. They roll with the moves that go along with being a part of a military family. Along the way, many spouses have managed to build a portable career that follows them from duty station to duty station. Working from home is popular, because when we move, the job just goes with us.

OCONUS duty stations may not support this type of life style as easily. Each country has a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States government. In this agreement, it spells out exactly what families of military service members can and can not do in the country.

In Italy, it turns out that only the U.S. Government (i.e. on post) can employ spouses and family members. Oh, they are welcome to get a job on the Italian economy, but that means you have to get a different Visa and then give  up your status as a person protected by the SOFA agreement. This means no PX or Commissary privileges and you get to pay Italian taxes. Doesn’t sound like a trade I’d like to make!

What this means is that spouses that sell Mary Kay, Tupperware, candles, jewelry or any of the other sell-from-home products – can’t. No exceptions, from what I understand.

Are there any loopholes to this regulation? I can’t answer this. I am assuming that many spouses choose to turn a blind eye to this regulation, because I have attended jewelry parties. I know I have met people who teach online courses and otherwise provide services via the internet to United States companies and citizens. No money is changing hands in Italy, thanks to the miracle of online banking. I don’t know if this is legal, but if you understand the regulation, please do leave a comment so I can share it with everyone.

SO…Where Can I work?

The competition is steep and sometimes it feels that there is no chance of ever getting a job. However, it is possible. There are a few places you can go to find a job while you are in Italy.

These include:

There are hundreds of opportunities for volunteer positions. If you want to stay busy you will not have a problem finding a volunteer position. You can look for them online here.

Good luck in your job search!

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8 Comments on “Working in Italy as A Military Dependent”

  1. Lacey says:

    I know this is an old post, and you may not be monitoring any longer, but are spouses prohibited from having monitized blogs in Italy? I.e., if you got sponsors or click-through funding for this blog, is it prohibited by SOFA? Or could a spouse take and sell stock-type photos online, or submit works in a freelance form over the internet to organizations outside Italy? Just wondering… and wondering if you know how to find this information, really.

    Thanks!

    • I think it would probably not be allowed. I’d talk to jag know for sure
      That being said, as long as you kept all your financial transactions in the U.S, it would probably not get you in trouble. This blog is not monetized, by the way.

  2. Sammie says:

    what if you opened a personal private medical practice only serving Americans. in Germany that is allowed without any of the visa restrictions. I’d like to move my private practice to Italy with me.

    • The Status of Forces Agreement is pretty strict. I would consult JAG before you did anything. If you don’t pay Italian taxes, you usually can’t do anything in Italy as far as employment.

  3. CJ says:

    What a frustrating situation for military spouses. I’m always very moved by the rapturous welcome our armed forces receive when they come home. I doubt that spouses – whether those posted abroad or those waiting at home – get similar gratitude from the public.

  4. Dana says:

    I think that the positions at the schools (from teachers to classroom aids) are listed on USA Jobs site, too. Although it can be difficult to land a position, there are a number of local hires on the high school staff at this time, in a variety of positions. My experience is that timing & the ability (certification) to teach more than one subject plays a large role in the secondary teaching positions. As this post grows, so will the number of opportunites for employment in the schools.

    I have friends in some of the upper-level NAF positions — not a bad place to be, if you ask me. I’m not sure what it’s like in the entry-level positions.

    The SOFA agreement with Italy is pretty clear on this employment issue. I know many who choose to ignore it … the consequences are not worth it for us. They forget that this same SOFA agreement allows priviledges like the shopping, the post office, and the easy driver’s license, as well as the gas coupons and tax-free status on a load of things, from oil for your home to IKEA. Add in the hassel of a work visa and the Italian income tax, and well, I can’t see how it can be worth it? Let’s not forget about the need for fluency, too.

    It is unfortunate that the jobs don’t exist to support family members who want to work. I hope that as the post grows, so will the opportunities, but I also know that jobs are promised to host nation people as well. Diplomacy is difficult, isn’t it?

    • Peg Crippen says:

      Dana,
      I am glad that my family is in a position that I do not “have” to work. I do feel bad for the people who are financially strapped and struggling. Italy is amazing, but I find it expensive to live here. (Even with the cost-of-living assistance.) It definitely would be nice if there were a little wiggle room for spouses who want to sell Tupperware or jewelry to earn some extra cash. (It is strange that you can raise animals here and sell them, because it is personal business.) You are right on about diplomacy. The bottom line is that we are guests in Italy and it is their decision to make regulations as they see fit.

      Thanks for reminding me about the jobs at the schools. I know any number of people who work as substitutes and love it. Not all people are cut out for the job, just like not everyone can work with children in child care, but it seems to be a supportive and family-friendly place to work

      If you are reading this and want to look at DODDS Europe Openings go to http://www.eu.dodea.edu/hr/vacancies.php .

  5. It’s unfortunate that one can only work for the US government as that doesn’t always leave much. If that is the case here, I’m on a base that has been downgrading in preparation to move most people over to another so opportunities could be scarce. I have heard that getting a job on the economy could result in host country taxes (which is definitely higher here than in the States) but not about losing SOFA privileges. While one could always just have their sponsor shop the PX/Commissary, etc it would be a pretty inconvenient trade, especially if you were someone selling your own wares, etc. to people on post or back in the States.

    As to a loophole, my guess (and only a guess mind you) would be that the loophole would be similar to taxes. I believe the threshold is something like $600 a year. If you make more than that selling or so forth them it can be considered taxable income. But even if that’s the case it’s not much a loophole as that’s not much extra income.

    I heard today that there are job fairs on post. If they have those there that might be another good way to try to land a job.I don’t know how close the bases are to each other over there, but I know some people CONUS who worked on the post for a different military branch which gives more opportunities. There is an army civilian here who worked in the Frankfurt airport supporting the military moves but said he is stationed is Wiesbaden. I imagine a base near an airport in Italy would have similar positions.