Types of companies

Before deciding to set up a company, you need to understand, preferably with the help of a notary, what kind of company best meets your needs, both in terms of organisation and responsibilities and the goals to be achieved.

There is a difference between partnerships and corporations.

Partnerships do not have legal personality: the partnership's obligations (including its debts) are met by its members (with certain exceptions prescribed by law). There are:

Partnerships can be:

  • general partnerships (non-commercial) (società semplici, or S.s.);
  • general partnerships (commercial) (società in nome collettivo, or S.n.c.);
  • limited partnerships (società in accomandita semplice, or S.a.s).

Corporations have legal personality: only the company is liable for its obligations, not the shareholders. The debts of the company will be paid only by the company, not the shareholders (with certain exceptions prescribed by law). There are:

  • the joint stock company (società per azioni or S.p.A);
  • the publicly traded partnership (società in accomandita per azioni or S.a.p.a);
  • the private company limited by shares (società a responsabilità limitata or S.r.l.).

Cooperatives, too, have legal personality: only the cooperative is liable for its obligations, not the members. The debts of the cooperative will be paid only by the cooperative, not the members (with certain exceptions prescribed by law).

Through the establishment of consortia, corporations can also conduct a consortium business, which means a common organisation for the governance and carrying out of certain phases of their respective companies.

Legal personality is acquired when the notary registers a public deed of incorporation with the Registrar of Companies.