Third sector

For many years now, in Italy and around the world, the phenomenon of associations has been  giving rise to ever greater consensus and enthusiasm. The law allows anyone to form an association or a foundation: Article 18 of the Constitution protects and celebrates this right.  Organisations can be created with a wide variety of purposes and interests: solidarity, welfare, cultural, medical, recreational, social, sporting, professional, student, trade union, political, religious, patriotic, food and wine, and so on. Freedom of association, recognised constitutionally, is only limited by the prohibition on pursuing ends that are forbidden to individuals by criminal law or the pursuit of political ends by military-style organisations.

The forms used to achieve the aims of the association can be many and varied. Italian law provides several alternatives.

  • recognised associations, 
  • unrecognised associations, 
  • foundations,
  • committees,
  • non-profit organisations,
  • social enterprises.

It is highly recommended to contact a notary early in the piece as he will be able to guide interested parties in selecting suitable solutions that will be most appropriate for their case. The notary will also provide expert advice, if needed, to reconcile different requirements. For example, in setting up a foundation under the terms of a will, when it is necessary to balance the intent of the founder with the rights of the forced heirs. He can also be helpful in evaluating tax implications, a subject which is in constant evolution. In addition, when necessary, he will accompany the new entity along the path to achieving recognition and the status of “legal personality”.

With a view to simplifying procedures, the notariat has submitted a proposal to speed up the recognition of those working in the third sector (link to the proposed Notariat reform of the third sector).