Before you can buy property in Italy, you will need to open an Italian bank account.

Having an account in Italy will allow you to set up direct debits and standing orders to help you pay all of your monthly utilities, and will make withdrawing money for day to day costs far easier.

It is possible to open a non-resident account, which is set up to only allow deposits of imported currency.

Which bank to choose

You’ll find that the majority of the major Italian banks are located in the country’s cities. As these banks are the biggest, a number of them have branches in other countries, which can prove beneficial to expats, as they offer international services in their Italian branches, and often have English-speaking staff. These larger banks will offer the types of services we’re used to seeing in the UK, i.e. Internet and telephone banking.

Some of the most popular banks with expats include the following:

  •  Banco di Roma
  •  Banca Nazionale
  •  Banca d’Italia
  •  Banca Comerciale Italiana
  •  Intesa Sanpaolo – has around 5,600 branches
  •  UniCredit

It pays to shop around and find a bank that offers the best rates, and the type of account that suits you best. It’s also important to choose a bank that has a branch near to where you are located.

Italy - Before purchase - Opening a bank

Italian bill. Always keep an eye on your account and ensure you know what is going out and coming in each month.

 

Opening hours

Italian banks tend to be open on Monday to Friday from 08:30 – 13:30, and then 15:00 – 16:00. Some of the bigger banks do open on Saturday’s but usually only in the major cities, and between 09:00 and Midday.

How to open an account

1. Opening an account from abroad

It is possible to open a non-resident account, which is set up to only allow deposits of imported currency. If you’re looking to open this kind of account from the UK, try and choose an Italian bank that also has branches in the UK.
Alternatively, you can open an Italian bank account when you are not in the country by writing a letter or email to the bank confirming that you authorise your estate agent to open the account on your behalf. The agent will then be able to open the account, and you will simply have to visit the bank the next time you’re in the country to sign all the necessary paperwork.

It is possible to open a non-resident account, which is set up to only allow deposits of imported currency.

2. Residents and non-residents bank accounts

You’ll be pleased to hear that opening an account is a relatively simple process, even for those who haven’t yet obtained residence status. You will need to go along to your bank of choice with the following documentation:

• Passport
• Codice fiscale
• Proof of address i.e. recent utility bill
• Residence card or evidence of employment in the county (for residents only)

When choosing a bank, be sure to select an account that offers Internet banking, and a debit card, because these facilities will make it easier to manage the account. Setting up direct debits is simple. Just take a copy of whichever utility bills you wish to arrange to pay by direct debit, and the bank will get them set up for you.

When choosing a bank, be sure to select an account that offers Internet banking, and a debit card, because these facilities will make it easier to manage the account.

Types of Italian bank account

Current accounts (conto corrente) and chequing accounts (assegno) are the most popular types of Italian bank account. They are ideal for those wanting to pay for day to day expenses, and to set up facilities to manage their monthly utilities. Joint accounts (conto corrente cointestato), which offer these same services, are also popular.

If you wish to set up an Italian savings account (conto di risparmio) you can do so as a resident. You will gain more interest with one of these accounts, but should be aware that specific limits will be set on withdrawals.

Banking fees

When opening an account, bank officials are required to inform customers of the rates of interest charged and the monthly fees, if any, for maintaining an account with them. Most Italian banks charge a monthly service fee, and some charge for withdrawals. It pays to conduct a little research into which banks don’t charge on payments, withdrawals and debit cards, as these types of fees do add up.

Finance - Bank Account

Conduct a little research into which banks don’t charge on payments, withdrawals and debit cards.

Always remember to keep an eye on your account to see what’s coming out each month. It’s important not to go into the red, as in some instances your bank won’t go ahead with your direct debits if there are insufficient funds in your account. It’s worth looking into setting up a regular payments service with a currency specialist to ensure any frequent payments between countries are accounted for and can be processed easily. We recommend the Regular Payments Plan from our currency partners, Smart Currency Exchange.

Card payments in Italy

Whether you have a credit, a debit, or a charge card, you’ll find that they are all referred to as “credit cards” in Italy. The most common types are Mastercard, Visa and local option, CartaSì. The charges you’re subjected to will depend on each card, so make sure you confirm these before agreeing to the account. Much like the UK, you can find credit cards with added extras, i.e. air miles, insurance, etc.

Stolen and lost cards

If you lose any of your banking cards, you will need to contact the bank, as you would in the UK, to cancel it right away. If you fear it has been stolen, you should visit your local police station to file a report. This will cover your back in the event of unauthorised withdrawals and charges.

Download the Italy Buying Guide today

The Italy Buying Guide walks you through each stage involved in buying property in Italy, and offers invaluable insights from expats and experts who understand the process. The guide will help you to:


  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

Download your free guide to buying in Italy

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