Getting a local bank account up and running smoothly is a vital aspect of creating your new life as an Expat in Italy; but it’s not always as simple as you might have hoped! However, with the right information you’ll be able to get it sorted out quickly and have your finances easily accessible for the duration of your stay in the country.
What Type of Bank Account Should You Open In Italy?
There are two basic types of bank account that you can set up when you move to settle in Italy, you can either create a Non-Resident Bank Account or a Resident Bank Account.
If you are a non-resident of Italy but are planning to spend some time there – on a part time basis for example – then you can set up a non-resident bank account in the country. You can then pay foreign currencies, including Dollars, into that account to access while you’re in the country. This will mean that you can use local banking facilities and access the ATMs.
There are no taxes levied on the interest that you earn on your non-resident account or the deposits that you make into it. The interest rates in these accounts are also usually a bit higher than they are for resident accounts which can be a significant factor in your decision making, especially if you have a large balance.
If you’ve moved to Italy as a Expat then you will need to set up a resident bank account. This will enable you to bank in Italy, buy property and although you’ll have to pay taxes on the interest that you earn it will make your life much easier in the long run.
Types of Residential Accounts in Italy.
If you’re going to be in Italy for any amount of time then you will almost certainly need a bank account. You don’t need to be an Italian citizen to have a bank account although you do need to live in Italy and have proof of address.
The main types of resident bank accounts that are available are:
- Conto corrente: This is a current account that lets you make all the daily transactions that you need to live in the country.
- Conto corrente cointestato: This is another type of current account that you can share with someone else. Also known as a joint account it’s ideal for couples living together.
- Conto di risparmio: This is a savings account in which you can earn more interest than the current account options.
- Conto di deposito: This is a deposit account which has good rates of interest but is less flexible than a savings account and may charge fees if you take out the money without making the proper arrangements in advance.
Choosing The Right Bank For Banking In Italy.
Italy has many banking institutions including regional, national and international names. Among the most popular banks with Expats are the BancoPosta, BNP Paribas, BNL DItalia, Unicredit and Banco di Napoli.
One of the best choices for Expats who don’t speak Italian is the Intesa San Paolo which has more than 5,500 branches and an excellent multilingual call centre where you can talk to customer service staff in English.
Before you choose a bank, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it easy to open a new account?
- Can you bank online as well as in person?
- How many branches does the bank have and is there one near where you live?
- Does the bank provide multilingual customer service?
- What are the fees – if there are any – and when do they apply?
How Do You Open A Bank Account in Italy?
You’re going to need to open a bank account once you arrive in Italy however the process is fairly simple, so there’s nothing to worry about. It might be tempting to try to get things set up before you get to the country but realistically it will be easier to open your account after you have arrived. You’ll need a proof of address in Italy to open a resident account so you should wait til you’re in the country to sort out your banking.
You’re going to need to have your documents in order and ready to hand. The bank will need to verify your identity so you’ll need a passport – or other valid ID.
What Do You Need To Open a Bank Account?
The rules surrounding the requirements for opening a bank account vary from country to country so you might not be sure what’s needed in Italy.
Resident Bank Account Requirements.
To open a resident bank account in Italy you will need to have:
- Identification – such as a passport.
- Codice fiscale (Italian tax number).
- Proof that you are employed or studying.
- Proof of address.
Non-Resident Bank Account Requirements.
To open a non-residents bank account in Italy you will need to have:
- Identification – such as a passport.
- Documents that prove you are not a resident in Italy. The bank will also give you a form to fill in so you can provide details of your current place of residence.
You need to be over 18 years old to open any bank account in Italy but you can prove your age with your ID.
You can open your bank account by visiting one of its branches or else you go to their website. Most major banks in Italy have full digital services although some of the smaller regional banks may not provide you with online banking. Once you have filled in the forms and set up your account your new bank card and confirmation of the account will be sent to you by post, usually within a few working days.
Banking Hours in Italy.
When choosing which bank to open your account with you should remember that the branches are not open for much of the day! They usually tend to open early in the morning and then close after lunch for several hours. Most banks in Italy are open from 8 until 12.30 and then from 2.30 to 4.30.
How Much Does Opening an Account Cost?
Each bank has its own list of fees and although they are not usually too steep they do vary quite widely. Always check the fees associated with your account before signing anything with the bank. Some banks charge you a fee to open the account while many have monthly fees or transaction fees.
The Main Types of Fees for Bank Accounts in Italy.
- Maintenance Fees. These are fees which are charged regularly – usually on a monthly basis.
- Transaction Fees. Some banks charge you a small fee for every transaction that you make although some banks give you a certain amount of transactions for free each month.
- Cash Withdrawal Fees. Many of the banks in Italy charge a fee for withdrawing cash from ATMs, especially if the ATM belongs to a different bank.
- International Transfer Fees. You may need to pay fees for transferring money overseas which can be an issue for Expats who send money internationally on a regular basis.
Not all Italian banks charge fees for their services and when they do the amounts vary enormously from bank to bank. When you are deciding which account is the best for you it’s worth making a note of the various fees and finding a bank that either doesn’t charge fees or charges very small ones for the things you’ll be doing most frequently.
For instance, you may decide to accept a lower rate of interest with a bank that doesn’t charge international transfer fees or alternatively, you may choose a higher interest bearing account that charges high transfer fees if you know that you won’t be sending money on a regular basis.
Does It Cost Money To Close An Account?
Some banks charge you a fee for closing the account so if you think you might not keep the account for a long time then you might want to check that there are not hefty fees for closing the account later.
Online Only Banking Vs Traditional Banks.
As the internet becomes a more important part of everyday life online banking has been exploding in popularity with better services being offered than ever before. There are many advantages of online banking that include lower fees and better interest rates. However, you won’t be able to talk to a person in the local branch and there are often limitations on the types of transactions that you can make.
In Italy, most of the major banks now have excellent online services available which have much lower fees – a serious consideration in a country where many traditional banks charge their customers high fees.
One of the best online banks that Expats use in Italy is the IW Bank, www.iwbank.it, a subsidiary of BPU – the Banche Popolari Unite. Their online accounts offer up to 2% interest, free ATM withdrawals, free ATM card and a free check book. Other popular online alternatives include www.webank.it, which is part of the Banca Popolare, and Sella.it, www.sella.it, which is part of the Banca Sella.
Banking in Italy – Essential For Expat Life.
When you move to Italy you are going to need to set up a new account and whether it’s an online service you are looking for or a more traditional bricks and mortar bank with a local branch then with a little bit of research you can find what you need.
Before you make your choice it’s worth writing down a quick list of the things that you require – for instance, multilingual customer service, low transfer fees and online services. Once you’ve established what you absolutely need from your bank account you can start to rule out the accounts which don’t meet your requirements.