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When buying property in Italy you need to be aware that the bureaucratic regulations and procedures can be pretty extensive but once have worked your way through them, either on your own or with local legal help, you can enjoy one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
There are several main documents that you need in order to buy a property in the country, some of which you’ll need to apply for and others which you should already have.
As a member of the European Union Italy must follow the overarching regulations that apply across the continent. One advantage of this is that once you have arranged the purchase of your property and have obtained your citizenship, you can travel freely within the entire trading block.
However, you still need to comply with local rules and regulations that pertain only to Italy; but once you have sorted through the bureaucracy then you’ll have almost all the same rights as a native born local Italian.
What Documents Do You Need To Purchase Property in Italy?
This is not the comprehensive list of documents. Please note that the list can vary based on your individual situation and local rules and regulations. The following are the main documents that you’ll need to have before you can buy property in Italy.
Before you can begin to arrange your purchase and move to Italy you will need to have an up to date and valid passport. You need a passport to travel internationally and it serves as identification anywhere in the world. Generally speaking you’ll need to have a passport before an Italian estate agent that works with international clients will even begin the process of helping you to find a property. The passport will be essential right throughout the process of making the purchase, from obtaining a residency to getting your Codice Fiscale (local tax code for Italy).
If you have an EU passport then you will already qualify automatically for Italian benefits however if you have a non-European Union passport you may be subject to stricter checks although with an American passport you should have no problems with this.
The codice fiscale is the Italian version of the US social security number and is essential to buy a property, pay local taxes and get a job in the country. When you are buying your property in Italy you’re going to need to pay a series of taxes including VAT and a stamp duty and without a codice fiscale you cannot proceed with the purchase.
To get your codice fiscale you require your passport to prove identity and proof of residency that you can get from any Italian embassy. The residency is similar to a VISA except it allows you to stay in the country for more than the usual 90 days.
If you are purchasing a home you can work with your Italian real estate law firm to obtain your codice fiscale on your behalf although there will probably be a fee for this service. However, you can also apply for one at the nearest Italian consulate after which you should receive the document within a matter of weeks.
To live in Italy then you must have an official residency permit if you intend on staying in the country for more than 183 days annually. This is worth some thought because you can only have residency in one country at a time. 183 days is the majority of a year which means that this country is your ‘primary residence’ in any given year. You do not need to give up your American citizenship to become a resident of Italy so if you change your mind later you can always return to the States. NOTE: A residency permit is not mandatory to buy a property in Italy. It is only required if you are going to stay in Italy for more than 90 days at a time.
For citizens of the European Union the process of obtaining a residency is extremely simple due to the freedom of movement laws however for non-EU foreigners the process may take a little longer. Once you get your residency you qualify for almost all the same rights as a full Italian citizen so you’ll be accepted into the community and have good access to local services.
Italian Bank Account
In Italy the law says that to buy a property in the country you need to be able to show that you have a bank account in Italy. This means that you can’t use an international bank transfer to make the purchase.
It’s quite easy to open a bank account in Italy and you only need proof of identification, such as your passport, and details of your address and cash flows. Your Italian estate agent can help you open a bank account but if you hire a lawyer to make the purchase you can issue them with power of attorney to make the transaction.
If you’re planning to move to the country though it will be useful to have a local bank account so it will probably be worth it for your own future convenience.
The Apostillation Process
When documents are transferred from one country, or legal jurisdiction, to another they need to be certified in the new country in order to be considered legally reliable. A local lawyer can help you with this process although you can also manage it yourself if you have the knowledge and experience.
In Italy the apostillation of any documents pertaining to the purchase of a property is usually done by one the clerks at the regional court’s Prosecutor’s Office. Once the document has been certified it will be stamped.
Let’s say you are issuing a power of attorney to your lawyer to close on the property in Italy on your behalf. The power of attorney has to be attested. Then it has to go though the apostillation process. The apostillation process can vary from country to country, and in the case of the United States, from State to State. I live in the State of Pennsylvania. When I was going through this process, the time for apostillation used to take several months in Pennsylvania. So I went to New Jersey, got the power of attorney attested in New Jersey, hired a company that will handle apostillation in the State of New Jersey and got it completed in a matter of a few days.
What If You Want To Get A Mortgage?
If you want to purchase a property in Italy with a mortgage then you will have to be living in the country because local banks won’t give a mortgage to a foreign client. This means you’ll need to have your residency papers in order before you apply for a mortgage although there are some international banks that will provide mortgages for non-Italian residents in some countries, such as the USA.
When you apply for your mortgage in Italy you should expect the bank to check your credit rating and you’ll need to pay for a surveyor to check the property. You’ll have to submit the surveyor’s report to the bank as well before they will release the funds for your mortgage.
This takes an enormous amount of time. It is best to arrange the finances in your home country. I took a personal loan in the United States to pay for the property that I purchased in Volterra. The application process took about 10 minutes. The loan was approved and I got the money in my account within 48 hours.
Documents You Need To Buy A Property in Italy
The Italian legal system can be fairly daunting to say the least, but as long as you have the right documents and they are all in order then it can be quite easy to buy a property, even if you are overseas.
You can employ the services of a local real estate law firm to help guide you through the process – which is generally advisable – however, you can also manage it yourself if you have a good enough understanding of EU, Italian and the regional laws and regulations associated with the purchase.
Getting your documents together shouldn’t take more than a few weeks, or months, at the most, depending on how persistent you are and how much time you have to dedicate to the process.