What Every Expat Needs to Know About Banking in Italy

Banking in Italy

Expats who have recently arrived in Italy or are thinking about moving there soon will need to get familiar with banking in Italy so that they can manage their day-to-day financial affairs. The kind of bank that would ultimately suit your needs depends on the kind of work (or study) that you are involved with in Italy, your level of proficiency in Italian and the specific banking features you need.

Currency

The official currency in Italy is the Euro (€), the same currency used by the member states of the European Union. The denominations of currency used in Italy are:

  • Coins: €1, €2, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 centesimi (cents)
  • Notes: €5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500

As a foreigner who is most likely coming from an English-speaking country, it’s important to be aware that large numbers in Italian are written with a full stop for the thousands and a comma before the cents.

Italian Banking System

There are three main types of financial institutions in Italy: commercial banks, savings banks and investment institutions. The commercial bank category includes national banks, private banks, chartered banks and cooperative banks. The banking system is overseen by the Bank of Italy (Italy’s central bank) in conjunction with the European Central Bank. Banca Monte Dei Paschi di Siena—which now provides insurance services, investment banking and investment management—was founded in 1472 and is the oldest surviving bank in the world.

Commercial Banks

Commercial banks are the most common kind of financial institution in Italy. At a commercial bank, foreign residents can open a conto corrente (an everyday account) and manage their finances both in-person and online. There are plenty of national banks and a few international banks from which to choose for private banking. Popular banks for expats include:

  • BNL, Banco Nazionale del Lavoro (now owned by BNP Paribas, France)
  • ING (international)
  • Deutsche Bank (international)
  • Crédit Agricole (international)
  • Intesa Sanpaolo
  • Poste Italiane
  • UniCredit
  • Fineco Bank

Popular online banking options include:

  • N26. A German fintech company that provides mobile payment options throughout Europe.
  • Banca Sella with HYPE. This 100% online banking option is available to Italian residents and comes with a free debit or credit card.
  • Fineco Bank. A zero-fee online bank.

Savings Banks

Savings banks in Italy are organised on a provincial or regional basis. These banks are great for saving but may not offer online banking or customer service in languages other than Italian.

Investment Institutions

There are several investment institutions in Italy that offer bonds and credit for agriculture and public works. Some, like UBI Banca, are even listed on the Italian stock exchange. For financial services like corporate finance, financial credit, asset finance, asset management and investment management, consider:

  • Banca Monte Dei Paschi di Siena
  • Banca Nazionales Del Lavoro S.p.A.
  • Banco Populare
  • MedioBanca
  • Mediocredito
  • The Bank of Italy
  • UBI Banca
  • UniCredit Group
  • Vatican Bank

As far as credit when banking in Italy, consider going with one of the well-known credit institutions in the Italian banking sector like Banca Credito Italiano or the UniCredit Group.

Merchant Account

Foreigners who are thinking of opening a business in Italy will need a merchant account in addition to their regular corporate banking business account. Typically, businesses work with a merchant account provider like Unicorn Payment to secure a merchant account with an acquiring bank.

Bank Hours

Banks in Italy have more limited opening hours than banks in many other parts of the world—between 8 am and 1:30 pm on weekdays. ATMs (bancomat), however, are easy to find in cities and towns, so even if the bank is closed, you can still withdraw cash. Many larger stores also accept debit and credit cards. Look for the CartaSi, Visa or MasterCard logos displayed on the window or at the till to see whether the shop will take your card.

Opening a Bank Account in Italy

In-Country

To open a bank account in Italy, you will usually need to go in person. As there is no standard procedure for opening an account, it’s a good idea to visit the branch beforehand to ask which documents you’ll need.

Usually, you will be required to take:

  • A valid passport or identification card
  • An Italian tax code (codice fiscale)
  • Proof of your Italian address
  • A visa or residence permit
  • Proof of employment (work contract, payslips) or self-employment (income tax return, etc.)
  • An anti-money laundering compliance document

Then, you will fill out a lot of paperwork and your account should be ready to use within minutes. Some accounts offer online banking, mobile banking and telephone banking in addition to in-person banking. Be sure to ask which options are offered before signing up for an account.

Offshore

A limited number of Italian banks offer non-resident accounts or conto corrente non residenti. These accounts offer benefits for foreigners in the form of lower taxes and the use of multiple currencies. However, they may also attract higher fees and commissions than regular Italian bank accounts.

The documents you may need to open a non-resident account include:

  • Identity document or passport
  • Codice fiscale
  • Proof of an Italian address (for example a utility bill)
  • Bank draft, on request

Fees

Italy is known for its high interest rates on loans. However, that doesn’t mean expats will be charged exorbitant fees on their everyday banking accounts.

Expect to pay:

  • A minimum deposit upon opening an account
  • €30+ in annual fees
  • €12-35 for a credit card

Accounts with free debit and credit cards include:

  • Fineco Bank (online only)
  • HYPE current account with Banca Sella (online only)
  • CheBanca IT’s conto corrente digital (online, phone and branch banking)
  • Crédit Agricole Italia (telephone and in-person banking only)

ATM withdrawals using a non-affiliated or foreign card usually come with a fee (flat-rate or a percentage of the transaction). You might also be charged a fee by your home bank for withdrawing from a foreign ATM.

Taxation

Taxation is an important part of banking in Italy, so it’s worth mentioning here. Tax rates in Italy are high and are progressive, increasing with the level of income. However, Italian residents will be able to benefit from these taxes in the form of public health care.

Codice Fiscale

Foreign nationals working in Italy must obtain a tax code (codice fiscale). You can apply for one in Italy by taking your passport or identity document to a provincial tax office (ufficio imposte) and filling out a form. Expats who are not yet in Italy may be able to apply through the Italian embassy in their home country.

Income Tax

Income tax applies to foreign nationals who live in Italy for the majority (more than 183 days) of the year, who run a business in Italy or who are registered in the Office of Records of the Resident Population.

Permanent residents in Italy have to pay income tax on income they receive from Italy as well as any international income they earn. If you plan to become a permanent resident, it’s important to find out whether your country has a tax treaty with Italy to avoid being double-taxed.

Income Tax Rates

Income tax in Italy (imposta sul reddito delle persone fisiche or IRPEF) applies to:

  • Salaries
  • Self-employment income
  • Pensions
  • Interests
  • Dividends

The actual rate of tax you pay ranges from 23% to 43%, depending on your annual income.

In addition to this national tax, Italian residents also pay:

  • Regional taxes (1.23% to 3.33%)
  • Municipal taxes (0.0% to 0.9%, plus 30% of the municipal tax when submitting a tax return)
  • Social security
  • Corporate tax (for businesses)
  • Value-added tax

Tax Returns in Italy

Tax returns in Italy are filed electronically and there are two different returns that can apply: 730 Model return and Model Income return.

730 Model Return

This return is relevant to Italian residents without a work contract or those who have qualified as tax residents of Italy for two years in a row. The 730 Model return needs to be filed by 23 July for the previous tax year.

Model Income Return

This return details international income, including foreign salaries and assets (Form RW), foreign capital gains (Form RT) and tax withheld. The Model Income return must be filed by 31 October for the previous tax year.

Expats who are employed in Italy will generally not have to worry about paying any additional tax as their employers should be withholding the required tax and paying it on their behalf. However, self-employed professionals and corporations should consult a professional to make sure they meet their tax obligations. The Calcolo Codice Fiscale may also come in handy when calculating your return.

Information is King

The most important thing for expats to keep in mind when working, paying taxes and banking in Italy is that it pays to ask around, shop around and gather as much information as you can.

This country offers much in the way of investment opportunities and social benefits for those who are willing to find the best deal.
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“articleBody”: “Expats who have recently arrived in Italy or are thinking about moving there soon will need to get familiar with banking in Italy so that they can manage their day-to-day financial affairs. The kind of bank that would ultimately suit your needs depends on the kind of work (or study) that you are involved with in Italy, your level of proficiency in Italian and the specific banking features you need.\r\n\r\nCURRENCY\r\nThe official currency in Italy is the Euro (€), the same currency used by the member states of the European Union. The denominations of currency used in Italy are:\r\n\r\nCoins: €1, €2, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 centesimi (cents)\r\nNotes: €5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500\r\nAs a foreigner who is most likely coming from an English-speaking country, it’s important to be aware that large numbers in Italian are written with a full stop for the thousands and a comma before the cents.\r\n\r\nITALIAN BANKING SYSTEM\r\nThere are three main types of financial institutions in Italy: commercial banks, savings banks and investment institutions. The commercial bank category includes national banks, private banks, chartered banks and cooperative banks. The banking system is overseen by the Bank of Italy (Italy’s central bank) in conjunction with the European Central Bank. Banca Monte Dei Paschi di Siena—which now provides insurance services, investment banking and investment management—was founded in 1472 and is the oldest surviving bank in the world.\r\n\r\nCommercial Banks\r\nCommercial banks are the most common kind of financial institution in Italy. At a commercial bank, foreign residents can open a conto corrente (an everyday account) and manage their finances both in-person and online. There are plenty of national banks and a few international banks from which to choose for private banking. Popular banks for expats include:\r\n\r\nBNL, Banco Nazionale del Lavoro (now owned by BNP Paribas, France)\r\nING (international)\r\nDeutsche Bank (international)\r\nCrédit Agricole (international)\r\nIntesa Sanpaolo\r\nPoste Italiane\r\nUniCredit\r\nFineco Bank\r\nPopular online banking options include:\r\n\r\nN26. A German fintech company that provides mobile payment options throughout Europe.\r\nBanca Sella with HYPE. This 100% online banking option is available to Italian residents and comes with a free debit or credit card.\r\nFineco Bank. A zero-fee online bank.\r\nSavings Banks\r\nSavings banks in Italy are organised on a provincial or regional basis. These banks are great for saving but may not offer online banking or customer service in languages other than Italian.\r\n\r\nInvestment Institutions\r\nThere are several investment institutions in Italy that offer bonds and credit for agriculture and public works. Some, like UBI Banca, are even listed on the Italian stock exchange. For financial services like corporate finance, financial credit, asset finance, asset management and investment management, consider:\r\n\r\nBanca Monte Dei Paschi di Siena\r\nBanca Nazionales Del Lavoro S.p.A.\r\nBanco Populare\r\nMedioBanca\r\nMediocredito\r\nThe Bank of Italy\r\nUBI Banca\r\nUniCredit Group\r\nVatican Bank\r\nAs far as credit when banking in Italy, consider going with one of the well-known credit institutions in the Italian banking sector like Banca Credito Italiano or the UniCredit Group.\r\n\r\nMerchant Account\r\nForeigners who are thinking of opening a business in Italy will need a merchant account in addition to their regular corporate banking business account. Typically, businesses work with a merchant account provider like Unicorn Payment to secure a merchant account with an acquiring bank.\r\n\r\nBANK HOURS\r\nBanks in Italy have more limited opening hours than banks in many other parts of the world—between 8 am and 1:30 pm on weekdays. ATMs (bancomat), however, are easy to find in cities and towns, so even if the bank is closed, you can still withdraw cash. Many larger stores also accept debit and credit cards. Look for the CartaSi, Visa or MasterCard logos displayed on the window or at the till to see whether the shop will take your card.\r\n\r\nOPENING A BANK ACCOUNT IN ITALY\r\nIn-Country\r\nTo open a bank account in Italy, you will usually need to go in person. As there is no standard procedure for opening an account, it’s a good idea to visit the branch beforehand to ask which documents you’ll need.\r\n\r\nUsually, you will be required to take:\r\n\r\nA valid passport or identification card\r\nAn Italian tax code (codice fiscale)\r\nProof of your Italian address\r\nA visa or residence permit\r\nProof of employment (work contract, payslips) or self-employment (income tax return, etc.)\r\nAn anti-money laundering compliance document\r\nThen, you will fill out a lot of paperwork and your account should be ready to use within minutes. Some accounts offer online banking, mobile banking and telephone banking in addition to in-person banking. Be sure to ask which options are offered before signing up for an account.\r\n\r\nOffshore\r\nA limited number of Italian banks offer non-resident accounts or conto corrente non residenti. These accounts offer benefits for foreigners in the form of lower taxes and the use of multiple currencies. However, they may also attract higher fees and commissions than regular Italian bank accounts.\r\n\r\nThe documents you may need to open a non-resident account include:\r\n\r\nIdentity document or passport\r\nCodice fiscale\r\nProof of an Italian address (for example a utility bill)\r\nBank draft, on request\r\nFEES\r\nItaly is known for its high interest rates on loans. However, that doesn’t mean expats will be charged exorbitant fees on their everyday banking accounts.\r\n\r\nExpect to pay:\r\n\r\nA minimum deposit upon opening an account\r\n€30+ in annual fees\r\n€12-35 for a credit card\r\nAccounts with free debit and credit cards include:\r\n\r\nFineco Bank (online only)\r\nHYPE current account with Banca Sella (online only)\r\nCheBanca IT’s conto corrente digital (online, phone and branch banking)\r\nCrédit Agricole Italia (telephone and in-person banking only)\r\nATM withdrawals using a non-affiliated or foreign card usually come with a fee (flat-rate or a percentage of the transaction). You might also be charged a fee by your home bank for withdrawing from a foreign ATM.\r\n\r\nTAXATION\r\nTaxation is an important part of banking in Italy, so it’s worth mentioning here. Tax rates in Italy are high and are progressive, increasing with the level of income. However, Italian residents will be able to benefit from these taxes in the form of public health care.\r\n\r\nCodice Fiscale\r\nForeign nationals working in Italy must obtain a tax code (codice fiscale). You can apply for one in Italy by taking your passport or identity document to a provincial tax office (ufficio imposte) and filling out a form. Expats who are not yet in Italy may be able to apply through the Italian embassy in their home country.\r\n\r\nIncome Tax\r\nIncome tax applies to foreign nationals who live in Italy for the majority (more than 183 days) of the year, who run a business in Italy or who are registered in the Office of Records of the Resident Population.\r\n\r\nPermanent residents in Italy have to pay income tax on income they receive from Italy as well as any international income they earn. If you plan to become a permanent resident, it’s important to find out whether your country has a tax treaty with Italy to avoid being double-taxed.\r\n\r\nIncome Tax Rates\r\nIncome tax in Italy (imposta sul reddito delle persone fisiche or IRPEF) applies to:\r\n\r\nSalaries\r\nSelf-employment income\r\nPensions\r\nInterests\r\nDividends\r\nThe actual rate of tax you pay ranges from 23% to 43%, depending on your annual income.\r\n\r\nIn addition to this national tax, Italian residents also pay:\r\n\r\nRegional taxes (1.23% to 3.33%)\r\nMunicipal taxes (0.0% to 0.9%, plus 30% of the municipal tax when submitting a tax return)\r\nSocial security\r\nCorporate tax (for businesses)\r\nValue-added tax\r\nTax Returns in Italy\r\nTax returns in Italy are filed electronically and there are two different returns that can apply: 730 Model return and Model Income return.\r\n\r\n730 Model Return\r\nThis return is relevant to Italian residents without a work contract or those who have qualified as tax residents of Italy for two years in a row. The 730 Model return needs to be filed by 23 July for the previous tax year.\r\n\r\nModel Income Return\r\nThis return details international income, including foreign salaries and assets (Form RW), foreign capital gains (Form RT) and tax withheld. The Model Income return must be filed by 31 October for the previous tax year.\r\n\r\nExpats who are employed in Italy will generally not have to worry about paying any additional tax as their employers should be withholding the required tax and paying it on their behalf. However, self-employed professionals and corporations should consult a professional to make sure they meet their tax obligations. The Calcolo Codice Fiscale may also come in handy when calculating your return.\r\n\r\nINFORMATION IS KING\r\nThe most important thing for expats to keep in mind when working, paying taxes and banking in Italy is that it pays to ask around, shop around and gather as much information as you can.\r\n\r\nThis country offers much in the way of investment opportunities and social benefits for those who are willing to find the best deal.\r\n\r\n”
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