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Banking for Expats in Italy

Author: Gavin Adie
Submitted: April 2014

Bank accounts may be opened by both residents and non-residents, but non-residents will generally be able to open a non-resident account (Conto estero) only. US expats may have some trouble because the FATCA makes it more costly for non-US banks to accept US citizens.

Providing you have all the required documents, the account opening process should be quite straightforward. In practice, you should plan for this several weeks in advance, because you will need time to compare the market and prepare your documentation. US expats may have some trouble because the FATCA makes it more costly for non-US banks to accept US citizens.

Foreign currency accounts may be opened in Italy.

Opening an account

As far as paperwork is concerned, you need at least:

Other documents may be required, such as a resident card (Carta di soggiorno) or proof of employment in Italy. For non-residents, a bank reference letter may be requested.

In general, Italian banks should not require you to first book an appointment in order to open an account.

Products available

Bank accounts are not necessarily fee-paying, but minimum balance requirements may apply. Account management fees may also vary depending on various other factors, including for example:

You should check if there is any charge on your debits. Italian checking accounts may be interest-bearing (0.5% to 1%), subject to certain conditions (e.g. having a regular income coming in).

As far as non-resident accounts are concerned, they may be more expensive for banks to manage. Accordingly, they tend to be subject to higher charges.

As far as interest rates on savings accounts are concerned, they have become quite low. It’s still possible to get a yield of 1% or more, but you will need to make market competition between banks work in your favour.

Italian bank accounts are insured by the Deposit Guarantee Fund (Fondo interbancario di tutela dei depositi) up to €100,000.

Where to apply?

It is strongly advisable to shop around before selecting a bank. Feel free to compare the fees, the interest rates, the customer satisfaction rates, and the account opening process. Typically, the Post Office has the cheapest basic banking products across the Italian market.

Otherwise, Italian banks include BNL-BNP Paribas, Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara, Gruppo Banca Carige, Banca di Roma, Unicredit Banca, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Credito Siciliano, Banca Intesa, and San Paolo Banca di Napoli.

Banks are typically open from Monday to Friday, from 8-8.30am to 1-1.30pm and from 2-2.30pm to 4-4.30pm. Some banks may be open on Saturdays.

Day-to-day account management

Do always check if you are paying a fee for something you don’t need, for banks make a lot of money from the charges.

Once opened, your account will come along with a cheque book and a debit card (a “Bancomat” card). There may be a limit on the number of transactions you can make free of charge.



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