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Money Transfers for Expats in Italy

Submitted: April 2014

Italy does not impose any restrictions on inbound and outbound money transfers. Freedom of capital is guaranteed by EU law.

In theory, transferring money to Italy should be straightforward. In practice, you should plan for this in advance. Do also check if your financial intermediary is reliable enough, be it in terms of service quality or value for money.

In practice, you should plan for this in advance, as money transfers can get quickly very expensive if you need your money urgently. Having an Italian bank account (Conto corrente) opened as soon as possible will greatly help, as you might need to issue cheques during your stay in Italy (e.g. to find accommodation).

The easiest way is transfer money is to proceed with an international bank transfer.Using a money transfer company is perfectly fine as well. In both cases however, you will need to have an Italian bank account in the first place.  Thus, you may have to withdraw cash from Italian ATMs for a while.

You may also consider requesting your home country bank to issue a cheque, which can then be cleared in an Italian bank account. This process is quite lengthy though, and it may be expensive. Don’t forget that you might need to issue cheques before you can open an Italian bank account (e.g. to find accommodation).

Fees

Banking in Italy is often subject to charges, even though fee waivers may apply for certain clients. Thus, Italian banks would likely charge for international money transfers (inbound/outbound). Euro transfers within the EEA or Switzerland (SEPA transfers) are generally the cheapest. Of course, you might wish to check the applicable charges at your bank.

Alternatively, you can use the services of a money transfer company. Such companies tend to offer the cheapest money transfer options available on the market. To save money, you can also use a price comparison website specialised in money transfers. Typically, your charges are largely passed on to the applicable foreign exchange rate.

The fees charged by a company specialised in money transfers are without prejudice to the fees that your bank may charge on transfers to the money transfer company.

Cash control rules

You are free to carry as much cash as you like when you cross the Italian border. If you are going to, or coming from, an non-EU country you must make a declaration to the Italian customs authority (Agenzia delle Dogane) if the amount exceeds €10,000 (or foreign currency equivalent).

Cash control rules cover hard currency, cheques or banker’s drafts, but not international wire transfers.

Foreign asset tax compliance

It’s perfectly fine if you transfer or hold money abroad, for so long as you duly report your foreign assets and international money transfers to the Italian tax authority. These rules should be taken very seriously, as hefty fines may be imposed.

There is normally no minimum threshold for these reporting requirements to apply. If in any doubt, feel free to seek advice.

 

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