Ah, the fickle nature of finance. In the picturesque land of Italy, one must be prudent when considering where to deposit one’s hard-earned riches. There are many banks that roam the streets, each with its own fees and account offerings, creating a confusing maze for the uninitiated.
But fear not, dear friend. Here is a guide that will assist you in navigating this labyrinthine world of Italian banking. With helpful tips and sage advice, opening a bank account in Italy will become a ride. So take heart and let us begin this journey, for the ease of a proper financial foundation will make your life in Italy all the sweeter.
Step one: Know what’s out there
In many other countries, big banks can be counted on one hand. Italy’s banking sector is dizzying in comparison, with more than 20 banks having assets of over €10 billion. ING, Deutsche Bank, Unicredit, and Banca Nazionale di Lavoro (owned by BNP Paribas) are among the biggest. Regional banks like Banca Popolare di Puglia e Basilicata and Banco di Sardegna also exist, often with branches far from home.
Online banks like N26 and HYPE have emerged recently, offering low fees with no physical branches.
The post office, Poste Italiane, operates a consumer bank notorious for slowing lines.
Consider all options and choose carefully. Transaction and cash withdrawal fees are some of the main points.
Step two: Decide what account you need
If you’re over 18, then you’re eligible to open an account in Italy. But most account types are available only to residents (including foreign nationals with a valid job offer or degree program).
The common account in Italy is a conto corrente (equivalent to a checking account in the US). Clients that need daily transactions benefit from a conto corrente. You can save on fees by maintaining a minimum deposit or balance.
For higher interest, a conto di risparmio or savings account is available. The trade-off is that you have fewer transfers.
A conto di deposito is a more restrictive, higher-interest savings account.
Lastly, there are foreign accounts, conti correnti esteri. They offer deals on wire transfers and the use of home currency (you don’t need to be an Italian resident to open one of these).
Step three: Review costs
Italy’s banking fees are among the highest in Europe. A typical current account costs €95 per year. However, online accounts like N26 cost much less, about €25 a year.
Due to these commonly high fees, banks offer a wide range of services. Dive into these specifications to choose the account that suits you best.
Read the fine print for fee-free offers, which may expire after one year. Il Sole 24 Ore has a tool to compare bank offers.
Step four: Visit a branch or sign up online
Wait until you are in Italy to open an account, even an online one. Banks will want to mail the card and know a fixed address. Online accounts like N26 require minimal paperwork and a tax code. So, wait until you are in Italy for all options.
To open an account, you’ll need the following documents:
- ID or a passport;
- Codice fiscale;
- Residency permit (or, if you’re a non-resident, proof of address like a bill or piece of certified mail); and
- Proof of your employment income (i.e., a contract or tax return).
Businesses will also need to provide the company’s registration certificate, a certificate of good standing, and statements of the financial status of all shareholders with more than a 20 percent stake in the company.
Once you decide on the account type and bank you’re looking for, you can dive into the paperwork. If you’re looking to polish your Italian language skills before traveling, click here to test-drive an Italian course for free.