The ultimate guide to opening a bank account in Italy

April 10, 2024

Living in Italy as an expat can be an amazing experience, but navigating the financial system can be a bit tricky. Daily transactions, indeed, often require a local bank account, an unwelcome complication amidst the excitement of your new adventure.

But fear not! Having an Italian bank account is not just a bureaucratic hurdle, it's a key that unlocks a smoother and more enjoyable expat experience. Here's why:

  • Salary payments: many employers in Italy prefer—and sometimes require—direct deposit into a local bank account.
  • Bill payments: utilities, rent, and other monthly expenses are often handled through bank transfers or automatic debits from an Italian account.
  • Managing finances: an Italian bank account allows you to easily track your spending and budget in euros. 

Can foreigners open a bank account in Italy?

Yes, absolutely! Italy welcomes expats and understands the need for financial services. However, it's important to understand that the eligibility criteria and types of accounts available might differ slightly for foreign residents compared to Italian citizens.  This doesn't mean you'll be left out; there are still a variety of accounts designed to suit the needs of expats, and with the right preparation, you can secure an Italian bank account to simplify your financial life in your new home.

What are the eligibility criteria for opening a bank account in Italy?

Here's a general overview of what you'll typically need to open a bank account in Italy.

  • Age requirement: you must be at least 18 years old to open an individual bank account.
  • Valid identification: a valid government-issued ID is essential. This could be your passport or your national identity card, but make sure it’s not expired and it has your current photograph.
  • Proof of Italian residency: Italian banks need to verify your physical presence in the country. Acceptable documents for this can include the residence permit, a recent utility bill with your name and address on it (if you've recently moved and haven't received your official residence permit yet) or a rental agreement showing your name and Italian address.
  • Codice Fiscale: the tax identification number is crucial for any financial activity in Italy. If you haven't got it yet, you can apply for it at the Agenzia delle Entrate office closest to your residence.

Additional requirements

While the above documents are standard for most accounts, some banks might have additional requirements depending on the specific account type you choose.  For instance, proof of employment or student enrollment might be necessary for accounts with special features.  It's always best to check with the specific bank you're interested in to confirm any additional documentation they might require.

Types of bank account in Italy

Italian banks offer various account types to suit different needs. Here's a breakdown of the most common types:

  • Conto corrente (Current account): the workhorse of Italian banking, your all-purpose solution for everyday transactions. Think debit card purchases at local shops, ATM withdrawals, and electronic bank transfers to pay rent or utilities. Conto corrente accounts typically come with a debit card for convenient access to your funds and often link to online banking platforms for easy management.
  • Conto corrente cointestato (Joint account): a conto corrente designed for two or more people. It functions similarly to a regular current account, but allows joint ownership and operation, a useful feature for couples, families, or roommates who want to share financial responsibilities and manage joint expenses.
  • Conto di risparmio (Savings account): accounts that offer interest rates on your deposited funds, potentially higher than what you might get with a conto corrente.  However, there might be limitations on how often you can withdraw money, encouraging you to save for longer-term goals.
  • Conto di deposito (Deposit account):  the ideal option for those looking to save a larger sum of money and potentially earn a higher interest rate. They often require a minimum initial deposit, which can be significantly higher than a conto di risparmio;  in return, you might be offered a more attractive interest rate and even stricter withdrawal limitations to incentivize long-term saving.
  • Conto corrente non residenti (Non-resident current account):  for those who don't have Italian residency but require basic banking services, the Conto corrente non residenti is a lifesaver. This account offers limited functionality compared to a standard conto corrente, but it can still handle essential transactions like receiving international transfers or making ATM withdrawals.
A person withdrawing from an ATM thanks to their Italian bank account

What type of bank account can foreigners open?

Residency status determines your bank account options in Italy. 

Residents have the most flexibility, having the possibility to open a conto corrente, a conto corrente cointestato, a conto di risparmio, and a conto di deposito. On the other hand, the primary option for non-residents (people without a permanent place of residence in Italy and living in the country for less than 183 days per year) is the conto corrente non residenti. 

What are the requirements for opening a bank account in Italy?

Before you head to the bank to open your Italian bank account, it's important to ensure you have all the necessary documentation in order. Here's a comprehensive rundown of the requirements you'll need:

  • Valid ID (passport or national identity card)
  • Codice fiscale
  • Proof of address in Italy 

These documents form the core requirements but you need to remember that banks might have additional requests depending on the specific account type you choose. Certain accounts for example, particularly conto di deposito, might require a minimum initial deposit to open the account while specialized accounts designed for students or professionals might require documentation to verify your employment status or student enrollment.

Remember: this is a general overview, and specific requirements can vary by bank.  It's always best to check directly with the bank you're interested in to confirm their exact documentation requirements and any additional steps you might need to take.  By being well-prepared with the necessary documents, you can ensure a smooth and efficient process when opening your Italian bank account.

How much does it cost to open a bank account in Italy?

The good news is that opening a basic bank account in Italy is typically free of charge. This means there's usually no upfront fee simply to establish your account. However, while the account itself might be free, some banks might charge a one-time fee for issuing your debit card or credit card. These fees can vary depending on the bank and the specific card type (e.g., standard debit card vs. premium rewards card).

Additional charges for maintenance

This is where costs can creep in. Some Italian banks have monthly or annual maintenance fees associated with certain account types, ranging from a few euros per month to a more significant annual charge. It's important to compare these fees carefully before choosing a bank. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Account features: accounts with more features and services (e.g., international money transfer capabilities, online banking extras) might have higher maintenance fees compared to basic accounts.
  • Minimum balance requirements: some banks might waive maintenance fees if you maintain a minimum balance in your account throughout the month. Be sure to understand these requirements and if they fit your financial habits.

In conclusion

Opening a bank account in Italy might seem daunting at first, but with proper preparation and this guide, you are sure to navigate the process smoothly.  Research different banks, gather the necessary documents, and choose the account that best suits your financial needs. After that, you’ll only have to enjoy your Italian adventure!

Our ultimate guides series of article cover more than that, check it out:

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