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Moving to Italy


Planning Your Move

Moving abroad is a big step, so it's important to make sure it's definitely the right choice for you and your family. Here are some suggestions to help prepare you for the decision.

  • Rent before you buy. Renting an apartment for a few months in Italy can give you invaluable experience of living there without making a big commitment. You can also use your time in Italy to look for potential employment options and acquaint yourself with the local language and customs. The wide variety of locations offered by the many regions of Italy mean it's vital to pick the spot that suits you best. Do you want to live in the high altitude areas near the Alps, where you can enjoy skiing in the winter? Or would you prefer a seaside retreat overlooking the Mediterranean sea? A visit to the country before your move will help you make the right decision.
  • Take part in a home exchange. These programs allow you to swap homes for an agreed period of time with an Italian family. Visit, and for information on how to sign up.
  • Make sure your chosen area is suited to your needs. Look for schools if you have children, a hospital if you or a member of your family has specific healthcare needs, good public transport links and other social amenities that will make life easier.
  • If you are looking for a job in Italy, make some trips before your final move to scope the job market and secure a position. If you are planning on running your own business, do some market research in your chosen area to make sure your business will be welcome and profitable. Please note that if you are an American, Canadian or Australian citizen you do not legally have the right to work or live in Italy, but if you can get citizenship from another EU country first, you and your family will be able to make the move.

Your New Home

When you arrive in your new home in Italy you'll want to make sure that everything is set up ready for you to move in straight away. The complicated and often stressful process of buying or renting a house or flat is made all the more difficult when you have to travel long distances to view the property and are not always available to be on-site should problems occur. Not only this, but if your Italian is not good, negotiating with the Estate Agent may prove tricky. Here are some tips to help you get the best start in your new home.

  • It has become fashionable for Italians to live in inner-city apartments, meaning there are plenty of neglected country properties that are ideal for expats coming to the country. Some of them may need renovation work, but the diversity of climates, geography and building materials mean you will be spoilt for choice. This website ( lists a number of great properties that are currently on the market.
  • It is recommended that you open an account with Smart Currency Exchange before making any financial transactions. It's a free service that will ensure you get the best value for your money when making purchases in Italy.
  • The key stages involved in buying a house in Italy are as follows: Prenotazione - this is the initial agreement made between you and the Estate Agent that confirms the details of the offer and the amount to be paid. A small deposit may be required at this stage; Compromesso - this is the agreement signed by both parties once the sale has been agreed. A 30% deposit is usually paid to the seller, and this document is a legally binding contract; Rogito - this is the formal sale and completion stage which takes place before a notary and with both parties present.
  • Some useful terms you may need to learn when buying property in Italy are: Mutuo Ipotecario (mortgage); Catasto (local land registry); Codice Fiscale (personal Italian fiscal code - this must be applied for before you can purchase a property).
  • You will be required to pay Imposta Catastali, a cadastral tax worth 2% of the property value, and Registro, a registration tax that varies between 4% and 10% of the property value. Other taxes include government (ipotecario), property (comunale sugli immobile, ICI), and community (tasso per lo smaltimento di rifuti solodi urbani, TARSU).
  • With the exception of Barclays, there are few international banks that have a presence in Italy, so it may be best to get a mortgage with an Italian lender. Please note that Italian lenders tend not to offer mortgages for properties that are so run down they are deemed uninhabitable, so if you are planning on buying a property for renovation, ensure you will be able to secure a mortgage with a willing lender.


Moving Companies

Once you have chosen your new home, one of the first things to think about before leaving the UK is how best to transport your belongings to Italy. Schumacher Cargo Logistics offer specialised shipping to Italy and have options for the shipping of automobiles, oversized cargo, pets and boats. Visit their website to view their full range of services: Other movers include INTL Movers (, Orbit ( and Movecorp ( around to get the best deal.

The Practical Details

The excitement of moving abroad can easily eclipse the practical - and often boring - details, but these are vital for a smooth transition to a new country. Please check with the local authority of your region to make sure you have fulfilled all of your legal obligations.

  • To live in Italy you will need a Carti di Soggiorno (green card), a visto per dimora (residency visa) from the Italian Embassy, and a permesso di soggiorno (permission to stay), and you will need to register with the local comune (town hall) when you arrive.
  • You must apply for a tax identification number which will entitle you to National Health services as well as enabling you to work, be self-employed, purchase property and open a bank account.
  • EU driving licenses are valid in Italy, but obtaining an Italian license will help avoid potential problems if you are planning on living in Italy for more than a year.
  • UK registered vehicles can be driven in Italy for up to six months, after which you will be required to purchase Italian registration plates (which usually cost around €800). If you are planning on taking your car with you to Italy, you'll need to inform the DVLA by filling in the V5C/4 'notification of export' form.

Making the Most of your Move

  • Learn the language. This may take longer than you think and it's worth starting long before you move. Learning Italian will not only make all of the legal and official processes involved a lot easier, but it will help you integrate better and give you a greater sense of community.
  • Take in the culture. There are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in Italian history and culture. For example, you can enjoy a relaxing few hours in an authentic Roman Bath at AcquaMadre (
  • Join an online expat forum such as, and There you can talk to people who have already made the move and get invaluable advice on the benefits of living in Italy, as well as some of the potential pitfalls.

Farm in Italy

Following the Rules

Italian laws differ subtly from UK ones so it is easy to accidentally get into trouble. Similarly, if you do not understand the local customs and etiquette you run the risk of offending your new neighbours. Here is a quick list of things to watch out for:

  • Ensure you have a valid driving license, whether it is from the UK or Italy.
  • It is a legal requirement to carry a warning triangle and a reflective jacket in your vehicle in case of breakdown.
  • Be aware that you may need to fit snow chains to your tires in some regions during the winter.
  • The alcohol limit for driving is lower in Italy than in the UK. In Italy, the limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, which is less than the UK limit of 80mg/100ml. If in doubt, don't drive!
  • It is illegal to drive in the centre of many of Italy's most historic cities without a special pass. These areas are marked with signs saying 'ZTL'. Driving in these areas may result in an on-the-spot fine.
  • It is inappropriate for men to go shirtless in public.
  • It is illegal to eat or drink outdoors in the historic centre of Rome.


Italy is a wonderful country, but you might find you miss some of the more unique quirks of living in the UK. Don't worry, The British Corner Shop ( delivers UK products all over Italy. If you prefer not to shop online visit The Little British Food Shop ( or the British Grocery in Milan (Viale Beatrice D'Este 48, 20122 Milan).

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