How to move to Italy.

Always dreamed of a life in ‘Il bel paese’? Want to make the move but don’t know how? I was in the same situation just a few months ago. Here is all of the information I have managed to gather over the past year.

Do I need a visa?

This depends entirely on where you are travelling from. If you are travelling from the EU then I am sure you already know, the answer is no. You do not. If you are travelling from outside of the EU (or are from the UK like myself) then the answer may change.

As of the 31st of January 2020, the UK has formally left the EU. We are no longer a part of it. However, currently we are still within the transition period. The transition period runs until December 31st 2020. This transition period is too allow both the UK and the EU to establish a new fair trade agreement. After the transition period has ended, the UK will leave the single market and customs union. During this transition period the UK will still follow all EU rules and will maintain the same trading relationship. This also means that until December 31st 2020 we have nearly the same rights as we did before leaving the EU, including moving to countries within the EU and gaining residency. After December, all current residents in Italy will be allowed to remain in the country. This means that we have until the 31st of December to sort out all of our affairs, get residency, exchange driving licenses etc.

After the transition period then we will likely be classified as a non-EU country and will have to follow the same rules as other non-EU countries.

To live and work in Italy as a non-EU citizen then you need to have a visa and a work permit.

Work visa’s can be granted for employment, seasonal work that is related to either agriculture or tourism, scientific research, sporting activities and some other reasons related to employment. You can also get a visa for study, medical care, tourism, religion or other reasons, these visa’s do not permit you to work.

The work permit you will need to work will be completed by your employer in Italy. They will need to show a copy of your i.d documents (such as passport), a work contract, proof of accommodation, and evidence of your residence contract.

There is also the blue card for highly skilled workers. More information on that can be found out here.

Once you have a visa to live and work in Italy, your family can also apply for a visa under family reunification.

I posted a bit about the process of getting the permesso di soggiorno here.

Renting or buying a house?

Housing prices and rental prices vary vastly depending on the region you are searching for. It is important to do your research when looking for which region you want to locate to. As I am moving for a specific purpose, I have never looked up rental prices or housing prices in any other region except for Puglia. And specifically within the city of Bari in Puglia.

Rental prices vary but probably the more expensive areas are Milan, Florence and Rome.

Within cities, most of the places will be apartments or an appartamento. In Italy, apartments to rent are advertised by number of rooms monolocale, bilocale, trilocale etc. A monolocale is like a typical studio apartment in other countries. You usually have a kitchen and a bedroom/living room in one room and a bathroom. Within a bilocale the bedroom and living room is usually separate.

Rented accommodation usually comes either furnished or unfurnished.

I will be posting more about renting property in Italy in a later post.

How about healthcare?

Healthcare in Italy is generally excellent. And free to all residents in Italy. The public healthcare system in Italy is called the Servizio Sanitorio Nazionale (SSN) and you can register for it once you have your permesso di soggiorno. You sign up for the SSN in your local Azienda sanitaria locale (ASL). Once you are registered for the SSN you obtain your Tessera Sanitaria and chose your family doctor (Medico di base).

If you are employed in Italy then you will be eligible for mandatory registration, however, if you are not then you will have to pay a voluntary contribution. You will be able to find out if you are able to get mandatory registration at your local ASL. The form you get given to register for the SSN will need to be filled in and then payed for at the post office. From what I can gather, most things you need to pay for are done at the post office.

It is possible to find English speaking doctors however, you will need to research this. I find that if you ask on expat groups (in facebook) or on forums, a lot of expats from the area will be able to advise you on this.

Opening a bank account.

Just like in the UK, there are various types of bank accounts you can open in Italy. Conto corrente is a current bank account, and this is the standard type of bank account that people use for their day-to-day activities. Another common bank account is a chequing account or assegno.

Other bank accounts include joint bank accounts or Conto corrente cointestato, savings accounts Conto di risparmio and deposit accounts Conto di deposito which is similar to a savings account but with less flexibility and a higher interest rate. Bank accounts in Italy are generally not free, and you will have to pay a fee for them. All bank accounts charge different amounts so it is important to do your research on them.

To open a bank account in Italy you need to have your codice fiscale which is your tax code.

Getting a mobile phone

You can either get a pre-paid sim card called a ricaricabile or a mobile contract abbonamento. This contract is usually at a fixed monthly rate and is either a contract for 12 months or 24 months. With the pre-paid sim card you must top up your phone with vouchers ricariche which can be bought at stores, tobacconists, bars, magazine shops, ATM’s or at the store or website of the provider. Like with bank accounts, you need to have your codice fiscale to purchase a pre-paid sim card or to get a mobile phone contract.

The most popular providers in Italy are TIM, Vodafone, WIND, Fastweb or 3. All of these providers offer different packages and services so it is better to research them first to find the best deal for you.

Transport in Italy.

Trains are very cheap in Italy. Especially the regional trains (which are also slower). You can buy train tickets at the station (at the desk or at the machine) or you can also buy tickets online through mobile phone apps.

Trains are either run by Gruppo Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane or by Italo.

Types of trains are Eurostar Italia or Frecce services, which are considered the fastest. Seat reservations are mandatory on these services. Intercity (IC and IC+) run across most of Italy and between cities and Large towns. You can either book first or second class on these trains. On intercity + seat reservations are mandatory but are included in the price of the ticket. And finally Regionale trains are the ones that stop in all of the smaller towns. These are cheaper in price but because they stop off in all of the small towns, they are much slower than the other train services.

Using a car in Italy can be expensive, petrol is generally quite expensive, most roads in Italy are very poor (in comparison to the UK) unless you are travelling on the Autostrada. And in my opinion, it is definitely true what they say about Italian drivers. They will force their way out into traffic, usually putting out their arm to let drivers know they are doing this.

If you are buying a car in Italy then you need to tax, MOT and insure it. Car tax (Bollo) is mandatory and you must keep the receipt in case you are stopped by the police. There is a fine if you fail to produce this. An MOT or Revisione is also required on all cars older than 4 years old. These are only required once every two years unlike in the UK where you have to do this every year.

Insurance cover will differ in cost depending on type of insurance (Casco or Responsibilit√† civile). The first is fully comprehensive and is very expensive, most people opt for the second which is third party. You can also add on fire and theft (incendio, furto).

Foreigners in Italy can drive for one year on their driving license but after that need to switch it over to an Italian driving license. If you are from an EU member state then you do not need to resit your driving test for this, however, if your country does not have a reciprocal agreement (USA, Canada, Australia) then you will need to sit an Italian driving test.

If you are stopped by the police in Italy then you need to produce the following documents:

  • Identification document (passport or i.d.)
  • Driving license
  • Car tax receipt
  • Insurance (at least third party)
  • Logbook (libretto) with the MOT
  • A yellow luminous jacket.

It is important you carry these documents on you at all times when driving in Italy.

There are several books you can purchase that will provide a lot more detailed information. I have personally only read the moon living book which was great, although I feel it was a little more focused towards Americans.

Moon Living Abroad Italy, 4th edition
Times New Roman
The real guide to living in Italy.

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