Many people get to a point in their lives where it’s time for a change. Whether it’s a new job, an interesting hobby or perhaps, moving to another place. And sometimes that place needs to be as far as possible and less British. Truth be told, we understand them. And what is one of the top places UK citizens just adore? That’s right, Italy. Warm, sunny, filled with pasta and loud, enthusiastic people. How can you not love it?

So, if you have decided that is time to start a new chapter in your life, we have prepared for you the ultimate guide on moving to this beautiful country. Here you can read about life in Italy and think about whether it’s the right place for you. You’ll also learn about all the necessary documents you need when moving there permanently, the cost of living in Italy, and much more.

Table of Contents:

Reasons to move to Italy

Italy is a warm country with ancient culture and around 60 million people. This includes a great number of migrants from other European countries and all around the globe. No wonder so many people choose Italy as their second home – the food is great, there is a huge selection of wine, a lot of sunlight and warm beaches.

But let’s be honest, these are mostly reasons to take a nice long vacation there, not to move permanently and leave everything behind, right? Well, that’s not all!
Italy prides on its amazing variations of nature – long coastlines, lakes, islands, mountains. Each region has a unique feel to it and no matter if you are a person of the sea, or you imagine yourself living in a petite house in the mountains, you can find your place there. The older generation naturally prefers spending their days in peace and the location for this is the south of the country, on islands like Sardinia and Sicily. However, it’s not all relaxation and dream destinations. While bursting with culture and entertainment, Milan and Rome, being the biggest cities in Italy, constantly develop their business sector and create the required workplaces for all people, including the ones that come from abroad.

So whether you need a quiet small town to relax and spend your days close to nature, or you want to properly feel the busy and colourful life of the big city, Italy is definitely the place where you can find it all.

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Visa Requirements in Italy

Recently there has been a lot of buzz about what the situation with moving abroad will be for UK citizens. For now, everyone with a full British passport, a BS, BOTC, BPP or a BOC passport, can freely move around countries in the EU, without the need of a visa. If the UK manages to leave with a deal, this is how it will be in the future as well. However, even now, people who are only residing in the UK, but are citizens of these countries, will need a Schengen Visa in order to visit or live in Italy.

If you currently have a 3-month UK visa and you want to apply for an Italian Schengen visa from the United Kingdom, you will need to extend the current visa for another three months. There is one important requirement – if you want to leave the Schengen area you’re in, your permit needs to be valid at least another 3 more months after the date of your departure. This means that you can be in Italy, with an Italian visa, however, if you decide to leave and your UK residence permit is valid only for a week after this, you will not be able to leave the country.

There are a number of visas that you can apply for if you decide to live in Italy. One of them is specially made for people who wish to retire in the boot country and don’t require a job there. It’s called the elective residence visa. In order to get this visa, you will need to present a rental agreement or deed in Italy, a document for medical insurance that covers the area you wish to live in, and proof of a financial income.

Things get even easier if you have some Italian ancestry. Take a good long look at your family tree and if you find a parent, grandparent or a great-grandparent who was born in Italy, there is a big chance you can even apply for dual citizenship.

How to get a Residence Permit in Italy

Once you begin your Italian journey, the first thing you need to get is a residence permit or, as they say it in Italian – “permesso di soggiorno”. This is a must, no matter what type of visa you have.

How to apply for a Residence Permit in Italy:

  1. Get a “Kit Permesso di Soggiorno”

    Within 8 business days after your arrival in Italy, go to the nearest post office and pick up an application form for your permit to stay. In Italian, it’s called a “Kit Permesso di Soggiorno”. It’s a packet with two forms inside, each containing around 5 to 10 pages. You will have to fill out all the necessary personal information along with your reasons for moving to Italy. You will also have to make a copy of the documents you needed while making the visa. There are certain taxes that you will have to pay, but we will get to them later.

  2. Buy “Marca da Bollo

    Find a “Tabaccheria” and buy a “Marca da Bollo”, which is just a sticker that needs to be placed on the envelope. However, you are not the one putting that sticker. Once you are done filling out the documents, you will have to bring them all to the post office along with the “Marca da Bollo”. The worker there will review the forms and your personal documents, such as your passport, and submit everything to the immigration office (the Questura).

  3. Remember the date of your appointment in the Immigration office

    You will be given a couple of documents back, which are all very important. They include receipts for all the taxes you’ve paid and an appointment that will tell you when you will need to go to the Immigration office.

  4. Be there on time

    Go to the office on the scheduled day where you will have your fingerprints taken. Once this is done, the staff there will tell you the date to get your documents.

Taxes to pay when acquiring the “Permesso di Soggiorno”

As we mentioned earlier, everything comes with a price, and documents are no exception. Here is a list of all the taxes you will have to pay when getting your residence permit in Italy.

  1. €40-€100 for the initial residence permit documents. €40 is for people staying up to one year; €50 is from one up to two years; and €100 is for the long-term EU permits.
  2. €16 for the stamp on your envelope – “Marca da Bollo”.
  3. €30 for the Immigration office – “Assicurata Postale”.
  4. €30.46 for a printed version of the residence permit – “Permesso di Soggiorno”.

The Way of Life in Italy

One of the major differences British people notice in Italy, is how family and friend relationships are often prioritized over work, to-do lists and other tedious everyday tasks. People who have embraced the Italian culture in their lives will spend less time worrying about circumstances they cannot affect or things that are far away in the future, and spend their days enjoying the present. Indulging in the pleasures of life rather than focusing on the problems.

You will quickly notice the feeling of how the hours move a lot slower, giving you time to surround yourself with the people you love the most, enjoy a nice cup of coffee, take a walk on the beach, and just indulge in your surroundings.

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The Cost of Living in Italy

Logically, with the northern part being more modern and developed, the cost of living there is a lot higher than in the south, even compared to other big cities in Europe. You’ll learn in no time that in order to survive and have enough money, you will have to stay away from tourist pubs, restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets. Thoroughly research the area you’re moving to so you can find all the local places that will serve you the best.

To make things clearer, here you can see the approximate price range of the most vital products in Italy:

Product / Service Price in UK (£) Price in Italy (£)
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant£8.92£17.85
Grocery store beer (0.5l draught)£ 2.68£4.46
Cappuccino (regular)£0.94£1.52
Coke/Pepsi (0.33l bottle)£1.16£2.68
Water (0.33l bottle)£0.45£1.34
Gasoline (1l)£1.28£1.51
Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro)£4.46£5.09
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)£1.07£1.34
Monthly Pass (Regular Price)£26.77£35.70

How much is the rent in Italy?

Normally, it’s not very difficult to find a flat or a house in the smaller areas and usually you can rent them straight from the landlord without going through an agency. This way is a lot cheaper for both you and the owner, as well. In case you are moving to a bigger city, doing so will be a bit harder, but not impossible. The approximate price to rent a single bedroom flat in the centre is around £534 per month, while a three bedroom one can go up to £1000.

Accommodation Fees

Okay, so you have had some luck and you have finally found the perfect flat to live in. But are there any taxes except the rent and the utility bills? Unfortunately, there are, but this is nothing unusual.

Here are the most important accommodation fees you need to know about:

  1. The Stamp Tax – This is not so much of a tax than just something you will need to buy when signing your contract. It costs around £14 and it’s very important. If you don’t have this stamp on the copies, it is not valid. The contract has two official copies – one for the landlord and one for the registration office. Your copy is actually a printed photocopy of those originals, meaning you don’t need to purchase a stamp for that one.
  2. Contract Registration Fee – This is a fee that is 3% of your annual rent. It’s usually covered by the landlord. Depending on the contract it could be shared as well.
  3. Waste Tax – Similar to the UK, your local council is the one responsible for collecting the waste from the communal rubbish bins. This tax is required in order to cover the transportation, collection and disposal services. Keep in mind that Italians are very much into recycling, which means that if you do not separate your waste, there might be a fine for it.
  4. The Strata Fee – This fee is for everyone who lives in a residential building. The Strata fee will cover all the needed communal services, such as general gardening and cleaning maintenance, repairs, building heating, water, and sometimes the Waste Tax, as well.

How to Pay Your Bills in Italy

You have two main options for paying your everyday and monthly bills. You can use cash or open up an Italian bank account and use a debit card.

Here are your options up-close:

Paying bills with a “Posta pre-paid card”

This card is exactly what it sounds like. You buy it from the post office and similar to a prepaid phone card, you need to charge it with money every time it runs out of it. Even if you have a foreign debit/credit card, you will probably need this one in order to sign a contract with an Internet or a TV cable provider.

Bank Account for Foreigners

Opening up an Italian bank account is actually a fairly easy job. The only documents you will need are the “Permesso di Soggiorno” that you should already have, your passport, and a tax code. You can obtain your tax code for free after your residence permit. Go around different banks to see which one will suit your needs the best. Keep in mind that most of the people there will not speak English. If you don’t know Italian, it would be better to make the visits with a friend who does.

Another thing you can do is to set up your account from a bank branch in the UK. Many Italian banks have branches all around Europe so take a look at the ones near you. This way you will have a card that you can use even before you migrate to Italy and there will be no misunderstandings.

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British Expat Communities in Italy

As we mentioned, there are a lot of differences between the way of life in Italy and the UK. However, this is also one of the main reasons why the boot-shaped country is so popular with the British communities. The most popular cities in which you can find a fellow citizen are Rome, Sardinia, Naples and Tuscany. If you are travelling alone and you do not know Italian, it’s always better to have someone help you out with integrating and dealing with all the paperwork and documents. Find people in your area before you even go there by checking out the forums and websites, which are just for expat communities in Italy. History has shown that people are a lot more united when they are outside of their country, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

The Living Essentials in Italy

If your retirement plan is long ahead in the future and you’ve decided to move countries with the idea to work and live as an Italian citizen, there is some vital information that you need to be aware of such as opportunities for a career and important taxes to pay.

The Italian Job Market

If you are moving to Italy with the idea of finding a permanent job, it is actually very important to which region you are going to. There is actually a huge difference between south and north Italy. While the south part mostly depends on its agriculture, farming and tourism, the unemployment rate is still quite high, and not many working people prefer to go there. Seasonal jobs in the tourism industry are usually easier to find than regular jobs, which is why the majority of the population has moved to the northern side of the country. This is the more industrialised and developed part of Italy, with a very high number of private companies that constantly employ people.

It’s important to mention that there is a significant improvement in the labour market since 2015 which is when the Jobs act was introduced. This has helped the country in bringing it closer to other developed European countries and making it a lot more attractive for outside investors and business people. This act has fixed some important issues related to pensions, benefits for unemployed people and they enabled fixed-term employment too which was not a thing before that. There is also the ability to demote and change duties and tasks so that the stale Italian job market is now a thing of the past.

So just for reference, here is a short list of the most expanded sectors in which you can start work:

  • Tourism
  • Engineering
  • Catering
  • Teaching
  • Accounting
  • Customer care

Italian Healthcare

In Italy, the organisation responsible for healthcare is the National Health Service, or “Servizio Sanitario Nazionale” (SSN). The benefits that people receive from it are ambulance services, subsidised medicines, lab services, access to GPs, treatment at public hospitals and sometimes specialized care. The healthcare is usually either entirely free or really low cost.

Keep in mind that even though the SSN is a government system, it’s still divided into fractions depending on the region and there are different people that are in charge of the whole organisation. This means that the level of care will be different, again parallel to the job market and overall opportunities in Italy. Naturally, Northern Italy will provide you with a higher class of treatment, while the South barely covers all the needed criteria to be considered a quality service. If you have some serious health issues to take care of, it’s recommendable to go to a bigger city.

If your stay in Italy prolongs beyond the three months, registering in the SSN becomes mandatory. Just go to your local health agency and they will give you a health card “tessera sanitaria”. If you change your address to a different district, you will have to register again and get a new card.

Taxes in Italy

No matter if you are working or living your best retired life, there are still taxes to pay. The amount of money that you pay depends on your income, so the higher your salary is, the more you will pay.

Here are the most important taxes in Italy:

  • The Income Tax
  • The Corporate Tax
  • VAT
  • Tax on Services
  • Excises

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Your UK Driving Licence in Italy

If you plan on living in Italy, it would be best to apply for an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). With the future being so unsure, it’s always best to be prepared. Plus, it will make your travels around Europe a lot easier.

However, if you are doing only a trial of the country, you can still use your UK driving licence and that is if the UK is still in the EU.

Takeaways

  • Connecting with British expats in Italy before moving there will make your life a lot easier, especially in the beginning.
  • Consider opening up an Italian bank account from the UK so that you have your card the moment you arrive.
  • Try to arrange whatever is possible before the big move. It’s always safer to have a flat and a job organised and waiting for you.

Image source: depositphotos / masterlu

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We hope you found this guide on relocating to Italy useful. Feel free to share with us your thoughts on this topic and your experiences in moving to another country. We wish you the best of luck on this wonderful journey!

Posted in Moving Abroad, Moving and Packing Tips

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