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Italian Bank Account | A Funny Financial Adventure
Opening an Italian bank account recently took a great deal of time and patience. Thankfully, we had the help of a gentleman here in Lucca known as “Tony- the Guy.” Tony was introduced to us by friends here in Lucca. Thank goodness JoAn and Jim shared his information with us!
As a side job, Tony is generous with his time and helps ex-pats through the trials and tribulations of doing things in the Italian system. For a very small, reasonable fee, he will help with getting residency, filling out forms, obtaining health insurance, going to appointments as a translator, and recently in our case – opening an Italian bank account.
Attempt Number One
In our first attempt to open a bank account with Tony we were unsuccessful. We had gotten an Italian phone number but one that is a call-forwarding third-party service. After Tony set up our appointment with the bank and met us there, we were about two hours into the appointment when it came time to include our “Italian” phone number. The bank did not accept this and everything had to be put on hold until we got one – a real one.
There were a number of issues with this visit. We did not have a utility bill yet to show the bank to confirm our address. We also were in the “odd” situation because we are dual citizens. Two additional women needed to come and consult with our bank official at her desk for the dual citizen issue. They kept looking at her screen, pointing, and trying different things. If I recall correctly, it had something to do with there was no “drop-down box” for the United States. Oh boy.
Attempted Number Two
So after obtaining a proper Italian phone number, Tony made another appointment for us. The number of times Gary and I had to sign our name was incredible. It went on forever and so did the clock. “It’s normal,” I recall Tony saying to us to keep us from assuming something must be wrong.
Items Needed to Open an Italian Bank Account
There are several things you need to have with you to open an Italian bank account. Of course, these requirements will vary from bank to bank. Such things you will need are:
- ID, such as a passport
- A valid Italian address (usually they ask for a utility bill)
- Codice Fiscale (Italian tax number)
- Proof of employment, retirement account or residency permit or
- Proof if you are a student studying in Italy
Generally, there aren’t any bank fees when you open an Italian bank account, but some banks impose fees for maintenance, money transfers, or withdrawals. The contract between the bank and us was quite a large packet of paper and complete with information about any associated fees.
Additionally, most banks offer debit and/or credit cards for no extra fee. You also have a choice whether to have your name printed on the bank card or not. The difference? You can get the card without your name printed right away. A card with your name imprinted will take seven to ten days minimum.
You should be aware that some banks require a certain amount of money deposited at the time you open your account. We did not have to do this.
If for some reason you need the ol’ fashion checkbook, I think we understood we could get one for a small fee.
Did you know?
It’s illegal to bounce a check in Italy. Doing so you risk prosecution and the ability to keep a bank account.
Some Facts About Italian Bank Accounts:
- To open a bank account in Italy you must be 18 or older
- You usually with have a limit on the daily and monthly amount you are allowed to withdraw
- There are two different types of bank accounts – Conto Corrente Cointestato. A standard account and a joint account.
- Some of the most popular banks in Italy are:
- We also looked into, well I’ll clarify, Gary looked into the N26 Account that people talk about. Seems like it is easy enough but Gary found out you can’t make cash withdrawals and not every utility company will accept payments from them. Again, this is research from a while ago, perhaps now it’s different.
Throughout Europe, you must use the following format for writing a date, DD/MM/YEAR.
You put the day first (2 digits), month second (2 digits), and four digits for the year.
No exception to this rule.
Now with our Italian bank account, we have put the rent for our apartment on auto-pay. We plan to do the same for all our utilities, once we get the first bill. Most utility companies send you a bill every other month. Garbage is quarterly I believe – we shall see. That might be another post!
JoAn FergusonOctober 28, 2021 at 8:08 am
You got off easy… It took us two trips to the bank but we went to a lawyer and an accountant. Why is it soooo hard?
imodicaOctober 29, 2021 at 1:07 am
That’s funny. I guess I’ll count my blessings!!
karenOctober 28, 2021 at 8:26 am
You did well with only two visits. It took us eight visits (several were because the office was closed and didn’t abide by posted hours, or our English speaking contact was not in. We used FINECO bank. Once we had everything good to go, it took another 10 days until we could actually get our Transferred funds into account. Being a US citizen adds complications for bank due to IRS requirements for banking in a foreign country.
After two years in Italy, the Questura required an Italian bank in order to renew our Permesso, (with €6000 per person deposited). We also needed to pay Italian taxes.
imodicaOctober 29, 2021 at 1:09 am
Wow Karen! That is crazy but I have heard some stories like yours. It is incredible the differences here from the States! Thank you for sharing!
Angelo SerraOctober 28, 2021 at 11:52 am
Great article! Would a multi-national bank (e.g. Chase or Deutschebank), will payment not be accepted from those banks?
I also have a clarifying question and it may be my limited knowledge of the Italian language. You noted that there were two different types of accounts:
” Conto Corrente Cointestato which is your standard account and
a Conto Corrente Cointestato which we have – a joint account.”
imodicaOctober 29, 2021 at 1:21 am
Thank you Angelo for pointing out my error and it’s not your limited knowledge of the language. Of course I have searched for the proper standard account name and unable to find to clarify and correct. I’ve reworded until I can obtain the exact correct name. Unfortunatley, I really don’t know about a multi-national bank. We use Charles Schwab and our utilities wouldn’t take a payment (transfer) from them. Not sure if that helps answer your question.