Taking cash in or out of Italy: What are the rules?

Emma-Jane Stogdon

Due to spend some time in Italy soon? If you’ll be travelling with any cash, there are some important rules you need to know about.

In this helpful guide, we’ll walk you through the rules and limits for taking cash in and out of Italy. Nearly every country has these rules, so that authorities can check the cash hasn’t come from criminal activity or been stolen.

We’ll also show you a convenient cash-free alternative for spending abroad - the Wise card.

How much cash can you bring to Italy? What are the limits?

You can bring up to €10,000 (or the equivalent in another currency) into Italy, without needing to declare it or take any other action.1

If you have more than that with you, you’ll need to complete a customs declaration when you arrive.

What qualifies as cash when moving through borders?

For the purposes of moving it across international borders, the following are usually classed as cash:2

  • Banknotes and coins of any currency
  • Cheques of any kind (including travellers’ cheques)
  • Promissory notes and signed money orders
  • Coins with a gold content of at least 90%
  • Bullion such as bars or nuggets (with a gold content of at least 99.5%).

Are there penalties if you bring in too much cash to Italy?

There will be penalties if you bring too much cash into Italy, fail to declare it or give false information to customs authorities.

You might have your money confiscated, and have to pay a fine in order to get your money back.

How to declare cash at customs when you travel

If you’ve never done it before, the thought of making a declaration at customs in a foreign country can be a little daunting - especially if you don’t speak Italian.

Read the below though and you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.

Declaring cash before your trip

It’s unclear whether it’s possible to declare cash before your trip to Italy, if you know already that you’ll be travelling with more than the permitted amount.

However, you could save you time at customs if you can complete the right declaration form in advance. There are two routes you can take:

  1. Complete the EU cash declaration form
  2. Complete the Italian declaration form.

Italian flag in the middle of Euro bank notes and coins

Declaring cash on arrival to Italy

You can also declare cash on arrival in Italy. Follow these steps:

  1. At the airport or port, look for the ‘goods to declare’ or ‘red channel’ signs.
  2. Tell a customs official you wish to declare cash, and you may be asked to fill in a form.
  3. Follow all instructions and have your passport and other documents ready - we’ll run through what else you might need next.

Checklist for cash declarations at Italian customs

While the requirements vary between EU countries, and some are stricter than others, it’s sensible to have the following ready to provide at customs:

  • Your passport, address and other personal details as the person carrying the cash
  • Details of who owns the cash and the intended recipient, if it’s not you
  • Details of your journey, including flight numbers, ferry routes and any countries you’ve passed through in transit
  • Details of what the cash will be used for
  • The type of cash being carried (the currency, and whether it’s notes or coins)
  • The total amount of cash
  • Details and evidence (if you have it) of the source of the money, including the country of origin and how it was generated. For example, through a property sale, earnings from a business, inheritance or another reason.

How much cash can you take out of Italy? Are there limits?

The same rules apply for taking cash out of Italy as for bringing it in. You can take up to €10,000 EUR or the currency equivalent out of the country.1

Take anything above that sum, and you’ll need to make a customs declaration.

How much cash can I take to the UK from the EU?

You’ll be permitted to take up to €10,000 EUR out of Italy without declaring it to customs.

But the UK has its own rules on how much cash you can bring into the country. This limit is £10,000 GBP or the currency equivalent.3 Anything above this and you’ll need to declare it at customs.

What are the penalties for travelling with too much cash?

If you bring too much cash into Italy or fail to declare it, it’s likely that your money will be seized.

You’ll also have to pay a fine, which varies depending how much you’re over the permitted limit. The penalty could be as much as 50% of the excess money.1

Destinations where a declaration isn't needed

There aren’t any destinations where a declaration isn’t needed when you leave Italy with more than the permitted sum of cash.

Italy uses EU rules on how much money you can carry, but it also has its own border rules in force.

So, even if you’re travelling to another EU country from Italy, you’ll still need to make a cash declaration if you’re carrying €10,000 or more.4

Destinations where declaration is needed

If you’re carrying €10,000 or more in cash and travelling outside of the EU, you’ll definitely need to declare it at the Italian border.

Additional tips for travelling with cash

Woman looking out to sea in the Italian Riviera

Avoid travelling with cash if you can

Travelling with large amounts of cash is a real security concern, so it’s best avoided unless absolutely necessary. Consider withdrawing cash at an Italian ATM on arrival instead, or having the money sent by bank transfer.

Get a money belt

The safest way to carry cash is on your person, so invest in a good quality money belt to wear under your clothes for the duration of the journey. A small crossbody or waist bag can also keep your money close and secure.

Split your cash

Carrying one big wad of cash isn’t very discreet, and it’s risky too - if it’s misplaced or stolen, that would be all your money gone. So consider splitting your money between a money belt worn on your person, between members of your travelling party, and between pieces of luggage too.

Be aware that exchanging currency in cash can be costly

If you’re carrying money to pay for your trip and need to exchange it once you get to Italy, you might struggle to find a good deal.

Many of the exchange bureaus and offices which are in the most convenient locations - the airport or your hotel, for example - offer poor exchange rates. That means you have to choose between spending your precious holiday time searching for a better deal, or getting ripped off on the exchange.

Wise – An international alternative to carrying cash

Rather avoid the security concerns and inconvenience of carrying cash between countries? Check out the Wise card instead.

The Wise card is a truly international debit card, as it works in 150+ countries and has no foreign transaction fees*.

It automatically converts currency at the mid-market exchange rate whenever you spend, for just a small conversion fee*.

And, if you already have the currency in your Wise account, there’s no fee to pay.

Learn more about the Wise card 💳

You can also use Wise to send money worldwide, even sending large sums securely for great exchange rates and low fees*.

So whether you need travel money or to pay for goods, services or bills in other countries, Wise is the ideal solution.

FAQs: How much cash can you travel with?

What else needs to be declared at customs in Italy?

The following must be declared at Italian customs:

  • €10,000 (or currency equivalent) or more in cash
  • Anything over your duty-free allowance in cigarettes, alcohol or other goods.
  • Any banned or restricted goods

If you’re not sure whether or not you need to make a declaration for something you’re travelling with, it’s always worth checking with customs officials.

How much cash can I bring to Italy without declaring?

Technically speaking, you can bring up to €9,999.99 EUR (or the currency equivalent) before you need to make a customs declaration.

It’s not advisable to cut it that fine though, just in case you’ve made a mistake when counting your money. If in doubt, declare it.

How much cash do I need in Italy?

Debit and credit cards are widely accepted in Italy, especially in major cities and tourist hotspots. So you might not need much actual cash, unless you’re visiting smaller towns or more rural areas.

Interested to learn more? We’ve got you covered! Read more about money in Italy.

What is the duty-free allowance from Italy to the UK?

You can bring the following into the UK when arriving from Italy without having to pay any duties or taxes (or make any declarations) 5

  • 4 litres of spirits or strong liqueurs, or 9 litres of fortified wine, sparkling wine or any other alcoholic beverage of less than 22% ABV.
  • 42 litres of beer, and 18 litres of still wine.
  • 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigarillos, or 50 cigars, or 250g of tobacco or 200 sticks of tobacco for heating.
  • Other goods worth up to £390.

Sources used for this article:

  1. ADM - Traveller’s customs charter
  2. Your Europe - Rules for taking cash in and out of the EU and travelling with cash in the EU
  3. GOV.UK - Take cash in and out of the UK
  4. ADM - Italian government common questions on customs issues
  5. Border Force - UK Customs Information

Sources checked on 17-04-2024.

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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