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If you’re moving to Italy to live, study, work or retire, you might be looking for an easy way to manage your money in euros while you’re there.
This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to get started, including the process and some inspiration for a few major Italian banks to look at.
If you’re looking to open an account before you travel to Italy, you might also want to know about Wise, a non-bank alternative with a multi-currency digital account you can use to receive, hold, send, spend and exchange EUR alongside USD and 40+ other currencies. More on that later.
Some Italian banks offer online account opening, but this is usually only extended to people who are already resident in Italy, with standard documents.
The process is even easier if you have already set up SPID¹ - the Italian digital proof of ID service. If you’re a US citizen living in Italy already you may be lucky enough to get an account opened with an Italian bank online - or you could choose a digital only bank which serves Italy, like N26².
At the time of writing N26 has a waitlist to open an account in Italy - and as with other Italian banks, you’ll have to be a resident of Italy or another eligible country to apply.
If you don’t want to wait - or if you’re still in the US looking for a solution to manage your money in euros before you even move, you might prefer a service like Wise - more on that later.
Yes, you can open a non-resident account. Not all Italian banks offer non-resident accounts, so you’ll want to shop around to find one that suits you. Banca Etica³ is a good place to start, with a non-resident account you can use to manage your money in euros conveniently.
Bear in mind that the fees you pay with a non-resident account are often higher than with a resident account - and the services you can access may be more limited, too.
As we’ve seen, some Italian banks do allow online account opening - but there are eligibility requirements here, usually including local tax residency. You’ll also need a full suite of documents for verification.
If you’re not eligible for online opening for the account you pick, you’ll need to visit a branch. You may need to make an appointment in advance, or register online and ask for a call back to discuss your banking needs.
It’s worth picking a larger branch with a major regional or international bank, where you’re more likely to find someone used to dealing with expats. We’ll look at some good banks to start with, next.
To open an Italian bank account, you’ll need to complete a verification step. This is much the same as opening a bank account in the US - and an important part of how banks around the world comply with the law and keep customers and their money safe.
Different banks in Italy have their own requirements when it comes to getting verified, so it’s important to double check what’s needed so you can open your Italian bank account smoothly.
|Usually documents required include:|
Living in Italy comes with a ton of choice in banking, from smaller domestic banks to huge international ones. Some of the most popular banks in the country include:
BancoPosta®⁴ is a division of the Italian post office that provides financial services.
BNL®⁵ is one of the leading banking groups in Italy, and also has a global presence in 65 or so countries.
Headquartered in Milan, CheBanca®⁶ has branches throughout the country and provides comprehensive mobile and online banking, as well as telephone customer service.
Italian banks tend to have ongoing fees - and opening a full service account before you arrive can be tricky or even impossible. Instead, take a look at Wise which offers a convenient multi-currency account you can open from the US before departure, and use to manage your money across EUR, USD and 40+ other currencies.
Open your Wise account online or with your phone, and order a Wise debit card for convenient spending in 150+ countries. You can send payments to bank accounts in 160+ countries, and access the mid-market exchange rate with low fees from 0.43%⁷ every time you need to switch from one currency to another.
You’ll also be able to access local bank details to have people send you USD, EUR and several other major global currencies conveniently, direct to your Wise account.
Wise isn’t a bank - but it’s a registered Money Service Business in the US and regulated wherever services are offered around the world.
No matter where in the world you choose to bank, you’re going to be faced with fees. Each individual bank sets its own price scales, so you’ll need to review the account fee schedule before you sign up - look out especially for the following:
Many banks charge a fee if you make an ATM withdrawal from an out of network ATM. This can mean you pay a fee to access your money, even in Italy. When you’re abroad, you’ll usually also find ATM withdrawal fees, which can be far higher than making a domestic withdrawal.
Pick a bank which has ATMs close to your home or work to make it more convenient - and cheaper - to get cash when you need it.
It’s common for banks to charge monthly or annual maintenance fees, which you’ll pay no matter how often you transact. This is in addition to service fees incurred when you actually use your account - plus you might pay fees to get and use a card for convenient payments.
The fees for international money transfers can vary widely and can include an additional exchange rate markup that pushes up the costs even more. Compare the rate you’re offered by your bank against the mid-market exchange rate you can find on Google - and check the costs with a third party service like Wise to see which offers the best value for you.
Banking in Italy isn’t hard to figure out once you’re a resident there - but setting up an account ahead of time can be a bit more of a challenge.
If you’re planning a move to Italy and want to hit the ground running, consider opening an online euro account with a provider like Wise, before you leave, so you can send, spend, hold, exchange and receive EUR and USD with low fees and the mid-market exchange rate.
- Banca Etica non-resident account
- BNP Paribas BNL D’Italia
Sources checked on 09.12.2023
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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