Opening a bank account in Italy is accessible and relatively straightforward for new customers, with many different institutions for expats to choose from.
Italian banks are divided into three categories: co-operative banks (banchi popolari cooperative), co-operative credit banks ( banche di credito cooperativo) and private (ordinary) commercial or credit banks. Some of the most popular banks with expats setting up a bank account in Italy include the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, Unicredit, Banco di Napoli and more. Italy is also home to the world’s oldest bank, The Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which remains the third largest in the country today.
The most common types of account are current accounts (conto corrente) and credit accounts (assegno). There are also different account types available to foreign residents in Italy (confusingly titled “non-resident accounts”, or conto corrente non residenti). Unlike the majority of Italian bank accounts, which charge comparatively high interest rates and fees, a non resident account is not subject to the same fee structure or local taxes. Regardless of account type, new customers should open an account in person at their local branch, taking their passport, proof of address and employment (or a residence card also known as dichiarazione di presenza) and their codice fiscale (tax identification number). It is rarely possible to open an Italian bank account online.
Banking opening hours vary by location but are generally open Monday – Friday from 8.30am until 1.30pm, reopening for around an hour and a half in the afternoon (for example from 3pm until 4.30pm). In larger cities some branches also open on Saturday mornings from 9am until midday. This can be tricky for people working typical 9 to 5 hours themselves and is something many expats find frustrating with Italian bank accounts. Most banks also close early on the day before or after a bank holiday. Although Italian banks are less efficient than many of their European counterparts, with varying levels of customer service, there is more automated and online banking than there used to be, with a growing mobile banking offering.
We recommend that if you need to transfer money between currencies when opening a bank account in Italy that you use a dedicated foreign exchange service. Most banks apply higher fees and unfavourable exchange rates, which is why MumAbroad has partnered with Clear Currency, the money transfer people, to provide a more efficient, cheaper and better way to exchange currencies. They offer competitive rates, a dedicated currency exchange platform, phone support and same day transfers across more than 35 currencies. It’s free to join, and they are FCA regulated.