Blame it on the beautiful travel blogs, inspiring influencer accounts, and your semester spent abroad: sometimes, it feels like every other person has lived abroad, and therefore it must not be all that difficult to do. All that’s required to have this exotic life for yourself is quit your job, give up a bunch of your belongings, save a lot of money, and want it badly enough.
Of course, that’s not all there is to it; there is no one official path to taking the plunge for an international move, and the reality is that it is very difficult. Here, I turn to guest blogger Jay Mueller, a Canadian expat living in Costa Rica and the CEO of A-1 Auto Transport to give a solid, brief guide on the basics of moving to Italy from the US*, starting with taking your possessions — including your car! — with you.
Complete Guide for Your International Move to Italy
An international move to a nation as beautiful and inspiring as Italy is one that comes with a great amount of preparation and organization. It might feel overwhelming, but once the move has been completed, you’ll finally have time to enjoy your new home and all of its surroundings. Just remember, this is what you have to look forward to at the end of completing all those facets of international relocation.
One of the biggest struggles of an overseas move is making sure that all your possessions make it through Customs. This is something that a dependable international moving service will assist you with, but it’s in your best interest to also have knowledge pertaining to the import laws of Italy. To obtain the information necessary, contact the Embassy of Italy. They’ll share the current import regulations with you as well as the latest tax rates.
About Italy’s Import Taxes
If you’re moving with more than a couple of suitcases’ worth of possessions, you will need to obtain a certificate of import approval through Customs. To do this, you must first gather all the required proof, which includes a receipt showing that all taxes have been paid in full. Goods imported into Italy are taxed based on their CIF (value of the goods + insurance + freight). If the value of an item is under $178.00 U.S. dollars it is not subjected to any import tax. Otherwise, import duty rates can reach up to 17%.
There are some goods that aren’t subjected to taxes even if their value is over $178.00. These items include laptops, mobile phones, video games and digital cameras, as long as they are previously used items. Used furniture, linen, kitchen appliances, books, toys, clothes, accessories and other personal items may also be exempt from import taxes which you can learn more about by calling the embassy.
Excise tax and a VAT of 22% are also usually included in the total cost of your import taxes. The excise tax is only applies to alcohol and tobacco items or an item that must undergo testing or evaluation for permittance into the nation. You’ll also be expected to provide specific forms of documentation, including:
- Copies of passports
- Original bill of landing or airway bill
- List of inventory written in English or Italian
- Copy of the tax code number
- Original consular declaration
Keep in mind, too, that not all items are allowed into Italy; or they are allowed only in specified quantities. Check here for a list of prohibited items.
List of Items Allowed into the Country in Moderation for Personal Use
- 200 Cigarettes
- 50 Cigars or 250 grams of Tobacco
- 1 Liter of Spirits
- 2 Liters of Alcohol below 22%
- 16 Liters of Beer
Under certain stipulations, all EU natives are allowed to ship over one personal vehicle duty-free with a Certificate of Origin and proof of one year of ownership. The vehicle’s engine cannot be over 2,000cc. All non-Italian citizens are allowed to import a used vehicle for up to six months without paying custom duties. After the six month timeframe, the vehicle must either be registered to the nation or exported elsewhere.
Gaining Permanent Residency in Italy
Step one: Vista d’ingresso
The vista d’ingresso is step one of your living-in-Italy goal: it allows permanent residency after the end of a three-month span of residing there.
A person traveling in Italy can stay for up to 90 consecutive days. After that, anyone who stays in Italy for longer than three months is considered a permanent resident. If permanent residency is your goal, before arriving in Italy you must obtain the entrance visa (vista d’ingresso) from an Italian consulate. The visa is valid only for the time period written, and it must be obtained in the US before you leave (if you’re already in Italy, you have to leave and then return). Bear in mind that it takes several weeks to months to obtain this type of visa, so make sure you start necessary preparations well in advance.
Step two: Permesso di soggiorno
Once you arrive in Italy with your vista d’ingresso in hand, if you plan on staying after the three months are up, within eight days of your arrival you must apply for the permesso di soggiorno, or permit of stay. This can be done by stopping at the local post office and picking up the application kit, filling it out, and submitting it to the local central police station, or Questura (the post office will send it to the Questura for you).
Keep a copy of your receipt from this transaction for proof later down the line. Note that all of these steps cost money, and be prepared to pay cash. As a general rule of thumb, Italy is cash-only when you least expect it.
Step three: Applying for residency
Twenty days after receiving your permesso di soggiorno, you’ll need to go to your local Vital Statistics Bureau, Anagrafe of the Comune, to apply for residency. As in everything in Italy, this process could take a couple months to complete. Another general rule of thumb when dealing with Italian bureaucracy: Any time you receive a receipt, keep it, make copies of it, and bring it to your next appointment.
Once you have permanent residency, or at least your receipt, you can apply for a bank account, health insurance, and an ID card, or carta d’identità.
*Laws, regulations, and requirements change all the time. I hope this can provide a solid overview of what to expect, but be sure to verify all information you find, whether here or in doing your own research.