[written by Alan Turner]
So, you’ve arrived in Italy. You’re no doubt enjoying copious amounts of pasta, pizza, vino rosso and perhaps the odd grappa, not to mention the sunshine of course!
Moving to a new country always comes with the feel of a long holiday at first, but before too long life’s practical issues will start to take over and you will need to maintain everyday life as you would at home. First and foremost, get your financial matters straight. As time goes on, things can spiral out of control and basic needs like withdrawing cash can start to rack up costly fees if you are slow to set up local facilities.
To help you get things settled, we have created a short guide to some of the key areas to think about. Here is part one of our basic financial planning fundamentals to get you started:
Get a local bank facility set up
Having moved to Italy, you are most likely going to need a bank account. Most banks in Italy will only foreign nationals to open an account if they possess a certificato di residenza (full residence certificate). Given the choice however you would generally be best served to opt for a bank with a branch local to you so that you have the option to deal with staff face-to-face if and when the need arises.
Italy isn’t as far advanced as many other places in terms of remote banking and the culture, particularly in the more rural parts, is very much still aligned towards dealing in person.
To open an account you should assume that you will need to present your passport, a document giving proof of address, your birth certificate and a statement or payslip showing your income.
Ensure sufficient retirement income
Make sure that you consider your pension situation before you leave your home country to begin with. Inform the relevant benefits agency that you are leaving and make sure that you have fully understand your entitlements as an overseas resident.
It may be possible to transfer and private pension benefits from your home country into Italy or into a flexible overseas structure such as a QROPS. It is obviously important that you keep on top of your pension situation, and seek professional advice in respect of specific tax and pension issues for expats in Italy.
Make sure you have an appropriate will
Expats owning Italian property, or foreigners owning a second home in Italy, should have an Italian will to pass title under Italian law, as Italian property passes under Italian inheritance rules irrespective of whether probate is opened abroad.
Make sure you are investing tax-efficiently
As an expatriate, you will have a range of tax-efficient offshore investment options at your disposal as well as interesting domestic investment products. Whether you are a first-time investor or have an existing portfolio, it is highly advisable to seek professional guidance when managing your current and future wealth. Make sure that you are making the most of your status in terms of investment options and growth potential.
Understand the property market before entering it
Expats have an inherent need for assistance when looking to buy a home in Italy as generally speaking their knowledge of the market and the process involved is just not strong enough to “go it alone”.
Maybe you are considering buying a property not to be your primary residence but as a holiday home, a holiday let, an investment, a redevelopment project, or some other requirement. Whatever the circumstances under which you are considering a purchase, you will almost certainly be in need of advice and expertise to help you take your intentions through to completion.
If you have a left a property behind in your home country, you may be considering how best to maximise this. If you intend to return one day then perhaps simply renting out the property in the meantime is the answer. However, the capital release from potentially selling the property may be of more substantial use to you in setting up your new life in Italy.
Purchase may not be your intention at all; maybe you are simply going to rent a property in Italy. If this is the case you may well still need assistance in at least understanding the market, finding an appropriate property and dealing with the resulting paperwork requirements and your obligations as a tenant.
I cannot emphasise this enough. When you move abroad you are taking on so many unknowns and any assumptions that financial matters will work in exactly the same way as at home are simply misguided. Besides anything else, it is highly likely that there will be very little literature available to you direct from providers in English.
Take your time to find a suitable adviser that has experience in dealing with clients of your type and of your nationality. This will ensure that they can give advice specific to your circumstances and take due consideration of the effects that any decisions you make will have on your tax and/or financial position in Italy and in your home country.
Alan Turner writes for Expertsforexpats.com, a very informative website where you can find must have information for all people who live or would like to move abroad. So wherever you’d like to live in the world, make sure you have a look at Expertsforexpats.com first!