The process for opening an Italian bank account is similar whether you are a resident or non-resident of the country. In almost all instances you will need to be present in an Italian branch of the bank to open an account (arranged appointments generally aren’t necessary) and you will need to bring the following documents with you: Passport, Tax number (Codice Fiscale), a recent utility bill (as proof of address) and, if you’re an Italian resident, your residence card or proof of employment in Italy. A Codice Fiscale is needed by everyone in Italy (be they Italian or foreign; resident or non-resident) who needs to conduct practically any everyday activity, from registering with the health service to opening a bank account. Codice Fiscales are issued and managed by the Agenzia delle Entrate (Inland or Revenue Agency) and can be applied for in person either in Italy or at the Italian consulate in your home country.
If you don’t live in Italy then it may be possible to open a non-resident bank account (conto estero). However, only foreign currency or imported euros may be paid into such an account. It’s also worth noting that Post Office accounts cannot be opened unless you are classed as a resident of Italy.
If you are using an Italian bank that has a presence in your home country – or a bank that serves both countries, for example Barclays or HSBC in the UK – then it may be possible to open a non-resident account without needing to be in Italy. If you are opening an account at an international bank then the likelihood is that you would still need to speak to an Italian employee of that branch in order to open the account.
The most common Italian accounts for everyday use are either chequing (assegno) or current accounts (conto corrente). These are the accounts used when you want regular access to your money and for paying monthly bills. All Italian banks are required by law to be open and honest about making customers (both old and new) fully aware of the highest interest rates they charge and what the monthly fees for holding an account with them is. They are also obliged to publish all terms and conditions for each account. Although nearly all Italian banks do charge monthly service fees for holding an account with them, the amount they charge is relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to other European countries.