It can be somewhat complicated and confusing for expats looking to open a bank account, no matter where they are moving to. Some countries can be more simple than others, but there is an element of walking into the unknown.
The official currency of Italy is the Euro, which is another factor to consider if you are moving from a country where the Euro is not used. There are major banks throughout the larger cities within Italy, so it may be worth booking an appointment in the better known banks upon your arrival. The better known banks to stick to a “Banca Nazionale del Lavoro”, “Intensa Sanpaulo”, “Unicredit” and “Banca Monte Dei Paschi di Siena”. There are also other international big banks available, such as Citibank or Deutsche Bank.
It is recommended to shop around your banking options, as Italian banks are notorious for their high-interest rate charges. So, if this is going to affect you, then it is worth looking at various options.
The good news is that all expats can open a bank account in Italy, regardless of whether you have achieved residency or citizenship status. There is an option for a non-resident bank account, which have become increasingly popular with expats due to their ability to often hold multiple currencies, and mean the expat isn’t subject to local interest taxes.
It is worth noting that if living in Italy for a long period of time, then opening a local resident account may be beneficial. These cover the most common account types, such as current, joint, savings and deposit accounts.
As discussed, the best approach if you plan to open a bank account in Italy as an expat is to visit the bank in person yourself. It is however possible to open up a non-resident bank account via the post. However, any other type of bank account cannot be opened online, and a physical appearance within the bank branch is required. It may also be required to provide the proof of Italian address, as well as your passport and tax code (codice fiscale). This process, as you understand, is far clearer and smoother if completed in person. If you do not speak Italian, it is also worth bringing someone along who does speak Italian, as it may be that nobody in the branch speaks good English, and the forms and documents you will be signing are most likely in Italian only.
It is worth keeping in mind that different banks will have different protocols for proceeding with opening a bank account, regardless of whether you are an expat or not. Some will generally be more familiar with opening bank accounts for expats, and this is most commonly going to be found in the larger cities where tourists and visitors tend to travel. Based on this, if you have a bad experience at one bank, do not be afraid to try another, as the next bank may be far more suitable to your expat status, and be able to help more.