What Documentation Do Foreigners Need to Buy Property in Italy?

Isabella Zammit,  Friday, 15 November 2013


This article is part of a series of 8 articles about buying property in Italy. The other articles in the series cover the following topics:

Italy is a prominent member of the European Union (EU). It falls under the rules and regulations of the EU. For foreigners, this makes it relatively simple to gain the same status as Italians in Italy. You will need to negotiate the Italian bureaucracy, but once you’ve done this you’ll be able to buy property like any native citizen.

To successfully buy property in Italy, you need certain documentation first. Here are the main types of documentation you’ll need to get a mortgage, buy a house, and spend more than 90 days at a time in the country.


Your passport is your crucial document to do anything. You can’t even view a property in person without a valid passport. Most international estate agents won’t waste their time beginning the buying process until you can produce a valid passport.

You’ll use the passport at every point in the buying process. Your public notary will also want to see evidence of a valid passport. It’s the main aspect of proving who you are. You’ll need this to start every process from becoming a resident to getting an Italian tax code.

If you own an EU passport, you’ll automatically qualify for all the benefits the EU gives. Foreigners producing non-EU passports are usually subject to more stringent checks, especially if they come from perceived ‘problem’ areas of the world.

Codice Fiscale

The codice fiscale is the number you need to do anything in Italy. It’s the Italian tax code and is the equivalent of the United States social security code or the British national insurance number. If you need to pay any tax at all, you’ll need one of these.

Since many of the costs of buying a house include the addition of VAT and taxes like stamp duty, you’ll need an identification number before you can proceed.

You’ll also need a couple of pieces of documentation to apply for the codice fiscale in the first place. Firstly, you’ll need your passport to prove your identity. You’ll also need to show proof you have the right to stay in the country. You can get this from any representative of an Italian embassy. This is just like getting a visa to stay for more than the standard 90 days.

Since you’re buying a home, you’ll be able to have your estate agent get the codice fiscale on your behalf without any permission to stay. Unless you’re purchasing a holiday home, you’ll still need permission to stay either way, though.

Becoming a Resident

You must become a resident of Italy to live here. If you’re planning on staying in Italy for more than 183 days of the year, you must automatically become a resident of the country because you’re spending the majority of your time here.

Think this over carefully. You can only be a resident of one country at the same time. The 183-day rule applies to all countries. It represents the majority of the year. This prevents people from being residents of multiple countries, although they can still remain citizens.

Becoming a resident is straightforward for EU citizens. This process begins and ends with the local government. The speed at which your request is processed depends on the area you’re living in.

By becoming a resident, you gain almost equal rights as an Italian citizen.

A Bank Account

You can’t make international banking transfers to purchase property. Italian law demands you show proof of a bank account in Italy. This is just another formality. You only need the same documentation as you would to open an account in the UK.

You’ll need to prove who you are, which will involve using your passport. And you must show proof of address. You can do this through any official piece of documentation with your address on, such as a letter from your estate agent.

Again, you’ll need to have your codice fiscale available so the banks can comply with Italian law. You won’t find many UK banks with Italian divisions who can help with this. The only major bank with an Italian division is Lloyds.

What Do I Need to Get a Mortgage?

Domestic banks won’t hand out mortgages to applicants living abroad. You’ll have to get residency before applying. The international banks do deal with international clients living abroad, though.

To get a mortgage, you’ll need the following:

  • Your passport.
  • Your codice fiscale.
  • Your certificate of residency.
  • Copies of any agreements you’ve signed before stating your intention to buy the property you want a mortgage on.
The bank will check your credit score and send a surveyor to inspect the property. Before your mortgage can be accepted, you need a surveyor’s report. This indicates how much the property is really worth. All mortgage amounts are based on the market value of the property itself, as opposed to the purchasing price.  

All types of Italian property for sale by private sellers and estate agents. Find your perfect houses, farmhouses or apartment in all regions of Italy including Liguria, Tuscany, Umbria and Marche. 

a bricklayer at work The geometra can play a significant role in the purchase and renovation of your Italian house. Geometra means 'surveyor.' But this translation does not cover the load because the geometra is much more than a surveyor. 
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