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All About Moving to Italy from the UK

Updated on September 5, 2014

Are you thinking about moving to Italy from the UK?

Perhaps you are a young graduate with the wanderlust, or a swinging single looking for an adventure. Or, perhaps you are like Fay Henson and her family, who decided to up and leave the UK for "la bella vita" in Italy.Whatever your choice for wanting to move to Italy from UK, you need to be prepared for the emotional, financial, and practical challenges you will experience. On this page, I provide you with this very information, all of which I accumulated during my own experience while living and working in Italy. If you have any questions, feel free to scroll down to the comments section below. I am more than happy to enlighten you!

Photo property of the author, Heather Broster.

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Why I decided to move to Italy from UK

The twists of fate that led me to Turin, Italy

First, let me state that my journey from the UK to Italy was actually much longer than a hop, skip and a jump over the English Channel. You see, I am actually Canadian by birth, with two very British parents. We had lived in Canada for most of my life, and I had always figured that Canada would remain my "home base" until the end of days.Skip forward to 2008, when my parents decided to close the book on their life in Canada, and spontaneously buy a cute little bungalow in Tywyn, Wales. My parents had returned to their roots in their native UK, and since I was just out of university and did not have any pressing plans back in Canada, I resolved, with a happy heart, to join them.Though life in Britain treated me well, I soon discovered that the job world was not so forgiving. After three or four failed interviews, I found myself wandering onto sites such as - "just out of curiosity" I would say - and cruising dreamily around pages about the vineyards of Tuscany and the south coast of France.I was no stranger to travel even then. As a teenager, I had already studied in Japan for two years while living with a host family. I had also been back and forth between Canada, America and Britain on vacation more times that I could count. Somehow, another adventure abroad seemed like the very cure the doctor had ordered for my disheartened (and jobless) soul.Since my Mum had known girls who were au pairs (live-in babysitters) in France, my first instinct was to investigate that option. I signed up to a site called Au Pair World where I was immediately contacted by a French family of four. From the photos, it looked as if they lived a stone's throw away from the French Riviera. They had a massive mansion, a pool, and two very cute little girls. Could my luck have been any better? Ecstatically, I belted out my response on the keyboard, with the last paragraph in stilted French. Days passed. No response.Then, a few days later, I received a kind message from another family. They explained that they were looking for an English speaking girl who could teach their three children her language. They lived in a city called Turin in Italy, which had become famous for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games held there, and were located in the city centre. They were happy to have me start in October, the very month I had hoped to leave. Within two of three email changes, we had agreed that I would be their first au pair. An au pair in Italy. My dream was on the verge of coming true...

The Alps of Italy - An hour and a half from the city centre of Turin

Photo property of the author, Heather Broster.

Travel to Italy

Ways of Getting to Italy from the UK

Take a train, car or plane!

There are a number of ways one can reach Italy from the UK, with some being easier than others.

1. The Eurostar/TGV High Speed Trains

Taking the train is, in my opinion, the best way to travel to Italy if it is your first time, or if you enjoy taking in the scenery around you. It is in fact the option I chose when I travelled to Italy for the first time in 2008. The journey on the Eurostar from London, England to Turin, Italy takes about nine hours, with a stop-over in Paris. In Paris, it is necessary to transfer from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon Station using the metro or a taxi.On this trip, you get to experience the Chunnel, and sample some of the beautiful northern landscape of France. Then, from Paris, the TGV cuts down through the middle of France like a knife through cheese to Chambery and Modane. At this point, you might be feeling a little weary from the five hours of non-stop travelling, and the rather uncomfortable seats on the train. Nevertheless, I recommend this journey for its varied scenery - you simply cannot beat the rolling hills of France! Finally, your travels will take you through the magnificent Alps that divide France from Italy. My only regret was not being able to photograph them better. Dusk had already fallen when we arrived at the most dramatic section of the Alps, and my camera proved perfectly useless. However, I did manage to get the above shot as we were entering the mountain range.In total, I paid around 100 for my one-way ticket. You could end up paying much more or much less depending on when you travel, how far you book in advance, and whether or not there are offers available.If you prefer to travel during the night, there is also the option of the sleeper train. However, this train goes directly to Milan, Verona and Venice without stopping in Turin.For more information on prices/departure and arrival times, please visit the official Eurostar page: Eurostar: Tickets, Bookings, Timetables, fare and offers

2. RyanAir or EasyJet Flights

Since the train journey between the UK and Italy is long and somewhat tiresome, I usually fly home to the UK using RyanAir from Turin's Caselle Airport or EasyJet from Milan's Malpensa Airport.With RyanAir and EasyJet, you can often find excellent deals on flights, especially during the low season. Once, I found a ticket that costed only 10 return with RyanAir in the middle of May! However, even if you do plan on flying home during the Christmas break or the summer holidays, you can still find very reasonable deals. This past Christmas, I found a flight for 80 return from Turin to Stansted Airport, for instance. The key with these companies is to continually check their websites for last-minute deals.Both RyanAir and EasyJet fly to the London area. RyanAir always goes to Stansted Airport, about one hour outside of London, and EasyJet flies to Luton and Gatwick in London, and Edinburgh in Scotland.

3. Travel to Italy by Car

I will admit that I have never travelled to Italy by car from the UK, but there are people who have done so. If you want to read an excellent account of one family's trip by car to Florence, please visit: Moving from the UK to Italy Part 4 by Fay Henson. I will also be adding my parent's account this coming summer as they will be making the trip to Italy by car to visit me.

Photo property of the author, Heather Broster.


Accommodation in Italy

Finding a place to live

In this photo is the view from the window of my first home in Turin, Italy. I had a great view of both the Gran Madre church and the Monte dei Cappucini church.

Becoming an Au Pair

If you are a young, single woman as I was when I first moved to Italy, I would highly recommend starting out as an au pair. Au pair is the French term for "live-in babysitter" - a girl who takes care of a family's children for 5-6 days a week for an average of 5 hours a day. As an au pair, you live with the family for whom you work, or in a separate apartment provided by them. All your living expenses are paid for, from the food you eat to your cellphone money to your rent. Every week, you should receive a small allowance of around 100 euros to give you the freedom to shop, eat out and buy things for yourself. In return, all the family asks is that you speak in English to their children, and remain flexible in terms of your work schedule.I recommend becoming an au pair because you have the advantage of getting to know your new city without having to worry about your basic needs. On the weekends, and in the mornings and evenings, you can explore the city, make new friends, attend a language class, and travel, without the stress of searching for and maintaining an apartment of your own, or covering food and rent. You can even use your time to carefully search for a longterm job for when you have finished aupair-ing.

Finding your own apartment

I had a friend who, after three months of living with a family, decided she could not cope any longer. Instead of going home, she opted for renting a house, which is an option most visitors from the UK choose.To rent a house or apartment from a landlord, you need a codice fiscale and a valid UK passport. To find more information about renting in Italy, please visit: Italy, How to Register Lease and Rent Contracts.If you are sharing a house with other people, such as a group of students, you should inquire as to how the owner or renter of the house would like to be paid. Most often, they will ask you to pay monthly in cash.

Photo property of the author, Heather Broster.

Websites I used to find my first apartment - You can find houses from private renters and real estate agencies

If you are searching for an apartment in Italy, there are a few terms you should know!1. Monolocale = a one-room apartment2. Bilocale = a two-room apartment3. Trilocale = a three-room apartment4. Mansarda = a loft/attic room5. Villetta = a small villa

The Vineyards near Alba - Surrounded by a haunting mist

Photo property of the author, Heather Broster.

Important Documents

Obtaining a "Codice Fiscale"

The Italian Tax Identification Code

The codice fiscale is the Italian Tax Identification Code you need to work, obtain health insurance, and open a bank account in Italy. It is devised from your name, date and birthplace. The equivalent in the UK would be your National Insurance Number (NIN).To obtain your codice fiscale, you must visit the Agenzia dell' Entrate of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Italy. All you need to apply is your valid UK passport. After you have made your application, your card will be sent to you in the post.To find your local Agenzia dell'Entrate, please visit: Agenzia Entrate - Direzioni Provinciali e uffici territoriali

Obtaining the "Tessera Sanitaria"

The Italian Health Card

If you are planning to stay only for a few months, you can simply apply for a EU Health Insurance card online. With this card, you can visit a family doctor for a small sum or enter the emergency room for free.However, it is vital that you apply for the Italian Health Card (tessera sanitaria) if you plan on living and working in Italy for an extended period.To apply for the tessera sanitaria, you will need a work contract. In my case, I used my EU Health Card for the first few months here. Then, when I was hired by my workplace, I applied for the Italian Health Card. Unfortunately, the card is only valid as long as your contract is valid. You will have to renew the card every time your contract is renewed. The only other way of having a permanent Italian Health Card is by becoming an Italian citizen through marriage.You must visit your local ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale) to apply for your tessera sanitaria. Make sure to bring the following documents:your passportyour work contractproof of residency in Italy (or a written declaration of residency if you have not yet received the letter confirming your residency)your last payslipyour tax ID card (codice fiscale)The wait at ASL can be 2-4 hours long, so be very sure that you have on hand every document required.

Photo by 1la on Flickr
Photo by 1la on Flickr

Which other documents do you need to reside in Italy?

Everything you need to become a resident of Italy

The documents you need to live in Italy greatly depend on how long you are planning to stay.

If you want to live in Italy without obtaining residency...

If you are planning on staying for no more than 90 days (3 months), you do not need to go through any formalities. However, if you plan on extending your stay, but want to maintain your residency in the UK, there are a few steps you must take in order to legitimately reside in Italy.First, you must go to your local Questura (police office) and complete a form called "Comunicazione di Cessione di Fabbricato." This form is for those who are:
  • living with a host, such as a family
  • renting an apartment from a landlord
This form provides information on both the tenant (you) and the landlord, as well as data regarding the house or flat being rented.Once you have completed this form, it must be given to the office called "Ufficio cessioni fabbricato" at the police office.In my case, I moved in with a family that hosted me as an au pair for two years. As such, there was nothing else I had to complete beyond this form. However, if you are renting from a landlord, you must also complete and submit a tenancy agreement to the Questura, and include a copy of your ID, as well as that of the landlord.To download the form, please click here: Comunicazione di Cessione di Fabbricato

If you plan on obtaining residency in Italy...

If you want to work longterm in Italy and open an Italian bank account, you must obtain residency in Italy.To become a resident, the process is quite simple. All you need to do is visit your local Anagrafe (registry office) and provide the following documents:
  • your passport
  • your health card (if you have it already)
  • your tax ID
  • your work contract and last payslip OR proof that you are financially independent (bank statements, tax returns)
  • proof of enrollment in a school if you are a student
  • birth certificate accompanied by a translation into Italian
  • the form entitled "dichiarazione di cambiamento di residenza"
When your application is approved at the Anagrafe, you will immediately receive a form confirming your application. You will also be paid a visit by a police offer within the next few days who will confirm your identity and residency. The final document you will receive will be a letter in the post confirming your Italian residency.

Photo credit: 1la on Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Obtaining a translation of your birth certificate

1. Ask an Italian friend to help you translate the certificate2. Go with the same friend to your local "tribunale" with the certificate, translation, and a 15 euro marca da bollo (tax stamp)3. The tribunale will certify all documents and have your friend sign them

Identity Card

Photo by 1la on Flickr
Photo by 1la on Flickr

Obtaining the "Carta D'Identita"

Why it is a good idea to get an Italian Identity Card

The Carta D'Identita' is a very useful piece of identification. Rather than carrying around your precious UK passport, which is a huge expense to replace if it becomes lost or stolen, you can use this handy card for most situations.The card does not cost anything to create and remains valid for ten years. The most useful aspect of this card is that it is a valid replacement for your passport when flying within Europe.To obtain the Carta D'Identita', you must be a resident of Italy. Once you receive your residency, you may go immediately to your local Anagrafe and request an identity card. You must bring the confirmation of residency you received in the post, and three passport-sized photos.To open a bank account in Italy, you will usually be asked to present an Italian ID card. In my case, they initially accepted my British passport as a form of ID, but later requested that I create an Italian ID card since their policy had changed.

Photo credit: 1la on Flickr (CC by 2.0)

The Basilica di Superga, Torino

Photo property of the author, Heather Broster.

Helpful links for Expats in Italy - These sites will provide you with the support you need!

For those who were expats, are expats or dream of becoming expats in Italy!

Did you find this page helpful? - If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask!

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    • profile image

      Suedeblue 3 years ago

      Brilliant site and so full of useful information.

    • profile image

      Suedeblue 3 years ago

      Well done. A brilliant and practical website with great links.My wife is terminally ill and i plan to sell up relocate to Camaiore renting for the rest of my life as i have Italian friends who live a few kms from Viareggio. I will certainly be revisiting this site in the future.

    • LoriBeninger profile image

      LoriBeninger 3 years ago

      Lovely and well presented! Thank you.

    • seodress profile image

      seodress 4 years ago

      Great information. Italy is a great place.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Lovely story. Can I just ask...Did you speak Italian when you went there or you learnt over there?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you! I'm book-marking this page as I'm a Canadian with a UK passport moving to Italy next November to take care of a friend's house for a few years. Incredibly helpful information.

    • tobydavis profile image

      tobydavis 5 years ago

      Fantastic source of information - really comprehensive - i'm sure it'll help to take a lot of the stress out of moving to Italy for people planning to do so :-)

    • Millionairemomma profile image

      Millionairemomma 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed your lens because it gave good solid advice. Do you still live there? How long did you live there?

    • profile image

      termit_bronx 5 years ago

      Nice hehe, I'm from Slovenia, Italy's neighbour country :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great lens, thanks for sharing this...

    • profile image

      Lindrus 5 years ago

      Very interesting lens! I believe it's good for a person to have lived in and experienced different cultures. It broadens your horizons and enriches your life. Thanks for sharing!

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 5 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      You have had an amazing experience. Travelling is one thing but really immersing yourself in a country and its culture like this is something else

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      What a great experience for you to have seen and lived in so many countries while you're still young. I'm sure your information will be helpful for others wanting to move to Italy.

    • vincente lm profile image

      vincente lm 5 years ago

      We are currently in Palermo but only for 3 more days. If I would have known about the ID card I would have gotten one. Man. It's great to have it as a back-up!!! Love that Lens! BTW I was an Au Pair once too in the US!

    • iWriteaLot profile image

      iWriteaLot 5 years ago

      Wow! This lens answers so many questions about living in Italy. I've been thinking about moving to Europe - not sure where, yet - and I had no idea there was so much paperwork involved. Thanks!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      This is really useful information for others who might be considering making a move. How exciting!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Wow - great work on this lens. :) Thanks for the info.

    • traveller27 profile image

      traveller27 5 years ago

      I love travelling in Italy - nice lens!

    • pkmcruk profile image

      pkmcr 5 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Wonderful information and very nicely presented - Italy has always been my favourite country after the UK having lived there for three years and yes we will go back!

    • Winter52 LM profile image

      Winter52 LM 5 years ago

      we simply moved across the border... you had a much bigger job but it would be such an experience!!

    • Holly22 profile image

      Christine and Peter Broster 5 years ago from Tywyn Wales UK

      Lots of useful information and very well written.

    • TeacherSerenia profile image

      TeacherSerenia 5 years ago

      Very nice lens - very helpful too.