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Getting set up in Italy

Currency exchange and large international payments

The exchange rate that you secure for transferring large sums, such as the proceeds from the sale of a property in your home country, will have a huge bearing on your spending power once you arrive to live in Italy. You should start thinking about exchanging your currency for Euros soon after you start on the road to buying your Italian property. There is a specialist alternative to high street banks, currency exchange specialists, like Halo Financial, offering currency tools and services tailored to your needs. For planned future international payments, you can arrange forward trades, allowing you to secure a good rate of exchange up to a year in advance, or organise for a currency exchange to complete when the exchange rate hits a target rate that you have set. Currency services of this kind can offer peace of mind, as you know any planned larger international payments are protected from any fall in the exchange rate with the Euro.


Whether you’re moving to Italy in search of a more relaxed lifestyle or you’ve made a career move, it is essential that you send your belongings safely and securely onto your new destination. Having a reliable international removals firm on board is one way to avoid any mishaps along the way. Give yourself plenty of time to research companies that offer the service you require and gather quotes. Whilst many may offer a similar service, or indeed cheaper quotes, it’s worth doing your research. International Removal Companies such as PSS International Removals are governed by an array of official bodies, which make their service adhere to strict rules and regulations.

You should always look out for the following accreditations before making your final decision:
  • - FAIM Accreditation, which is only independent Quality Assurance standard for the International Moving Industry.
  • - Membership of the FIDI Global Alliance, which sets a quality benchmark for its members.
  • - Membership of the British Association of Removers Overseas Group. BAR OVERSEAS is covered by the I.M.M.I. Advance payment guarantee scheme for your financial protection.
Choosing the right removals company can take some of the steam (and stress) out of the move. Once you have decided which company is going to take care of your move they should take you through each step of the process. If you have moved house before, then much will be familiar – you will be working towards a date, deciding whether to have someone pack for you, or whether you will be doing it all yourself. Companies such as PSS International Removals will assign you a move coordinator who will advise you on the process and dates and timings.
As the moving date moves closer you’ll be kept informed of what’s happening and when. If you’ve decided to pack your own belongings, you’ll be given professional boxes, material and cartons in which to do this. Remember to give yourself plenty of time to pack up. It’s easy to underestimate what you’ve got to do. If professional packers are completing the process, you’ll be given a moving date and they will arrive and make sure everything is safely packed away. They’ll give you an inventory of what has gone onto the lorry.
Providing you are an EU member, you will need the following documents to move your belongings to Italy:
  • Passport
  • Certificate of residency confirming they have been working and living for more than 12 months in the current country of origin.
  • European Certificate or N.I.E number.
  • Removal inventory in Italy
  • Valuation form for Shipment Protection Cover
  • Purchase receipts (only applicable if you are importing any newly purchased goods)
Check with your international removals firm for exactly what you need to provide.
Again, this could all change when the UK officially leaves the European Union. Check with your international removals firm for exactly what you need to provide. When shipping your personal belongings to Italy, the transit time between removal in the UK and arrival at your new home will be approximately three to seven days for dedicated loads and one to three weeks for part load shipments.

Transporting pets

If you want to take your furry, feathered or even scaled family members with you, then you will need to find out the rules regarding the transportation of pets. These rules will differ slightly depending on where you are travelling from and the type of animal you wish to bring. Unsurprisingly, bringing animals which are native to Italy is more straightforward than bringing those that aren’t. Pets will usually need to be microchipped before they are allowed to enter, possess a pet passport or third-country official veterinary certificate, and cats and dogs will need to have been vaccinated against rabies. Depending on the country you are travelling from (not the UK), and the animal you are relocating, some airlines will allow small pets like cats or dogs to be taken with the passenger in the cabin. However, it’s always worth checking with a pet transportation specialist first as they will be able to advise you of all the rules and regulations.

Italian healthcare

As with many aspects of life in Italy, the standard of healthcare you can expect to receive in the country is largely dependent on whether you live in the prosperous north or the poorer south. While, generally, most medical facilities located in the northern and central regions of the country are of a fairly high standard, in the south the quality of practices and hospitals is variable to say the least.
Any resident of Italy who contributes towards Italian Social Security will be eligible for largely free public healthcare through Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN). Expats who come from fellow EU countries will be able to take advantage of reciprocal healthcare agreements to register for SSN. Once registered, you will then need to choose a family doctor and, typically, this will be the person who you will continue to see from that point on. Therefore, if they don’t have any free time to see you, booking an appointment for a consultation can take longer then you may hope. 
While visits to see your doctor are usually free once you are registered for SSN and you can attend any hospital in the country without charge, you may find that there will be some costs for things such as prescription drugs and long stays in hospitals (especially if you want your own room) – although these costs will still be subsidised. It’s important to note that while SSN is organised nationally under the country’s Ministry of Health, it is actually administered on a regional basis, so the type of healthcare you are entitled to and the standard of this care will vary drastically from region to region.
Private healthcare in Italy

Due to the fact that some public healthcare facilities are of quite a low standard – particularly in the south – and waiting lists for treatments and doctor visits can be extremely long, there is quite a demand for private healthcare in Italy (especially among expats). For this you will need to take out some form of private health insurance (which will be mandatory for all non-EU expats until they receive their residence permit and enrol in the SSN)


Nursery school

School is compulsory in Italy from the ages of 6 to 16. Prior to your children starting primary school (Scuola Primaria) you may choose to send them to a nursery (Scuola Materna) from the age of 3. Any child over this age is entitled to a place at a pre-school, although there is likely to be a charge to sending your offspring to one.
Primary school

Sculoa Primaria lasts for five years (between the ages of 6 and 11), during which time children are taught basic skills – such as reading and writing – and begin to study subjects including Italian, maths, geography, science and a second language (typically English).
Lower secondary school

The next stage of schooling in Italy is the Scuola secondaria di primo grado (first grade/lower secondary school), which lasts for three years (roughly the ages of 11 to 13/14). There, children generally study the same key subjects that they did at primary school, although are given more choice for extracurricular learning in areas such as computing, music and sports.

Secondary schools
Upon completing this stage of secondary school, you (or rather your child) will then have a choice of how to proceed with their education at Scuola secondaria di secondo grado (second grade/higher secondary school). Basically, your child can choose to attend a Liceo (geared more towards the study or arts and sciences), an Instutio Tecnico (a technical institute which is orientated towards practical subjects) or an Instutio Professionale (which prepares your child for work).
Although Liceo is the most common choice of secondary school, there are also further choices to be made between the types of Liceo that your child can attend. For example, a Liceo Classico features Latin, Ancient Greek, Italian, history and philosophy as its most important subjects, while a Liceo Scientifico is more oriented towards mathematics, physics, chemistry and natural sciences. There are numerous other examples, too. That said, all Liceo do have some subjects in common – including Italian, literature and maths. Generally, the curriculum is the same for the first two years at any Scuola secondaria di secondo grado, with specialised courses (Indrizzi) beginning in the third year.
School leavers in Italy
All children in Italy may leave school at the age of 16 (or at the end of the third year of Scuola secondaria di secondo grado). However, in order to obtain a Diploma di scuola superiore (the main Italian secondary school qualification, which anyone who attends any type of Liceo will be working towards) they will need to stay in school for five years – by which time they will be 18 or 19 years of age. If your child attends an a Instutio Tecnico or Instutio Professionale then you may find that some courses only last for three or four years before a vocational qualification is awarded (Qualifica professionale), although the majority will still last five years (Licenza professionale).
Almost 90 per cent of Italian children attend free state schools, although other options are available including private, faith-based and international schools. One thing you will need to be aware of is that, without fail, state schools will always teach in Italian. Therefore, if your child struggles with the language this needs to be taken into consideration. It will cost money to send your child to an international school (and, depending on where you are settling, they may not be readily available), so it may well be worth thinking about hiring a private tutor to try and get them up to speed that way – this will almost certainly work out to be a more affordable option and you will probably be surprised at how quickly your children pick up the language (especially younger ones).    
While children attending schools in the more affluent northern reaches of Italy are often perceived to receive a better standard of education than those in the poor, largely industrial south (a perception borne out by statistics), it should be noted that the country’s education system is centralised and governed by the same curricula wherever you live.

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