1. Understand the National Health Service
Like many European countries, Italy has a national healthcare system. Known as the National Health Service (or the Servicio Sanitario Nazionale, SSN), both EU and non-EU nationals can participate and enjoy the benefits. Even if an individual is not covered, he or she will still qualify to receive low-cost or free emergency treatment when needed.
Everyone living in Italy for an extended period of time should register for the SSN at their Local Health Authority Service (ASL). Those intending to register must do the following:
- Determine whether they qualify for automatic/mandatory registration or if they are registering voluntarily.
- Individuals staying in Italy for work, international protection, family, citizenship wait, adoption or fostering qualify for by-right (mandatory) registration.
- Foreign citizens staying in Italy for more than three months who do not qualify for mandatory registration can apply for voluntary registration.
- Visit the local ASL office and submit the proper registration materials. (Voluntary registration with the SSN requires a yearly payment based on income.)
- Once registration is complete, the SSN card is issued immediately.
View Italy’s InformaSalute guide to the national health service for more specific information about registering for healthcare in Italy.
Italy has a unique system where private health insurance can be used to supplement the national healthcare coverage. International health insurance comparison tools are a great place to begin researching health insurance options.
2. Get Insurance Coverage
Insurance needs will vary depending on what is being offered by employers. In general, though, all expats will need to obtain their own insurance specifically for international travel. By starting with comparison sites and then researching individual plans, expats can find a plan that is the right fit for them and their families.
The most common (and necessary) types of international insurance include:
- Expatriate health insurance
- Overseas life insurance
- International property insurance
- International motor insurance
3. Check Risk and Health Advisory Warnings from the State Department and Other Agencies
While Italy is a relatively safe place to live and travel, travel conditions on the way to Italy may be dangerous (such as if there is an outbreak of an infectious disease in airports). Check the following websites before leaving for Italy:
- The U.S. Department of State Website
- CDC Travel Health Notices
- Gov.UK Foreign Travel Advice
- Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
4. Obtain Necessary Vaccines
While Italy does not require any vaccines to enter the country, the CDC recommends all travelers receive routine vaccines before entering the country. Additionally, some expats will need Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and rabies vaccines to ensure their health while in Italy. Check the CDC information page about Italy for more information.
5. Double-check Passports and Other Important Documents
Those traveling to Italy should double-check their passports well prior to traveling. If the passport expires while abroad, make sure renew it in order to avoid problems traveling home. Multiple physical copies of important documents (such as immunization records) should also be obtained before departure.
Contact the embassy for your home country to understand the process of getting a new passport in case of theft or loss. Since pickpocketing can be a serious issue in many Italian cities, having a clear contingency plan in case a passport goes missing is smart. To know whether or not a visa is required for a specific nationality and reason for living in Italy, check the Italian government site Do You Need a Visa?
6. Obtain Proper Currency
Italy’s currency is the Euro. All those traveling to Italy should practice the following guidelines:
- Change soon, obtaining currency before leaving for Italy
- Change early, getting more currency before you spend your current on-hand supply
- Change a lot, always have more than you think you will need
Doing these three things will help you have enough currency on hand.
7. Prepare to File Taxes in Your Home Country
Did you know United States citizens are required to file and pay taxes even if they are living abroad? Many expats get in serious trouble by innocently neglecting this information. The IRS explains: “If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the rules for filing income, estate, and gift tax returns and paying estimated tax are generally the same whether you are in the United States or abroad. Your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where you reside.”
U.S. citizens should become familiar tax requirements for those working abroad before leaving the country to become familiar with requirements, possible exceptions, and more. No matter which country an expat calls home, it is wise to meet with an accountant before leaving to make preparations for filing taxes.
8. Understand Transportation Options
Public transportation in Italy varies depending on the region. If you are bringing your own vehicle, or if your employer will be providing a vehicle, obtain international motor insurance. Expats planning on using public transportation should research their destination city to get an idea of the kinds of transportation available when they arrive.
9. Plan Cost of Living
Depending on your home country, living in Italy may be more expensive that what you are used to. While you probably anticipate some expenses, such as paying for international insurance plans, other day-to-day costs like groceries or rent can be surprisingly high. Review cost of living index comparisons such as this one by Numbeo (or one of the many others easily found online) between Italy and your home country estimate how your expenses will change when you arrive.
10. Understand Local Business Customs
Italy is a country with a deep, rich tradition. This is especially true for Italian business customs. To avoid accidentally offending your hosts and succeed in business relationships while in the country, review an Italian business etiquette guide.
Since 1947, Clements Worldwide has been a leading provider of international insurance for expatriates and international organizations. Clements offers car, property, life, health, and specialty and high risk insurance to clients in over 170 countries. To learn more about expatriate insurance, visit Clements Worldwide.