Banking and Financial System  in Italy

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Banking and Finalcial system in Italy

Banking hours -- can vary slightly, but in general are from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and an hour and a half in the afternoon between 2:30-4:40. Banks are generally closed on weekends and holidays (they sometimes close early on days prior to holidays as well).


the law -- For the moment a resident of Italy can take up to 20 million lire in cash across the border at a time, in any combination of foreign currency, Italian currency and travellers cheques. Residents who want to take more money abroad can do so legally, but have to go through a financial institution. There are no limits for non-residents, but over the amount of 20 million lire you have to notify the customs officer of the exact amount you're taking abroad. This regulation is meant to control money laundering and it's a departure from the European directive, which sees no restriction at all.


Cash cards -- Bancomat cards are very popular and widely applied. Once you have an account, apply through your bank to get one. Bancomat is a national card and can be used in automatic tellers throughout the country. Many supermarkets and shops have check-out counters where you can pay with your card (PagoBancomat).


Chequing accounts -- Chequing accounts are interest-bearing and interest rates and service charges can often (and should) be negotiated. Interest is withheld on cheques starting from the date written on the cheque rather than the date of the transaction, which is why people who give you a cheque may leave the date space blank and trust you to fill it in on the day you cash it. Service charges include a "conventionalised" charge called "giorni di valuta", i.e. how many days after the transaction a deposit begins to accrue interest (usually from one day for cash, three days for an in-town cheque, and between eight and 20 days for an out-of-town cheque, not to mention the delay on a cheque from abroad).



The actual times required for these transactions can be shorter or longer than the conventionalised waiting periods. Withdrawal slips do not exist here; to get cash you either have to write a personal cheque (filled out to "me stesso/stessa") or use a Bancomat card. Personal cheques can usually only be cashed in the branch of your bank where you have your account (and occasionally in other branches of the same bank) and cheques from other sources normally have to be deposited into your account a few days before withdrawing funds on them. If you withdraw immediately and there are no other funds in the account, you will be charged interest on the hypothetical overdraft. You are charged for chequebooks, and there is a service charge on each cheque written. (Remember when you are writing numbers to use a full stop (period) where we are used to using commas.)

Credit -- can be used in most stores and hotels and in many restaurants. A few stores off the main tourist routes do not accept them at all, and others require a minimum purchase. Although stores may refuse your credit cards for payments of discounted merchandise, they have no right to. You are advised to insist on having the card honoured or to threaten to report the store to the card company.


Filling in cheques -- the ink you use on cheques must be blue or black. Coloured inks, especially red, will be refused. Write "non trasferibile" (not transferable) on the back of the cheque (or on the front if there is a special space provided) as protection against the cheque getting into the wrong hands. This is the equivalent of "crossing" a cheque.

Opening an account -- resident foreigners can freely open normal lire chequing accounts. Non-residents (visitors for less than six months) can generally open foreign currency accounts where they want or lire accounts at the banks' head offices. You'll need a codice fiscale to open any account. Some banks may ask you for a residence certificate, but this is no longer a legal requirement, only an internal one.

Transferring cheques -- if an uncrossed cheque is made out to you, you can endorse it on the back and give it to someone else who can deposit it, once they have endorsed it, in their own bank account. If you write "non trasferibile" on the back of a cheque you are protected from its somehow going astray.

Writing numbers Italian style -- Italian usage is to reverse our use of commas and decimal points: e.g. 1,5%; 98,6o F; $3,99; and lire 2.300.000. Numbers that are written differently here include the one, which looks like tired seven, the seven, whose stem is crossed, and the two, which should be written without a loop at the corner so it isn't mistaken for a seven. On a cheque, the amount of the cheque, when written out, contains no capital letters and all the words are connected, e.g. "trecentocinquantamilacinquecentolire".


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