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11 Things to Know Before Moving from Canada to Italy

Known for its delicious food, wine, art and fashion, Italy has a lot to offer Canadians who are looking to settle down elsewhere. Before moving to Italy, there are several things you need to prepare. Here are the 11 things you need to know before moving from Canada to Italy. 

1. First Steps When Planning a Move to Italy

How can I move from Canada to Italy?

If you’re moving to Italy for work, school, or to join your spouse, the process will be quite easy. There are many types of visas that allow you to move to Italy from Canada, here are the most popular one’s. To find the correct visa for you situation, you can use Italy’s very easy to use visa section on their immigration website. 

Work Visa

The first step to applying for a work visa in Italy is to complete the visa entry request form. You must also have a valid passport and have received approval from the SUI (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione). You can begin your visa application process at your nearest Italian Consulate or Embassy. You can find your nearest one after completing this short form. The Consulate you will have to visit may vary based on your employment situation.

Joining Family Visa

To begin your visa application to join family in Italy, you must complete the visa entry application form. You must also hold a valid passport and have received authorization from the SUI (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione). To start your application, visit your nearest Italian Embassy or Consulate. To find your nearest one, complete this short form and see the locations you can visit based on your situation. 

Study Visa

To study in Italy, you must first fill the visa entry application form. You must have a valid passport, proof of accommodation, proof of sufficient funds, private health insurance and proof of acceptance in an Italian educational institution. To study in Italy you will also need approval from the SUI (Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione). To begin the visa application process, find your closest Consulate or Embassy by filling out this short form

Canada-Italy Youth Mobility Agreement

The Canada-Italy Youth Mobility Agreement allows youth between the ages of 18 and 35 to study or work temporarily in Italy. This is a great way to travel while also being productive. To begin your adventure in Italy and for more information on the Youth Mobility Agreement, click here.

2. What should I look for in an International Moving Company?

Shipping your things to Italy by plane will be faster but a lot costlier than by boat. Make sure the moving company you decide on is reliable. So when opting for an international moving company, here’s what you should look for:

  • Insurance is included (ask what’s included)
  • Rates are not extravagant (compare with other companies)
  • They have many Google reviews that are over 4 stars.
  • Customer service and transparency is their priority.

3. Car Shipping to Italy

Unless they have significant emotional attachment to their car, most Canadians choose to leave their cars behind when moving to Italy due to the elevated shipping and import fees and the long vehicle inspection process. If you must absolutely ship your car to Italy, here are the steps to follow:

  • Get various quotes from the best car shipping companies. A trusted car shipping company will have insurance, good reviews, and will make customer service their priority.
  • Choose the port of departure.
  • Choose the port destination.
  • Prepare the car by cleaning it and emptying the tank to ⅛ full or you may have to pay a fee upon arrival.

*Ask your chosen car shipping company for additional requirements.

4. Currency in Italy

Similarly to most European countries, Italy uses the Euro as its currency. The banks in Italy stopped accepting the Lira (Italy’s previous currency) in 2011 even though it had not been a legal currency for over 10 years. When it comes to the Euro, bills are issued in €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10, €5. Coins are issued in €2, €1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, and 1c. You can get euros from any bank’s ATM. It is important to always have cash on hand as not all places in Italy accept bank cards. 

5. Language in Italy

What language is spoken in Italy?

Most of Italy’s population speaks Italian. An estimated half of Italian speakers speak a dialect specific to their region. Less than 50% of Italians speak English. 

Do I have to speak Italian to move to Italy?

While less than half of the Italian population speaks English, there are no legal requirements for needing to speak Italian when moving to Italy. However, speaking Italian when moving to Italy is very useful as it will help you engage more with the locals and feel more at home. 

6. Healthcare in Italy

Ranked as one of the top healthcare systems in Europe, healthcare in Italy is public and free for all its legal residents and citizens. After one year of residency in Italy, you will automatically be eligible for free healthcare, prior to that you must have private health insurance (see section below). The schedule of family doctors is a bit complex. Some days are reserved for walk-ins and some days are only by appointment. Most doctor’s don’t speak English, so it is wise to know basic Italian before a doctor’s visit. 

7. First Steps to Take When Arriving in Italy

Apply for the Permit of stay (permesso di soggiorno)

Bring your entry visa that you had received prior to your arrival in Italy to your local post office (Poste Italiane) so you can get a form to apply for a Permit of Stay (Permesso di Soggiorno). After filling the form, you can send it to the local police station or bring it yourself. Bring cash as they may not accept bank cards. The permit of stay is required for anyone who wants to stay in Italy for over 3 months. 

Apply for Residency

20 days after the reception of your Permit of Stay, you must visit the Vital Statistics Bureau (Ufficio di Stato Civile) to apply for residency. This process may take a few months so make sure to keep the receipt they give you so you can use it to apply for other important things like opening a bank account. 

Get your Italian Tax Code

Another important step is to get your Tax Code. This code will allow you to open a bank account, rent an appartment, and many other types of registrations. To get your Tax Code, visit your local Tax Office (Agenzia delle Entrate).

Get a driver's license

You can drive with your valid Canadian driver’s license for up to a year after your move to Italy. After one year, you will have to undergo a mandatory practical and theory driving test. To begin your license exchange process, visit your local Agency of Ministry of Transport (Ufficio della Motorizzazione Civile) by choosing your province here.

Open a bank account

Opening a resident bank account in Italy is a great choice if you’re staying long term as there are lower interest charges. While you can apply online by filling out the form provided by your bank of choice, it is better to go in person because you are new to Italy and this may require additional steps. To open a bank account in Italy you will need your Passport, your Tax Code and proof of address. If you’re moving to Italy as a student or worker, you may also need to provide proof of work and enrollment. Some of the most popular Italian banks are Unicredit, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro and Deutsche Banks Italia.

8. Housing and Renting in Italy

How to find a house or apartment in Italy

Houses and appartments for rent or for sale in Italy can be found on websites like Idealista, and Housing and renting pricing is higher in cities like Milan, Florence and Rome. A lot of Canadians choose to live further away from the city in which you can find beautiful places for rent as low as 300 euros/month (450 CAD). One of these beautiful and affordable places is the region of Abruzzo (see cost of living below).

Energy in Italy

When moving to a new home or apartment in Italy, the first step is to check if the electricity or gas meters are active. If the meters are present but not active, you must get it touch with your local provider. You can find your local electricity or gas provider by entering your region or postal code here. Unlike Canada where water is unlimited, Italy limits the amount of water you can use per year. This said, you will have a certain limit of water you can use over the year. To get connected to water in Italy, contact your local comune office (Ufficio Acquedotto).

Cell phone and Internet in Italy

To get an Italian cell phone on a contract or with a SIM card, you will need your Italian Tax Number. The top cell phone providers in Italy are TIM, Vodafone and Wind. A cell phone plan will cost an average of $60-$70 CAD per month for unlimited calling and texting with 5 Gb of data. Internet in Italy has become better over the years but is still considered to be considerably average in terms of speed. The most popular internet providers are Fastweb, Vodafone and TIM


9. The Essential Insurance Coverage in Italy

Private health insurance in Italy

For your first year of residency in Italy, you will need to purchase private health insurance as you won’t have access to free healthcare. Some great health insurance options are Allianz, Now Health, and Pacific Prime.

Home insurance in Italy

While home insurance is not mandatory by law, most mortgage brokers will require home insurance as a perquisite for the loan. Some of the recommended home insurance companies in Italy are Italiana, Axa, and Generali

Car insurance in Italy

Third party liability insurance is the minimum required car insurance in Italy. Driving in Italy can be quite the adventure so it is highly recommended to take the maximum coverage when it comes to car insurance. Some of the recommended car insurance companies in Italy are Zurich Connect, and Verti


10. Cost of living in Italy

Living in the region of Abruzzo is a great choice if you’re looking for  affordable living and beautiful views. The average cost of living in the region of Abruzzo is $2000 CAD per month.

Cost of living for a couple in Abruzzo, Italy per month



Rent for 1 – 2 room apartment


Utilities (gas, water, electricity, cell phone, internet)




Entertainment (eating out & other)




Other (material goods)


11. Tips for Buying Groceries in Italy

When you’re in the fruits and vegetable section of a grocery store, don’t pick up the fruit without gloves, this is considered unusual. Always make sure to put the produce in the plastic bag that is provided. You will also have to weigh your fruits and vegetable on a scale and wait for a sticker to come out with the item’s weight on it. Plastic bags are banned in Italy since 2011, so be sure to bring your own or expect to pay for one. In outdoor produce stands, it is considered rude to pick up the produce without asking the worker, so always ask the worker first. In bigger grocery stores, you will have to insert a 1 euro coin to unlock your basket. This coin will be given back to you once you return the basket. While shopping at outdoor markets is fun, shopping at bigger grocery stores is more convenient. Some big grocery chains in Italy include Coop, CRAI, Esselunga, Pam, Standa, Carrefour and Auchan.

What to Expect from your New Life in Italy

In Italy you can expect good food and beautiful views. You will see pasta on the menu at every restaurant and all your meals with new friends will start with an aperitivo (pre-dinner drink). If you plan to live in the city, you should check out the country side from time to time to get a look a those breathtaking views. Want to know more about moving from Canada to Europe? Check out our article on the Things to Know before Moving from Canada to Europe.

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