Ah, Italy: history, sunshine, incredible food and even better wine. Passion and pasta, romance and Roma.
“It's very difficult to navigate the system here,” confirms Italian Marilisa Spagnoletti who has spent enough years abroad to understand the comparative complexity of her home country's bureaucracy.
“The biggest problem is that there's no single source of information – everything is spread out and it's easy to get lost in translation.”
As an Italian who has spent almost as many years living outside of Italy as in it, Marilisa has first-hand experience with all the challenges foreigners can face when dealing with her homeland.
“I have a good view of what bureaucracy is on an international level, and what the international community faces when they have to deal with another country's rules and regulations,” she explains. “I noticed a cultural gap – knowledge is power, and there are many professionals who only know one side of the story. That's like reading only half of a book.”
And that's exactly why Marilisa joined forces with Bureasy, a company which makes Italian bureaucracy - well, easy.
“Sometimes with Italian bureaucracy, all you need is someone with experience, someone who knows how to figure out more efficient ways of dealing with things,” she explains.
“Especially because rules sometimes vary from place to place and can change very quickly. It helps to have someone with experience navigating all the little differences, making phone calls, figuring out the rules, and letting you know exactly what you need to do.”
But many expats and other foreigners with interests or assets in Italy frequently make one mistake: they entrust everything to an attorney.
“When you don't know how the system works, you might think you need an Italian attorney to solve it. But that's not necessarily true,” Marilisa explains. “An attorney doesn't usually say, ‘Oh, you only need me for about 30 percent of what you want to do'. They'll charge the full rate.”
For instance, imagine you are dealing with an Italian inheritance. A relative passes away and leaves you something in Italy.
“Your first reaction might be, ‘I don't know how to deal with this, I want to get rid of it'. But don't jump to conclusions,” Marilisa cautions.
“You don't even have to go to Italy, if you're abroad. You can just give someone power of attorney (POA). A lot of the steps involved in an Italian inheritance are not of a legal nature, it's just filling out simple forms and sending them to the right place. There's a lot of bureaucracy, sure, but an attorney will charge you like it's a legal matter, even when it's not.”
Bureasy saves clients money by figuring all of that out for them – whether you're dealing with immigration, inheritance, property management, taxes, translations, or any other number of issues.
“We work with attorneys, but we're not attorneys ourselves, so our rates are very competitive. We can contact the attorney, coordinate activities, and if they need to write a contract we provide all the information they need.”
And there are plenty of other matters Bureasy can make easy. For example, let's say you want to buy a summer home in Italy.
“We can deal with your real estate agent or your tenant for you, pay your bills, keep up relationships with the municipalities, receive your mail,” says Marilisa.
Need to file complicated expat taxes back to the US?
“There are a lot of disclosure requirements, and you need to get information from many forms in a different language. An accountant who isn't used to it might get a little lost. With us you know you're covered.”
Getting married in Italy?
“You need your birth certificate, and in order for it to be valid it needs to be translated and then validated. We can do that,” Marilisa adds.
If you don't know what you're doing, it's easy to get strangled by the red, white and green bureaucratical tape. And mistakes can carry long-lasting consequences.
“You could get a visa denied, which makes it harder to get a visa the next time. Or if you didn't know you had to pay real estate tax you can end up with a massive pile of penalties and interest on the penalties,” Marilisa explains.
“Or the records might not match the exact conditions on the property you're buying and you can't close the deal. There could be all sorts of problems.”
No matter what your bureaucratic battle, it's worth getting reliable help from someone who knows the ropes.
“A lot of foreigners don't want to go to public offices themselves and stand in line, especially if their Italian isn't perfect and the employees are overworked and a bit less friendly. We help with language barriers and everything else,” Marilisa says.
“With the right expertise, these things can be really easy.”
This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by Bureasy.