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Reader question: Are bidets legally required in Italian homes?

Giampietro Vianello
Giampietro Vianello - [email protected]
Reader question: Are bidets legally required in Italian homes?
Bathrooms in most countries in the world don’t feature a bidet, but things are quite different in Italy. Photo by Sidekik Media via Unsplash

Most Italians can't begin to imagine a bathroom without a bidet. But is that the only reason why the item is a ubiquitous feature in Italian homes, or is there more to it?

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Question: I’ve heard that bidets are a legal requirement in Italian homes. Is that true?

All Italian homes feature a bidet: a low, oval basin which is generally used to wash one’s nether regions, though it can also be used to wash feet.

But, while Italians are famously fond of bidets – a passion which many others around the world find puzzling – that's not the main reason why the items are practically omnipresent in Italian houses.  

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Bidets are in fact a legal building requirement in Italy and they have been so for nearly 50 years now. 

Article 7 of a Ministerial Decree issued on July 5th, 1975 states that “in each house, at least one bathroom must have the following fixtures: a toilet, a bidet, a bathtub or shower, and a sink”.

This means that, while a secondary bathroom doesn’t need to have a bidet, the main bathroom should always have one. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The hidden costs of buying a home in Italy

Interestingly, Italian law also says that there should be a minimum distance between the bidet and other bathroom fixtures: the bidet should be at least 20 centimetres away from both the toilet and the bathtub, and at least 10 centimetres away from the sink.

As outlandish as they might sound to foreign nationals, all homeowners in Italy must comply with the above requirements as they're necessary to the issuance of the Certificato di Agibilità

The Italian Certificato di Agibilità (literally, ‘Usability Certificate’) is in many ways similar to a Completion Certificate in the UK or a Certificate of Occupancy in the US as it attests that a building and all of its fixtures abide by the relevant health and safety regulations and the property is therefore safe to be occupied.

Failure to obtain a Usability Certificate is an administrative offence which can result in a variety of penalties for the owner.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about having a second home in Italy

For instance, if the owner of a house with no certified agibilità lives in the house themselves, penalties can, in some cases, amount to an eviction order.

If, instead, an owner is renting out a property with no agibilità, they could face fines and tenants may be able to terminate their contract as soon as they become aware that the property doesn't have a Usability Certificate.

In closing then, bidets are indeed a very big deal in Italy and not having at least one in your home might land you in some pretty undesirable circumstances.

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For more information on Italian building regulations, contact the Sportello Unico Edilizia (Construction Office) of your town hall.

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