Property For Members

Five things non-residents need to know about buying property in Italy

Jessica Lionnel
Jessica Lionnel - [email protected]
Five things non-residents need to know about buying property in Italy
Looking for a place in Italy to call home? There are a few extra things non-residents may need to know. Photo by Andrew Scherle on Unsplash

With taxes, bureaucracy and sometimes distance to consider, buying a house in Italy can be a long-winded process - especially for foreign citizens living elsewhere.


Contrary to popular belief, there are few legal restrictions for non-residents when it comes to buying property in Italy.

There is a wealth of options in Italy making buying cheaper, and sometimes easier, such as the one-euro homes offers or the nuda proprieta system.

READ ALSO: Can you still buy Italy’s one-euro homes in 2024?

While there is a lot to consider, such as additional costs and a language barrier if you are not fluent in Italian, buying a property in Italy allows many non-residents to escape - at least occasionally - to a Mediterranean climate and immerse themselves in the culture. 

So how do prospective buyers go about finding their ideal properties in Italy, and what are the necessary factors to consider before you start?

Find out if you have the right to buy in Italy

Most countries allow their citizens to buy property in Italy and vice versa. However, you might still want to check if your country has a reciprocal agreement with Italy on purchasing property.

If not, there's a chance you might not be able to buy, as per article 16 of the Decreto Regio which states that foreign nationals have the same civil rights as Italian citizens on condition of reciprocity.

For example, Canada recently passed the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act, which says foreigners cannot buy in Canada unless in special circumstances. This appears to go against Italy’s reciprocal agreement, so if you are planning to buy in Italy from Canada, you may need to get advice from a lawyer.

This does not apply if you are from a European Union country or a European Economic Area country, in which case you have the same rights in this situation as an Italian citizen.


Start the property search

Once you’re sure you can buy, the exciting process of finding your Italian home can begin, although if you're not physically in Italy this can be trickier.

Popular Italian property search sites include or There are also numerous agencies around Italy specialising in serving the international property market, which you should be able to find online once you've narrowed down your search area.

READ ALSO: Five clever ways to find a cheap home in Italy

As with any property search in your home country, important factors to consider when looking at listings include the state of the property, the extent of any renovations needed, the purchasing deposit (which is usually around 10 to 20 percent of the sale price), and the size of repayments on a mortgage, should you need one.

The type of property you buy will also impact the amount of tax you're liable to pay, though tax is always higher on second homes in Italy than on primary residences. See a guide to the taxes you'll need to pay here.


Get your paperwork in order

Even as a non-resident, you will need to get an Italian tax code (codice fiscale) in order to pay your housing deposit, plus any other taxes due after the property purchase (more on that below).

To get an Italian tax code, you can apply at the Italian tax office (Agenzia della Entrata) in Italy, or at your nearest Italian consulate in your home country.

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

A word of caution: the first option may be tricky if you are not well-versed in Italian, and you may need to make an appointment first.

Be aware of the lengthy mortgage process

Yes, as a non-resident without Italian citizenship you are eligible to get an Italian mortgage via an Italian bank. But you’ll have to open an Italian bank account to do so, and your tax code (as mentioned above) will be necessary for this too.

According to Studio Legale Metta, a non-resident is able to apply for a mortgage of 50 to 60 percent of the overall property value. The application process should take around ten weeks.

The steps include: a personal solvency check to review your financial information, a pre-approval mortgage application, a property compliance check where a surveyor inspects the property for an evaluation report, a title check where a notary reviews the property title, a final mortgage approval and, a funds release. 

READ ALSO: Five pitfalls to watch out for when buying an old house in Italy

Before the process even starts, you will more than likely have to provide documentation such as bank statements, tax returns, passport copies, credit reports and criminal records, all of which may have to be translated into Italian.

A lot of banks also ask for the borrower to be present at the final signing, so take into consideration travel costs and times when applying.


A notary is always needed

Whether you’re Italian, a foreign national residing in Italy, or a non-resident, the services of a notary are always necessary in any property purchase.

Notaries in Italy cost a lot, but they are crucial to you getting your keys, and even more crucial if you need a mortgage.

Without their sign-off on any of the documents, the sale may fall through. But they do a lot more than simply signing: they conduct the legal transfer, prepare the deed of sale and check the title if you go down the mortgage route. It’s also possible to transfer money for the sale through the notary’s escrow account.

Please note that The Local is unable to advise on individual cases. For more information on applying for a mortgage in Italy as a non-resident, consult a qualified financial advisor.

Planning to buy a property in Italy? Read more in The Local's Italian property section.


Comments (2)

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Elle Badior 2024/05/29 19:48
An Australian, I bought a house here during the pandemic. I had a codice fiscale and knew my legal rights (mindful of Italian contradictoriness); however, on the day of the contract-signing, the notary declared I could not buy the house. Anguish. The agents found another notary. Thousands of euros later, I had to pay the first notary - for nothing. Every single party involved demanded payment in cash - an outrageous idea in Australia. So, proceed with absolute caution, is my advice.
Stewart 2024/05/23 19:48
A notary in our town was of the mistaken opinion that Italians could not buy in Australia and that therefore under the reciprocity rule, Australians could not buy in Italy. But a more experience notary from the provincial capital knew better, so it pays to pick your notary with care.

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