Doing business

Current business situation

Despite some of the challenges Italy faces, such as high public debt, low growth and regular political change, it also has some contrary elements such as low private debt and a sophisticated manufacturing base. Northern Italy is amongst the wealthiest regions in Europe.

As the third largest economy in the Eurozone, Italy is home to some major multinationals and has a large sophisticated consumer market. The industrial sector is characterised by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and family businesses, often with a strong regional focus. While subject to EU regulations, there is often local regulations which must adhered to.

Business culture

Italians have a formal approach to business interactions and surnames and titles should be used in the early stages, though this may become more informal once stronger ties are established.

Personal relationships are important, face-to-face meetings and visits will generally assist with developing stronger business ties. It is important to make appointments in advance and to be punctual. Conservative attire is recommended for business meetings. Follow up should be undertaken, as responses may not always arrive quickly.

English may not be spoken by all company representatives, so it is advisable to confirm in advance. Local documents and information are generally presented in Italian and translations between languages may be required.

When writing figures, Italians invert commas and decimal points, e.g. 1,5 per cent and € 2.300.000.

Setting up in Italy

Invitalia has information for those considering setting up a business.

Banking and finance

Italy has a large number of local banks of various sizes, plus a variety of foreign banks, particularly European. The two biggest multinational banks are Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit. Milan is the key financial centre and home to a wide range of banking and finance organisations. There are provisions for non-residents to open bank accounts.

It is advisable to seek advice regarding regulations and reporting requirements around international funds transfers.

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

Italian Chambers of Commerce in Australia
Italian Customs
Italian Investment Agency (Invitalia)
Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Italian Statistics Agency

News and media

ANSA - Italian press association news service
Il Sole 24 Ore - national financial daily

Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.