Currency in Italy: Italian Currency 101

Currency in Italy dates back thousands of years. But Italy’s currency legal tender, the euro was only introduced in 1999.

We’ll share everything you need to know about the euro, including when it was introduced and what it replaced, along with answers to common questions below.

This article is part of our free series on managing money abroad through a foreign currency account.

Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.

Table of Contents

  1. Currency in Italy (euro)
  2. Can You Use Foreign Currency in Italy?
  3. How to Send Money to Italy?
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. Do You Want Help Opening Bank Accounts?

Currency in Italy (euro)

The currency in Italy is the euro, which has been the official currency of the Italian Republic since January 1, 1999. Prior to 1999, the Italian Lira was the official currency of the Republic, introduced in 1861 during Italian unification.

The euro is the only legal tender in all of Italy and is available in banknotes and coins. That said, it is possible to use foreign currency in Italy, though the exchange rates offered for conversion will not be attractive.

Instead, financial transactions should either be carried out in euro or by using a credit card with zero foreign transaction fees. Of course, if you need to convert money to euros while traveling in Italy, you can find a wide range of exchange offices that will accept international currency.

Can You Use Foreign Currency in Italy?

Yes, you can use foreign currency in Italy in certain instances. However, it’s important to note that not all locations around Italy will readily accept foreign currency. Likewise, not all foreign currency will be accepted.

For example, when visiting major tourist destinations, it’s often possible to pay in United States Dollars. However, stores in the same location are unlikely to accept exotic currencies from smaller economies.

Additionally, anytime you elect to use foreign currency instead of the euro in Italy, you will likely face high exchange rates far beyond the normal market price. In other words, your foreign currency will be exchanged at a price based on convenience that is significantly worse for you.

With this in mind, if at all possible, it is best to convert your money before traveling to Italy. And, while it is best to have euros on you because not all vendors will accept credit cards, you can also choose to use a major credit card that does not apply to foreign exchange fees.

How to Send Money to Italy?

In order to send money to Italy, individuals and businesses can choose from a wide range of options, including conventional transfer methods and more obscure options.

Not surprisingly, the first option that most people consider is sending a bank transfer. If you are sending funds from outside of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), bank transfers involve sending a transfer through the SWIFT network.

SWIFT stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which is a network of international banks that facilitate international transfers across the globe.

Alternatively, if you are sending funds from within the Single Euro Payments Area, you will likely be sending a SEPA transfer.

The main difference between a SWIFT transfer and a SEPA transfer is the cost of sending, SWIFT is often an expensive transfer option when compared to the low-cost option of sending SEPA transfers. However, SEPA transfers are only available between banks within SEPA countries.

That said, there is a wide range of alternative transfer methods to choose from as well, including the following.

Options for Sending Money to Italy

  • International transfer services
  • Money order services
  • Paypal or other peer-to-peer transfer services
  • Cryptocurrency transfers
  • Sending physical checks

Here is a closer look at a few of the most popular options in great detail.

International Transfer Services

There is a wide range of international transfer services to choose from when sending money to Italy. In most cases, these services are delivered through digital platforms and mobile applications.

In addition to offering convenience, international transfer services are also one of the lowest-cost options available. Additionally, if you choose to use one of the larger transfer services, your transfers will be secure with large licensed financial institutions.

Money Order Services

International money orders are available in most countries. However, it’s important to note that they are often more expensive than some of the other options available.

That said, money orders are secure and offer an immediate solution to sending funds. When using a large money order service provider, you can also arrange for money to be picked up in cash or to have it deposited directly into a bank account.

Peer-to-Peer Transfer Services

Peer-to-peer transfer services are another option for sending money to Italy. In fact, they are one of the fastest and most affordable ways to transfer funds.

However, peer-to-peer transfer services do require both parties to have accounts with the same platform. Additionally, they can often be more challenging to fund and withdraw funds from than traditional bank accounts.

How to Choose a Method for Sending Money to Italy?

As you can see, each of the options above has different pros and cons. So, it’s important to consider your specific objectives and situation when selecting a method to send money to Italy.

Additionally, you should consider all of the options available. When doing so, consider the security, cost, and delay in your funds arriving to the intended recipient.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a few of the most common questions we receive from people looking into the currency of Italy. If you have further questions you would like to ask our team, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

What Is Italy’s Main Currency?

Italy’s main currency is the euro, which is the only form of legal tender accepted in Italy. This is also true for the rest of the Eurozone countries. The euro became the official currency of Italy on January 1, 1999.

Does Italy Use Euro or Lira?

Italy uses the euro and has used the euro since it transitioned away from the Italian Lira on January 1, 1999. That was the date when the euro became the official currency of Italy along with Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.

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GlobalBanks Team
GlobalBanks Team

The GlobalBanks editorial team comprises a group of subject-matter experts from across the banking world, including former bankers, analysts, investors, and entrepreneurs. All have in-depth knowledge and experience in various aspects of international banking. In particular, they have expertise in banking for foreigners, non-residents, and both foreign and offshore companies.

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