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Italy Information Technology: Products and Internet Access

Italian custom information, import regulations, shipping documents requirements, and free trade zones/warehouses. Share your experiences in trading with Italy importers.

Italy Information Technology: Products and Internet Access

Postby bridgat » Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:33 am

Duties and Other Taxes


No custom duties are assessed on personal computers. A VAT-value added tax (IVA in Italian), currently of 20 percent, is charged on the cif value (cost, insurance and freight ) of the system as a whole.

Business travelers can enter a portable computer into Italy as a tool of trade without payment of VAT taxes. The computer can contain encrypted software. An ATA Carnet is not required, but, in order to avoid any problems, it is always advisable to carry a receipt of purchase, showing possession of the computer prior to arrival into Italy.


There are no customs duties payable on packaged or customized software. In both cases, Value Added Tax (VAT), currently at 20 percent, is charged and is applied to the cost, insurance and freight (cif) value of disks, CD-Rom or other supports for the software as well as to the value of the data and information; the total VAT is paid at the customs office at the port or airport of entry.

With regard to customized software, according to regulations, VAT on the disk, CD-Rom or other supports for the software should be paid at the customs office at the port or airport of entry, while VAT on the data and information should be paid separately at the importer’s bank. Given that the value of the magnetic support is low, that the 20 percent VAT on the support translates into a very small amount, importers usually add the VAT charge due on the magnetic support to the VAT they pay on the data and information content and pay a combination of both to the Treasury.

A commercial invoice should accompany each individual shipment, whether it contains the basic software or updates.

Software licenses are not tangible goods and are therefore not classified in the harmonized system. Article 12 of the tax treaty against double taxation signed between Italy and the United States provides for a withholding tax of 5 percent on the gross amount of royalties paid for the use or the right to use computer software.

A value-added tax of 20 percent is charged on the value of services relating to the sale of software, such as training, set-up, etc. As for all services, the Italian company must self-issue an invoice for the VAT value of the services (20 percent), based on the commercial invoice provided by the U.S. company.

1). U.S. information technology solution providers are permitted to send personnel into Italy to set up hardware/software related systems.

2). U.S. passport holders who stay in Italy in order to set up hardware/software related services do not require visas or work permits if their stay is limited to three months. It would be advisable for them to carry a letter from their U.S. employer stating that their stay in Italy is temporary and that they will return to the U.S. at the end of their stay.


Software delivered over the internet is considered a provision of services. No custom duties are applied to it. If the end-user is a company, it must self-issue an invoice to pay for the VAT value of the software (20 percent).

The situation is not considered different if the software is sent to a distributor who will resell it after loading it onto a CD. The distributor will have to self-issue an invoice for the VAT value of the software (20 percent), based on the commercial invoice provided by the U.S. company.

Custom Procedures

A. A regular commercial invoice should accompany shipment of software and of other information technology products.

B. A commercial invoice must be provided to the company purchasing digital products, so that it can self-issue the invoice for the VAT value.

C. There are no foreign exchange restrictions.

D. The import of remanufactured parts for photocopiers, fax machines, laser printers and toner cartridges is permitted. No special labeling is required. The value shown on the invoice must be the cost charged to the purchaser. Duties and VAT are assessed on the cif value of the products shipped.

E. If computer equipment needs to be shipped back to the United States for repair, the Italian company should complete a form for temporary export. When the repaired goods are returned, no duties will have to be paid, but the company will have to self-issue an invoice to pay for the VAT value of the repair services rendered, based on the commercial invoice issued by the U.S. company. If repair services were provided free-of-charge, no payment of VAT is required.

What is the current Italian government policy governing user access to the Internet?

While Internet use in Italy is just now taking off, government policy concerning its future growth and implementation is still being developed. Generally speaking, the government position is seen as strongly in favor of Internet access by consumers and of the use of Internet by private sector organizations. For example, the Prime Minister's office recently established the “information society forum (forum per la societa dell' informazione)” made up of public officials and private sector representatives to spur Internet development in Italy. The following website gives the latest information on Government of Italy (GOI) position and programs to promote Internet usage in both Italian and English: Another useful website on Italian regulations in this market, is the website of the communications authority (independent government regulatory agency): (underscore between regul and tlc).

Do Internet Service Providers (ISPs) need a license?

“General authorization” (as set out in Italian legislative decree #103 dated 3-17-95) is needed. The application for this authorization should be made to the Ministry of Communications. The form to apply for this authorization can be obtained from the Ministry and the completed form should be submitted to the Ministry. Note: the form reportedly is available from the Ministry's website, which however, is currently inoperative: .

Are there foreign ownership limits that apply to ISPs?

There are no foreign ownership limits to ISPs operating in Italy. Foreign companies have recently acquired Italian ISPs and Internet-related companies.

Is there a defined list of services ISPs can and cannot provide?
ISPs may provide all services which don't require licensing (as per decree d.p.r.318/97). While traditional fixed and mobile telephony requires licensing of telecom operators, ISPs may provide IP Telephony without any licensing. This situation may change in the near future as the EU is expected to develop directives on this subject.

Are there standard tariffs governing ISP Interconnection with local telephone companies, or must ISPs negotiate separately with the network operator?

Standard tariffs apply only to ISDN lines. All other connection rates are negotiated individually with Telecom Italia. One example is the recently signed agreement with the Italian Association of Internet Providers (AIPA) at:[4/ .

Are there policies or regulations that apply to IP telephony or voice over the Internet?

No, however, according to industry sources some Italian companies planning to sell IP telephony on a national scale have also obtained a telecom operator license in anticipation of upcoming regulations.

Are IP Telephony services currently being offered to domestic ISPs or other firms?

According to the Commercial Service/Italy industry contacts, efforts in this area to date have been very little and met with limited success. The telephony boom in Italy to date has centered on fixed and mobile services. ISPs have been focused on offering other services and IP telephony proposals and projects have not been well developed.

Are the dominant telecom carriers currently engaged in efforts to develop or test IP telephony services?

Yes, some carriers have experimented with the use of IP telephony but have not rolled out any major programs. According to one industry source “the change in attitude of the Italian carriers towards IP telephony will depend mainly on the massive adoption by other European carriers and by some important signal from the market.” They also suggest that Italian ISPs will not offer IP telephony services unless they can be packaged with other services which can then be more easily sold to their customers.
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