The Italian Bureaucracy operates as Italy’s executive branch of the government and handles national policy, laws, taxes and business regulations. This branch is responsible for providing documentation to other branches within the government. This documentation is used to help run the government in an effective manner.
Living in Italy off and on for the last 17 years, and running two different businesses here, has taught me a great deal. Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that I have always lived in the north of Italy, which could be quite different from the south.
No place is perfect for doing business. However, even after all these years Italy is still my favorite place in the world, and Italian people are among the best in the world to work with. They are extremely flexible and easy-going, skilled businesspeople, loyal customers, and pretty humble. They are hard workers who also know how to enjoy life.
Official tasks may require a lot of documents and a long, complicated process. There may be several parts of the process that just plain don’t make sense, and there’s nothing you can do about it. If you want to reach certain goals, you have to jump through certain hoops. There’s no way around it.
The important thing is to be mentally prepared for this extra effort you may have to do, for what may seem like simple transactions. Just allow extra time in your schedule and bring a book to read while you are waiting in line at government offices. Occupying your mind with something else is the key to not feeling like you are wasting time.
Italian cultural values and cultural awareness plays a big part in Italian bureaucracy.
1. You may visit a public office on one day, and speak to a certain person. The person sends you away with instructions. When you come back, having completed said instructions and documents, you meet a different person who sends you away with a completely different set of instructions.
2. You get to practice your Italian a lot, as you spend time explaining all the information about your situation…again.
3. If you’re lucky, you find that one person in the public office who understands exactly what to do.
4. Often this person will understand that the process is lengthy and difficult, and will genuinely want to help you.
5. The kindness and altruism of Italian people always transcends the complications of the bureaucracy. They will often do everything they can to help you, and you will be amazed at their kindness.
6. With politeness, patience and gratitude, you can manage to complete tedious operations more quickly.
7. You can even make lifelong friends with people you meet in public offices. I have developed close friendships that lasted over a decade with workers I met in public offices.
8. Speaking of friends: if you know someone who works in a public office, you can ask that person’s help in completing certain operations. Knowing someone always helps. It doesn’t mean they will do anything illegitimate. It just means you can get things done a tiny bit faster.
9. The fact that certain processes have been moved online does not necessarily mean that it is easier.
10. You need patience, patience, patience!
On a personal note, I can’t forget I have the same circle of friends since 2004.
With this experience, despite many moves and many other countries that I’ve lived in over the last 17 years, my loyal Italian friends have never let me down. They keep in touch consistently while I am away, and always welcome me with open arms when I come back.
No country is perfect, but the positives of living in Italy far outweigh the negatives.
So these are my 10 Observations of Italian Bureaucracy. If you’re an expat living in Italy, we can help make your life easier by helping you with tax returns, residency permits, and more. Contact us today!
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Click here to read my blog article Small talk, networks, and the beautiful life in Italy
Click here to read my blog article Three Reasons I Settled in Italy