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flag Italy Italy: Selling and Buying

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2001
Main International Economic Cooperation
Member of the European Union.
Member of the Euro zone.
Member of the European Economic Area which has guaranteed, since 1 January 1993, the free movement of most goods between European countries.
Multilateral and bilateral agreements with many countries but Italy is not part of all the agreements and unions to which the EU is a signatory.
Non Tariff Barriers
As it is a member of the European Union, Italy applies the Community regulations which are valid throughout the Union.

If the EU has quite a liberal foreign trade policy, there are a certain number of restrictions, especially at the level of agricultural products, ensuing from the implementation of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy): applying compensations when importing and exporting agricultural products to favor the development of agriculture within the EU implies a certain number of systems to control and regulate goods entering EU territory.
Moreover, for sanitary reasons, with regards to Genetically Modified Organisms, if they are allowed in Europe, their presence must, for example, be systematically specified on packaging. Importing beef fed on hormones is also prohibited.
The principle of precaution is now more widely favored: in case of doubt, import is prohibited until the non- noxiousness of the goods is proved.

Goods containing animal products require a certificate from a competent authority in the country of origin. Fishery products need to show a catch certificate.

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
While the principle of free movement of goods forms the internal part of the Customs Union, the CCT forms the external part as it enables uniform Customs duties to be applied to products from third party countries, whichever Member State is the country of destination. Duties for countries outside Europe are not very high, especially for industrial products (4.2% on average for the general tariff).

Customs Classification
Italy uses the harmonized system.
Import Procedures
Import procedures are subject to a declaration on-line or on paper. You will find further information on the Agenzia delle Dogane (Customs Agency) website.

As part of the "SAFE" standards advocated by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls, the "Import Control System" (ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Program eCustomer, has been in effect since January 1, 2011. Since then, operators are required to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.

Non-agricultural goods entering EU territory must adhere to customs formalities (summary declaration). This declaration must be carried out by the person bringing the goods to the territory. This procedure could take:

- 45 days in the case of goods carried by sea;
- 20 days in the case of goods carried other than by sea.

Material can enter temporarily without customs fees if it will be used to manufacture products for export. In this case the import gives a guarantee (from an insurance company or bank) for the amount of duties and taxes. This guarantee will be reimbursed when the final product is exported. This process also applies to goods planned to be re-exported.

Goods in transit only need a single EU transit document.

Inward processing is free of customs treatment. Only goods sold in the EU market are eligible to import duty and taxes. For outward processing, duties and taxes apply only to the value added during the process. Only firms located in Italy or in the EU take advantage of this measure.

Check the EU’s Customs website periodically for updates.

Importing Samples
The inscription "no a la vente" (not for sale) is compulsory on commercial samples.

Samples and advertising materials without commercial value are duty and tax free if they are useless for sale. Samples with commercial value can enter the country for a year but need a security (cash or bond) of 10% of the commercial value (tax and duty). These samples must be used in the country for demonstration purposes only. They must also complete the following conditions:

-A certificate of origin
-A list with a description of each sample (weight and value), preferably in Italian
-A statement declaring the intention to use the samples for demonstration purposes only and to re-export without sale. This document must to be notarised by a Italian consulate.

Samples with a price higher than €2,582 need the services of a local freight forwarder.

For Further Information
Italian Customs
Italy Trade Portal
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of the Economy
Ministry of Economic Development

Learn more about Traders, Agents in Italy on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing Opportunities

Consumer Behavior
Quality and after sales service are very important factors when Italians make a purchasing decision. Consumers also like information on the product to be clear. If they can choose, they tend to prefer products "made in Italy"; they are less bothered to know if the material meets environmental criteria. Novelty is welcomed especially in the fashion sector.
Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
The index of household confidence is deteriorating. The Italians prefer consumption to saving, but high inflation has had a negative influence on their purchasing power.
Italian consumers are very demanding in terms of quality but less so regarding the frequency of special offers, loyalty programs, credit possibilities and days and times of opening.
Consumers Associations
ACU , The Italian Association for the consumer and users
ADOC , The Italian Association for the defense and orientation of the consumer
Main Advertising Agencies
Saatchi Advertising Agency

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Italian retail trade represents a turnover of more than 300 billion EUR. For a long time, Italian industries were not competitive enough, and this led the Italian government to set up import barriers. The Italian population is traditionally attached to local shops. Modern distribution made its appearance a few years ago with the rise of large international groups such as Auchan/Rinascente or Carrefour who took advantage of a relaxing of legislation concerning setting up business, made necessary by European harmonization.
Market Shares
The leading distributor in Italy is the Coop Italia group which is based on a network of more than 1 000 outlets in Italy and which had 17.7% of market share in 2004. Carrefour Italia had 10% and Auchan/Rinascente 9.5%.
Generally speaking, foreign names represent 47% of hypermarkets. In 2004, there were 469 hypermarkets, 990 supermarkets, and 6 627 small supermarkets. The foodstuff distribution market is very concentrated as the leading 10 groups have 77% of market share.
However, there is an imbalance between the north and the south of the country, however: more than 50% of supermarkets and 65% of hypermarkets are concentrated in the north. As a result, the large groups will have to concentrate their efforts on the southern part of the country.
Organizations in the Retail Sector
Lega Coop

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
The specialized port sector (containers) is in full expansion in Italy, something that is proven by the presence of nine Italian ports in the ranking of the thirty main ports in the European Union, in terms of container traffic. The role of sea transport has been expanded in Italy and in trade inside the Community thanks to the project of "sea highways" in the framework of the development of the trans-European transport network.

Every year, 750,000 tonnes of freight transit via the two international airports of Roma Fiumicino and Milano Malpensa.

Goods transport by road represent 1,243 million tonnes each year.

The Italian rail network carries 87 million tonnes of goods every year in Italy.

Port of Genoa
Port of La Spezia
Port of Naples
Port of Livorno (in Italian)
Port of Ancona
Port of Brindisi
Port of Taranto
Port of Trieste
All Italian ports
Milan Airports
Rome Airports
Sea Transport Organizations
Ministry of Transport
Air Transport Organizations
ANAMA (National association of air freight agents)
Ministry of Transport
Road Transport Organizations
Ministry of Transport
Rail Transport Organizations
CESIFER, center for rail company safety certification (technical management of RFI)
Ministry of Transport

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
The industrial sector represents 26.9% of Italian GDP.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories - The business directory of the Italian electrotechnical, electronics and ICT companies.
Members of - "Italian companies that are committed predominantly to commercial activities abroad: trading, export, import, countertrade, buying-offices, export management, small and medium enterprises, etc; as well as the services related to such activities." - Italy - Directory of companies in Italy.
Guida Monaci - Search a business in Italy. - Italy's business directory of the Chamber of Commerce. - "The ""Made in Italy"" business directory."
Itbizlist - Directory for international business.
Lazio Imprese - Companies search engine.
MacRAE'S Blue Book - Business directory with detailed information of companies in Europe.
Made in Vicenza - Catalogue of exporters in the province of Vicenza, Italy.
MIMOL World - Listing of companies in Italy providing international products and services.
National Association of Italian Buying Offices - Members Directory - List of Italian purchasing agents. - Directory of companies in Italy.
The Yellow Pages of Italy - Find a business in Italy.
Manufacturers Associations of the Main Industries
75 professional associations listed for Italy.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Portal for Italian Chambers of Commerce
Enterprises Federation
Union of SMEs
Italian confederation of SMEs (CONFAPI)

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Last Updates: November 2014