The Joys of Being a Foreigner – Opening a Bank Account

When I decided to stay here in Venice for good, one of the first things to do is to open a bank account. You can only have your money lying around in envelopes for about so long 🙂

I went to one of the local banks, the Banco San Marco, and they were very nice and helpful. First thing to do was to go to the Agenzie delle Entrate, the Italian internal revenue agency, go get a codice fiscale.

The Agenzie delle Entrate has an office in the centre of Venice, in the Campo Sant’Angelo just behind the church of Santo Stefano. The visit was a very positive experiece. They look me up on the computer, found the codice fiscale I had been issued over ten years ago in Rome, changed the address and gave me an official looking document with stamps and signatures to prove my right to the codice.

With the document in hand I returned to the bank, and they made me a bank account. Not a normal account, because I’m still not a legal resident here in Venice, so I got a “foreign” account in Euros. I had to sign a gazillion places, there’s not plastic card associated, not possibility of using the ATMs, everything has to be done at the counter for a fee, but at least I had a place to keep my money and to transfer new funds from Denmark.

Now that I have an apartment and need to pay my rent, I went there to transfer the money. All pleased to see me, they proclaimed that they had had another client like me, and that they could now convert my account into a “normal” Italian account, after which I could do the money transfer myself.

They set to work converting the account, but it took more than five minutes, ten minutes, another person was called over to resolve something, twentyfive minutes, brows were furrowed, forty minutes, support tickets made and answered, followed by some more brow excercises. After about an hour it was declared that my account couldn’t be converted because they were unable to move my country of residence from Denmark to Italy. To make me a “normal” Italian account they would have to close my account, estinguish me totally from all their systems, reregister me as a client and make a new account for the “new” client. All this would take several days, and it would have to wait until my rent was paid from the old “foreign” account.

They were supposed to call me this week so I could sign in another gazillion places for the new “normal” account, but haven’t done so, so I’ll have to go there Monday to get it in place before I leave for Denmark for the holidays.

In the mean time, since I’m supposed to use the web bank in the future and not harass them at the counter, I had a look at their web site. It wasn’t very informative:

Banco San Marco - no Italian no English

Each and every page just displayed the text “Sorry. This content avaible only Italian” (sic).

I tried to tweak the language settings of my browser and entire system, but to no avail. No matter what page I asked for, I would get the same stupid message in broken English.

The only page that did work, or seemed to work, was the “Contact us” page, so I sent them a slightly annoyed message – in correct Italian – stating that as a client of the bank I expected to be able to use the web site, in Italian if necessary. I assume the web site does exist in Italian as they claim, but I have no way of knowing 🙂

I still haven’t heard anything from them yet regarding the web site, or maybe the contact form didn’t really work after all, and I probably never will hear from them. I will take my computer with me to the bank on Monday to show them.

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