Welcome to our third instalment of Moving to Italy! Throughout this series we will discuss the process and paperwork necessary to reside in Italy legally as well as some helpful tips for moving with a pet, finding housing and other insights we learned along the way.
If you are just starting the process, check out our first two posts:
Moving is never an easy task and moving abroad can be daunting but the best piece of advice we can recommend is don't pack anything but the necessities! Unless you are moving with a company who is paying for your relocation expenses, shipping anything into Italy is very expensive. You do have a 1 year period, after you apply for your residency in Italy, to import personal items without being taxed. Nevertheless, shipping costs are high and goods often get held up in customs taking weeks if not months to arrive.
Many apartments and rooms for rent come furnished (see our apartment rental guide here). There are also many budget-friendly furniture outlets, such as Ikea, that can help you freshen up a furnished rental or if needed, outfit an entire apartment. In the end it will cost you more to ship over existing furniture than it will to buy new pieces. So before you move, sell or store what you can and just pack up a few suitcases with the essentials!
Exactly what are those essentials, you ask? Clothing and a few personal items to make your new place feel like home! When we moved we packed family photos and a couple of sentimental accessories to help decorate our apartment. It may seem impossible to narrow down these items initially but remember family and friends will likely come visit so you can always have them bring things you may miss later on :)
There was one thing we weren't going to move without and that was our cat, Oscar! We fretted for months about how he would handle the move but he was a trooper. Here is what we learned from the process:
1. If your pet is small enough to travel in cabin, select an airline that will allow them to do so internationally. We flew Alitalia and they couldn't have been more accommodating. They moved us from a two seat row to an empty middle row so we had space to spread out and allowed us to put Oscar's carrier on the seat after take off so he wasn't squished under the seat for 8 hours!
If your pet is too large for the cabin, I would suggest enlisting a pet mover that specializes in building a custom carrier and sends someone to ensure your animal is safely on the plane and is well cared for throughout the process.
2. We only have experience moving from the United States but the process between any rabies controlled countries and Italy is similar...your pet must be microchipped and have a current rabies shot. On the USDA website you can find this information and the necessary paperwork that your vet fills out before the move. Then within 10 days of the flight, you must take the paperwork to the USDA office nearest your airport to have it stamped. This part is very important as you will have to show it at the check-in desk and when you land going through customs. This proves the pet is healthy and approved to live in Italy.
3. During and after the move...this is very specific to your animal and your means of transporting them. For Oscar, we gave him a mild sedative for the flight to keep him comfortable. Prior to moving, we did a short test flight between Chicago and our home town to see how he handled flying...the verdict, not well! So our vet advised some medication to keep him calm. However, this isn't always recommended so check with your vet. It took Oscar about a month to acclimate to our new home but now he is as happy and healthy as ever!