Exporting guide to Italy

Overview

Italy is one of the UK’s closest trading partners and biggest export markets, and presents significant opportunities for UK businesses. There is demand for defence, cyber security, aerospace and engineering skills. Trade with the city of Milan and the surrounding region is especially strong.

Trade statistics

£14.5 billion total UK exports to Italy for the four quarters to the end of Q1 2022

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: July 2022)

9th largest UK export market

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: July 2022)

2.2% of total UK exports for the four quarters to the end of Q1 2022

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: July 2022)

Focus on innovation

Italy’s industrial strategy creates opportunities in innovative industries like cyber security, digital transformation and life sciences. The Italian market has a high level of internationalisation and entrepreneurship, with fully integrated supply chains.

Strong relationship

UK businesses are very important to Italy, and investors are committed to their UK projects. There is an appreciation for British professional services, technology and quality consumer goods.

Growing trade exchange

Italy hosts many trade exhibitions with global appeal. The northern region of Lombardy is particularly important to the Italian economy, and trade between the UK and Lombardy has been growing in recent years.

Top five UK goods exported to Italy, in the four quarters to the end of Q1 2022

Goods Value (£million)
Cars 886.6
Crude oil 653.3
Mechanical power generators (intermediate) 499.2
Metal ores & scrap 473.8
Medicinal & pharmaceutical products 397.4

Source: ONS Trade in goods: country-by-commodity exports
Last updated: July 2022
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Italy.

Top five UK services exported to Italy, in the four quarters to the end of Q1 2022

Service Value (£billion)
Other Business Services 1.3
Financial 1.0
Transportation 0.6
Telecommunications, computer and information services 0.5
Travel 0.5

Source: ONS UK trade in services: service type by partner country, non-seasonally adjusted
Last updated: July 2022
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Italy.

Italy: at a glance

Economic growth

-9.0%

Actual figure (IMF, 2020)
The UK is -9.3% (IMF, 2020, actual figure)

GDP per capita

$33,628

Actual figure (IMF, 2019)
The UK is $43,121 (IMF, 2019, actual figure)

Currency

Euro

Business languages

Italian

You may need a translator

Time zone

GMT +1

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Opportunities for exporters

Italy is one of our largest export markets. There is high demand for skills in technology and engineering. Some important sectors include defence, aerospace, advanced engineering and life sciences technology.

Check for trade barriers

Trade barriers, such as tariffs or taxes, can raise costs, cause delays, or even stop you from exporting. Check for any issues that may impact your business when exporting.

See current trade barriers

See resolved trade barriers

Check duties and customs

Find information on how to export goods from the UK. View the duties, rules, restrictions, and the documents you need for your products.

See current duties and customs procedures

Doing business in Italy

Preparing to export

VAT

VAT is known as IVA in Italy. The standard rate is 22%. There are reduced rates for some products, including basic foods, and some services are exempt.

You can find out more about VAT in Italy from the website of the Italian Revenue Agency.

Payment terms

Payment periods are longer than in the UK. Business-to-business payments can take several weeks but in some sectors can take months or longer, especially where creditors are public bodies. A prompt payment code of practice has recently been introduced.

Standards and regulations

Products and packaging should meet EU standards, but Italy is more strict in some areas. This includes packaging and labelling.

Ente Nazionale Italiano di Unificazione (UNI) has responsibility for Italian national standards. Comitato Elettrotecnico Italiano (CEI) is responsible for electrics, electronics and telecommunications regulations

Services regulations

Information on rules for selling services and business travel to Italy is available on gov.uk

Trade barriers

Check for any reported barriers to trading with Italy.

Report any trade barriers that are affecting your business so we can help fix them.

Operating in Italy

Business culture

Reforms in recent years have made it easier for companies to enforce contracts, register properties and resolve insolvency.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) rights are territorial. Rights granted in the UK do not provide protection elsewhere. You should consider getting IP protection abroad if you want to trade overseas or sell to overseas customers via the internet.

The Intellectual Property Office’s International IP Service provides practical information to help you protect, manage and enforce your IP abroad. Further support can be accessed through the service’s network of IP attachés. Based in key UK export markets, they provide guidance to British businesses on local IP matters.

Using agents or distributors

Often the best way to start selling in Italy is to use an agent or distributor.

You should find a tax and legal adviser before entering into any contracts. Contact DIT's team in Italy for help.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.