Italy – renowned for its rich history, vibrant culture, and discerning consumers – presents an excellent opportunity for e-commerce companies looking to expand into new markets. This is your guide to importing to Italy, Europe’s fourth-largest e-commerce market.
Italy’s e-commerce sector is growing fast, above the global average of 11%; Italy’s e-commerce is set to hit 12.23% growth CAGR between 2023 and 2027.1
In 2021, 67% of Italians purchased from international websites.2
Driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce in Italy has taken on in recent years. Today, two-thirds of the country’s 60 million people shop online.3
Most visited e-commerce marketplaces in Italy
Where should you sell online in Italy?4
Italian local site of the global retail giant.
An Italian online marketplace that allows users to buy and sell a wide range of products including cars, furniture, electronics, and more.
Ebay.it is the Italian version of the globally popular retail website.
Offers a wide range of products including clothing, electronics, home appliances, and more.
Major fashion and accessories marketplace website.
With a focus on fashion and lifestyle products, Zalando is a popular choice for Italian shoppers.
- Travel and tourism
Booking.com, eDreams, Expedia, Italo Treno, Kayak, lastminute.com, Opodo, Skyscanner, Trenitalia, Tripadvisor, Trivago, and Volagratis
- Information technology and consumer electronics
ePRICE, Euronics, MediaWorld, Monclick, Mr Price, TRONY, and Unieuro
Privalia, SaldiPrivati, Veepee, YOOX, and Zalando
- Books, music, and video
Amazon, IBS.it, LaFeltrinelli, and Unilibro
- Coupon-based purchases
Groupalia and Groupon are among the most important
Are Italians over free returns?
Free returns aren’t the e-commerce essential they once were in Italy. In 2022, 85% of Italian shoppers said they would buy more online if returns were free – but in 2023 that number had decreased to 65%.5
Fewer Italian shoppers see free returns as a major reason to buy.5
Italian consumers find the returns process frustrating. Make sure you offer a smooth returns process to improve customer satisfaction and encourage repeat purchases.5
Additionally, 93% almost always read the online retailer’s returns policy prior to placing an order.5
Italy’s preferred payment methods for online purchases6
Cash on delivery is now rarely used, while ‘buy now, pay later’ options have increased rapidly in the last 5 years.
- E-wallet, digital/mobile wallet 35%
- Credit card 22%
- Bank transfers/direct debit 13%
- Prepaid card 9%
- Debit card 9%
- Buy now, pay later 6%
- Cash on delivery 4
What Italian shoppers are buying online7
Italian shopping events and holidays
Understanding the key shopping events and holidays in Italy is crucial for maximizing your e-commerce sales. Here are some important dates to mark in your calendar:
- Christmas Season: Christmas is a significant shopping period in Italy, starting from late November and continuing until early January.
- Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Similar to other countries, Italy has enthusiastically embraced these popular shopping events.
- Summer and Winter Sales: Italy has legally mandated sales periods, known as "saldi." These sales take place in summer (July) and winter (January) and attract a large number of bargain-seeking consumers.
Navigating customs and import regulations
- Import Duties and Taxes: Italy imposes import duties and value-added tax (VAT) on goods brought into the country. See the section below ‘Importing to Italy from non-EU countries’ for more information.
- Customs Documentation: Ensure you have the necessary paperwork, including commercial invoices, packing lists, and certificates of origin.
- Restricted and Prohibited Goods: Familiarize yourself with the list of restricted and prohibited goods in Italy to avoid any legal complications.
Information you need to supply for every shipment
Depending on the type of goods, you – the importer (consignee) – may need to provide additional information. For example:
- Feather stuffing, clothes, medical devices, foodstuff, food contact materials and cosmetics may require authorization from the Italian Ministry of Health.
- Leather goods may require the Washington Declaration or CITES Import Permit.
- Animal products may require veterinary authorization.
- Seeds and vegetables may require phytosanitary authorization.
Check your invoices
- It is mandatory to provide an EORI/VAT number (B2B) or Taxpayer ID number (B2C) on the commercial or proforma invoice.
- Consignee contact information must be present on the Air Way Bill (preferably mobile phone number and/or email).
- Temporary imports are cleared by a third-party broker. On the invoice "Temporary Import" must be clearly stated.
Importing to Italy from non-EU countries
Expect to pay VAT, duty and Duty Tax Importer Surcharge on most goods being imported to Italy. All goods coming from non-EU countries are subject to VAT, and duty is applied on shipments with a value of over €150 imported from countries outside the European Union.
Who is responsible for paying VAT and duty?
Your customer generally pays customs charges – making for a poor customer experience. To solve this problem, DHL pays VAT, duties and any other customs clearance costs in advance on the receiver's behalf.
How DHL can help
To speed up customs clearance procedures and deliver shipments as quickly as possible, DHL will:
- Handle applications for import permits/certificates/notifications to the relevant authority.
- Pay on your behalf (and in advance) for any additional permits that may be required.
DHL’s expert tips for exporting to Italy
- Check if your goods incur VAT, duty, or are subject to additional paperwork. Italy has specific regulations that must be followed when exporting goods. You should ensure that your products comply with these regulations before exporting.
- Be clear on your returns policy. Italian consumers are looking for clear information about returns. They want to be able to plan the delivery accurately and would like to see many payment options including local currency availability. Providing information in Italian could also be helpful.
- Use a trusted logistics provider that can give your customers a hassle-free experience. Finding a local delivery partner that can help you navigate the Italian market and overcome language barriers. DHL will take you through the process of exporting to Italy and help you pay taxes and duties in advance without forcing your end customer to pay a separate fee.
Want to get started shipping to Italy?
See what DHL can do for you. Our complete international shipping service helps you offer first-class customer experiences.