1. Foreign trade

2. Foreign direct investment (FDI)

3. Remittances by immigrants


1. Foreign trade

External trade statistics are released by Istat and refer to the value and to the quantities of good exported or imported by Italy.

For trade with Extra-EU countries, the data are obtained through the SAD (Single Administrative Document), which is filled in at the customs in for every transaction.

For trade with EU countries, since 1993 data from the customs have been replaced by the Intrastat system: the information is derived from the synthesis declarations that are presented by the economic operators on a quarterly or monthly basis to the Customs Authorities.

Since 1 January 2010 the frequencies for the presentation of the Intrastat declaration are defined according to the following criteria:

a) quarterly declarations: for operators whose foreign trade, during the previous four quarters and for each category of operation, did not exceed 50,000 euro;

b) monthly declarations,: for operators that do not fall in the above situation (a).

The monthly declarations account for around 98% of Italy’s Intra-EU trade. The quarterly data are estimated for each month, and at the end of the year the estimates are corrected on the basis of the quarterly declarations received.

The SAD and the Intrastat declarations are used both for fiscal and statistical purposes.

External trade statistics refer to special trade, which covers:

(a) immediate imports and exports from warehouses for free circulation, imports for inward processing and imports after outward processing (customs procedures);

(b) exports of Community goods after inward processing and exports for outward processing (customs procedures).

Goods in transit and warehouse traffic are not included.


Since 2010 external trade statistics (intra-USE and extra-USE) exclude:

  1. monetary gold;
  2. means of payment which are legal tender and securities, including means which are payments for services such as postage, taxes, user fees;
  3. goods for or following temporary use (e.g. hire, loan, operational leasing), provided all the following conditions are met:
    • no processing is or was planned or carried out,
    • the expected duration of the temporary use was or is not intended to be longer than 24 months,
    • no change of ownership took place or is intended to take place;
  4. goods moving between:
    • the Member State and its territorial enclaves in non-member countries, and
    • the host Member State and territorial enclaves of non-member countries or international organisations. Territorial enclaves include embassies and national armed forces stationed outside the territory of the mother country;
  5. goods used as carriers of customised information including software;
  6. software downloaded from the Internet;
  7. goods supplied free of charge which are themselves not the subject of a commercial transaction, provided that their movement is with the sole intention of preparing or supporting an intended subsequent trade transaction by demonstrating the characteristics of goods or services such as:
    • advertising material,
    • commercial samples;
  8. goods for and after repair and replacement parts that are incorporated in the framework of the repair and the replaced defective parts;
  9. means of transport travelling in the course of their work, including spacecraft launchers at the time of launching;
  10. goods declared orally to Customs authorities which are either of a commercial nature provided that their value does not exceed the statistical threshold of 1 000 EUR or 1 000 kilograms or of a non-commercial nature;
  11. goods released for free circulation after being subject to the customs procedures of inward processing or processing under customs control.


In addition to the value and the quantity of the goods, the information contained in the SAD and in the Intrastat declaration covers:

  • commodity code (CN8)
  • country of origin
  • country of consignment or destination
  • province of consignment or destination
  • destination
  • mode of transport
  • nature of transaction
  • currency of the invoice
  • conditions of consignment


Since January 2009 the commodity groups are defined according to the classification of economic activities ATECO 2007, adapted for to meet the needs of external trade statistics.

The statistical value of the goods is defined, in compliance with international agreements, as CIF ( Cost, Insurance & Freight) for imports and FOB (Free on Board) for exports.

Since January 2010, new EU regulations changed some of the rules concerning the inclusion, in external trade statistics, of data on the trade of ship and aircraft. The concept of “economic property” was defined: it corresponds to the right of an individual to claim the advantages deriving from the use of a ship or an aircraft within ad economic activity, following the acceptance of the risks associated to it. As a consequence, trade of ship and aircraft that refer to a transfer of the economic property, are excluded from statistics.

Data on external trade released by Istat, relating to the last year are always provisional. Some months after their publication they are completed with information that was missing (relating mainly to quarterly Intrastat declarations) and the final data are released.


2. Foreign direct investment (FDI)

Foreign direct investment(FDI) is an international long-term investment made by an operator resident in a given into an enterprise resident in another country.

There are two types of FDI: inward foreign direct investment and outward foreign direct investment.

The direct investment enterprise (DIE) is the enterprise where a foreign direct investor own at least 10 percent of the ordinary shares or of the right to vote (in the case of a joint stock company), or the equivalent in the case of another type of enterprises.

The ownership of at least 10 percent(or right to vote or equivalent) implies an actual participation in the management of the enterprise.

Statistics of FDI are based on three main sources of information:

  • surveys on enterprises;
  • the International Transactions Reporting System (ITRS), which measures individual balance of payments cash transactions passing through the domestic banks and foreign bank accounts of enterprises, and noncash transactions and stock positions. Statistics are compiled from forms submitted by domestic banks to the compilers and from forms submitted by enterprises to the compiler
  • information provided by the Authorities (Authority for the Control of the Exchange and Authority for the Approval of Investments).

There are also additional sources of information, that are used to check and complete the data collected from the primary sources. Among these, there are:

  • information from administrative and government sources (Central Banks, Investment agencies, etc.)
  • information from non-government sources (press, chambers of commerce, enterprise accounts);
  • bilateral sources (FDI statistics compiled by other countries or international organisations).


3. Remittances by immigrants

Remittances by immigrants represent a type of financial flow that usually is excluded from the documents on international financial flows.

Statistical data on remittances by immigrants are however difficult to define, given the fact that the migration phenomenon itself is difficult to define and to survey. The statistical discrepancies between countries of origin and destination of migrants are, in fact, significant, starting from the time gap and different periodicity of the population censuses in the various countries. Besides, the criteria adopted to define migrant persons often differ from country to country.

The data presented in this yearbook are derived from the ISMU foundation, which is an autonomous and independent organization promoting studies, research and projects on multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, and focusing in particular on the phenomenon of international migration.

Data aggiornamento: 
November, 2010