Living in South Tyrol - Work in South Tyrol
 

Living in South Tyrol

Welcome to South Tyrol! We have collected a list of topics and information to make getting started in your new home as smooth as possible. Discover what makes South Tyrol such a wonderful place to live in!

South Tyrol Autonomy
South Tyrol and its autonomy
Why do people predominantly speak German in South Tyrol? A short historical overview

South Tyrol is the northernmost province of Italy and is characterised by its bilingualism: Large parts of the population are German native speakers.
With the abolition of border checks in the Schengen Area, many people do not even notice that they are entering Italian territory upon crossing the Brennero/Brenner Pass or the Resia/Reschen Pass: Much of the population still speaks German, many radio and television broadcasts are in German – only bilingual place names and signage indicate that the Italian border is in fact already behind them. Which leaves some people wondering why a predominantly German-speaking Alpine region is located on Italian territory –
something that wasn’t always the case:

A brief look at the recent history of South Tyrol
For some 550 years, what is today the Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen – South Tyrol was part of Tyrol and therefore first the Habsburg Empire, then the Austrian Empire and later Austria-Hungary.

In the aftermath of the First World War, profound changes were made to the political structure of Europe. Austrian and Italian troops fought bitter battles in the mountainous border regions until the end of the war in 1918, when Austria-Hungary was eventually forced to capitulate alongside the German Empire. After Austria’s defeat, Italian troops occupied what is now South Tyrol. The country was officially annexed by Italy following the Treaty of Saint-Germain in 1919, making South Tyroleans a German-speaking minority within Italy. The same was true for another, significantly smaller minority group: the inhabitants of a number of valleys whose mother tongue was Ladin, a Rhaeto-Romance language.

In 1922, fascism rose to power in Italy under Mussolini, soon setting off a campaign of repression and so-called Italianisation: The German language was banned, German-language schools were closed, German-speaking civil servants were dismissed, German place names were replaced by Italian ones and tens of thousands of Italians were settled throughout South Tyrol. But the local population resisted – one example being so-called “catacomb schools”: clandestine schools where local children were secretly taught to read and write in German.

In 1939, Hitler and Mussolini concluded a pact to promote the emigration of South Tyroleans to the German Reich. The local population was given the choice (“Option”) of leaving their homeland and remaining in a “German” cultural sphere or staying and abandoning their German mother tongue and culture altogether. Society was divided – but only about 75,000 people eventually emigrated, and only few ended up leaving South Tyrol for good: Most returned after the end of the Second World War.

Because the annexation was in breach of the peoples’ right to self-determination, in 1946 a bilateral treaty was signed between Austria and Italy in Paris. This laid the foundation for the protection of the German- and Ladin-speaking minorities in South Tyrol by granting them a so-called Statute of Autonomy aimed at preserving their cultural identity and customs. But its implementation was slow, resulting in a growing discontent and anti-Italian resentment. When tensions culminated in attacks using explosives in the 1960s, Italy responded with a relentless crackdown on the resistance fighters. Austria took the matter up with the UN Security Council, sparking a series of lengthy negotiations between Bolzano/Bozen, Rome and Vienna that resulted in a second Statute of Autonomy, which came into force in 1972. With this new status and subsequent provisions to implement it, South Tyrol gradually gained legislative and administrative autonomy – and with it competences in many areas of public life, administration and the economy that far exceed those of other Italian regions. The 1972 Statute of Autonomy forms the basis of today’s policies of protecting the German- and Ladin-language minorities in South Tyrol.

The “right to use your mother tongue”

In South Tyrol, all German- and Italian-speaking citizens have the right to use their mother tongue when dealing with the public administration. All public offices and bodies must guarantee access using either of the two official languages: This applies to local branches of state institutions such as the government commissioner’s office (Commissariato del Governo/Regierungskommissariat), finance and customs offices, the social insurance agency INPS/NISF (Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale/Nationales Institut für Soziale Fürsorge), the national institute for insurance against accidents at work INAIL (Istituto Nazionale per l’Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro) and the judicial authorities as well as to regional and national institutions, to district community offices, municipalities and similar public bodies, to the Bank of Italy (Banca d’Italia), the state archives (Archivio di Stato), the RAS public broadcasting service (Rundfunkanstalt Südtirol), the Bolzano/Bozen Chamber of Commerce and many more.

In addition, citizens living in the traditionally Ladin-speaking valleys (Val Gardena/Gröden and Val Badia/Gadertal) are entitled to use Ladin when dealing with local authorities. This also applies to authorities at provincial level based outside of the Ladin-speaking communities that are in charge of the interests of the Ladin population (e.g. the Ladin-language education authority in Bolzano/Bozen).

For more information please visit: Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen – South Tyrol

Proportional representation of language groups – why it matters

South Tyrol’s perhaps most special feature is that it unites three language groups under a relatively small roof – but this coexistence has not always been without its difficulties. It took decades of negotiations to establish a balance between German-, Italian- and Ladin-speaking South Tyroleans.

Whenever there is a public service position to fill, upon appointing political bodies, in distributing social benefits and financial resources and much more, the proportional representation of each group is now a legal requirement that guarantees fair consideration of the three officially recognised language communities. The system is based on the respective language group’s share in the total population of South Tyrol according to the latest census.

For this purpose, citizens residing in the Province of Bolzano/Bozen must declare their affiliation to one of the three language groups at the Court of Bolzano/Bozen or with a Justice of Peace elsewhere in the province and will be issued an official certificate attesting their choice (dichiarazione di appartenenza al gruppo linguistico/Sprachgruppenzugehörigkeitserklärung).

For more information please visit
Tribunale di Bolzano/Landesgericht Bozen, Ufficio appartenenza gruppo linguistico/Amt für Sprachgruppenzugehörigkeit

Languages - Work in South Tyrol
Languages
Which languages are spoken in South Tyrol?

Some 520,000 people with different mother tongues live in South Tyrol. In addition to the three official languages German, Italian and Ladin, there are now many more languages thanks to migration.
At almost 70%, the German-speaking group represents the largest share of the population, with over 40 different German dialects spoken – and some great variations between them.

The second largest language group is the Italian-speaking community, which makes up about a quarter of the population mainly living in urban areas. Some  30,000 inhabitants (approx. 6% of the population) cite Ladin as their mother tongue – a Romance language thriving especially in the Val Badia/Gadertal and Val Gardena/Gröden valleys.

In addition to the three official language groups, about 46,000 people of a foreign background live in South Tyrol, the majority of whom (an estimated 31,000) come from other EU countries.

Language certificates

Speaking the two main official languages – German and Italian – is a great advantage when working and living in South Tyrol, and at times even essential.

Learning the two helps to connect with the local culture and its people, allowing you to participate in social life. In many cases, knowing both languages – for work and in private settings – is either expected or a prerequisite.
To provide proof of your knowledge of the two (or three) official languages, you can take official exams known locally as bilingualism (Esame di bilinguismo/Zweisprachigkeitsprüfung) or trilingualism (Esame di trilinguismo/Dreisprachigkeitsprüfung) exams, respectively, and obtain a certificate confirming your proficiency in the language(s) in question. In addition, it is also possible to have certificates that you may already possess for the required language(s) officially recognised, meaning that you’d only have to sit an exam for the other language(s).

Registering for the official exams as well as applying for the recognition of language certificates is done through the website of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen – South Tyrol, which also offers information, documents and instructions on how to prepare for the exam.

For more information please visit:
Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen – South Tyrol official language exam office

How to learn German and Italian

There are a number of ways to learn German and Italian in South Tyrol. Plenty of resources and information on language learning for small children, young people and adults is available at the provincial government’s language portal

In addition, there are a variety of language schools offering a wide range of courses and events. Click here for a list of language schools

Proficiency in the two main official languages as well as any foreign languages enhances the prospects of your professional future, which is why the government of South Tyrol provides support for courses and study trips aimed at learning German or Italian.

For more information please visit:
Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen – South Tyrol , Ufficio per il diritto allo studio universitario/Amt für Hochschulförderung

Language skills as a prerequisite for claiming financial support

In order to be eligible for financial support in South Tyrol (Assegno provinciale al nucleo familiare/Landesfamilienbeihilfe, Assegno provinciale al nucleo familiare +/Landesfamilienbeihilfe + and Assegno provinciale per i figli/Landeskinderbeihilfe), citizens from non-EU countries are required to submit proof knowledge of one of the two official languages both in writing and in terms of the local society and culture.

This applies to both parents, not just to the applicant.

For more information please visit:
Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen – South Tyrol

Mobility - Work in South Tyrol
Mobility
Getting around: public transport

South Tyrol has a well-developed public transport system. Even without a car, it’s easy to travel here and get around comfortably – by train, coach or bus. The local bus and train schedules, too, are well coordinated, to ensure that there are good connections from all central railway stations to the surrounding towns and villages.

In South Tyrol, all public mobility is organised as a single, large and interconnected network run by südtirolmobil to simplify the use of public transport: All inner-city and intercity lines, Citybus services, regional trains between Brennero/Brenner and Trento as well as the Mendola/Mendel funicular, the Renon/Ritten light railway and the cable cars to and from Renon/Ritten, Colle/Kohlern, Verano/Vöran, Meltina/Mölten and Maranza/Meransen can be used with just one single ticket. And in addition to the annual subscription-based Südtirol Pass, there are single-ride and group tickets or day passes and weekly tickets, to name but a few.

Südtirolmobil

Most trains and buses run every 30 minutes or every hour. The timetables change twice a year (winter and summer schedule). Departures times and connections can be found in the südtirolmobil app and online journey planner:

For more information please visit:
südtirolmobil

Getting around by car

If you’re relying on a car while in Italy, we recommend familiarising yourself with the local traffic rules. Unless otherwise indicated, the speed limits for road vehicles are: in urban areas 50 km/h, outside of urban areas 90 km/h, on highways 110 km/h (in case of rain or fog 90 km/h) on Autostrada motorways 130 km/h (in case of rain or fog 110 km/h).

Standard road signs are blue, while motorway signs are green. Using the motorway is subject to a charge. Toll booths are located at all entrances and exits. The toll is calculated according to the distance driven and is paid upon leaving the motorway. Vignette toll stickers are not required.
From 15 November to 15 April, cars need to be winter-ready, which means driving with winter tyres or carrying snow chains.

In city centres, parking is not always easy, so it is advisable to park a little bit further away and travel to the centre by public transport. This saves not only money, but usually also time. Parking in Bolzano/Bozen is organised with the help of a colour scheme: Only residents with a parking permit may park in the areas marked in white. Non-residents can pay to park in the blue short-stay public parking spaces or in one of the city’s underground car parks.

There are plenty of taxis and car-sharing schemes for those without their own car.

Fuel
In addition to filling stations with conventional fuel, there are also service stations for hydrogen and charging stations for electric vehicles throughout South Tyrol.
For more information please visit:

At motorway petrol stations, you can fill your car up yourself and pay at the cash desk. In the South Tyrolean countryside, there are both self-service stations (sometimes called Fai-da-te) and serviced petrol stations. At the former, fuel tends to be cheaper.

Living - Work in South Tyrol
Living in South Tyrol
How do I find a place to live in South Tyrol?

Housing has become very expensive in South Tyrol. Many people, especially young families, find it increasingly difficult to buy or even rent a flat – both in rural areas and cities. Affordable housing is increasingly becoming an essential issue for South Tyrol’s appeal as an attractive place to live, work and study.

With the population growing and society changing significantly in recent times, the number of single households is on the rise and the average household size decreasing, which further raises the need for housing. Compared to its neighbouring regions, South Tyrol has a relatively large share of owner-occupied homes (some 70%) and a comparatively low share of rental housing (only about 30%). This affects the mobility of young people in particular, who, in order to be able to take advantage of new career and job opportunities in a flexible manner, often prefer not to be tied to one location.

It is a central challenge for the public sector to provide more affordable rental space and to enable new (communal) forms of living in order to meet the mobility demands of the young generations.

How do I find a flat to rent?

Finding an affordable apartment to rent in South Tyrol can be tricky. Many landlords like to get to know their tenants personally before offering them a rental contract. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to start your search by asking friends, acquaintances or work colleagues.

There are also a number of websites and estate agents who can help with the search for a flat. Classified ads in newspapers and magazines or on notice boards in supermarkets and other places open to the public can also be a useful source of information on available rental accommodation.

It is common to pay up to three months’ rent in advance as a deposit to cover open bills or any damage caused during the tenancy. If at the end of the tenancy the flat is returned in the same condition initially handed over, the deposit is refunded.
There are essentially three types of contracts for residential use: free, tax-privileged and temporary tenancy agreements.
Free tenancy agreements last for 4 years and are tacitly renewed for a further 4 years unless terminated in writing by one of the parties at least 6 months before they expire. The rent can be negotiated entirely between the landlord and the tenant.

Tax-privileged tenancy agreements last for 3 years and are tacitly renewed for another 2 years unless terminated in writing before they are set to expire the first time. In contrast to free tenancy agreements, the rent is not up to the parties themselves but is guided by local conventions setting both a minimum and maximum amount. This means the rent tends to be lower than on the free market.

Temporary tenancy agreements are closed for a transitional period of up to 18 months. The rent can be negotiated by the parties or is determined according to local conventions. This type of contract is used if the tenant is only temporarily employed or on a fixed-term educational or training course. It may not be used for touristic purposes.

In any case, tenancy contracts should always be in writing. Consider well which type of agreement is the right one for you and thoroughly check in advance if the applicable legal requirements are met.

Social housing for low-income families

The IPES/WOBI institute for social housing (Istituto per l’Edilizia Sociale della Provincia autonoma di Bolzano/Institut für den Sozialen Wohnbau des Landes Südtirol) is a South Tyrolean public-law entity with the aim of providing housing for low-income families, pensioners and people with disabilities, as well as building and renting housing for middle-income citizens and lodgings for workers and students.

Social housing is allocated on the basis of the applicant’s economic situation. A ranking is drawn up using the applications submitted and used to allocate housing according to availability.

Who can apply for social housing?

Application for social housing can be submitted by Italian citizens, EU citizens and non-EU citizens who have resided in South Tyrol for five years and have worked in South Tyrol for a minimum of three years. In addition, all applicants must have lived or worked in the municipality for which they are applying for a minimum of two years without interruption. They must also meet some basic requirements, such as a total income that does not exceed the limits set by IPES/WOBI, and they must not have previously renounced adequate social housing.

Read more at
IPES/WOBI

Subsidies for rent payments and other housing expenses

Low-income families or individuals can apply for a contribution towards their rent and utility bills.

The subsidy granted depends on the applicant’s economic situation, their documented expenses and what is considered “adequate rent” by the provincial government. A regular tenancy agreement is a prerequisite for this kind of subsidy.

Read more at
Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen – South Tyrol

Workers’ lodgings

IPES/WOBI also has lodgings for workers: housing facilities for the temporary accommodation of workers from Italy, EU member states or other countries who legally reside in South Tyrol.

This type of accommodation typically consists of small flats or beds rented out to workers who are regularly employed, self-employed, have been registered as unemployed for no more than eight months or are participating in a project aimed at reintegrating them into the workforce.

Applications can be submitted year-round using the appropriate form made available by IPES/WOBI.

Read more at
IPES/WOBI application: worker’s lodging

Subsidy for the purchase of a primary residence

The South Tyrol government grants financial support to families and individuals wishing to purchase property as their primary residence.

The subsidy is a one-time grant that does not have to be reimbursed. To be eligible, applicants must meet a number of basic requirements in terms of income, assets and property already owned as well as any real estate assets of parents, parents-in-law or children, amidst other criteria.

Beneficiaries must have resided or worked in the Province of Bolzano/Bozen for a minimum of five years. The same applies to any cohabiting partner (“more uxorio”, i.e. living with the applicant in a marriage-like relationship) who would co-own the property.

Upon applying, citizens from non-EU countries must have resided in the Province of Bolzano/Bozen for an uninterrupted minimum of five years and have been gainfully employed in South Tyrol for no less than three years.

Read more at
Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen – South Tyrol

School - Work in South Tyrol
Education
What is the educational pathway of South Tyrol?

South Tyrol has distinct school systems for each of its three language groups (German, Italian and Ladin) to guarantee that all students can be taught in their local mother tongue and ensure that they learn the other language(s) at a high level. Each group has its own schools and education authority. German-speaking South Tyroleans learn Italian as their “first” second language and vice versa. English is taught as a foreign language.

In Italy – and therefore also in South Tyrol – education is free and mandatory from the age of six to sixteen. Kindergarten (scuola dell’infanzia or asilo) attendance between the ages of three and six is on a voluntary basis.

The school system in South Tyrol consists of an eight-year “early” stage: five years of primary school (scuola elementare/Grundschule) plus three years of middle school (scuola media/Mittelschule). This means that until the end of their eighth school year, all pupils are on a joint educational path. The next level (scuola superiore/Oberschule) comprises either five years of high school typically at a Liceo/Gymnasium, Istituto tecnico economico/Wirtschaftsfachoberschule or Istituto tecnico tecnologico/Technologische Fachoberschule and culminating in official examinations (Esame di Stato, previously called maturità; Matura in German) or three to four years of vocational education (Istituto Professionale/Berufsfachschule). In 2015/2016, vocational education schools introduced the option to take official examinations leading to a Diploma di Maturità Professionale/Berufsmatura after completing a fifth year.

After high school, students typically start working or go on to university.

Childcare - Work in South Tyrol
Childcare
What childcare options are available in South Tyrol?

Several options for children aged from three months to four years are available in South Tyrol: day nurseries or crèches, day-care centres and childminders.
The cost of childcare depends on the number of hours booked and on the family’s economic situation.

Information  on the different childcare services and availabilities can be obtained from your local council or directly at the institutions themselves (childminders, day-care centres). Your local council can also provide information on play or toddler groups and other parent-child facilities.

Kindergarten

Kindergarten attendance is voluntary in South Tyrol. There are German-, Italian-and Ladin-language kindergartens for children from 2.8 to 6 years old. The fee for attending one is set by the local council and varies only slightly from municipality to municipality. Kindergarten hours, too, may vary from structure to structure.

For an overview of South Tyrolean kindergartens and further information, please visit
Kindergartens in South Tyrol | Kindergarten | Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen – South Tyrol

In addition to public kindergartens, there are private institutions as well as facilities with special orientations, such as forest kindergartens, Waldorf and Montessori kindergartens etc. In some cases, those establishments have different admission requirements than the public ones.

Childcare during the summer holidays
While childcare is normally offered all year round including during the holidays, the kindergarten schedule is orientated towards the school year: Each kindergarten year starts in early September and ends in mid-June. For working parents and guardians, this can mean having to find alternative childcare solutions for almost three months of summer holidays. Different institutions offer a wide range of such services, most of which are privately organised and may be quite costly.

For more information please visit

Vaccinations - Work in South Tyrol
Immunisation
Are vaccinations compulsory in South Tyrol?

Currently, a total of 10 vaccinations for children and adolescents aged 0 to 16 years are compulsory in Italy and therefore also in South Tyrol.

The following are mandatory:

  • polio
  • diphteria
  • tetanus
  • hepatitis B
  • whooping cough/pertussis
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • measles
  • rubella
  • mumps
  • chickenpox/varicella

All parents are sent a written invitation to have their baby vaccinated by the hygiene and public health service. The mandatory vaccinations are free of charge and can be administered in all health district offices. Due to the extension of compulsory vaccination, proof of compliance (or proof of exemption for serious health reasons) must be provided when registering for private or public infant care services. Otherwise, the child will not be admitted to the care service.

Read more at
Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen – South Tyrol, Agenzia per la famiglia/Familienagentur

Elections - Work in South Tyroll
Political participation
Who can vote in elections at local, provincial and national level and for the EU Parliament?

Every municipality in South Tyrol has an electoral office that keeps a register of voters for the local council. This register lists all residents of that municipality who have the right to vote. In Italy and therefore also in South Tyrol, all Italian citizens from the age of 18 have the right to vote, provided that there are no legal obstacles. Italian citizens who reside abroad remain listed in the AIRE register of Italians living abroad (Anagrafe Italiani Residenti all’Estero/Register der Auslandsitaliener:innen).

In the case of provincial and municipal elections in the Province of Bolzano/Bozen, those entitled to vote must also have been continuously residing in the region for a minimum of four years when the elections are announced; they must also have resided in the Province of Bolzano/Bozen for the greater part of those four years.

EU citizens residing in Italy may also vote in European Parliament elections and in the election of municipal bodies, provided that they apply to do so in each case with their local mayor. To vote in municipal elections, they must have been continuously residing in the region for a minimum of four years when the elections are announced; they must also have resided in the Province of Bolzano/Bozen for the greater part of those four years.

Citizens from non-EU countries do not have the right to vote at any political level, even after a long time residing legally in Italy.

2001 saw the introduction of new voter ID cards, which must be presented at the polling station for each ballot.

Read more at
Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen – South Tyrol

Italy - Work in South Tyrol
Citizenship
How to acquire Italian citizenship

There are three general ways to become an Italian citizen: by descent, by marriage or by residing in Italy.
The child of an Italian mother or father automatically acquires Italian citizenship. The same applies to children of stateless parents or if the parents are unknown but the child was born in Italy

If  Italian citizens adopt a foreign minor, they also automatically become Italian citizens. Citizenship can furthermore be acquired by descendants of a person who originally held Italian citizenship and later moved to another country.

Italian citizenship can also be obtained by marrying an Italian citizen.

Another way to become an Italian citizen is to reside in Italy for a minimum of ten years; in that case, further conditions must however be met.

Advantages of obtaining Italian citizenship include the ability to participate in political elections, work in the public service without restrictions and no longer requiring a residence permit in order to stay in Italy permanently.

With Italy being part of the European Union, Italian citizens are also EU citizens and can live and work anywhere in the EU without a visa due to the right to freedom of movement and residence.

Read more at
Government commissioner’s office for the Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen – South Tyrol (Commissariato del Governo/Regierungskommissariat)

Emergency call - Work in South Tyrol
112: emergency telephone number
Who to call in an emergency

112 is the single, free emergency phone number for the whole of Europe – and therefore also for Italy. This number can be called in any emergency requiring an ambulance, mountain rescue services, the fire brigade or the intervention of police or Carabinieri – for example in the case of fire, serious traffic accidents, burglary/theft and other emergency situations.
This service is permanently available to every citizen and visitor throughout Europe; with the help of translation services, it can be provided in the 39 most common European languages.

Living in South Tyrol - Work in South Tyrol
Experience South Tyrol

South Tyrol stands for a truly special way of life. Embark on a journey discovering this unique corner of the Alps alongside its people, traditions and customs. Indulge in delicious regional products and enjoy a wide variety of cultural and leisure activities. We look forward to welcoming you!

Read more at
suedtirol.info : South Tyrol official | Holidays, events and South Tyrolean products