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How to Read and How Long to Keep Receipts in Italy

Know the law - don't walk off without the "bill" or receipt in Italy

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italian restaurant receipt picture

Picture of an Italian Restaurant Receipt

Martha Bakerjian
You may be surprised at the vigor with which Italian restaurant owners thrust receipts into your hand. There's a reason for this. The restaurant owner can be fined a great deal of money if a representative of the Guardia di Finanzia (literally the "financial" or "tax police") confronts you while you're coming out of a restaurant without a receipt. Back in the old days, you could also be fined, but I understand this may no longer be the case.

To be on the safe side, walk at least 100 meters from the restaurant with the receipt. After that, you can do anything with it you want.

What Is a Proper Receipt?

The picture shows a proper Italian restaurant receipt. This is a ricevuta fiscale that is in compliance with the law. It has the address of the establishment, the date, and a list of the food consumed. You'd do well to refuse random pieces of paper with only the final total written on it. This would not be a legal ricevuta fiscale.

>How to Read a Restaurant Receipt

This receipt, from a very good and innexpensive restaurant in Torino, is really simple. I had a menu a prezzo fisso. This is typical at lunch, a price fixed menu that includes the cover charge, service, beverage and several courses of food.

If I had ordered from the menu, I could expect to see a small cover charge (coperto), and numbers in the left column corresponding to the items on the list. Service might be included in the price (as it is in the fixed price option), or it may be broken out separately.

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