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Transport and Education in Milan

What awaits an expat in Milan? Our InterNations Guide introduces leisure and culture in northern Italy’s most influential city. You’ll also find plenty of practical tips, from healthcare and driving permits to education options for expat children.
Trams are a vital part of Milan’s public transportation network.

Milan’s Public Transportation System

Although Milan’s transportation network suffers from certain infrastructural problems, it remains essential for life in the city and its metropolitan area. Most expats arrive in Milan via plane. Malpensa Airport is Milan’s primary hub for international air traffic, but there is also an airport for low-budget carriers at Bergamo (Orio al Serio). Linate Airport mainly serves domestic flights. All three airports are well connected to Milan’s city center by train or bus, as well as special shuttle services.

Local transportation in the Milan area is organized by the Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (ATM). The company runs the city’s four metro lines — the fifth being under construction — 12 suburban railways (which go as far as Monza, Pavia, or Varese), 17 tram lines, and various bus lines. To find out how long your commute from your new home to work will take, use their English-language journey planner or their mobile phone application. The ATM offers a toll-free service number (02 48 607 607), where you can ask for up-to-date information between 07:30 and 19:30.

Frequent passengers on ATM services should look into getting a travel card. There’s an urban version for the city of Milan and a cumulative one for the entire metro area. It can be purchased weekly, monthly, and annually. It costs 776 EUR a year to buy a travel card for the largest available area, while the one covering the urban area is 330 EUR annually (as of January 2018).

Health-conscious travelers and fitness enthusiasts might also be interested in BikeMi, the ATM’s bike-sharing service in central Milan. If you prefer a comfortable car ride, though, you can call one of Milan’s numerous taxi companies, e.g. Milano Taxi (02 3554 182).

Driving in Milan

Some expats living in more residential areas further out of the city depend on their car to get around, rather than relying on public transport. If this applies to you, you need to know whether your foreign driving license is valid in Italy. Expats from most countries can simply exchange their driving license to an Italian one. Non-EU citizens have to do so after one year of residence in Italy. EU citizens can exchange their license, but they are not obliged to. However, you need to renew your license just like all Italian drivers, i.e. every ten years for drivers under the age of 50 and rising to every five years after that, until the age of 70.

For further information on driving in Italy, you can also contact the office of the Italian Ministry of Transportation in Milan.

Ufficio Motorizzazione Civile, Via Cilea 119, 20151 Milano

02 353 79 355

Education for Expat Kids

While Italy has a comprehensive school system that includes a free academic education, as well as vocational training, many expats prefer to send their children to international schools. This is particularly recommended for kids with no Italian skills, older students, and children who move often or who’ll only stay in Milan for a fairly short time.

There are a number of schools in the Milan region catering to children from several foreign communities. Many of these schools include an early childhood program with one to four years of kindergarten and preschool. Some also offer the International Baccalaureate or other international diplomas. However, unlike the public education system in Italy, these schools are private institutions that rely on tuition fees. Therefore, costs may amount to as much as 15,000 EUR per year, or more.

International Schools in and around Milan


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Francois Carpentier

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