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A Brexit checklist for Brits in Italy

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A Brexit checklist for Brits in Italy
Brits in Italy need to start planning for Brexit now. Photo: nelka7812/DepositPhotos
08:03 CEST+02:00
The uncertainty surrounding Brexit has many Brits living in Italy worried. Here's our guide to what you need to think about before the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

As we count down the months to the UK’s official departure from the EU, the British public remains divided on how it will affect our future.

For British citizens living in Italy, the uncertainty and lack of specific information surrounding Brexit is causing many to worry about what they need to do before March 29th, 2019.

To help Brits in Italy best protect their rights and safeguard their financial interests, both in Britain and their country of residence, The Local has consulted immigration lawyers, financial experts and regular residents to create the following guidance to help you prepare for Brexit.

An expat's view: 'There will almost certainly be a bureaucratic nightmare'

Christopher Namurach, founder and director of The Business End, a company that provides language services to Italian businesses, moved to Rome from his hometown of Cardiff 18 years ago.

We asked him about his concerns over Brexit and what advice there is available to expats like him.


Anti-Brexit protesters in Rome. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

What was it like moving to Italy from the UK 18 years ago?

“It took three months to make the move, as I had the luck to have found an apartment almost immediately after I decided to stay. It was a bit of a culture shock, as Italy is vastly different from Wales in so many ways.”

What are your concerns about how Brexit will affect your life in Italy?

“My main fear is that there will almost certainly be a bureaucratic nightmare as Italy is not the most organized of countries.”

Who have you approached for advice about how you could be affected by Brexit? What advice have you been given?

“I have done my own research online and I will be attending a meeting organized by an expats group in Rome in the next few days.

"The advice that is most often given is to have faith in the system...”

What are you planning to do to prepare for Brexit? 

“I will be applying for Italian citizenship once the Italian government decides the rules for doing so.”

What do you think about the availability of guidance for expats like you?

“There are a lot of people offering advice but I find that a lot of is contradictory and, at best, incomplete. I think that one has to bear in mind that not even the UK is sure of the conditions and eventual outcome of Brexit.”

READ ALSO: Brexit planning: What you'll need to do if there's no deal


Photo: DepositPhotos

The expert's advice: 'Brexit does not mean a total lack of legal protection'

Marco Mazzeschi is a leading Italian immigration lawyer based in Rome. Here's his rundown of the main points for Brits to consider. 

The law and our rights

“A loss of the right to residence and other rights deriving from having European membership would not mean a total lack of legal protection for British nationals residing outside their country, more precisely, the total renunciation of the right to move, reside and work as they do at present.

“The UK, despite Brexit, will remain bound by the rules of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which safeguards the right to respect for private and family life and one’s home (Article 8) and the right to property and to the peaceful enjoyment of possessions (Article 1 of Additional Protocol 1 to the ECHR).

“Naturally, the chances of being able to reside in another country of the Union after Brexit will increase in proportion to the length of residence and the family and professional ties of each individual. Protection from the ECHR cannot replace the rights derived from the Treaties and the EU’s legal system. In particular, the full enjoyment of all rights deriving from European citizenship will disappear with Brexit.”

Citizenship and residency

“In order to minimize any possible negative impact of Brexit, UK citizens who have lived in Italy and are officially registered as residents for more than four years should apply without delay for Italian citizenship. They are required to prove absence of criminal records and have filed tax returns in Italy for the last three years before the citizenship application, with a taxable income of not less than €8,000.

“For those who are not entitled or interested to apply for citizenship, and have not registered yet with the local authorities, they should register as residents as soon as possible.

READ ALSO: The ultimate guide to getting residency in Italy


Photo: DepositPhotos

“UK citizens residing in Italy are advised to apply for the following documents from the city council (comune) where they are registered:

  • UK citizens living in Italy less than five years: attestazione di regolare soggiorno (also called attestazione di soggiorno, attestazione di regolarità del soggiorno or attestato di regolare soggiorno).
  • UK citizens living in Italy for five years or more: attestato di soggiorno permanente (also called attestazione di soggiorno permanente).”

Driving licence

“Brexit will also impact on many other aspects of British expats living in Italy, such as the right to use their UK driving licence.

“It is advisable to convert the UK driving licence into an Italian one, even if still valid and not strictly required. After Brexit happens, anyone who wants to drive in EU member states might have to register for an International Driving Permit.”

Healthcare and family benefits

“As to healthcare and family benefits, no provisions have yet been included relating to the UK’s ongoing participation in the European Health Insurance reimbursement procedures, which may increase healthcare costs for employers.

“Furthermore, it will no longer be possible to benefit from the rules to facilitate the mutual recognition of professional qualifications between the Member States.”

The checklist: What action can you take now?

Although there will be no change in your status as an EU citizen until the end of the transition period on December 30th, 2020, it is never too early to prepare and protect your interests, particularly your finances.
 

If you haven't done so already, now is the time to start thinking about the following: 

  • If you are not yet registered with the local authorities in Italy, do so urgently. This will help demonstrate that you are legally resident and therefore eligible to benefit from the citizens’ rights agreement. 
     
  • Have you been living in Italy for five continuous years or more? If so, you can apply for permanent residency and/or citizenship to lock in your rights and benefits.
     
  • Convert your UK driving licence into an Italian one.
     
  • Get all your paperwork in order, including your bank and business accounts. Ensure you have evidence of filed tax returns, etc. 
     
  • If you are thinking about buying or selling property, consider doing this now while you are still an EU citizen to avoid potentially higher taxes post-Brexit.
     
  • If you are running a business or worried about your pension, savings, investments or inheritance issues, you should take professional (regulated), personalized advice to Brexit-proof your finances as much as possible.
     
  • Keep up to date with news regarding Brexit and check for updates and advice on the British Embassy’s website and social media.

Are you a Brit living in Italy? How is Brexit affecting you? What preparations are you making? Tell us your story: email news@thelocal.it.

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