British in Italy plan emergency meeting as prospect of no-deal Brexit looms again

British in Italy, the country chapter of the pan-European rights campaigning group British in Europe, will hold an emergency meeting in Rome on December 14th to discuss how the rights of Brits will be affected by different Brexit scenarios.

British in Italy plan emergency meeting as prospect of no-deal Brexit looms again
Jeremy Morgan, chair of British in Italy, addresses a meeting on citizenship rights in Venice on November 20th. Photo: British in Italy.

As the story broke that Theresa May would face a vote of no-confidence on the evening of December 12th, the uncertainty that many Brits across Europe face merely intensified. 

In a press release headlined 'Politicians are playing Russian roulette with our lives', British in Europe, the group that counts 30,000 members across Europe but is campaigning for the rights of more than a million Brits living in the EU, said the delayed vote and the leadership challenge “obscured the dramatic position of the five million citizens most affected by Brexit”.

The figure of five million is reached by combining the total number of Brits living in Europe, as well as the total figure for EU citizens living in the UK. More than 50,000 Brits live in Italy alone – some estimates suggest that number is higher. 

READ ALSO: 'The rights of 5 million people should never have been up for negotiation': chair of the3million

The delays entail “huge risks for citizens whose lives have been on hold for over 900 days,” added British in Europe. 

British in Europe also reiterated that the Withdrawal Agreement “takes away key freedom of movement and associated rights like the right to provide cross-border services and recognition of qualifications across the EU 27”.

Nevertheless, what Brits fear the most is what will happen to them on March 30th in the event that Britain should exit the bloc without a deal. Brits would effectively become third-country nationals. Their status would change and they would become subject to a spate of tougher migration laws.

“A default to Third Country National status would make all Britons effectively illegal immigrants on 30 March 2019,” states British in Europe.

RECAP: Brits in Europe vent anger after May postpones Brexit vote

Brits in Italy are equally upset as their EU counterparts. 

“I am furious with Theresa May. British citizens living in the EU have waited two years to know where we stand: we have always been told we are the first priority; but now she shows her absolute contempt for us by putting back the vote on our future in the vain hope of saving her job by getting concessions from the EU that she cannot possibly get,” Jeremy Morgan, a committee member of British in Italy, a group formed after the Brexit referendum to campaign to keep the rights of British nationals in Italy and Italians in the UK, said in a statement. 

Unlike France, Germany, the Netherlands and some other EU nations, Italy has not passed any legislation to accommodate resident Brits in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

READ ALSO: Italian foreign office reps suggest agreed rights for Brits could be ring-fenced in event of no-deal

“There is legislation in place in the UK giving all the EU residents the right to become legally resident in the event of a no deal, protecting their right to health care, to work.  When is the Italian government going to offer us this basic protection? Our situation is becoming intolerable,” adds Delia Dumaresq, a committee member of British in Italy. 

“Keeping people in limbo for 900 days is abuse,” Denise Abel, an Italian resident in the central Italian region of Umbria, told The Local. 

“The minute we lose our legal residence as EU citizens, we become illegal residents. There is no default position – unless the Italian government or the EU legislate to give us the protection of legal residence,” adds Dumaresq. 

Some of British in Italy's “critical” concerns include:

  • Renewing a carta d’identità (ID card) and being told that you are no longer entitled as you need a visa as an 'extracomunitario' (non-EU citizen).
  • Being stopped by the carabinieri (a branch of the police) driving with what has become an invalid car insurance.
  • Producing a Tessera Sanitaria (health card) to get medical treatment and being told it is no longer valid.
  • Seeking to renew a work contract, only to be told it cannot be done without a visa or permesso di soggiorno (residence permit for non-EU citizens).
  • Turning up at school as a teacher to be told you cannot continue because you are no longer legally resident as an EU citizen.

“Unless the Italian government steps up to the plate very quickly, the no-deal scenario means I will be unable to work legally from March 30th, 2019. How am I to feed my family?” Gareth, another British in Italy committee member, says in the campaign group's December 12th statement. 

Italian foreign office officials have recently hinted that they are keen to ring-fence, or at least legally protect, the rights of Brits living in Italy.

“The work that has been done on citizenship rights will not be lost even if there is no agreement,” Marco Peronaci, Italy's Brexit secretary, said at a meeting with British nationals on November 26th in Rome. 

READ ALSO: What Italy's new laws mean for your citizenship application

If you are a Brit in Italy and you share similar concerns, British in Italy will be holding an emergency meeting in Rome on December 14th from 4pm-6pm at the All Saints & Anglican Church, Via del Babuino 153, 00187, Rome. Those wishing to attend are invited to RSVP (ASAP!) by emailing .

Among other key topics relevant to Brits in Italy, the meeting will cover what will happen to the rights of Brits if the Withdrawal Agreement is approved; but also if it is rejected and a no-deal Brexit is the outcome.The meeting will also look at how Italy's immigration decree will affect citizenship applications by Brits in Italy. 

“The Friday meeting is of huge importance to the British community here – to get people actively talking to their local sindici [mayors], assessori [councillors], journalists etc. We need to push the Italian government to bring forward urgent legislation to give us legal status on March 30th, 2019,” Delia Dumaresq told The Local.

READ MORE: A Brexit checklist for Brits in Italy

For members


How new post-Brexit rules affect bringing goods to Italy via France

Following reports of a new post-Brexit customs rule meaning extra paperwork and fees when moving to European countries, here’s a look at how the rules apply to people moving their household goods from the UK to Italy.

How new post-Brexit rules affect bringing goods to Italy via France

There’s been talk on social media this week of a new Brexit rule that affects household furniture removals from the UK into Europe via France.

Couriers who regularly transport goods across the Channel have been reporting that a ‘T1’ form or bond is now required by French customs for all household moves from the UK.

Readers have been getting in touch to ask what this means for them – particularly whether this means there are new restrictions on moving goods to Italy or any other EU country.

So what is a T1 form, when will you need one, and why haven’t we heard about this before?

What’s changing

The T1 requirement has been in place for a long time, but it’s only now that France is getting around to enforcing it for the UK post-Brexit, explains Brian Murphy, managing director of the Dublin-based logistics company Global Trade.

A T1 transit declaration form tracks goods that are being transported between countries within the EU customs union from outside the EU. 

It provides the holder with proof that they need to make an import declaration and pay customs duties only upon reaching their final destination, Murphy tells The Local, and not in any of the other EU countries they transit through.

This is not a general requirement for all goods brought into the EU. Because the T1 tracks the movement of goods within the EU, it’s not needed if you’re bringing items from directly into one EU country – e.g. from the US to Italy by plane.

Why is this happening now?

Since Brexit, says Murphy, many removal vans coming from the UK had been using a “loophole” to avoid having to file a T1 form by declaring France as their final destination, even when it wasn’t.

Vehicles coming from the UK would simultaneously submit an export declaration to the UK authorities and an import declaration to the French authorities, providing a French address.

France would give the green light that no customs duty was due (as is typically the case with household moves), and the vehicle could enter the country and then proceed on to its final EU destination with no issues.

READ ALSO: Do you have to pay duty if you bring furniture from the UK to France?

Now, France appears to be closing the loophole by saying it will no longer allow this practice.

“France are now saying these are not destined for France, so do not import them into France: use the T1 to transit through France and import them into the country you’re going to,” says Murphy.

How could a new French customs rule affect shipments from the UK to Italy?


How does this affect people moving from the UK to Europe?

If you’re moving from the UK to, say, France or the Netherlands, this likely won’t affect you at all as you can travel to these countries directly (remember that the T1 is only needed when moving goods within the EU customs union).

Those moving from the UK to Italy and driving over via France, though, will now need to open a T1 form.

You can’t simply fill the form out yourself. It isn’t accessible to private individuals as it requires special software, so you’ll need to pay a freight forwarder, customs agent or removal company to do it for you.

READ ALSO: What are the rules on moving household goods to Italy?

If a moving company is handling your items, they should take care of this process for you. If you’re moving your items yourself (see below) you’ll still need to pay someone to open your T1 form.

This means you’ll incur additional costs; some say they’ve been quoted €100, but if you shop around, Murphy says, you might be able to get a better deal. 

This fee isn’t just for providing an administrative service, he adds, but because the company that opens the T1 also accepts liability for paying the potential customs debt if the goods go missing (if no customs duty is due, you could reasonably expect to pay less).

You might also experience some delays with your delivery, as a T1 must be “discharged” when the goods arrive in their destination country.

This means that before the delivery can be completed, the courier or moving company first has to go either to a customs office or an approved location known as an “authorised consignee” to report the cargo’s arrival and close out the T1.

What are the rules on transporting furniture and other household goods to Italy?

Photo by Michal Balog on Unsplash

Given that customs offices tend to have very limited opening hours, some couriers have raised concerns that this could create a major headache – but Murphy says in reality it shouldn’t result in any significant hold-ups, as there are numerous authorised consignee locations that can be used 24/7.

Companies that have any kind of base in the destination country (such as a warehouse or depot) can apply for these to become authorised premises, and you also can pay to use someone else’s authorised consignee location.

“All along the entry points from Switzerland into Italy, you will have these authorised consignees for your truck to pull in and discharge it and move on, and you’re not driving out of your way,” says Murphy.

What if I want to transport my own goods?

Italy’s customs declaration threshold is €10,000: if you’re bringing in items with a lower value than this, says Murphy, you only need to make an oral declaration to the authorities, and shouldn’t have to fill out a form.

If the value of your goods is above this threshold, you will need a T1 form.

As mentioned above, you can’t fill this form out yourself even if you’re moving your household goods independently.

The company or customs agent that opens your T1 form will provide you with a numerical code known as a Movement Reference Number, or MRN, that you will need in order to close out the form on arrival in Italy.

The customs office or authorised consignee where you want to discharge your T1 must be listed on the form at the time of filing, so you’ll need to set this up in advance.

Overall, while the T1 form requirement will likely add some extra fees, bureaucracy, and possible delays for people relocating from the UK to Italy, it’s far from being a major obstacle to a house move.

The T1 “is not an overly complex process,” says Murphy; “it’s just an extra step.”