Brexit Day is creeping ever closer. On March 29, 2019, British citizens will lose their EU citizenship, and with it the associated rights that have, until now, allowed them to live and work legally in Italy and other EU member states.
After Brexit though, they’ll be relying on the goodwill of individual EU member states to guarantee that they can continue to live and work in the countries they call home.
In Italy, the good news is that things won’t change as much as you might expect – at least, not in the short term.
British in Italy, the citizens’ rights group, has been campaigning to keep as many of these rights as possible.
And Italian government officials have told the group they’re working on measures that would allow British citizens resident in Italy to keep their rights in the country post-Brexit.
Nothing is finalised yet. We don't have the full details of how Italian government legislation will look; campaigners say the legislation will be published “not long before Brexit day”.
But we do have a draft text giving some idea of what British citizens can expect to change – deal or no deal.
The transition period
The first thing to know is that the Italian government has confirmed there will definitely be a transition period after the UK leaves the EU – we just don't know how long it will be yet.
It could be six to nine months, or it could last until December 31, 2020. The length of the transition period depends on whether a deal – a ratified Withdrawal Agreement (WA) between the EU and UK – is reached or not.
But the good news is that, during this transition period, your rights will remain the same.
“Importantly, the Italian government confirmed to British in Italy that UK citizens will continue to enjoy all their existing EU rights of residence, to healthcare, to work, education or study within Italy throughout either of the two possible transition periods starting 30th March 2019,” wrote British in Italy.
But then what happens?
There are two possible scenarios:
“The EU and the British Government reached an agreement in November 2018, the potential Withdrawal Agreement (WA), on the rights that will be substituted for our EU rights if, and that is a big if, the agreement is approved by the British parliament,” said British in Italy.
“There currently seems little chance that it will be approved.”
You can find British in Italy's entire text here in Italian.
FOR MEMBERS: The ultimate guide to getting residency in Italy
Anti-Brexit protesters in Rome. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
In either case, here's what we know so far, based on the Italian government's draft Brexit plan.
Pre-Brexit: until March 29, 2019
UK citizens currently have the right to residency as EU citizens (under EU Directive 2004/38).
Although EU citizens can travel freely around European member states, anyone staying longer than three months in Italy is required to apply for a certificato di residenza (residence certificate) at their local anagrafe (registry office).
It is something of a formality, and many people don't register for one reason or another. But if you haven't registered before the UK leaves the EU, you won't be covered by legislation being drawn up to protect the rights of British citizens resident in Italy.
After a withdrawal under agreement
If there is a deal, the Italian government intends to follow the procedure set out in the Withdrawal Agreement that recognizes the rights of UK citizens resident in Italy at the end of the transition period (In this case, that would be December 31, 2020).
UK citizens will have to follow the administrative procedure (which is still to be decided) to have their rights recognised by that date.
After a no-deal Brexit
Before the end of the transition period, from March 30, 2019, UK citizens registered as Italian residents will have to register again at the police headquarters as resident under the new status of third country nationals (CPT)
It's important to note that the government has not yet released full details of the requirements for British citizens to re-register as third country nationals in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
Currently, non-EU citizens must apply for a visa for any stays of longer than three months.
For more details on this, read our articles on the current residency requirements and current citizenship requirements. However, it's not known whether or how much these could change for Brits post-Brexit.
The Italian government has promised to treat UK citizens “generously” during this process, as advised by the EU, and has indicated that they may not need to fulfil all of the usual CPT requirements.
We'll know more when Italian officials release the final draft of their Brexit-planning legislation.