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What Brexit means for British drivers in Italy

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What Brexit means for British drivers in Italy
Brexit won't stop Brits driving in Italy, but it will throw some extra obstacles in their path. Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP
12:50 CET+01:00
Should you swap your British licence? And do you need to re-register your car? Citizens' rights group British in Italy explains what drivers need to consider before the UK leaves the EU.

The British embassy and UK government websites advise everyone to swap their UK driving licences for an Italian one. While the UK is a member of the EU, that is generally a fairly straightforward process. So yes, if you can you should – before March 29th or any extension to B-Day.

However, Brexit being Brexit, things are not always that simple.

FOR MEMBERS: How to swap your British driving licence for an Italian one

You can exchange your existing British licence for an Italian one subject to two rather obvious conditions:

  1. That the licence is still valid.
  2. That you are legally resident.

But there is a snag.

If the Withdrawal Agreement is finally passed in parliament, any British resident in Italy (and the EU) will have until the end of the transition period, namely, until December 31st 2020 to exchange their British licence for an Italian or other EU country licence.

But if there is a no-deal scenario (whether on March 29th or a month or so later), you can no longer simply swap one licence for the other. It will mean taking a new test, including the written one.

READ ALSO: The ultimate no-deal Brexit checklist for Brits in Italy

Many British would-be residents will not have managed to get through the various bureaucratic hurdles prior to March 29th or its extension – for a variety of reasons, such as not being able to obtain the appointment with the local comune in time. But British in Italy has been assured by the Italian government that so long as they can prove that they were resident on or before March 29th or its extension, their applications for residence should be approved and back-dated.

There is, however, no similar leeway for applications to switch driving licences. So when you go to request the change, you will have to show proof of residence – usually a carta d’identità. And if that is after Brexit Day, it seems likely that it will be too late.

READ ALSO: Brits in Italy, it's your last chance to apply for residency as EU citizens

Your UK licence will no longer be valid for driving in Europe after Brexit and to stay on the road, you will need to acquire an International Driving Permit. There are two different ones required for European countries so check out which one you need for whichever country or countries you wish to drive in; and in either case you'll need the obligatory green insurance card as well.

For those who drive a UK registered car here, there is another snag. You now need to apply to re-register it in Italy within 60 days of your arrival! So which ‘arrival’ do you claim for that one? And while it is being re-registered you might try to find a friend with a spare car, because yours will be off the road for however long it takes.

FOR MEMBERS: Why Italy's new security decree could be a headache for foreign drivers

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

If you can persuade your friend to lend you theirs for a while, it is probably cheaper than re-registering a UK car. Wait for the next rottamazione or scrappage scheme (a more or less five-yearly event when the Italian car industry needs a little help), see if you can hand over the redundant UK-registered vehicle and get a massive discount on the brand-new Italian one.

P.S. Remember to take the spare house keys out of the glove box prior to its rottamazione; it's not easy to find them once the car has been crushed!

This article was written by British in Italy. Check their website and join their Facebook group for more Brexit advice.

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