No-deal Brexit: Concern in Italy over harsh new residency rules for Brits

Fingerprinting, a €200 fee and strict restrictions on travel outside of Italy – that's what Brits resident in Italy could face in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to the Italian government.

No-deal Brexit: Concern in Italy over harsh new residency rules for Brits
Anti-Brexit demonstrations in Rome. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

British citizens in Italy are concerned about the contents of a new government decree published last week which, while it offered some clarity on what they'll face if the UK leaves Europe without a deal, also brought up many new questions and concerns.

Brits applying for a long-term residency permit after five years of living in Italy would be required to show they'd not been out of Italy for more than a total of ten months in that five-year period – a far stricter requirement than for EU citizens.

How exactly they'd be expected to prove this is unknown, and campaigners are now asking for clarifications – or for the requirement to be scrapped.

Applicants would also be subject to fingerprinting and would have to pay a fee of between €80-€200 for the new status, the government said.

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The decree sets out the bare bones of what British citizens resident in Italy can expect in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

As third-country nationals, or extracomunitari, Brits who've been resident in Italy for five years or more at the date of Brexit would need to apply for a new permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo status.

Those applying for the new form of residency after five years in Italy would “only be permitted to have been away from Italy for periods not exceeding five months individually and a cumulative total of 10 months in the five years,” British in Italy stated in their most recent update on the decree.

Image: Depositphotos.

Some angry British residents in Italy took to social media to accuse the Italian government of “moving the goalposts” and said the proposed new restrctions on travel were unworkable.

The absences allowed while calculating the five years residence period are much less generous than those for EU citizens, and are expressed as a condition of acquiring long-term residence as a third country national,” British in Italy explained in their updated summary of the decree released on March 25.

The cumulative total of ten months is “particularly concerning”, the group said, and “might well have been exceeded by many who have been out of Italy quite lawfully while the UK was a member of the EU – whether studying in another EU country including UK, on holiday, for short periods of work or to look after a family member.”

Furthermore, many will have no proper record of the dates of absences.”

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The group also pointed out that the decree doesn't make clear how the potential application process would work.

It's not known if qualifying Brits registered at their local Italian anagrafe will get this new status “almost automatically” by simply proving that they're registered, or “whether we have to satisfy all the conditions for this status such as a minimum income and possibly health insurance which the EU Directive 109/2003 on which the law is based does require.”

And what will be required to evidence or prove the periods of absence?” they asked.

These terms would apply only if the UK fails to reach any other agreement with the EU, and only from the date the UK actually withdraws.

British in Italy gave a full list of their concerns about the decree in their most recent update, and say they're now seeking clarification on these issues from the Italian government.

They added: “Please remember this new legislation is just necessary planning for a no-deal situation which we certainly hope is not going to take place at all.”

You can find the full decree online here (in Italian); see articles 14, 15 and 17 for the sections on citizens' rights.



Member comments

  1. In all fairness, naturalising in the UK is a far more onerous process.

    Over and above the near £1,300 cost, you’re not allowed to be out of the country for more than 270 days in the 3 years before your application and not more than 90 days in the last 12 months.

    And this isn’t even transparent – these goal posts move so often and seem to be applied so randomly, that one is never really sure where one stands!

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Driving licences: Are the UK and Italy any closer to reaching an agreement?

With ongoing uncertainty over whether UK driving licences will continue to be recognised in Italy beyond the end of this year, British residents are asking where they stand.

Driving licences: Are the UK and Italy any closer to reaching an agreement?

Many of The Local’s British readers have been in touch recently to ask whether any progress has been made in negotiations between the UK and Italy on a reciprocal agreement on the use of driving licences.

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with the background of this Brexit consequence.

READ ALSO: Frustration grows as UK driving licence holders in Italy wait in limbo

When Britain left the EU there was no reciprocal agreement in place, but UK licence holders living in Italy were granted a grace period in which they could continue to drive on their British licences. This period was later extended to the current deadline of December 31st, 2022.

The situation beyond that date however remains unclear, and concern is growing among the sizeable number of British nationals living in Italy who say no longer being allowed to drive would be a serious problem.

There was the option of exchanging licences before the end of 2021, but many didn’t make the deadline. As has been proven before, this was often not due to slackness but rather all manner of circumstances, from having moved to Italy after or shortly before the cut-off date to bureaucratic delays.

Driving licences: How does the situation for Brits in Italy compare to rest of Europe?

So is an agreement any closer? Or do those driving in Italy on a UK licence really need to go to the considerable trouble and expense of sitting an Italian driving test (in Italian)?

With five months left to go, there’s still no indication as to whether a decision will be made either way.

The British government continues to advise licence holders to sit their Italian driving test – while also stressing that they’re working hard on reaching a deal, which would make taking the test unnecessary.

This message has not changed.

On Wednesday, July 27th, British Ambassador to Italy Ed Llewellyn tweeted after a meeting with Italian Infrastructure and Transport Minister Enrico Giovannini: “The British and Italian governments continue to work towards an agreement on exchange of driving licences.”

But the ambassador earlier this month advised UK nationals “not to wait” and to “take action now by applying for an Italian licence”.

In an official newsletter published in mid-July, Llewellyn acknowledged the concerns of British residents and confirmed that negotiations are still going on.

“I know that many of you are understandably concerned about whether your UK driving licence will continue to be recognised in Italy, especially when the extension granted by Italy until 31 December 2022 for such recognition expires.

“Let me set out where things stand. The British Government is working to reach an agreement with Italy on the right to exchange a licence without the need for a test. 

READ ALSO:  Do you have to take Italy’s driving test in Italian?

“The discussions with our Italian colleagues are continuing and our objective is to try to reach an agreement in good time before the end of the year.

“We hope it will be possible to reach an agreement – that is our objective and we are working hard to try to deliver it. 

Nevertheless, he said, “our advice is not to wait to exchange your licence.”

“If you need to drive in Italy, you can take action now by applying for an Italian licence. This will, however, involve taking a practical and theory test.” 

He acknowledged that “the process is not a straightforward one and that there are delays in some areas to book an appointment for a test”.

READ ALSO: ‘Anyone can do it’: Why passing your Italian driving test isn’t as difficult as it sounds

“We will continue to work towards an agreement,” he wrote. “That is our objective and it is an objective we share with our Italian colleagues.“

The British Embassy in Rome had not responded to The Local’s requests for further comment on Friday.

The Local will continue to publish any news on the recognition of British driving licences in Italy. See the latest updates in our Brexit-related news section here.

Find more information on the UK government website’s Living in Italy section.