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What Brexit means for British drivers in Italy

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.

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

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 B-Day (now set for the 31st of January).

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.

Now that the Withdrawal Agreement has been 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.

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 brexi day 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 Brexit day 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.

Member comments

  1. This seems to suggest that if the December 31 deadline is missed for residency, but residency is achieved after December 31, it would be too late for a straight swop but it would still be possible to drive in Italy with a UK license coupled with an international driving license. True?

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For members


The busiest Italian roads to avoid over Ferragosto weekend

Traffic authorities have warned of busy roads as people in Italy set off for the long summer holiday weekend. Here’s what you need to know.

The busiest Italian roads to avoid over Ferragosto weekend

Italy’s autostrade, or motorways, rarely see much in the way of heavy traffic during the cold season. But that all changes in summer, especially in August, when hundreds of thousands of Italians take to the road to reach their chosen holiday destinations. 

The Ferragosto weekend is generally the worst time of year to travel on Italian roads, and the latest road traffic forecasts show this year is no exception.

READ ALSO: The worst dates to travel on Italy’s roads this August

The official road traffic calendar released by the Italian State Police (Polizia di Stato) offers a good overview of which days are likely to see the worst congestion. 

The calendar is colour-coded, with a ‘yellow’ spot indicating heavy traffic, ‘red’ indicating heavy traffic with ‘possible critical conditions’, and ‘black’ indicating ‘critical’ traffic.

Italy's August traffic calendar warning.

Italy’s August traffic calendar warning. Source: Polizia di Stato

As the table shows, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are all expected to be marked by very intense or critical traffic, with congestion worst on Saturday morning.

The situation should improve on Monday, August 15th, the day of Ferragosto, though traffic on most Italian roads is expected to still be fairly heavy throughout the day.

READ ALSO: Ferragosto: Why the long August holidays are untouchable for Italians

Naturally, the best way to avoid getting stuck in traffic over the weekend (and consequently rediscovering your appreciation for Italian swear words) would be to travel outside of the above-mentioned days, that is either before or after them.

Should that not be possible, here’s a breakdown of the roads that are more likely to register nightmarish levels of traffic this weekend, according to Italian media reports. This might help you plan alternative routes or reschedule your departure times accordingly.

Motorways (Autostrade)

  • Motorway junctions RA13 and RA14 near Trieste, Friuli Venezia-Giulia
  • Motorway A14, connecting Bologna (Emilia-Romagna) to Taranto (Puglia)
  • Motorway A1, connecting Milan to Naples
  • Motorway A2, commonly known as the ‘Mediterranean Motorway’ (Autostrada del Mediterraneo), connecting Salerno (Campania) to Reggio Calabria (Calabria)
  • Motorway A30, connecting Caserta to Salerno (Campania)
  • Motorways A19 (Palermo-Catania) and A29 (Palermo-Mazara del Vallo) in Sicily

State Roads (Statali)

  • State Road 16, known as ‘Statale Adriatica’, going from Padua, Veneto to Otranto, Puglia
  • State Road 309, known as ‘Strada Romea’, connecting Venice to Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna
  • State Road 36, stretching from Sesto San Giovanni, Lombardy to Italy’s border with Switzerland (Passo dello Spluga)
  • State Road 18, commonly known as ‘Tirrenia Inferiore’ connecting Naples to Reggio Calabria
  • State Road 106, commonly known as ‘Statale Jonica’, stretching from Reggio Calabria to Taranto (Puglia)
  • State Road 148, known as ‘Statale Pontina’, stretching from Rome to Terracina and
  • State Road 7, known as ‘Statale Appia’, going from Rome to Brindisi (Puglia)
  • State Road 1, known as ‘Via Aurelia’, connecting Rome to Ventimiglia, Liguria
  • State Roads 675 (from Terni, Umbria to Monte Romano, Latium) and 3-bis (from Terni to Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna)
  • State Road 131, known as ‘Statale Carlo Felice’, connecting Cagliari to Porto Torres (Sardinia)

Unsurprisingly, the roads that tend to be busier over the Ferragosto weekend are those leading to popular tourist destinations, especially those located near the seaside.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which parts of Italy will get the most tourism this summer?

If you were planning on using one of the above-mentioned roads to reach your holiday destination, you may want to consider drawing up an alternative route.

A view of the A4 motorway near Verona

Motorists can keep up to date with the situation on the roads (closures, maintenance works, traffic, etc.) through a number of online services. Photo by Claudio MARTINELLI / AFP

Further information

The Italian State Police offers guidance on alternative itineraries at the following online links:

The following resources will keep you up to date with the latest developments on the roads:

This online map from Italy’s motorway construction and maintenance company ANAS features live updates on road closures, maintenance work, traffic levels and even weather conditions. The service is also available through their mobile app, ‘VAI’.

Motorway company Autostrade per l’Italia offers a similar live map, showing road closures and traffic jams as well as the locations of the nearest petrol stations and service areas. 

The Italian Transport and Infrastructure Ministry’s Twitter account gives live updates on the status of the country’s major roads. 

If you want to speak directly to an operator while you’re on the road, you can do so by either contacting ANAS’s customer service at 800 841 148 or using their live chat.