bureaucracy For Members

Brexit meets Italian bureaucracy: How to deal with the ultimate paperwork nightmare

The Local Italy
The Local Italy - [email protected]
Brexit meets Italian bureaucracy: How to deal with the ultimate paperwork nightmare
Getting your paperwork done in Italy is rarely straightforward at the best of times. Photo: AFP

Brexit might have become reality, but Brits shouldn't experience any changes to their rights in Europe until the end of the year. Although some Italian officials might try to tell you otherwise.


British citizens living in Italy keep their right to freedom of movement in the EU until the end of the year - during the so-called “transition period”.

READ ALSO: How to beat (or just survive) bureaucracy in Italy: the essential pieces of paperwork

That period lasts until December 31st 2020 - unless it is extended on agreement by both Brussels and London. Until then, not much changes regarding the rights of Brits living in Italy.
But when attempting to file paperwork with government offices recently, UK nationals living in Italy have reported running into problems with some Italian offficials providing incorrect information.

Photo: AFP

British readers have told The Local of problems with officials insisting they are now subject to new requirements, or asking for documents that simply don't exist.

The most alarming example we've heard so far of an official getting their facts wrong was from a reader in Calabria, who reported being (wrongly) told in early January that she was now a third-country national and had to reapply for residency under different rules.

"For some reason this guy thought we'd left the EU on January 1st and he apparently had no concept of the transition period," she told The Local. "I was very flustered trying to correct him in Italian, and he wasn't having it. I had to go back later with an Italian friend, and luckily we spoke to a different clerk."

Of course, the transition period means nothing has yet changed regarding residency rights.

UK citizens also still have the right to move to Italy (or any other European country) during this time, and they will still have the right to apply for the certificato di residenza, also referred to sometimes as the attestazione di residenza, until the end of December 2020, a British Embassy spokesperson has confirmed.

This will either take the form oof an attestazione di iscrizione anagrafica, for temporary residents, or the attestazione di soggiorno permanente cittadini UE, for permanent residents (more than five years residency)

These documents are given to EU nationals by the Comune. The old permesso di soggiorno document no longer exists for UK nationals.

READ ALSO: The ultimate guide to getting residency in Italy

After that, things are less clear. Brits are being advised to get their Italian residency paperwork in order and exchange their driving licenses before the end of the year.

Although some readers have encountered issues doing this, too.

“My partner just went to exchange his driving license for an Italian one and they wanted the paper part of the UK license which is of course now obsolete. At a bit of a loss as to how to tackle this,” commented one British reader in Piedmont.

Italian officials are famous for each interpreting rules in their own way, meaning that the same bureaucratic process can vary quite a bit from one town to another – and some strange requests can be made at times.

But rest assured that the paper part of the old UK license is not officially a requirement when swapping your British license for an Italian one. If you're having trouble exchanging your license, local driving schools can usually help you with the process.

READ ALSO: What Brexit means for British drivers in Italy

And, at least before the end of December 2020, there will be no changes to the rules on driving licences.

Even some routine admin tasks have now become more difficult because of Brexit confusion.

“I went to register a change of address as I have recently moved to a new apartment, and the official said I might need a different form this time because the UK is no longer in the Schengen zone,” said Louise Fallon, who has lived in Italy for six years.

“I pointed out that the UK is not and never has been part of the Schengen area, but she seemed to think that was what Brexit was. I got what I needed in the end, but it wasn't very reassuring.”

READ ALSO: How the rules for Italian citizenship changed for Brits on Brexit day

No doubt Brexit-related legislation is a confusing topic for many people. But what are you supposed to do when even the bureaucrats aren't clear about what the rules are?

“Anyone who experiences problems accessing their rights "on the ground" should refer to the Italian government's website,” said a spokesperson for campaign group British in Italy, “which makes it clear that freedom of movement rights continue during transition.”

You can find the specific section on rights under the Withdrawal Agreement here (in Italian.)

“There is also the option of using the British Embassy's consular contact form if significant problems are experienced,” British in Italy said.

“We hope that the Italian government will be communicating at regional and local level over the weeks and months to come.”

Do you have any questions about life in Italy after Brexit, or have you experienced any similar difficulties with Italian bureaucracy yourself? Get in touch and let us know.

Photo: AFP


Comments (2)

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Anonymous 2020/02/06 10:14
ASL called Earlier this week to say our tessera was no longer valid post brexit and we needed an S1. Explained to her we were in a transition period and nothing changes until end of December. Asl person insists “ significa niente”. I repeated we don’t need an S1 as we have the PR, with more than 5 years residence and our tessera is on this basis, that Italy is the competent government for this and as uk citizens protected under the withdrawal agreement we can continue to receive our healthcare this year as nothing changes until next December, that the ASL has copies of our PR certificates and our tessera remains valid. She trots off to speak to her manager then comes back and confirms I am correct. Then says goodbye. No apologies no explanation… And so it begins.
Anonymous 2020/02/05 16:46
A bit confusing, all this. This article states: 'Of course, the transition period means nothing has yet changed regarding residency rights.' But The Local's recent article 'How the rules for Italian citizenship change for Brits on Brexit day' [31 Jan] stated: 'While many people may have thought the terms for Italian citizenship applications based on residency would remain the same after Brexit day, at least during the transition period, British Embassy officials have confirmed that this is not the case.' They can't both be true.

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