All UK citizens resident in Italy are advised by the British Embassy in Rome to apply for the new Italian attestazione di residenza, also known as the Attestazione di iscrizione anagrafica (Art. 18.4)
While not mandatory, it is a “declaratory” document proving residency rights under the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and is intended to help British citizens prove their status at government offices or when passing through border control.
But though it's supposed to help protect residents' rights, the document “does not indicate whether you have permanent residence or not”, according to the citizens’ rights campaign group British in Italy.
Furthermore, they said, the document “only evidences the period of your residence in your current comune.”
“So for example, if you have been resident in Italy for 20 years but only moved to your current comune in the past 12 months, your new WA attestazione will only identify the date of your residence as being in the past 12 months.”
“This is quite an issue for those in Italy who have the existing EU soggiorno permanente (permanent residency permit) or will acquire permanent residence status over the next year or so by having completed five years residence or more,” British in Italy explained.
Permanent residence status gives you the right to free healthcare, and also gives you extended rights of absences from Italy.
Campaigners report that when asked about the issue, the European Commission said UK nationals can prove permanent residence by other means. Although they also said “it is unequivocally important” that British nationals covered by the WA should be able to prove their right of permanent residence.
“As we know, in a highly bureaucratic and regionally diverse country like Italy, with anagrafe responsibilities devolved to nearly 8,000 individual comune, it is most unsatisfactory to rely on ‘proof by other means’,” stated campaigners from British in Italy.
“How is one to prove entitlement to healthcare? If a woman leaves the country to work abroad for four years, how does she persuade the frontier immigration official on return that she has not lost the right of residence as she was a permanent resident with the right to five years’ absence under the WA?”
“This is made all the more difficult as EU permanent residents are allowed only two years absence without losing permanent residence rights.”
While campaigners at the British in Europe organisation have taken this to the European Commission, British in Italy said they had asked the Italian interior ministry about the matter before the coronavirus crisis hit, adding that they “have recently written again to the government to follow this up.” and will post any updates on their website.
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Anyone worried about being able to prove their residency rights after living in more than one comune may be able to track down historic residency certificates through private companies online, British in Italy said.
“The Italian authorities have outsourced a number of document services in the last few years. One of those is the production of historic residency certificates,” they explained. “Whilst the cost is higher than requesting a residency certificate at the comune, you can order them through a number of companies online and they are usually delivered within a few days by email in pdf format and a few days later a hard copy will follow.”
“If you have concerns about being able to get historic residency certificates then we would urge you to take a look at these services which may make life easier.”
There is no time limit on applying for the attestazione di residenza document.
However UK citizens living in Italy must make sure they are legally registered as Italian residents before the end of the transition period, on December 31st 2020, in order to have their rights guaranteed under the Withdrawal Agreement.
Find more information about how to register as a resident in Italy on the British government’s website here.
Check out The Local's Brexit section for more details and updates.