BREXIT: Why UK citizens may face problems proving they have permanent Italian residence

British citizens working to secure their rights as residents in Italy ahead of Brexit could face difficulties in proving they have permanent residence using a new Italian government document, campaigners have warned.

BREXIT: Why UK citizens may face problems proving they have permanent Italian residence
File photo: Patrick Herzog/AFP
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.
Photo: AFP
“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.
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.


Member comments

  1. Just getting the ‘attestazione di iscrizione anagrafica’ from the local registry office has been difficult for me. Of course Covid-19 has complicated matters. I’ve been trying to get it since last February and still haven’t succeeded. The feedback the British Ambassador to Italy has been getting on this subject and which she referred to in her last newsletter to British citizens living in Italy suggests I’m not the only one with this problem. I suggest that those British citizens living in Italy who want to keep updated on questions relating to their post-Brexit rights sign up to the newsletter of the British Ambassador to Italy: A Message From Jill Morris, Her Majesty’s Ambassador. The last one (July 24th) contained a link to obtain the Italian government’s instructions (circolare n.3/2020) to registry offices regarding the ‘attestazione di iscrizione anagrafica’.

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‘It’s their loss’: Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

The UK is missing out by barring highly skilled Italian graduates from accessing a new work visa, Italy's Universities Minister said on Wednesday.

'It's their loss': Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

Universities and Research Minister Cristina Messa said she was disappointed by the UK’s decision not to allow any graduates of Italian universities access to its ‘High Potential Individual’ work permit.

“They’re losing a big slice of good graduates, who would provide as many high skills…it’s their loss,” Messa said in an interview with news agency Ansa, adding that Italy would petition the UK government to alter its list to include Italian institutions.

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“It’s a system that Britain obviously as a sovereign state can choose to implement, but we as a government can ask (them) to revise the university rankings,” she said.

The High Potential Individual visa, which launches on May 30th, is designed to bring highly skilled workers from the world’s top universities to the UK in order to compensate for its Brexit-induced labour shortage.

Successful applicants do not require a job offer to be allowed into the country but can apply for one after arriving, meaning potential employers won’t have to pay sponsorship fees.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP.

The visa is valid for two years for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and three years for PhD holders, with the possibility of moving into “other long-term employment routes” that will allow the individual to remain in the country long-term.

READ ALSO: Eight things you should know if you’re planning to study in Italy

Italy isn’t the only European country to have been snubbed by the list, which features a total of 37 global universities for the 2021 graduation year (the scheme is open to students who have graduated in the past five years, with a different list for each graduation year since 2016).

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL Switzerland, Paris Sciences et Lettres, the University of Munich, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute are the sole European inclusions in the document, which mainly privileges US universities.

Produced by the UK’s Education Ministry, the list is reportedly based on three global rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Messa said she will request that the UK consider using ‘more up-to-date indicators’, without specifying which alternative system she had in mind.