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Brexit Q&A: How are Brits’ rights to travel and move to Italy changing?

How long can you spend at your second home in Italy? What if you want to move here in future? And will you need a visa to visit? The British Embassy answers Brits' questions about travelling and moving to Italy after Brexit.

Brexit Q&A: How are Brits' rights to travel and move to Italy changing?
Can British nationals continue to travel freely to Italy after the UK leaves the EU? Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP

The following is taken from British Embassy Rome's Facebook Live Q&A on Travel and Mobility held on August 27th. You can watch the full session here.

UK in Italy will also be hosting further information sessions, including about healthcare and benefits. You can register to be notified of upcoming meetings here.

I live in the UK but own a second property in Italy, where I spend a significant part of the year. Will I still be able to divide my time between the EU and Italy after the end of the transition period?

The EU has already legislated that UK nationals will not need a visa when travelling to the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days in a rolling 180-day period.

This will apply from January 1st 2021 onwards, to all UK nationals travelling to and within the Schengen area for tourism, to visit friends or family, to attend cultural or sports events or exchanges, to attend business meetings, for journalistic or media purposes, for medical treatment, for short-term studies or training or any similar activities.

READ ALSO: How can British second-home owners spend more than 90 days in Italy after Brexit?

Stays beyond the EU’s 90/180 day visa-free allocation from January 1st 2021 onwards may be possible, but as things stand this will be a decision for the government of the individual Member State to make and implement, in the same way that EU Member States already do for non-EU citizens.

To stay for longer than 90 days in a rolling 180-day period, you may need a visa and/or permit from the relevant Member State.

The Travel Advice pages on gov.uk contain the latest information, including on entry requirements, for UK nationals planning to travel to Europe. We will continue to update those pages with the latest information, including on entry requirements, for UK nationals planning to travel. 

I am resident in the UK but I may wish to move to Italy in the future to settle. Will this be possible?

Outside of any negotiated mobility provisions, the European Commission has confirmed that UK nationals who move or travel to a country in the Schengen area after the transition period will be treated as third country nationals under EU and Member State migration rules.

READ ALSO: Brexit: What are the differences between moving to Italy before or after December 31st?

UK nationals who want to move to the EU after the transition period will be subject to individual Member States’ domestic immigration rules for third-country nationals, and will need to comply with any visa requirements of the relevant Member State.

I spend five months a year in Italy. Can I get residency now, so that I can continue to come and go as I like? And what’s the difference between temporary and permanent residency?

During this year, UK nationals are able to live, work and travel in Italy as they did before exit. If you want to take up residency before the end of the transition period (December 31st) you will need to be lawfully living in Italy and register for a residence status.

Provided you are lawfully resident in Italy before the end of the transition period, you will be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement. This would have implications on your entitlements to healthcare and other benefits in the UK.

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

You will be able to apply for temporary residence and stay until you have accumulated five years' continuous residence, at which point you will acquire the right to permanent residence.

In order to qualify for permanent residence, you will need to have been continuously resident in Italy for the past five years. To be considered continuously resident you need to have spent at least six months per year in Italy. Longer periods of absence are allowed in certain circumstances.

Further information on the Withdrawal Agreement is available here.  Further information on applying for residency in Italy is available on our Living in Italy guide.

I am a UK national and want to apply for temporary residency in Italy by the end of the year. Will I be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement if I do so – and do I need to stay in Italy to maintain my temporary residency status?

If you are lawfully living in Italy by December 31st you will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. Your rights will be protected for as long as you remain lawfully living in Italy.

You should register for residency as soon as you can. Italy requires you to register if you are staying in Italy for longer than 90 days.

READ ALSO: Five key things to know about applying for residency in the EU

If you register as a resident you will hold a residency status of a temporary resident. As a temporary resident you will need to be present in the country for 183 days in a 365 day period otherwise you will break your temporary residency status. These days do not have to be consecutive.

By following these guidelines, you will build up continuous residency, which is measured in years. If over five years, if you have been in Italy for 183 days total across 365 days for five consecutive years, you will qualify for Permanent Residency.

As a permanent resident under the Withdrawal Agreement you are able to be absent from Italy for up to five years without losing your permanent residency status and your status under the Withdrawal Agreement.

Further information on applying for residency in Italy is available on our Living in Italy guide.


Photo: AFP

How does 90/180 visa-free travel work? How are the Schengen Area travel rules calculated? Is the 90-day limit reset after every trip?

The definition of a short stay for non-EU citizens in the Schengen area is “90 days in any 180-day period”. This is a rolling 180-day period.

According to the European Commission’s user guide, the date of entry is considered as the first day of stay in the Schengen territory. The date of exit is considered as the last day of stay in the Schengen territory.

The 180-day reference period is not fixed. It is a moving window, based on the approach of looking backwards at each day of the stay, be it at the moment of entry or on the day of an actual check, such as inland police control or border check on departure.

Absence for an uninterrupted period of 90 days allows for a new stay of up to 90 days.

The EU’s short-stay calculator can be used for calculating the period of permitted stay for an individual. There is also an online user's guide with practical examples.

How are the Schengen Area rules implemented for those travelling between Member States/across internal borders e.g. for holidays or weekends away?

The length of a short stay is calculated between the date of entry to the Schengen Area and the date of exit. The time can be spent in any Schengen Area country.

The short stay time-limit is calculated separately in EU Member States that are not part of the Schengen Area. This means that a separate 90 days in any 180-day period can be spent in each of Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia individually.

Further information on the Schengen Area travel rules is available on the European Commission’s website – see the user guide.

Will I need a visa to work in another EU country in the future?

The EU has legislated that UK nationals will not need a visa when travelling to and within the Schengen Area for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

This will apply from the end of the transition period to all UK nationals travelling to and within the Schengen Area for tourism, to attend business meetings, for journalistic or media purposes, to attend cultural or sports events or exchanges, for short-term studies or training and any similar activities.

However, this visa waiver will not apply to UK nationals travelling for the purpose of taking up work or providing a service in the Member States. Member States may require a visa and/or work permit from UK nationals intending to work or provide a service there, even if it is for fewer than 90 days.

OPINION: 'All certainty has vanished' for British citizens living in Europe

UK nationals should check with the embassy of the country where they plan to travel for work or to provide a service for what type of visa or permit, if any, they will need.

The Travel Advice pages provide the most up-to-date information on travelling to EU Member States. These pages are updated on a regular basis.

Information about entry requirements for UK nationals intending to work or provide a service in an EU Member State after the transition period is available on our advice pages for providing services in the EU. Further guidance on travelling to the EU for business after the transition period is available here.

My Italian family members enter the UK using their Italian ID card. Can they continue to do so?

Italian citizens can, for now, continue to use an ID card at the UK border.

During 2021, EU citizens (other than those with protected rights under the Withdrawal Agreement) will have to use a passport rather than a national ID card to cross the border. The UK will announce further details of plans in due course and will provide notice of the changes in advance.

READ ALSO: What if I want to move back to the UK with my Italian partner after Brexit?


Photo: AFP

How long must my British passport be valid for at the point that I travel to the EU? Is this requirement different during the transition period and after the Transition Period?

UK nationals can continue to travel to or within the EU exactly as they do now until the end of the transition period.

New rules will apply to UK nationals for travel to the Schengen Area from January 1st 2021. British passport holders will need to have at least six months left on an adult or child passport to travel to countries in the Schengen Area.

READ ALSO: What Brits in Europe need to know about travel after December 31st

If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over ten years may not count towards the six months needed.

You will need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough time left on your passport.

I have residency status in Italy. So how will border officials know I don’t need a visa when I’m travelling back to Italy?

Rules on travelling remain unchanged this year.

From next year UK nationals visiting Italy for longer than 90 days in 180 days may need a visa. This does not apply to those with residency status in Italy whose rights to live in Italy are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you are a resident we advise you to take your residency documentation with you when travelling (including the new ‘attestazione di iscrizione anagrafica’ issued under the Withdrawal Agreement) as well as your Italian ID card (which is only issued to residents in Italy). This documentation will show border officials that you are not limited to the 90 days in 180 days visa-free travel when returning home.

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


ID checks at Fiumicino airport in Rome. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

I am a resident in Italy. Will I need to have my passport stamped when travelling across the Italian border, for example if I visit friends in the UK?

Rules on travel remain unchanged this year.

From 2021 UK nationals visiting Italy are likely to have their passport stamped when entering and exiting as evidence of the date of arrival and departure.

READ ALSO: EU or non-EU: Which passport queue should Brits use after Brexit?

As a resident in Italy you should not have your passport stamped. We recommend that you take your Italian ID card and your residency documentation with you when travelling.

I would like to have a biometric Italian ID card rather than the paper version I have at the moment. Can I exchange my current one for a biometric card?

You can obtain the updated biometric Italian ID card from your local comune when your current ID card has expired (or you have lost it or it has been damaged). Contact your local comune for more details.

I am a dual-national UK/Italian. What travel documents should I use when travelling between Italy and the UK?

Both a UK passport and an Italian ID card (without the wording 'Non valido per l'espatrio') or passport are valid for entering the UK and Italy (Italian ID cards valid for travel are issued to those holding Italian nationality).

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

You may wish to use a UK passport to enter the UK and your Italian ID card or passport to enter Italy. You should ensure that when travelling you hold the travel document that you used when checking into your flights if you are travelling by air.

I live in Italy but regularly work in France. Can I continue to do so from 2021 on the same basis as now?

Frontier workers are defined as EU citizens or UK nationals who regularly undertake economic activity in one or more states in which they do not reside, irrespective of whether they also work in the state of residence. Frontier workers may be employed or self-employed.

Individuals need to be frontier working at the end of the transition period (December 31st this year) in order to be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement and therefore continue to be able to work as you do now. Your rights are protected for as long as you continue to be a frontier worker.

READ ALSO: 

You should therefore take professional advice as to whether you hold the status of a frontier worker.

A frontier worker is a UK national or an EU citizen pursuing genuine and effective work as an employed or self-employed person in one or more host states and who resides in another state, unless or until they no longer retain the status of a worker (equivalent to that as defined in the Free Movement Directive) or they cease to work across a frontier in accordance with Articles 45 and 49 TFEU and Reg. 492/2011.

For more information, see the UK government's guide to help and services in Italy and follow UK in Italy on Facebook or Twitter.

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BREXIT

Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Brexit really does mean that Britons are no longer EU citizens. Claudia Delpero looks at whether there's any other way they can keep their rights.

Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Britons lost EU citizenship when the UK left the EU, on 1st February 2020. 

It is the first time the EU’s top court has rules on the matter, after a number of legal cases challenged this specific Brexit outcome. The decision also sets a precedent should other countries decide to leave the bloc in the future. 

What has the EU Court decided?

The Court of Justice decided on a case brought by a British woman living in France.

Before Brexit, she could vote and stand as a candidate in her town of residence, Thoux. But after the UK withdrawal from the EU, she was removed from the electoral roll and excluded from the municipal elections that took place in March 2020, during the transition period.  

As the mayor refused her appeal to restore the registration, she took the case to the regional court in Auch, which agreed to request an interpretation of the rules to the EU top court. 

Julien Fouchet, the barrister supporting her and several other cases on the EU citizenship of British nationals, argued that the loss of EU citizenship and voting rights was disproportionate. It would also be contrary to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, given that the woman also lost her voting rights in the UK, having lived abroad for more than 15 years.

Alice Bouillez, who has lived in France since 1984 and is married to a French national, could have applied for French citizenship, but did not do so because she said “this was not necessary” before Brexit and, as a former UK official, she had taken an oath of allegiance to the Queen.

On Thursday the Court of Justice announced the decision about her case. The court ruled that the “possession of the nationality of a member state is an essential condition for a person to be able to acquire and retain the status of citizen of the Union and to benefit fully from the rights attaching to that status.”

The court therefore confirmed that British nationals automatically lost their EU citizenship as a result of Brexit and, as a consequence, Britons also lost their voting and electoral rights in municipal elections in the EU (unless the country where they live set different rules). 

What is EU citizenship?

EU citizenship was introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht of 1992, when borders were opening and the bloc was integrating economically after the end of the Cold War. 

Under the treaty, every person holding the nationality of an EU member state is a citizen of the Union. EU citizenship is additional and does not replace nationality, the treaty specifies. But this creates the first form of a transnational citizenship that grants rights across borders.

EU citizens have the right to access each other’s territory, job market and services under the principle of non-discrimination. If they are economically active, they have the right to reside in other EU states and be joined by family members, access healthcare at the same conditions of nationals (for emergency treatment also when travelling temporarily), obtain social security benefits and see their professional qualifications recognised.

Beyond free movement, at the core of EU citizenship there are also political rights, such as participating in the European Parliament election, voting and standing as candidates in municipal elections when living in other EU countries, receiving consular protection from other EU states outside the EU, and taking part in European Citizens’ Initiatives asking to the EU to legislate on certain matters. 

Which EU citizenship rights have Britons lost with Brexit? 

For British citizens who were living in the EU before Brexit, the Withdrawal Agreement protects some of these rights. Britons covered by deal have their residence, access to work and education, healthcare, social security and qualifications secured, but only in the country where they were living before Brexit.

But the right to free movement in other EU states, consular protection in third countries, and the political rights attached to EU citizenship were lost, the Court confirmed. 

For British citizens in the UK, the trade and cooperation agreement has preserved some social security rights and, in theory, the possibility to have professional qualifications recognized when moving to an EU country. These provisions however lack details and may take a long time before they work in practice. 

As the “European Union” no longer features on British passports, the possibility to access EU lanes at airports to skip passport control queues has also vanished. 

“The loss of those treasured rights has been clear to those of us living in the EU from the early days of Brexit. But for Brits in the UK, the realities of life outside the EU, and the consequences of Brexit, are only just dawning. Long queues at the borders, roaming charges, obstacles to working abroad, etc. are the new reality,” said Sue Wilson, Chair of the group Remain in Spain. 

While she said the court’s decision was “no real surprise,” she argued that “this is not the Brexit the public were promised, or that the majority voted for.”

Can British citizens get some of these rights back?

Julien Fouchet was disappointed at the Court decision and promised to continue the legal fight, bringing the case at the European Court of Human Rights (which is not an EU institution). 

Other two cases on the matter of EU citizenship for British nationals are still pending at the Court of Justice of the EU. One of them aims to determine whether EU citizenship is a “fundamental status” that cannot be removed but Thursday’s decision could have already provided the answer.

Another option to reconsider some of the rights is the renegotiation of EU-UK trade agreement, when it will be reviewed in 2025. 

Meanwhile, the EU is revising the rules for non-EU citizens living in EU countries on a long-term basis, making it easier to move across borders. 

Applying for citizenship is so far the only option to regain voting rights, although not all EU countries allow dual nationality. 

Sue Wilson, who has long campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU, said: “There is only one way to restore the loss of our rights, and that’s to rejoin the single market, rejoin the customs union, and eventually, rejoin the European Union… Until that day, we will continue to be second class citizens whose rights have been diminished for the sake of an ideology.”

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