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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

‘So stressful’: How Italy-UK driving licence fiasco threatens couple’s Tuscan dream

One couple from Manchester found the home of their Tuscan retirement dreams, but the stalemate over a UK-Italy driving licence agreement is throwing their future into question.

'So stressful': How Italy-UK driving licence fiasco threatens couple's Tuscan dream

Iain and Lynn Gosling lived and worked all their lives in and around Manchester – at a bank, where they met, then in various schools – but had always dreamed of retiring in Tuscany.

In 2018, with the Brexit clock ticking, they decided to take the plunge, and after a lengthy Place in the Sun-style hunt, they finally found their ideal home.

The podere (farmhouse) they chose just outside the town of Pomerance, in the province of Pisa, checked all their boxes: it had an olive grove, was close enough to the beach, had a friendly local community, and the town was particularly invested in green energy, sourcing most of its power from renewables.

Most importantly, it was just over an hour’s drive from Pisa airport, meaning they could regularly go back and visit family in the UK.

READ ALSO: ‘We bought the cheapest house in Piedmont and live mortgage free’

“We’d holidayed in Tuscany for 20 years, and the views and everything were even better than where we’d been holidaying. So we kind of thought we struck gold really,” says Lynn.

“When we saw it, we just knew, and when we went into the town it was such a good, welcoming feeling.”

Iain and Lynn's podere in Pomerance.

Iain and Lynn’s podere in Pomerance. Source: Iain Gosling.

The couple began building a new life, learning Italian and befriending local residents. They were careful to take the necessary steps to secure their future in Italy before the Brexit deadline, registering with the town hall and later obtaining carta di soggiorno residency cards.

But – like many other British nationals in Italy – the pair didn’t anticipate that almost two years on from Brexit, negotiations for a reciprocal driving licence agreement between the two countries would have stalled. It’s an ongoing state of limbo that threatens to make their retirement dream unworkable.

While with hindsight the pair would have exchanged their driving licences before the Brexit deadline, they believed a deal would soon be reached – especially as the UK allows EU licence-holders to drive with almost no restrictions.

“If we cannot drive in the short term, I’m sure we can find a way round it somehow,” says Iain. “Longer term? No, not really.”

READ ALSO: Do you have to take Italy’s driving test in Italian?

A 12-month grace period granted in 2021 is due to expire in January unless an agreement is reached, forcing UK drivers to choose between taking an Italian driving exam that could well turn out to be unnecessary, or gambling on a last-minute deal that risks leaving them without a valid licence if it doesn’t materialise.

For Iain and Lynn, who live a four-minute drive from the town on hilly country roads without access to public transport or pavements, it doesn’t feel like much of a choice.

“I’d be absolutely lost without driving,” says Lynn, who judges that without a car the couple would have to make daily hour-long round walks into town to buy basic necessities.

They decided that Iain would take the exam so that at least one of them would still be able to drive in the absence of a deal, and booked his theory test for November to give him time to prepare.

As a minimum of 32 days must pass between passing the theory test and sitting the practical exam, he’ll only just secure his Italian licence in time in the event that there’s no agreement – if he manages to pass both on the first go.

READ ALSO: Some of the best learner sites for taking your Italian driving test

Iain and Lynn outside their Tuscan farmhouse.

Iain and Lynn outside their Tuscan farmhouse. Source: Iain Gosling.

“So – no pressure on the theory test,” says Iain, who plans to fly back early from Christmas holidays in the UK to sit his practical exam if he succeeds in passing the former.

The couple know they could have begun the process earlier. But the test requires answering the same theory questions as a native Italian speaker and a taking mandatory six hours of practical lessons, and it isn’t cheap – Iain and Lynn estimate the total cost to be just under €1,000.

What’s more, those who pass an Italian driving test are classed as new drivers (neopatentati) for three years, which comes with a range of restrictions on speed limits and vehicle engine size, and a zero tolerance policy on alcohol.

READ ALSO: Driving licences: Are the UK and Italy any closer to reaching an agreement?

All this has made taking the test a last resort for people who believed the UK and Italian governments would have reached an agreement by this point – or have at least issued clear guidance as to what action UK licence-holders should take.

The UK’s ambassador to Italy stresses that negotiations continue – though has encouraged British residents to book an Italian driving test.

A spokesperson for the British Embassy in Rome told The Local in October: “Since August we have continued and intensified further our work with our Italian colleagues and have made progress towards our shared objective.”

Lynn says: “Over the last six months it was very optimistic, everything we were hearing. It’s just in the past two months that we’ve thought, well, wait a minute.”

If Iain doesn’t manage to pass the test before the deadline and no deal is reached, “we are stuck,” he says.

“This situation is so stressful.”

READ ALSO: How UK drivers in Italy face new problems after passing Italian driving test

The couple fear that without the ability to drive, their current lifestyle would be unsustainable.

“You wake up thinking about it, and you go to bed thinking about it,” says Lynn. “Anxiety, that’s how it makes you feel.”

“Someone will turn around and say, well why didn’t you take your driving tests 12 months ago so you’re not in this situation?” says Iain. “But if all the signs were encouraging from the ambassador, we thought well OK, we can keep our benefits here and we don’t want to lose them.”

While the embassy insists that negotiating the agreement is its top priority, Iain worries that the recent political upheaval in both the UK and Italy has pushed the issue on to the back burner.

“We have no choice but to have faith in our British representatives to deliver and soon too, because the previous regulation extension was far too late,” Iain says. “We need to know now so we can make definite plans and contingencies.”

Despite the stress, Iain and Lynn are determined to do all they can to find a way to remain in Pomerance, where they say they’ve been embraced by local residents and have become good friends with their Italian neighbours who occupy the other half of their semi-detached property.

“We don’t want to give this up,” says Iain. “We love it here and we want to stay.”

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