UPDATE: How British second home owners can spend more than 90 days in Italy after Brexit

While Brexit is throwing up many complications for British people who live full-time in Italy (or plan to), there is another group who will be impacted by the changes in 2021 - second home owners.

UPDATE: How British second home owners can spend more than 90 days in Italy after Brexit
Photo: AFP

Italy’s food, weather, and attractive house prices help make it the dream holiday home location for many Brits.

Some intend that eventually their second home will become their main residence – often by retiring to Italy – while others just enjoy spending prolonged periods of time in their second home, but want to keep their main home in the UK.

For those people it’s important to note that the 90-day rule will kick in once the Brexit transition period ends on December 31st 2020.

The rule – the same one which has always been in place for all non-EU citizens wanting to spend time in EU countries – states that you can spend 90 out of every 180 days in the EU without needing to get visas or residency.

OPINION: Yes, second-home owners should be furious about the post-Brexit 90-day rule

So people who currently like to spend long, relaxed summers in Italy, or come here to avoid colder winters in the UK, will find that their plans are curtailed by Brexit.

This site has a fuller explanation of how the 90-day rule works, as well as a calculator to allow you to work out your visits.

A few things to note are;

  • The rule allows for 90 days in every 180, so in total in the course of a year you can spend 180 days in Italy, just not all in one go
  • The rule applies to the whole of the EU, so if you spend a whole three months in Italy you can’t then go for a week in Paris within the same 180 day period
  • The clock only stops once you leave the EU and head to a non-EU country (which the UK will be from December 31st 2020).

But are there ways round this to allow for longer trips?

Will you need a visa?

With the 90-day rule in place, the way for non-residents to spend more time in Italy will now be to get a long-stay visa 

After the end of the Brexit transition period, British citizens will require a long-stay visa, Italian authorities have confirmed.
“Starting from January 1st 2021, British citizens planning to stay in Italy for more than 90 days (‘long stay’) within 180 days, will be subject to national visa requirements, according to the Italian immigration rules applied to third country nationals,” stated the Italian consulate in London on December 17th.
The consulate advises visiting the Interior Ministry’s website for more details about the process of applying for a long-stay visa.
You can also find out more about the process of obtaining a visa on the EU immigration portal.
British citizens coming to Italy for a short stay of less than 90 days (in a 180-day period) will not require a visa, the Italian consulate confirmed.
This means that British citizens will therefore not need a Schengen short-stay visa to spend up to 90 days in Italy within a period of 180 days.

Should you get Italian residency?

If you really want to spend long periods in Italy you may be looking at taking up Italian residency.

This is more than simply declaring that you live in Italy. To become resident you will need to apply for a residency permit or permesso di soggiorno – which comes with its own conditions, see more on those here.

However you will also need to become a tax resident in Italy, which means filing annual tax returns with Italian authorities, even if all you income comes from the UK or elsewhere, and registering with the Italian healthcare system (which may not be free.)

These are some of the most commonly-cited reasons for people choosing not to take up Italian residency.


You cannot be a permanent resident of two countries at once, so if you become an Italian resident you have to give up your British residency which has an impact on things like tax and access to the NHS.

Is it possible to slip under the radar?

Many British people have got used to coming and going with minimal paperwork or checks, and without having to keep track of how many days were spent where.

But passport checks are expected to become stricter from the end of this year, not least because British nationals will no longer be able tp use the EU/EEA/CH passport queue.

If you are caught over-staying your allocated 90 days you can end up with an ‘over-stay’ flag on your passport which can make it difficult to enter any other country, not just Italy, and is likely to make any future attempts at getting visas or residency a lot more difficult.

See The Local’s Brexit section for more details and updates.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.