Explained: What Brits need to know about visas for Italy after Brexit

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Explained: What Brits need to know about visas for Italy after Brexit
Travellers wearing face coverings walk with their luggage in the almost deserted departures hall at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport in west London on December 21, 2020, as a string of countries around the world banned travellers arriving from the UK, due to the rapid spread of a new, more-infectious coronavirus strain. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to chair a crisis meeting Monday as a growing number of countries blocked flights from Britain over a new highly infectious coronavirus strain the UK said was "out of control". (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP)

UK nationals looking to spend time in Italy may require a visa now that they are no longer EU citizens. Here's a guide to your options.


Brexit has complicated life for Britons looking to come to Italy for any number of reasons. And now, UK nationals who are not residents in Italy have to factor in that they may need a visa for their stay.

Will Britons need a visa for a short visit to Italy?

No, Italy is not requiring a visa for British tourists to visit for up to 90 days. Business travellers will not require a visa either, as long as their trip is no longer than 90 days.

In both cases, note that your passport will need to be valid for at least three months from the date of entry into the Schengen zone.


What is the 90-day rule?

The rule, which applies to all non-EU residents, says that people who are not resident can only spend 90 days out of every 180 in the EU.

So in total over the course of a year you can spend 180 days, but not all in one block.

READER QUESTION: Can Brits stay more than 90 days in the EU if they have a European spouse?

It's important to point out that the 90-day limit is for the whole Schengen area, so for example if you have already spent 89 days in Italy you cannot then go for a week in Spain. 

This Schengen calculator allows you to calculate your visits and make sure you don't overstay.

What if I want to spend a longer period of time in Italy?

The end of freedom of movement between the UK and the EU effectively ends any longer stays in Italy without a visa.

This means anyone planning a move to Italy from 2021 will need to obtain a visa before applying for Italian residency.

The 90-day rule also applies to second home owners who are not resident in Italy. As you can only be resident in one country at a time, Brexit means people who used to split their time freely between the two countries face a choice between applying for Italian residency or keeping UK residency and limiting the time they spend in Italy.

Those wishing to now become residents in Italy will also have to apply for a long-stay visa before making their residency application.

READ ALSO: How Brits can properly plan their 90 out of 180 days in Italy and the Schengen zone

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP


What are the different Italian visa types available?

Requirements and fees vary depending on the type of visa you need to apply for.

Here is a quick overview of the types of visa available for non-residents hoping to spend more than 90 days in 180 in Italy.

National visa or elective residency visa

Italy announced in December that from January 1st it would be requiring UK nationals to apply for a long-stay visa if staying in the country for more than 90 days in 180 as per the rules applied to all non-EU nationals.

Italian authorities recommend an 'elective residency' visa for UK nationals such as second home owners wanting the option to stay in the country longer and apply for residency.

This type of visa is designed for those who want to live in Italy and have the financial means to support themselves without working. It is often referred to as a retirement visa, but you don't have to be retired to apply.

It is not for extended holidays or sabbaticals. Nor is it for anyone who wants to work in Italy – even freelance or remotely – or who does not have the means to support themselves without a job.

The visa application costs €116.00.

The following documents are required, according to the Italian consulate in London:

  • Completed visa application form (See here)
  • Recent photograph in passport format 
  • Valid travel document with an expiry date at least three months longer than the visa requested 
  • Proof of a "stable and regular" income (no minimum amount is specified)
  • Details of residence accommodation, such as a rental contract 

For more information, see the Italian Foreign Ministry's website or contact the Italian consulate in London or in Edinburgh.


Other types of visa:

Italy has several types of specific long-stay visa available, with varying fees and requirements for each. They are:

Work Visa: available to foreign nationals who want to move to Italy for salaried work. You will already need to have a job offer in Italy before you can apply.

Student Visa: Students over 18 who are already enrolled in an Italian educational institution can apply for this.

Family Visa: Available to foreign nationals who want to join a family member who has Italian citizenship or an Italian permanent residence permit. Additional requirements for this visa include proof of the citizenship or residency status of the family member.

Self-Employed Visa: This is available to entrepreneurs who wish to open a business, or to self-employed individuals wanting to work in Italy.


Whichever type of visa you need, you should apply for it at the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country before you leave. Bear in mind that the process can take a while - it’s best to ask your embassy for an idea of the required timeframe and then start as early as you can.

And remember that your visa isn’t the only permission you’ll need if you want to live in Italy. 

After you enter Italy with a long-stay visa, you have 8 days to apply for a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno). The length of time this document will remain valid depends on the type of visa you have.

Find out more about the process of applying for a residency permit once you arrive in Italy here.

For more details about the fees, documentation and application process for each type of visa, see this online visa calculator from the Italian Foreign Ministry, or contact the Italian consulate in London or in Edinburgh.

See The Local's Brexit section for more updates.


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