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BREXIT

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

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.

Explained: What Brits need to know about visas for Italy after Brexit
After Brexit, travellers from the UK to Italy will need to know the visa rules. Photo: Niklas Halle'n/AFP

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.

Note:

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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BRITS IN EUROPE

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.

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