Brexit: Why Brits in Italy are being urged to apply for the new biometric ID card now

Brexit: Why Brits in Italy are being urged to apply for the new biometric ID card now
Photo: AFP
Obtaining a new electronic ID document could save British nationals in Italy a lot of bureaucratic headaches.

From January, a new electronic ‘tessera’ or ID card has been made available proving the rights of British nationals resident in Italy – and citizens’ rights campaigners say they “strongly urge” people to apply for it.

“If you don’t, you risk facing serious practical problems,” the British in Italy group warned on Thursday. “It is the best evidence you can get that you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.”

READ ALSO: ‘What I learned when I applied for the Brexit residence card for Brits in Italy’

The new biometric ‘tessera’, officially called a carta di soggiorno, is available to British citizens who were legally in Italy before December 31st 2020.

While several readers told The Local they experienced problems trying to get the card last month, British in Italy said: “it seems that most Questure have got their act together, so there is no need to hold back any longer. Our advice is to apply now.”

The urgency is partly because “in some areas there are long delays in getting an appointment,” the group said.

However, some of Italy’s British residents have also reported problems with bureaucracy and in accessing certain services.

According to British in Italy, “without the new carta di soggiorno some people have not been able to:

  • Renew a tessera sanitaria;
  • Get an employment contract or enter a bando di gara for a job;
  • Get benefits;
  • Complete the purchase of a house.”

“If you leave Italy you might have your passport wrongly stamped at a border if you do not produce the carta di soggiorno,” British in Italy added.

Amid confusion about the various documents issued by Italian authorities, “the WA attestazione that many of us obtained from our Comune last year is not always being accepted as the necessary proof that we are covered by the WA.”

DEALING WITH BREXIT:

“As a matter of strict law none of these problems should be happening,” British in Italy explained. “As long as you were resident in Italy by December 31st, you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and should have all the rights it confers.”

“But knowing that you are in the right is not much consolation if the computer (or an official) says no.”

British in Italy noted that people should however make their own decision on the timing of applications, with regards to the Covid situation and any restrictions in their local area.

How do I get the new carta di soggiorno?

You’ll need to make an appointment at your local Questura, or police headquarters. Check your local Questura‘s website for details, as the process varies from one place to another.

The Italian Interior Ministry has given full details of the application procedure in English here and Italian here.

What’s the difference between this and my existing Italian residency card?

The biometric carta di soggiorno is a new document, and it’s not the same as any other residency documents despite several of them having similar names.

You do not have to exchange your existing Italian ID card.

Is it mandatory to get the new biometric ID card?

“For those already registered in Italy there is no legal requirement to obtain the new card. It is not mandatory,” a British Embassy spokesperson stated.

However the Embassy is urging British nationals to get the card “as it provides the clearest evidence of your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement in a high-security and simple format.”

“For example, it will provide a simple way of evidencing your rights at the border or when accessing services in Italy.”

“However, if you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement your rights do not depend on holding it and local providers cannot require you to have it.”

Anyone who faces difficulties in accessing healthcare or benefits is advised to contact the British Embassy via their Living in Italy website. You can also find more information on the British in Italy website.

See The Local’s Dealing with Brexit section for more updates.

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