For members


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

Italy has introduced a new card for British residents that shows they have the right to remain even after Brexit. But there's still some confusion over what exactly it is, and how to get it.

'What I learned when I applied for the Brexit residence card for Brits in Italy'
Brits in Italy have extra paperwork to deal with after Brexit. Photo: John Thys/AFP

Brits who moved to Italy before January 1st 2021 are being advised to apply now for the new carta di soggiorno elettronica (electronic residence card), which the British Embassy says provides “the clearest evidence of your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement”.

Those rights include the freedom to live and work in Italy, and to access Italian public healthcare, on similar terms as EU citizens.

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

But as with any new bureaucratic procedure, there’s still some confusion over how the whole thing works – both for Brits and Italians.

As a UK national and reporter for The Local, I’d read every official statement I could find about the new residence card and even so, several things didn’t become clear to me until I made my application this week.

Here’s what I learned from my visit to the “Brexit department”.

1. The new card is not a permesso di soggiorno

It may look like a permesso di soggiorno (residence permit), you may apply for it in the same place and it may even have soggiorno in the name, but the new card is not the same thing as the one other non-EU nationals living in Italy have to get. 

This is something I discovered as soon as I arrived at the Rome questura (police headquarters) that handles immigration requests. While most people had to join the same queue, as a UK national I was directed to a special “Brexit department” (so what if it was signposted with a sheet of paper and on the day I visited they were still plastering the walls?).

To explain the difference: a permesso di soggiorno is usually issued to third-country nationals who have a visa to enter Italy, for example to work or study. Once they arrive here, they have to go to their local questura to confirm they meet the conditions of their visa and give their fingerprints. Afterwards they receive a permit that’s valid for up to two years, and has to be renewed via the same process for them to continue living legally in Italy.

What British nationals who were already living here before the Brexit deadline should apply for isn’t a permesso but a carta di soggiorno: you already have the right to live here and you don’t need to seek permission.

EXPLAINED: What are the different documents Italy’s British residents need after Brexit?

Unlike a permesso, the new carta isn’t mandatory and you should not be turned away at the border or denied services in Italy if you don’t have one. 

Where some of the (understandable) confusion comes from is that Brits who move to Italy from now on will have to apply for a visa and permesso di soggiorno (find out more on that here). But if you were resident by the cut-off date on December 31st 2020, your status is different and so is your paperwork. 

One of the biggest distinctions is how often you’ll have to renew it: the new cards are valid for five years if you’d been resident in Italy for less than five years by the end of last year, or ten if you can show you’d already been living here for longer.

2. Make an appointment if you can

You will have to apply for the new card in person, since it involves giving your fingerprints. 

But many public offices in Italy are only open by appointment at the moment – and besides, you don’t want to spend any longer there than you have to.

In Rome, the questura is a large, forbidding building way out in the east, and people without an appointment faced a long wait outside the gates before even being allowed to join the queue indoors.

Police stations are supposed to allow Brits to book an appointment for their residence card application via email or an online form. Try searching “questura + carta di soggiorno + Regno Unito + [name of your town]”. 

Here’s the email address to use if you’re applying from Rome, like I did. 

Once you’ve contacted the questura, you should be sent the details of your appointment, as well as instructions for what to do if you can’t make it. Print them out and take them with you when you go.

3. You might not need your previous Brexit document to apply

Remember when we were all told to get a new document from our local registry office to show we became resident before the Brexit deadline? 

The official advice is that that piece of paper, called an attestazione di inscrizione anagrafica, will make it easier to obtain the new residency card. 

But in fact, when I applied no one asked to see it. Out of an abundance of caution I had brought every piece of residency paperwork I’d ever acquired over the past few years, including various standard residency certificates, and those were the ones the official entering my details plucked from the top of the pile. My attestazione at the bottom went unexamined. 

While it’s always a good idea in Italy to have all the official documents you can get, if you haven’t been able to pick up your attestazione, it shouldn’t stop you from requesting the new residency card so long as you can show other official proof that you live in Italy.

If you do want to get an attestazione, you can still do so from your local anagrafe (registry office).

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP 

4. Prepare to wait

You won’t be going home with your new residence card after your trip to the questura: the card first has to be printed, then delivered to the police station (you can ask to have it sent to one closer your house if you want to avoid another trip to the main headquarters). 

The best guess anyone could give me for how long that might take was one to two months – maybe longer, seeing as the cards are the very first of their kind to be issued.

In fact few people know exactly what they look like, the man handling my request told me: even he and his colleagues hadn’t seen a real one yet.


In part that’s because Italy is in the process of changing the design of its residency permits, which the new card will also adopt. The finished article should look similar, but with specific reference to the fact that you are a UK national protected under the Withdrawal Agreement.

In any case, don’t expect getting the card to be a quick process (and therefore don’t worry too much about being without one for the time being).

You’ll be given a receipt to prove that you applied, along with a reference number that you can use to check the status of your application online here.

If you’re asked to show the card in Italy and run into difficulties because you don’t yet have it, contact the British Embassy for assistance via this page.

5. Look on the bright side

Yes, this whole business of applying for extra documents is a pain. But it could be a whole lot worse.

There’s nothing to make you appreciate that like a trip to the immigration office, where most non-EU nationals find themselves asking permission to remain in Italy. At least as former EU immigrants, our right to continue living here is ours to keep, for now. 

The procedure itself is straightforward and administrative: immigration officers won’t grill on whether you have a job, or ask you to show you have a minimum income or health insurance.

Plus we get a special card that we only have to renew once every five to ten years, meaning fewer visits to the questura for us than for Americans, Indians, Australians, Nigerians or any other third-country nationals. And when we do have to go there, we might even get to join a special queue.

Of course I’d prefer to save the time, expense and anxiety of getting new documents. Of course I’d prefer to still be a citizen of the EU. But the UK has left, and Brits all over Europe have to take practical steps to deal with it. This one, at least, need not be as scary as you might think. 

Find detailed information about applying for the new residency card here.

If you need help applying, you can contact the International Organisation for Migration by emailing [email protected] or calling 800 684 884.

Member comments

  1. I had had a lot of confusion over what was and what was not necessary and, especially at this time, many services are way behind with other paperwork and have huge workloads since before the pandemic began. I chose to request a carta di soggiorno pack from the post office, which I had to fill out and then bring back to have stamped, checked and accepted. Once that was completed, which did take a while, I was provided with an appointment and now I just have to wait for the day. The good thing is that I have a receipt of having applied for it and that’s always good in the eyes of the Italian government

  2. I found the whole process very quick and easy in Salerno. I applied via PEC email on 31 Jan, had my first appointment at the Questura on 11 Feb and went back to collect my card last Friday, 19 Feb. Grazie mille to Ispettore Gentile and her team, who all watched on, as I was the first UK citizen to request the carta di soggiorno in the province. They couldn’t have been more pleasant!

  3. When I returned to Italy in January from UK I had to show my permesso di soggiorno at both the British boarder and the Italian boarder. Once I have this card will I only need to carry that?

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For members


What changes about life in Italy in July 2022

Hot weather, beach trips, gelato, and the return of summer tourism: there are a few things we know to expect in Italy this July. But what else is in store for people living in the country?

What changes about life in Italy in July 2022

Strikes and travel disruption

While Italy has so far been spared the chaos seen at airports in many European countries recently, that doesn’t mean travel to or within the country is guaranteed to be straightforward this summer.

Dozens of flights were cancelled or delayed in two Italian airline staff strikes in June, and unions warned that these were likely to be the first in “a long series” of protests “throughout the entire summer” amid ongoing disputes over pay and working conditions.

READ ALSO: ‘Arrive early’: Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

Transport strikes of all types are a staple of summer in Italy, with protests often disrupting rail services and local public transit – usually on Fridays.

No further nationwide strikes have yet been announced for July. See The Local’s Italian travel news section for the latest news on any expected major disruption.

Heatwave and drought

Summer has only just officially begun in Italy, where the hot season is said to start from June 20th. But temperature-wise, this year it feels like we’ve been in the middle of summer for a lot longer already.

As July begins, one thing many Italian residents want to know is: will the weather change? As well as being profoundly uncomfortable, weeks of unusually high heat and humidity across the country have caused the worst drought for 70 years, as well as fuelling wildfires and electricity shortages

READ ALSO: Drought in Italy: What water use restrictions are in place and where?

The current heatwave is, at least, expected to break in the first days of July. But overall, it’s set to be a long, dry summer. All forecasts so far point to Italy potentially breaking heat records, set in 2003.

In the meantime, we’ve got some very easy ways to save water during the shortages, plus tips for keeping cool in the heat like an Ancient Roman.

Covid rule changes?

For the first time in a long time, Italy has almost no Covid restrictions in place and the rules are not expected to change in the coming weeks.

The remaining rules you’ll need to be aware of if visiting Italy are the continuing mask mandate on public transport (in place until at least the end of September) and the requirement for anyone who tests positive to isolate for at least one week.

Following public debate over whether the isolation rule should now the scrapped, Italy’s health minister has confirmed he has no intention of changing it anytime soon.

Mask rules have been eased in Italy except for on public transport – though they remain recommended in crowded places. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

€200 bonus payments

In July, the Italian state will begin paying out its one-off €200 ‘bonus’ – a benefit intended to offset the rising cost of living, intended for everyone with an annual income of under €35,000 gross.

But, while some details of the payment scheme remain unclear, some people will reportedly have to wait until September or October to receive their payment.

Here’s the official information so far about who will be eligible and how to claim.

Digital invoicing requirement for freelancers

Italy is bringing in new rules from July 1st that mean changes for freelancers who are on the ‘flat tax’ rate. While digital invoicing may sound like it should be more straightforward than paper, there are new regulations and online systems to get to grips with.

Find out what self-employed workers need to know about the new ‘fatturazione elettronica’ or digital invoicing system here.

Fuel price cap extended

As the cost of living continues to bite, Italy’s government has confirmed it will extend its fuel price reduction throughout July.

Motorists can expect the current 30-cent cut to the cost per litre for petrol, diesel, LPG and methane to continue until August 2nd.

Summer sales

By law, shops in Italy are allowed only two big sales a year – one in winter, one in summer – and the summer sale kicks off in early July.

The sales continue for several weeks, with the exact start and end dates varying depending on which Italian region you’re in. See this summer’s sale dates here.


Summer holidays

Schools broke up for summer weeks ago: Italy’s long school summer holidays began in June and go on until early or mid-September, depending on the region.

But adults usually don’t begin their somewhat shorter summer vacations until July, meaning this is the month many Italian families will go away.

With an estimated 90 percent of Italian holidaymakers planning to travel within their own country this year, plus the return of mass tourism from overseas, prepare to arrive early to find a spot for your towel on the beach this month.

There are no national bank holidays during July in Italy.

Festivals and events

Summer is full of events and, with Covid restrictions lifted, Italy is ready to host some of its largest festivals again. 

In July, people can look forward to the return of major events including the Palio di Siena, the first of which is held on July 2nd, and the Umbria Jazz festival from July 8-17th. There’s also the ongoing Verona Opera Festival and the Venice Art Biennale this month.

With numerous local fairs, cultural events and food-focused festivals held across the country, there will no doubt be something happening wherever you are in the country.