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SECOND HOMES

Reader question: Do British second-home owners in Italy need to get an Italian driving licence?

Brits in Italy now need to sit an Italian driving test if they wish to continue driving in Italy. But what about Brits who own a home in Italy, but aren’t residents?

Reader question: Do British second-home owners in Italy need to get an Italian driving licence?
Do I need an Italian driving licence if I have a second home in Italy? Photo: Jure Makovec/AFP

Question: I’ve read that Brits in Italy need to get Italian driving licences. Does that apply to me? I live in the UK but have a second home in Italy. The house is in a rural area so we need to drive when we’re there.

Brexit has caused frustration for many Brits living in Italy. One source of anger is the requirement to take the Italian driving test, if you didn’t already convert your UK driving licence before Britain left the EU on 1st January 2021.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about getting an Italian driving licence post-Brexit

For anyone who’s just visiting Italy, however, there is no need to obtain an Italian patente di guida. You can use your UK or NI driving licence, as long as it’s valid. Here’s where you can renew your licence online if it’s about to expire. The British and Italian authorities have also agreed that there is no need for an International Drivers’ Permit either. 

But what about those who have a home in Italy and aren’t just visiting for a holiday?

Theoretically, they are treated as tourists.

Since Brexit came into effect, there are limits on how long British nationals can stay in the EU. You can find an explanation of how it works HERE, but in essence, it limits trips into the Schengen zone to 90 days out of every 180.

If you want to stay in your second home for longer than 90 days in every 180, you must apply for a visa (find out about the visas available to Brits HERE).

“The Italian government has confirmed that visitors to Italy (non-residents) using a UK driving licence will not require an International Driving Permit or a translation of the licence to drive here,” stated The British Embassy.

READ ALSO:

This means that unless you become a resident in Italy, you will be able to go to your second home for a shorter stay and be counted as a tourist. Therefore, there is no need to take an Italian driving test to obtain an Italian driving licence – you can use your UK or NI licence.

Only if you want to change your full-time residence status to Italy – for which you will need a visa – would you need to get an Italian driving licence.

Find more information about what you’ll need when driving in Italy on the British government’s website here.

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BREXIT

Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don’t want to return home

The majority of Britons who live in the EU, Norway, Iceland or Switzerland and are protected under the Brexit agreement feel European and intend to remain in Europe permanently, but many have concerns about travel problems, a new survey reveals.

Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don't want to return home

The research also shows that problems exist and “travel is where most issues relating to the new status currently occur”. For instance, border officials are still stamping passports of UK citizens with residence rights under the EU UK withdrawal agreement, even though they shouldn’t.

“There is constant confusion around passport stamping. I was ‘stamped in’ to France on a short trip… but could not find anyway to be ‘stamped out’ again. I think I can only spend 90 days in other EU countries, but have no idea how anyone can check or enforce that – until someone decides to try. It’s a mess,” was one of the answers left in an open question.

“Every time I go through a Schengen border control, I need to provide both my passport and Aufenthaltstitel card [resident permit in Germany] and watch to check that they don’t stamp my passport. As I am currently travelling a lot that’s been 20-odd times this year…” another respondent said.

The survey was carried out by Professor Tanja Bueltmann, historian of migration and diaspora at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, between October and November 2022. About 1,139 UK citizens replied.

Of these, 80 per cent found acquiring their new status easy or very easy, 60.7 per cent feel their rights are secure, while 39.3 per cent have concerns about their status going forward.

Staying permanently

More than three quarters (76.6 per cent) of respondents said they plan to live permanently in the EU or the other countries of the European Economic Area and Switzerland. In fact, 65.7 per cent said that Brexit has increased the likelihood of this choice.

For some, the decision is linked to the difficulty to bring non-British family members to the UK under new, stricter immigration rules.

“My German wife and I decided we no longer wanted to live in UK post Brexit referendum. In particular, we were affected by the impact of immigration law […] We cannot now return to UK on retirement as I cannot sponsor her on my pension. We knew it was a one-way journey. Fortunately, I could revive an application for German citizenship,” was a testimony.

“My husband is a US citizen and getting him a visa for the UK was near impossible due to my low income as a freelance journalist. We realized under EU law, moving to an EU country was easier. We settled on Austria as we had both lived there before… we could speak some German, and we like the mountains,” said another respondent.

Professor Bueltmann noted that the loss of free movement rights in the EU could be a factor too in the decision of many to stay where they are.

Citizenship and representation

Among those who decided to stay, 38.2 per cent are either applying or planning to apply for a citizenship and 28.6 per cent are thinking about it.

A key finding of the research, Bueltmann said, is that the vast majority of British citizens do not feel politically represented. Some 60 per cent of respondents said they feel unrepresented and another 30 per cent not well represented.

Another issue is that less than half (47.5 per cent) trust the government of their country of residence, while a larger proportion (62 per cent) trust the European Union. Almost all (95.6 per cent) said they do not trust the UK government.

Feeling European

The survey highlights the Brexit impacts on people’s identity too. 82.6 per cent of respondents said they see themselves as European, a higher proportion than those identifying as British (68.9 per cent).

“Brexit has really left me unsure of what my identity is. I don’t feel British, and I certainly don’t identify with the mindset of a lot of British people who live there. Yet, I am not Danish either. So, I don’t really know anymore!” said one of the participants in the survey.

Professor Bueltmann said the survey “demonstrates that Brexit impacts continue to evolve: this didn’t just stop because the transition period was over or a deadline for an application had been reached. Consequently, Brexit continues to shape the lives and experiences of British citizens in the EU/EEA and Switzerland in substantial, sometimes life-altering, ways.”

Considering the results of the study, Professor Bueltmann recommends policy makers in the EU and the UK to address the issue of lack of representation, for instance creating a joint UK-EU citizens’ stakeholder forum.

The report also recommends the UK government to rebuild trust with British citizens in the EU introducing voting rights for life and changing immigration rules to allow British-European families to return more easily. 

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.

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