EXPLAINED: What you’ll need to do if you bring a car to Italy from another country

If you want to bring your car when you move to Italy, you'll need to register it and swap your licence plates. With a short timeframe to complete the process, we break down what you need to do to keep your car on the road.

EXPLAINED: What you'll need to do if you bring a car to Italy from another country
Is your car's paperwork in order? Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Driving on Italy’s roads has become increasingly challenging for foreign residents as recently reformed Italian laws have put the brakes on vehicles registered abroad being driven in Italy.

The Highway Code states: “It is forbidden for anyone who has resided in Italy for more than 60 days to drive a vehicle registered abroad.”

So that means if you move to Italy with your car, you have to register it with Italian licence plates within two months of obtaining your residency in Italy. If you don’t, your car could be impounded.

Reader question: Will my UK driving licence still be valid in Italy after 2021?

It’s also worth noting that once you’ve started the process of registering your car in Italy, you can’t use it. You can only get back behind the wheel once you’ve got your new documentation and licence plates. In this case, you’ll need to make a plan on how you’ll get around or how you’ll get to the supermarket if you live in a rural area, for instance.

Beware: it’s not straightforward, as is true of any bureaucratic process involved with moving to Italy. “These procedures and formalities can be very long, complex and costly, in particular for non-EU citizens”, according to the European University Institute.

If you’re still keen to bring your beloved wheels, though, here’s what you need to do.

Photo: Christoph Stache/AFP

Getting going

Your car needs to be registered with the Motor Vehicles Office (Ufficio Motorizzazione Civile) and the Public Vehicle Registry (Pubblico Registro Automobilistico or PRA).

The ‘uffici della motorizzazione civile’ are agencies of the Italian Ministry of Transport, and there’s usually at least one in every town. You can find a list of them on the Ministry of Transport website.

You have to be a legal resident already to do this, so you’ll need your residence permit, permesso di soggiorno, or proof of residence, certificato di residenza, if you’re an EU citizen. You’ll also need your tax code (codice fiscale).

There is no need currently for British nationals who obtained residency before Brexit to have their new biometric ID card, carta di soggiorno, to complete this process.

To start, you’ll need to tell the licensing authorities in your home country that you won’t be using the car there anymore. For British nationals, for example, you have to inform the DVLA that you’re taking the vehicle out of the UK for 12 months or more – this is known as permanent export. More details can be found here.

READ MORE: ‘Expect the unexpected’: What you need to know about driving in Italy

Following this, you’ll need to prove that your car is roadworthy. Ask for a technical inspection certificate, signed and stamped by the manufacturer or an accredited distributor – and translated into Italian. If it all looks in top shape and meets the Italian road standards, you’ll receive a certificate of conformity – certificato di conformità.

There are reports of this documentation taking months to arrive, so plan way ahead before your move to Italy.

Photo: Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

The paperwork you need to register your vehicle in Italy

With these documents in hand, you then need to go to your local Motorizzazione Civile Office. You’ll be asked to provide the following, as stated by the Automobile Club d’Italia:

  • Ownership certificate
  • Certificate of cancellation of registration in the country of origin
  • Application for registration (domanda di immatricolazione) form TT2119
  • Personal ID: if it’s in a foreign language, you need to get it translated into Italian (unless an exemption is applicable under international laws or agreements)
  • Proof of residency – unless residence is already shown in your ID document
  • NP2D form for registration with the PRA, available at Motor Vehicles Offices or here

Once the paperwork is checked, the next step is to receive your Italian licence plates (targhe) and a carta di circolazione (registration certificate), which you should carry with you at all times. Then, within 60 days you need to enter your vehicle into the public registry, maintained by the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI).

What you need to do if you’re coming from an EU country

You can use the ACI’s Sportelli Telematici dell’Automobilista (STA) service, a one-stop shop for registering your vehicle and getting hold of Italian licence plates. The crucial thing to remember here is: where was your car registered before bringing it to Italy?

It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from or what nationality you are. What counts is the country of registration for the vehicle.

Regardless of whether you come from a member state or a non-EU country, you must register your vehicle and get Italian licence plates. Fines range from €712 to €2,848 if you don’t – or the authorities could take your car off the road.

Once you’re all set with your new documentation and licence plates, to ensure you’re driving legally in Italy, you’ll need to pay the compulsory road tax (bollo) and arrange car insurance (assicurazione auto) that comprises third-party liability (responsabilità civile).

Maintaining its roadworthiness is also one to watch out for. After your car’s more than four years old, you must visit a mechanic every two years for a mandatory road worthiness test (revisione).

Can I keep my driving licence or do I need an Italian one?

If you’re coming from outside the EU, you’ll need to re-sit your driving test to get an Italian driving licence. This applies to all third country nationals.

For Brits, the situation is less clear: current rules state that UK licences remain valid until the end of 2021. No confirmation has yet been given as to what the rules will be from the end of the year.

If you need an Italian driving licence, the patente di guida, you must start the process within one year of obtaining residency. There’s a lot to do when you arrive if you want to keep your motoring freedom, so you’ll need a solid strategy and have to be prepared for many steps in bureaucracy.

READ ALSO: Getting your Italian driving licence: the language you need to pass your test

If this seems daunting and more than you are willing to go through, you could sell your car in your home country and buy a car in Italy. In that way, a dealer holds your hand through the paperwork and saves you the headache.

One little hidden extra which just may sway your decision one way or another, is the import tax. If you’re bringing your car from the EU, you can import your vehicle without paying duty, as long as it’s over six months old and has mileage of over 6,000 km.

Non-EU citizens, on the other hand, can import a vehicle duty-free on providing proof of ownership of over one year.

If your vehicle doesn’t fall into these categories, be prepared for a hefty import bill. You can find out how much it would be for your car by contacting the European University Institute here.

Further information on bringing your car to Italy can be found on the Automobile Club d’Italia site.

Member comments

  1. What if the car is owned by an EU company (which remains registered in its home jurisdiction) and you, an Italian resident, are just driving it? Does it need to be reregistered then?

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Reader question: Can I buy a car in Italy if I’m not a resident?

If you spend extended periods of time in Italy, can you buy a car to use while in the country? It all depends on your residency status.

Reader question: Can I buy a car in Italy if I'm not a resident?

Question: ‘We own a second home in Italy and we’d like to purchase a car to use there during our visits. But we’re not registered as residents. Are we allowed to buy a car in Italy?’

It’s a common question from people who spend extended periods of time in Italy but are, for one reason or another, not registered as Italian residents.

The short answer is: if you’re a legal resident in Italy, then you can buy a car in Italy.

As a general rule, if you don’t have residency in Italy – even if you own property in Italy or have business interests in the country – you are not legally allowed to buy a car in Italy.

READ ALSO: Can second-home owners get an Italian residence permit?

According to the Italian highway code, you need to have registered your residency with an Italian municipality to be able to buy a new or used vehicle in Italy.

While you might find a friendly neighbour willing to sell you their old motor regardless, you would also need to register the change of ownership with the Motor Vehicles Office (Ufficio Motorizzazione Civile) and the Public Vehicle Registry (Pubblico Registro Automobilistico or PRA).

This is where you’d run into trouble without the right paperwork, which includes a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno), or if you’re an EU citizen, your proof of residence (certificato di residenza). You’ll also need your Italian tax code (codice fiscale) and other documents, some of which you may not be able to obtain without residency.

So could you instead bring your own car to Italy from abroad? For short periods, there’s no issue with doing this – assuming that you’re willing and able to drive between Italy and your home country.

READ ALSO: Q&A: Your questions answered about driving in Italy on a British licence

But for the longer term, importing a car to Italy and registering it here would again require you to be able to show proof of Italian residency.

If you live between two or more countries, there’s a lot to consider when deciding whether you should – or could – register as a resident in Italy.

Doing so is more than a simple declaration of your presence in Italy; being registered as a resident means you’ll face certain requirements (most notably those related to paying taxes) as well as rights in the country. Read more about the process of obtaining Italian residency here.

So if registering as a resident is not an option in your circumstances, you may have to stick with the rental car for now or explore the longer-term alternatives to hiring a car in Italy.

Please note that many bureaucratic processes and requirements often vary from one part of Italy to another. This article is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to purchasing or registering a car in Italy.

For further information and advice please contact your local Motorizzazione Civile office or consult the Automobile Club d’Italia.

See more in The Local’s Driving in Italy section.