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
Driving in Italy on a UK licence is fine if you're a tourist - but for residents, the situation is becoming complicated. Photo by 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?

  2. Hi, I’m a UK citizen with residency (elective). If I buy a 2nd hand car from Germany, do I pay the duty?


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Why do Milan residents get a day off on December 7th?

If you live in Milan, you may get an extra day off work on December 7th. Here's what the city is celebrating and how.

Why do Milan residents get a day off on December 7th?

December 7th is a public holiday in Milan as residents commemorate their beloved patron saint, St Ambrose. 

The annual Festa di Sant’Ambrogio, which happens to fall on a Wednesday this year, is one of the city’s most anticipated recurrences, giving residents an opportunity to catch up with family and friends and unofficially marking the start of the festive season in the northern metropolis.

READ ALSO: The Italian holiday calendar for 2023

As in the case of other local public holidays across the country (Saints Peter and Paul in Rome, St Mark in Venice, St Orontius in Lecce, etc.), children will be home from school and most employees will be given the day off – by law, those who are asked to work on the day must be paid above their regular hourly rate. 

So why do locals celebrate Saint Ambrose, who lived and died in the northern city in the second half of the 4th century AD?

Ambrose served as Bishop of Milan from 374 AD to 397 AD, but it could be argued that his influence on the city went far beyond that of an ordinary clergyman. 

Chritsmas tree in MIlan's Piazza Duomo

Milan’s traditional Christmas light displays will be switched on on December 7th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

Ambrose was known for the eloquence of his public speeches, his exceptional diplomacy when handling political matters and, above all, his efforts to promote social justice in the city as he regularly urged Milan’s richest citizens to care and provide for the poor. 

Ambrose’s commitment to the betterment of Milanese society is ultimately why he is cherished by thousands of residents to this day, with local commemorations peaking, of course, on December 7th.

So, how do locals celebrate the day?

Well, the most faithful residents head to the Basilica of St Ambrose, the church named after the saint, for morning mass, with the service being usually held by Milan’s Bishop himself.

After mass, families get together to celebrate in the best way known to Italians, that is with a big lunch.

Here, a number of local delicacies, from Milanese-style risotto to mondeghili (meatballs) and rostin negàa (veal cuts), fill up the bellies of the lucky diners.

The meal usually ends with people enjoying their first seasonal taste of panettone (many more sampling sessions generally follow in the weeks after) or eating some home-made ambrosiani, traditional shortbread biscuits made precisely to celebrate Milan’s patron saint.

In the afternoon, after having managed to recover from their lunchtime indulgences, residents tend to spend some time outside, with the city offering plenty of things to do on the day. 

Firstly, locals will have a chance to visit the Oh Bej! Oh Bej! Market, a fair thought to date back to the early 1500s.

READ ALSO: Seven of Italy’s most enchanting Christmas markets in 2022

The market’s stalls, which are meant to open to the public exactly on December 7th, will be set up in front of Milan’s iconic Sforza Castle, selling anything from hand-crafted Christmas decorations and gadgets to local delicacies.

Christmas market in Milan

One of the best things to do in Milan on December 7th is to visit one of the city’s traditional Christmas markets. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Those who are not so fond of traditional markets might instead head to Piazza Duomo in central Milan to attend the Christmas lights switch-on event.

This year, the traditional light displays will be turned on at 5pm and will be followed by a party organised by cosmetics company VeraLab.

Finally, the premiere of the famous La Scala opera house will also take place on December 7th. While tickets to the event are no longer available, the musical performance – ‘Boris Godunov’ played by an orchestra under director Riccardo Chailly – will be aired live in several locations across the city.

A valuable reminder: Thursday, December 8th, the day following the Festa di Sant’Ambrogio, is a national public holiday, so you shouldn’t be too worried about staying up till late on Wednesday. 

READ ALSO: Why is Italy’s Feast of the Immaculate Conception a public holiday?