Brexit: Italian government helps Brits to ‘cheat the system’ amid residency card chaos

Brexit: Italian government helps Brits to 'cheat the system' amid residency card chaos
Italian officials have found a workaround for Brits in Brexit limbo. Photo: Anna Monaco/AFP
After many Brits in Italy complained of not being able to renew work contracts, access healthcare, or buy a car or property after the UK left the EU, the Italian government has responded by providing a workaround.

Life in Italy post-Brexit has been an administrative headache for Brits. The introduction of a new biometric residency card was intended to evidence the rights of British residents in Italy – valid for those who had registered or applied for residency before December 31st 2020.

It aims to “guarantee easy recognition of the rights” as laid out in the Withdrawal Agreement, article 18, paragraph 4, stated the Italian Interior Ministry.


However, the process has been far from straightforward with untold cases of Brits living in a “hostile environment in Italy, where lives have been brought to a standstill”, according to citizens’ rights group British in Italy.

In response to the bureaucratic crisis, the Italian authorities have revealed a loophole in the system.

One significant obstacle to Brits accessing work and services were the computer systems, which simply didn’t recognise the new special status of Brits living in Italy who were resident here pre-Brexit.

“Many public administration computer systems are programmed to require a ‘permesso di soggiorno’ number to be inserted for anyone who is not an EU citizen (which we no longer are),” said British in Italy.

As UK nationals who lived in Italy before Britain left the EU do not need a permesso di soggiorno – a residence card for other third-country nationals in Italy – they were left in limbo, unable to move forward.

Photo by Olivier HOSLET / POOL / AFP

The new electronic document is called a carta di soggiorno, which is different – and as yet seemingly unrecognised by government computer systems.

However, the Ministry of Work and Social Policy (Ministero del Lavoro e delle Politiche Sociali) has offered a lifeline to those Brits stuck in an administrative quagmire.

In a short statement on their website, they advise entering an expiry date of 2099 of your current ID document. In that way, you bypass the computer blocking you from moving forward in your documentation.

“British citizens legally resident in Italy before 31 December 2020 can use their current residence document by indicating it in ‘other measure’ (altro provvedimento), which can be selected from the drop-down menu,” states the department.

“As the insertion of the expiry date is compulsory, it is possible to enter ’31/12/2099′ to pass the check in the system,” reads the statement.

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

It’s not clear if the hack works for all official computer systems in Italy, or just the labour ministry’s.

But any help should come as good news to Brits left in a precarious situation after Brexit. Since The Local published cases of

UK nationals in difficulty, citizens’ rights group Beyond Brexit has compiled a document with even more instances of British people’s rights not being protected in Italy, including problems registering work contracts or as self-employed, difficulties enrolling in the public healthcare system, trouble buying a car or taking a driving test, delays in applying for citizenship and more.

“These problems are having a seriously detrimental effect on people’s lives and in many cases causing real hardship – solutions need to be implemented immediately,” says the group.

Further information on the biometric card can be found on the UK government’s website here, on the British in Italy website and Beyond Brexit page.

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

Anyone who faces difficulties in accessing services in Italy is advised to contact the British Embassy via their Living in Italy website.

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  1. What constitutes as legally living? I was in an airbnb before December 31st, would that be proof enough?

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