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BREXIT: UK driving licences to remain valid in Italy until end of 2021

Drivers with a UK licence who were officially living in Italy before January 2021 can continue to use it for 12 months after the end of the Brexit transition period, the Italian government has confirmed.

BREXIT: UK driving licences to remain valid in Italy until end of 2021
Brits in Italy have until the end of 2021 to replace their UK driving licence. Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP

Residents with a licence from the UK, who had been warned they might have to take an Italian driving test immediately, are in fact allowed to use their current permit until December 31st 2021, according to Italy’s Interior Ministry.

In a new circular dated April 24th, the ministry states that UK driving licences had the same status as EU ones until the end of the Brexit transition at the end of December 2020, which means that the requirement to replace them only came into effect from the beginning of January 2021.

Brits who were living in Italy before this date, then, have 12 months from January 1st in which to obtain an Italian licence – regardless of when they became resident.

Holders of a UK licence still have to take an Italian driving test from scratch to get their patenta di guida, though the British Embassy has said that talks continue on a reciprocal agreement that would allow Brits to swap their licence without resitting the exam.

If a deal is reached before the end of the year, people with UK driving licences could end up escaping the notoriously tricky theory and practical tests, which have to be taken entirely in Italian.

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Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP

Article 135 of Italy’s Highway Code states that drivers whose licence was not issued by another EU country – or Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway – have one year from the date they register their residence in Italy in which to get an Italian licence.

But the article cannot be applied retroactively, the Interior Ministry specifies in its circular, which means that even long-time British residents can begin counting their one-year grace period from January 1st 2021 rather than the date on which they actually declared residency.

Meanwhile people who exchanged an Italian licence for a UK one should be allowed to swap back to an Italian patenta without resitting the test, the circular also states.

“Negotiations with Italy are on-going on a future agreement for UK nationals living in Italy to be able to exchange their UK driving licence for a local one without re-sitting their test,” the British Embassy in Rome told The Local earlier this month, without indicating when a deal might be reached.

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Only UK licence holders who have their full-time residence in Italy are required to get an Italian licence. Tourists and second-home owners can continue to use their UK licence when they visit and do not need an International Driving Permit.

While residents with licences from other EU countries – formerly including the UK – can swap their documents without retaking a test, Italy does not exchange licences from most non-EU countries, including the United States, Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand and currently, the UK.

Italy does have reciprocal driving licence agreements with around 20 non-EU countries, including Switzerland, Brazil, the Philippines and Turkey (full list here), which allow holders of these licences to swap their permits without a test.

Member comments

  1. Brilliant! As I wanted to do the right thing I applied for a licence before the end of last year. I’m likely to return to the UK before the end of this year so it looks like that was a waste of time. Now I’ll have to see how to change the licence back to British when I return.

  2. Dave , to exchange an Italian Licence is no problem in the UK they allow it!

    This is good news though, but we do still need that reciprocal agreement.

    1. I was getting worried about the lack of a reciprocal agreement, so you’re saying it’s OK to swap back to the UK one if you’ve previously had a UK licence?

      I noticed when I got my Italian licence it was only for category B (cars), cat A (motorbikes) was empty. My UK licence had both. I’m not sure if that was a mistake or commonplace.

  3. Dave, if you check the GOV site it tells you you can exchange an Italian Licence for a UK one.

    When you exchanged here it should be like for like if a category is missing go back and complain.

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WHAT CHANGES

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.

Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

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.

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