Reader question: Why do I now have to register British visitors with the police in Italy?

Reader question: Why do I now have to register British visitors with the police in Italy?
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
After an update to the UK government's advice, there is some confusion over the rules on registering guests with the Italian police. Are these requirements new - and are they because of Brexit?

QUESTION: Is it true that we now have to register any visitors from the UK who stay with us at our house in Italy? Is this a new Brexit rule or is it Covid-related?

There were some raised eyebrows this week after an update to the UK government’s advice for British nationals living in Italy warned they must declare guests from the UK to the local police:

“If you host a UK national (or any non-EU national) as a guest, you must inform your local immigration office (questura) within 48 hours after they arrive at your property. You could be fined if you fail to comply with this Italian immigration law,” the government website states.

In fact, this is not new – it’s a rule Italy has had in place for a long time for all non-EU nationals.

Brits now join Americans, Australians, and anyone else not from an EU member state or the Schengen travel zone in being legally required to declare their presence in Italy to the local police – even if they’re only here for a brief visit.

While these rules have been in place for years, they’re not well known and, as a result, not always well followed. Foreigners resident in Italy (and many Italians themselves) are often surprised to hear that this is a requirement.

“Foreigners who stay in Italy for visits, business, tourism or study for periods of less than three months are not required to apply for a residence permit,” the Italian police website states. “Instead, they must report their presence in the country.”

Of course anyone who already has a residence permit in Italy, and is therefore already registered with the Italian police, is not subject to this rule.

Anyone who stays for longer than three months must apply for a residence permit.

READ ALSO: Can Brits stay more than 90 days in the EU if they have a European spouse?

While the British government advises people living in Italy to register guests with the questura, there is some confusion about the rules as the Italian police website appears to say that it’s enough for arrivals to get a passport stamp at the Italian border.

Those arriving in Italy from non-Schengen countries “can report their presence to the border authorities and obtain a Schengen stamp in their travel document on the day of arrival. This stamp is considered the equivalent of the declaration of presence,” according to the Italian police website.

There is also the option to “report their presence to the local Questura (central police station in the province) filling out the relevant form (dichiarazione di presenza), within 8 days of their arrival.”

For filing the form with the questura, the process can vary significantly from one province to another. You will need to contact your local office for further details of how to do this.

The Local has requested clarification on the rules from the British Embassy in Rome.

If you’re staying in a hotel however, the registration procedure will be taken care of for you.

“For those staying in hotels or other reception facilities the registration form submitted to the hotel management upon check-in, signed by the foreign guest on arrival, constitutes the declaration of presence. The hotel will provide a copy of this form to the foreign guest who can show it to police officers, if requested,” the police website states.

It’s also worth noting that the Italian rule applies depending on your nationality, rather than the country you travelled to Italy from.

Brits are only being informed about this requirement now because it did not apply when they were classed as citizens of an EU country.

As the Italian police website explains: “EU citizens who intend to stay for less than three months are not subject to the obligation of reporting their presence or to any other formalities.”

Italy is one of several European countries with similar registration requirements for visitors from third countries, as the EU’s Your Europe portal explains in its advice for UK nationals:

“Some EU countries require you to report your presence to the relevant authorities (often the town hall or local police station) within a reasonable period of time after arrival and may impose a penalty, such as a fine if you fail to do so,” it states.

“All you need to report your presence as EU national is your identity card or passport; if you are accompanied by family members who are not EU nationals, they will need a passport. You should not have to pay any fees. If you are staying in a hotel, it is usually enough to fill in a special form – the hotel will take care of the rest.”

Member comments

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  1. We are non-resident Brits visiting our house in the Provincia di Terni (Umbria) and when we went to the Questura to ask about providing a dichiarazione di presenza we were met with blank looks and simply urged to consider applying for a permesso di soggiorno. This we are reluctant to do because of issues around being able to drive our UK car here and intricacies of dual UK-Italian residency that have foxed me. They implied that if the Comune knows we have a house here then the Questura aren’t really interested in our comings and goings. I’d be interested in others’ experience.

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