SHARE
COPY LINK

DRIVING

Brexit: ‘Negotiations continue’ on UK and Italy driving licence agreement, minister confirms

Italy is the only EU country not to have reached an agreement that will allow Brits living in Italy to swap their driving licences without resitting a test, but the UK government says that talks are still ongoing.

Brexit: 'Negotiations continue' on UK and Italy driving licence agreement, minister confirms
Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

After Britain left the EU at the end of last year, British residents who hadn’t yet got around to converting their UK licence to an Italian one were granted a 12-month grace period in which they could continue to use their British licence in Italy.

Many hoped that Italy and the UK would later come to an agreement which would allow drivers to continue using their British licence beyond that point.

Q&A: What is the British government doing to help Brits in Italy overcome post-Brexit hurdles?

While most other EU countries have already announced that they have come to reciprocal agreements with the UK that will allow driving licences to be exchanged without the need for a test, no such arrangement has yet been confirmed with Italy.

And even though not all other countries have finalized their agreements, according to a statement in the UK parliament, Italy is further behind than anyone else.

Now, with less than four months to go before the grace period expires, Brits are wondering whether to gamble on the two countries reaching an accord by the end of this year – and risk being unable to drive legally come January 1st – or to undergo the time-consuming and expensive process of retaking their driving test in Italy.

A reciprocal agreement between Italy and the UK is still on the table, a UK government minister confirmed to The Local on Wednesday.

“We absolutely are continuing to negotiate with the Italian government on the right to exchange a UK licence for an Italian one without the need to retake a driving test,” said Wendy Morton MP, the Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas, visiting Rome on September 15th.

“I can assure you it’s our absolute priority to reach an agreement before the end of the grace period which is at the end of this year,” she said.

Photo: ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP

People who move to Italy with a non-EU driving licence need to get an Italian licence within one year of obtaining residency.

If you started the process of exchanging your UK licence before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st 2020, you will not have to re-sit a driving test. But if you hadn’t started the conversion by then, unless an agreement is reached you will need to retake both the theory and practical tests.

READ ALSO:

The requirement only applies to UK licence holders who have their full-time residence in Italy. 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.

Find all The Local’s Brexit updates for UK nationals in Italy here.

Member comments

  1. Hi, Is there any update on this topic? Are we expected to take an Italian driving test before end of the year?

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

DRIVING

COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

Certain countries around Europe have stricter policies than others regarding drinking and driving and harsher punishments for those caught exceeding legal limits. Here's what you need to know.

COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

European countries set their own driving laws and speed limits and it’s no different when it comes to legal drink-drive limits.

While the safest thing to do of course, is to drink no alcohol at all before driving it is useful to know what the limit is in the country you are driving in whether as a tourist or as someone who frequently crosses European borders by car for work.

While some countries, such as the Czech Republic, have zero tolerance for drinking and driving, in others people are allowed to have a certain amount of alcohol in their blood while driving.

However, not only can the rules be different between countries, they are usually stricter for commercial (or bus) drivers and novice drivers as well. Besides that, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is extremely difficult to estimate, so the old “one beer is ok” standards no longer safely apply.

In the end, the only way to be safe is to avoid consuming alcohol before driving. Any amount will slow reflexes while giving you dangerous higher confidence. According to the UK’s National Health Service, there is no ‘safe’ drinking level.

How is blood alcohol level measured?

European countries mostly measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the amount, in grams, of alcohol in one litre of blood.

After alcohol is consumed, it will be absorbed fast from the stomach and intestine to the bloodstream. There, it is broken down by a liver-produced enzyme.

Each person will absorb alcohol at their own speed, and the enzyme will also work differently in each one.

The BAC will depend on these metabolic particularities as well as body weight, gender, how fast and how much the person drank, their age and whether or not (and how much) they have eaten, and even stress levels at the time.

In other words there are many things that may influence the alcohol concentration.

The only way to effectively measure BAC is by taking a blood test – even a breathalyser test could show different results. Still, this is the measuring unit used by many EU countries when deciding on drinking limits and penalties for drivers.

Here are the latest rules and limits.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Driving is a great way to enjoy scenic European roads. Pictured is a highway in Norway (Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash)

Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, and Croatia

In most EU countries, the limit is just under 0.5g/l for standard drivers (stricter rules could be in place for novice or professional drivers).

This could be exceeded by a man with average weight who consumed one pint of beer (containing 4.2% alcohol) and two glasses of red wine (13% alcohol) while having dinner.

If a person is caught driving with more than 0.8g/l of blood alcohol content in Austria, they can pay fines of up to € 5,900 and to have their license taken for one year in some cases.

In France, if BAC exceeds 0.8g/l, they could end up with a 2-year jail sentence and a € 4,500 fine. In Germany, penalties start at a € 500 fine and a one-month license suspension. In Greece, drunk drivers could face up to years of imprisonment.

In Denmark, first time offenders are likely to have their licences suspended and could be required to go on self-paid alcohol and traffic courses if BAC levels are low. Italy has penalties that vary depending on whether or not the driver has caused an accident and could lead to car apprehension, fines and prison sentences.

In Spain, going over a 1.2g/l limit is a criminal offence that could lead to imprisonment sentences and hefty fines. 

Norway, Sweden, and Poland

In Norway, Sweden, and Poland, the limit for standard drivers is 0.2g/l. It could take a woman with average weight one standard drink, or one can of beer, to reach that level.

Penalties in Norway can start at a one month salary fine and a criminal record. In Poland, fines are expected if you surpass the limit, and you could also have your license revoked and receive a prison sentence.

Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia

The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia have one of the strictest rules in the European Union. There is no allowed limit of alcohol in the blood for drivers.

In the Czech Republic, fines start at € 100 to € 800, and a driving ban of up to one year can be instituted for those driving with a 0.3 BAC level. However, the harshest penalties come if the BAC level surpasses 1 g/l, fines can be up to € 2,000, and drivers could be banned from driving for 10 years and imprisoned for up to three years.

This is intended to be a general guide and reference. Check the current and specific rules in the country you plan to travel to. The easiest and best way to be safe and protect yourself and others is to refrain from drinking alcohol and driving.

SHOW COMMENTS