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TRAVEL NEWS

What changes from October if you’re travelling between Italy and the UK

Monday, October 4th heralds a relaxation of the UK government's travel rules for arrivals from the EU - but be aware that there are still restrictions and testing requirements in place.

Travellers should be aware of some upcoming changes ahead of trips to the UK from Italy.
Travellers should be aware of some upcoming changes ahead of trips to the UK from Italy. Photo: Niklas Hallen/AFP

What’s changed?

The UK government has done away with its amber list and having only green or red – all European countries are on the green list. This means some changes to the testing rules when travelling from Italy.

Q&A: Answers to your questions about Italy’s travel rules

The rule change is for England, if you are travelling to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, click on the relevant country link.

For those countries such as Switzerland, Norway, Austria and Germany who were on the green list under the old system, the rules remain the same for fully vaccinated arrivals but have become more strict for those who are not vaccinated.

Here’s a look at what the new rules are from Monday:

Vaccinated arrivals

Fully vaccinated arrivals in England from October 4th no longer need to take a test in Italy and show it before boarding the train/plane/ferry.

Crucially, however, you will still need to book and pay for the Day 2 test in England, and this must be done before leaving Italy.

At the border you will need to show the Passenger Locator Form, and this cannot be completed without a booking reference number for a Day 2 test.

These tests have a byzantine booking system and are frequently infuriatingly expensive – find the full breakdown on booking HERE.

The Day 2 test is required even if you are spending less than two days in England (we know, it makes no sense to us either).

The UK government has said that in future Day 2 tests could be the cheaper antigen (lateral flow) tests rather than PCR tests, but there is no firm start date for this policy.

Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Unvaccinated arrivals 

People who are not vaccinated (or who do not meet the UK government definition of vaccinated) have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival. This can be done at a private home and you do not need to go to a hotel.

In addition, you will have to book and pay for both a Day 2 test and a Day 8 test before leaving.

There is an option to pay extra for a Day 5 test and end quarantine early, but be warned that quarantine does not end on Day 5, it only ends when the test results arrive. 

Many readers have reported long delays in getting test results leaving them spending 9 or 10 days in quarantine anyway, but having paid more for an extra test.

Who is ‘vaccinated’?

The UK government accepts people as ‘fully vaccinated’ if they have received either Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines and received their final dose at least 14 days before arrival.

The Italian or EU vaccination certificate is accepted as proof at the border.

After a confusing period, the UK government now accepts as fully vaccinated people who had a ‘mixed dose’, eg: one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer.

However people who only received a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – as is standard practice in Italy and other European countries – do not count as vaccinated.

From the UK to Italy

The travel rules coming into Italy from the UK remain unchanged since the last update at the beginning of September.

Fully-vaccinated travellers arriving from the UK no longer have to undergo a 5-day quarantine upon arrival to Italy. However, they have to show a negative Covid-19 test result and proof of vaccination.

Italy recognises proof of vaccination issued by the UK’s NHS both for entry to the country and in place of the ‘green pass’ within Italy to access museums, concerts and other venues.

You can keep up with the latest updates via our homepage or travel news section.

Member comments

  1. So really the rules and costs remain more or less the same!!! I was in UK beginning of September for my mum’s birthday for 6 days. I’m vaccinated but had to do a test in Italy (now not necessary, but cost 50 euros), a day 2 test which was a home kit and cost £80! And a rapid antigen test done in a pharmacy as needed to be within 48 hours of returning to Italy which cost £80 too!!!!! Obviously the UK is hesitant to get rid of the cash cow that is covid tests for travelling! Have just come back from Montenegro where I did a rapid antigen test before returning to Italy…cost 15 euros! Ludicrous and robbery!

    1. There are cheaper options available than £80, for example Google ‘British Airways COVID tests’ and you’ll be taken to a page that has discount codes for a number of providers. I paid £43 for a day 2 test with Randox. Even cheaper tests are available too, all you really need is the reference number for your UK PLF that you need to fill in before you depart. Randox seemed to be the best mix of value and they do process the tests quickly.

      I paid £35 for my test to return to Italy.

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BREXIT

Driving licences: How does situation for Brits in Italy compare to rest of Europe?

As UK driving licence holders in Italy still wait for answers regarding another extension or a long-awaited deal for the mutual exchange of British and Italian licences post-Brexit, we look at how the situation compares to that of their counterparts across Europe.

Driving licences: How does situation for Brits in Italy compare to rest of Europe?

When Britain left the EU at the end of 2020, the British and Italian authorities hadn’t reached a reciprocal agreement on driving licences.

However, UK licence holders living in Italy were granted a 12-month grace period in which they could continue to drive on their British licences in Italy.

READ ALSO: Q&A: Your questions answered about driving in Italy on a British licence

This was then further extended for another 12 months until the end of 2022.

The UK government announced on December 24th, 2021 that British residents of Italy who didn’t convert their UK licence to an Italian one could continue to use it until December 31st, 2022.

That’s the latest official directive from the authorities, with no decision made on what will happen from January 1st, 2023.

The question on a UK-Italy driving licence agreement rolls on. (Photo by FABIO MUZZI / AFP)

The latest extension – while providing more time – hasn’t ruled out the need to take the Italian theory and practical driving tests and the clock is ticking again with just over six months left of this grace period.

READ ALSO: How do you take your driving test in Italy?

In fact, the authorities recommend sitting the Italian driving exams whatever the outcome, just in case. The process is known to take months, so UK licence holders find themselves once again taking a gamble on waiting for an accord to be reached or taking the plunge by starting preparations for the tests.

As things stand, the latest update to the driving guidance on the British government’s ‘Living in Italy’ webpage in January states:

“If you were resident in Italy before 1 January 2022 you can use your valid UK licence until 31 December 2022,” however, “you must exchange your licence for an Italian one by 31 December 2022. You will need to take a driving test (in Italian).”

The guidance then states: “The British and Italian governments continue to negotiate long-term arrangements for exchanging driving licences without needing to take a test.”

The Local contacted the British Embassy in Rome to ask for an update on the situation, to which they responded:

“Rest assured the Embassy continues to prioritise the issue of UK driving licence validity in Italy and we continue to engage with the Italian government on this issue.”

Presently, the UK’s new ambassador to Italy, Edward Llewellyn, is touring all 20 regions of Italy and no updates on the driving licence have been given in the meantime.

Could there be a deal which sees all UK licence holders in Italy – those who registered their intent to exchange, those who didn’t, those who did register intent but haven’t been able to finalise the process, and future UK licence holders who move to Italy – able to continue using their UK licences in Italy or easily exchange them for Italian ones without having to sit a driving test?

READ ALSO: ‘Anyone can do it’: Why passing your Italian driving test isn’t as difficult as it sounds

It’s still hard to say, as the authorities continue to advise UK licence holders to sit their Italian driving test, while stating that the two governments are still working on an agreement.

The embassy’s most recent announcement was a Facebook post in April acknowledging that “many of you are concerned” about the issue.

“We continue to work at pace to reach a long-term agreement with Italy, so that residents can exchange their UK driving licences without taking a test, as Italian licence holders can in the UK,” the embassy stated.

British residents of Italy can use their driving licenses until the end of this year, the government has confirmed.

British residents of Italy can presently use their driving licences until the end of this year. Photo by PACO SERINELLI / AFP

The embassy reiterated the need for UK licence holders to consider the possibility of obtaining an Italian driving licence via a test, stating: “It is important that you currently consider all your options, which may include looking into taking a driving test now.”

READ ALSO: Getting your Italian driving licence: the language you need to pass your test

So is it true that most European nations have reached successful agreements with the UK over reciprocal driving licence recognition and exchange and the Italian deal is lagging behind?

The evidence suggests so.

UK licence exchange agreements across Europe

As things stand, Italy and Spain are the only European countries where licence exchange negotiations are ongoing.

British drivers living in Spain are becoming increasingly disgruntled at the lack of solutions, as authorities have still made no decision on exchanging driving licences or reaching a deal.

UK licence holders in Spain are currently in limbo, unable to drive until they either get a Spanish driving licence or a deal is finally reached between Spanish and UK authorities for the mutual exchange of licences post-Brexit.

Since May 1st 2022, drivers who’ve been residents in Spain for more than six months and who weren’t able to exchange their UK licences for Spanish ones cannot drive in Spain.

French and British authorities reached a licence exchange agreement in June 2021, considered a generous one for UK licence holders residing in France as those with licences issued before January 1st 2021 can continue using their UK licences in France until either the licence or the photocard nears expiry.

Sweden and the UK reached a deal even earlier in March 2021. British people resident in Sweden can exchange their UK driving licences for an equivalent Swedish one, without needing to take a test, just as they could when the country was a member of the European Union. 

In Portugal, resident UK licence holders can continue to use their valid UK licences until December 31st 2022 but they must exchange their licences for Portuguese ones before that date.

Other EU nations which have decided to allow UK licence holders residing in their countries to swap their driving licences without having to take a driving test include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.   

There are slight variations in the conditions between countries, and some say you “can exchange”, others that you “must exchange” and most encourage UK licence holders to swap “as soon as possible”. In Greece, UK licences continue to be valid without any restrictions or deadlines for exchange.

That leaves Italy and Spain as the two EU/EEA countries where a deal on a straightforward exchange or long-term recognition of UK licences among residents is still hanging in the balance.  

The only question that’s left is why. 

Why are the driving rights of all Britons who resided in Italy before December 31st 2020 not part of the other protected rights they enjoy under the Withdrawal agreement? 

And why is it taking so long to reach an exchange deal?

So far, Italian and British officials have not provided answers to these questions.

The Local will continue to ask for updates regarding the use of British driving licences in Italy.

Are you a British resident in Italy affected by this issue? We’d like to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below this article or email the Italian news team here.

Find more information on the UK government website’s Living in Italy section.

See The Local’s latest Brexit-related news updates for UK nationals in Italy here.

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