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BREXIT

How many of Italy’s British residents have successfully applied for a post-Brexit residency card?

British nationals living in Italy have been told to apply for a ‘carta di soggiorno’ to prove their post-Brexit rights. But how many have applied for or received the card so far?

UK nationals living in Italy demonstrate against Brexit in 2017.
UK nationals living in Italy demonstrate against Brexit in 2017. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Thanks to Brexit, all UK nationals who moved to Italy before the UK’s withdrawal from the EU took effect need to be able to prove that they were resident here before the Brexit transition period concluded at the end of 2020.

The carta di soggiorno, a microchipped card that shows your residency status, photo and fingerprints, is available to British citizens who were lawfully living in Italy before January 1st 2021.

While the new card is not compulsory, it’s the simplest way to demonstrate that your rights in Italy are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement. 

Reader question: How long does it take to get a post-Brexit residency card in Italy?

Citizens’ rights groups urged UK nationals to get the card earlier this year after many Brits reported problems trying to access services or complete paperwork in Italy before they were able to obtain the card.

But new data suggests most of Italy’s British residents are yet to apply.

So far, around a third of Italy’s estimated 32,000 British residents have applied for the ‘carta di soggiorno’ according to new EU data.

The EU’s fifth joint report on the implementation of residency rights under part 2 of the Withdrawal Agreement brings together data from all EU member states – and the UK – on post-Brexit residency applications.

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

As of September 21st there had been 11,000 applications for the new document in Italy.

Of those, 9,700 had already been approved, the figures showed.

No data was available on whether any applications had been turned down; in theory, there’s no scope for applications to be refused as long as you were already legally resident before the final Brexit date.

While some countries such as France have set cut-off dates for applications for new residency cards, the Italian government hasn’t given a deadline for getting the carta di soggiorno.

How do I apply and what should I do if I have problems?

Applying for the card involves making an appointment with your local police immigration office, or questura, paying an administrative fee at a post office, then going to the questura in person with proof of payment and evidence that you were resident in Italy before the Brexit deadline.

While some people report that the application process was smooth and efficient, others are still waiting either for their card or for an initial appointment at the Questura ten months after first being told to apply for the document.

Find the British Embassy’s guide to applying for the carta di soggiorno here

Only UK nationals who were resident in Italy by December 31st 2020 are eligible for the new card. Brits who move after that date will need a visa (find out the new requirements here) and a residency permit (attestazione or permesso di soggiorno). Unlike the new Brexit ‘carta di soggiorno‘, this permit is a legal requirement.

If you need extra help with your application, support is available from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM): email [email protected] or call 800 684 884.

The IOM will continue to offer assistance with applications throughout 2021: find more information on their Facebook page

Anyone who faces difficulties in accessing services in Italy without a card is advised to contact the British Embassy via their Living in Italy website.

For more on residency, healthcare, driving and travel after Brexit, head to our Brexit section.

Member comments

  1. No problem at all, and the local Questura (Arezzo) was very helpful. I have now received my Italian citizenship, so the Carta di Soggiorno doesn’t really apply to me any longer, but I get the impression from various British friends that it rather depends on where you live and which Questura you apply to.

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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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