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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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BRITS IN EUROPE

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.

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