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SECOND HOMES

Reader question: Will Italy consider scrapping the 90-day limit for Brits?

Following reports that Spanish authorities are under pressure to extend the time Brits can now stay in Spain, readers with second homes in Italy have asked whether the same thing could happen here.

People outside the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.
Brits without Italian residency can currently spend 90 days out of 180 in Italy. Photo: Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

QUESTION: Recent articles in the UK media describe growing pressure in Spain to extend or scrap the 90 day rule for British nationals because it is hurting Spanish tourism. Is there any chance we will see this being considered in Italy?

When Britain left the EU, British citizens lost the right to freedom of movement within the bloc – and the new 90-day limit has been a particular problem for those with second homes in European countries.

The change has hit some parts of Europe hard, too: including the region of Valencia in Spain, which is now campaigning for UK nationals to not have their time on Spain’s Costa Blanca limited or determined by the 90-day Schengen rules that now apply to them.

This is because the impact of Brexit on freedom of movement is affecting one of the Valencian economy’s driving forces: UK nationals who spend extended periods of time in Spain.

READ ALSO: How Brits can properly plan their 90 out of 180 days in Italy and the Schengen zone

Regional authorities have called on Spain’s Tourism Ministry to help make it easier for British nationals to spend more than 90 out of 180 days in the Valencia region without having to apply for a visa.

For anyone who is not an EU citizen – including UK nationals since January 1st 2021 – the 90-day rule comes into play. You can find a full explanation of how it works here, but essentially it limits trips into the Schengen zone to 90 days out of every 180. These rules apply equally across the bloc.

Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

UK nationals who don’t hold an Italian or EU residency document following Brexit are now wondering if the Italian authorities might look at changing the rules.

But so far, there are no reports than any regional authorities in Italy have put pressure on the government to give British nationals an exemption to the post-Brexit rules.

READ ALSO: Where do all the Brits live in Italy and how ‘Italian’ are they?

Tourism figures appear to offer an explanation for the fact that Spain is the first place to see this push for a change.

UK tourism is worth far more to Spain than to Italy – and Spain is also more reliant on tourism overall.

Before the pandemic sent numbers tumbling across the board, figures for 2019 showed that Spain was the second most visited country in the world, coming just behind France. Italy ranked fifth.

Although tourism is important to Italy’s economy, the country counts almost 20 million fewer annual visitors than Spain – and the largest share of tourism to Italy (14.1 percent) comes from Germany, Italian government figures show, followed by the US. The UK accounts for about three percent of all tourism to Italy.

With UK visitor numbers being lower, they have less economic significance to the country.

There are also far fewer British nationals living in Italy than Spain. The most recent demographic data for UK nationals living in the EU revealed that more Brits live in Spain than any other member state.

Italy, on the other hand, ranked sixth with almost 260,000 fewer UK nationals living in Italy compared to Spain.

Number of British citizens living in the EU.
Source: Statista

Is there any way Brits can stay in Italy for longer?

Many British people who have a second home in Italy have contacted The Local to ask how they could spend four or five months in a row here as they used to.

But with the 90-day rule in place and no sign of this changing soon, the only way for non-residents to spend more time in Italy is now to get a long-stay visa.

At the moment, if you plan to stay longer, most people from outside the EU would need to apply for a visa and residency permit (permesso di soggiorno).

READ ALSO:

While some countries such as France have made special residency permit provisions for second home owners, and certain other EU member states have so-called ‘Golden Visa’ schemes available to those who can afford them, Italy has no such process.

There has been widespread confusion about this for British nationals, but the post-Brexit immigration rules remain the same whether you own a property in Italy or not.

You’ll need to consider whether getting residency, in order to spend longer periods in Italy, is right for you.

Aside from the visa process, this involves paying income tax in Italy and other considerations which mean many people are opting to continue to follow the 90-day rule.

For more details about the process of applying for an Italian visa and residency permit, see the Italian Interior Ministry’s website or the EU immigration portal.

See The Local’s Brexit section for more details and updates. 

Member comments

  1. While I thank you for the view concerning the attitude of the different European states on the 90 day rule. I am bewildered by the talk of Spain and France making independent decisions regarding an EU piece of legislation.
    Surely Europe states must all agree to change the rules not individual countries as chaos would rule over the policing of this differential
    Of course I love my chosen and owned home in Italy. but the issue of a visa is not as straight forward as may be suggested, as the Embassies use an agency to filter and guide the process of application and to my cost the agency in the UK has demonstrated little grasp of the process and zero guidance

  2. I don’t see why Italy would choose such an option, especially given the small numbers involved. And then there’s the fact we made the decision to acquire residency here (a somewhat fraught process!), and don’t see why those who haven’t should be ‘gifted’ an extension…

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For members

COVID-19 RULES

Reader question: What are Italy’s Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Italy's quarantine rules have changed so many times over the past couple of years, it can be hard to keep track. Here's the latest information on when and how visitors need to self-isolate.

Reader question: What are Italy's Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Question: “One of your recent articles says you can exit quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus. But you can also exit quarantine by obtaining a certificate of recovery from Covid-19… true?”

Unfortunately, official proof of having recovered from Covid-19 won’t get you out of the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while visiting Italy – though it can shorten your quarantine period.

The health ministry’s current rules state that anyone who tests positive while in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days: that’s if the person in question is fully vaccinated and boosted, or has completed their primary vaccination cycle, or was certified as being recovered from Covid less than 120 days ago.

That period is extended to 10 days for those who aren’t fully vaccinated and boosted, or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days in order to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell, which can persist for some time after the infection is over).

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine in order to be allowed out.

Read more about getting tested while in Italy in a separate article here.

Quarantined people who keep testing positive for the virus can be kept in self-isolation for a maximum of 21 days, at which point they will be automatically released.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative in order to enter its borders, as long as they are fully boosted or were recently vaccinated/ have recently recovered from Covid.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Some countries (including the US), however, do require people travelling from Italy to test negative before their departure – which means visitors at the tail end of their journey could be hit with the unpleasant surprise of finding out they need to quarantine for another week in Italy instead of heading home as planned.

It’s because of this rule that a number of The Local’s readers told us they wouldn’t be coming on holiday to Italy this summer, and intend to postpone for another year.

If you are planning on visiting Italy from a country that requires you to test negative for Covid prior to re-entry, it’s a good idea to consider what you would do and where you would go in the unlikely event you unexpectedly test positive.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

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

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