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Driving licences: Is there any sign the UK and Italy will reach an agreement?

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Driving licences: Is there any sign the UK and Italy will reach an agreement?
The question on a UK-Italy driving licence agreement rolls on. (Photo by FABIO MUZZI / AFP)

British residents in Italy are asking whether a reciprocal agreement on driving licences will be reached in 2022 - or if they should now arrange to retake their test in Italian.

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Many of The Local’s British readers have been in touch recently to ask for updates on the situation with UK driving licences in Italy, after their validity was extended until the end of 2022.

When Britain left the EU at the end of 2020, there was no reciprocal agreement in place but 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.

This was then extended for another 12 months: 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.

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The last-minute announcement came as a relief to many drivers concerned that they would face retaking their test in Italian in the new year.

But this temporary reprieve doesn't resolve the issue of what will happen after this latest extension is up - and the situation is now repeating itself this year.

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."

Many readers have asked whether this guidance means they should or should not begin the lengthy process of preparing for and taking the Italian driving test now, to avoid he risk of being left without a driving permit by the end of 2022.

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

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

British residents of Italy can use their driving licenses until the end of this year - but there are no firm indications on what will happen after that. Photo by PACO SERINELLI / AFP

British reader John, who asked not to share his full name, told The Local: “I live rurally in Italy and I need to drive to work ... I’ve been driving for 30-odd years and I wouldn't be happy about having to pay to retake my test in any language. There should be arrangements made for experienced drivers."

“At any rate, taking your test and exchanging your licence in Italy is not something that can be done in a week so we need clarity from the British government.”

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The Local has contacted the British Embassy in Rome to ask for an update on the situation, but has not received a response at the time of writing.

Shortly after we got in touch, the embassy published a Facebook post 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.

The embassy did not confirm whether UK licence holders will need to sit an Italian driving test or not, stating: "It is important that you currently consider all your options, which may include looking into taking a driving test now."

The Local will continue to ask for updates on this.

For now, any UK licence issued before January 1st, 2021 will still be accepted on Italy's roads, as confirmed in a decree issued by the Italian government on December 30th.

The rules apply to UK nationals who are resident in Italy. People visiting Italy for short periods can continue to drive on a UK licence.

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

All other licence holders can use their licences for 12 months from becoming a resident in Italy. 

That means any UK nationals who move to Italy in future would need to take a test to exchange their licence within 12 months of registering for Italian residency.

Most other EU countries have already announced reciprocal agreements with the UK, allowing driving licences to be exchanged without the need for a test, but with eight months left under the latest extension, the clock is ticking on making an arrangement with Italy.

 Italy has reciprocal driving licence agreements in place 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 our latest Brexit-related news updates for UK nationals in Italy here.

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

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calleebash 2022/09/11 14:01
It’s not just the test. I have no doubt that I can pass the test. However, as a holder of a neopatente, I would have to sell my car - a very nice car - and downsize. Plus, the test costs a fortune and takes an age to complete. I am truly a loss!

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