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

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.

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)

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.

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.”

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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How will Italy’s Amalfi Coast traffic limit for tourists work this summer?

The Amalfi Coast will reintroduce traffic calming measures for the summer in an effort to unclog the coastline's congested roads. Here's what visitors need to know.

How will Italy's Amalfi Coast traffic limit for tourists work this summer?

Dramatic, lush, and improbably picturesque, it’s one of Italy’s foremost attractions – but in recent years, the Amalfi Coast has become a victim of its own popularity, drawing so many crowds in the summer months that its tiny roads routinely become paralysed by traffic.

Now, authorities in the area are hoping that seasonal regulations – first introduced in 2020 – will once again help to ease the pressure on the coastline’s teeming thoroughfares.

As of June 15th, alternate driving license plate rules now apply on the 50km stretch of road between Positano and Vietri sul Mare, known as the SS 163.

Vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers will only be allowed through on odd number days, and those ending in even numbers on even number days.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Italy this summer

The rule currently only applies between 10am and 6pm on weekends, but will be in force every day throughout the month of August.

From the 1st to the 30th of September, the rules will once again apply only on weekends.

The narrow roads connecting the tiny towns along the Amalfi Coast quickly become congested in the summer months.
The narrow roads connecting the tiny towns along the Amalfi Coast quickly become congested in the summer months. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP.

Taxis, buses and local residents are exempt, as are vehicles displaying the ‘H’ sign indicating a disabled person is on board (provided they are carrying the disabled person in question).

In addition to Positano and Vietri sul Mare, the rule affects travel between Praiano, Amalfi, Atrani, Ravello and Cetara, popular tourist towns which all fall on the SS 163 route.

The measures have proven popular with some residents, but not everyone is pleased with the restrictions.

In the absence of private transport, tourists staying in the area will either need to travel by taxi or public bus on days when their vehicle is not allowed on the roads.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

Antonio Ilardi, head of the hoteliers federation Federalberghi Salerno, has requested that the rules be adjusted to allow guests to return to their hotels and to permit staff who live outside the area to get to their jobs by private transport.

Alessandro Russo, Praiano’s chief of police, told the Positano News daily that the rule has helped with the traffic problem in previous years, but hasn’t eliminated it – and that for the restrictions to be truly effective, more resources are needed to allow police to conduct checks at the main entry points.

Without a dedicated taskforce, the outlet says, it will be very difficult for the authorities to enforce the traffic rules.

For more information on the Amalfi Coast’s summer traffic rules and schedule and how this may apply to you, contact your accommodation provider or the Comune di Positano‘s tourist office.