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Reader question: Can I buy a car in Italy if I'm not a resident?

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Reader question: Can I buy a car in Italy if I'm not a resident?
Cars in Austria can be sold privately or through a dealer. Photo: Cristian Macovei on Unsplash

If you spend extended periods of time in Italy, can you buy a car to use while in the country? It all depends on your residency status.


Question: 'We own a second home in Italy and we'd like to purchase a car to use there during our visits. But we're not registered as residents. Are we allowed to buy a car in Italy?'

It's a common question from people who spend extended periods of time in Italy but are, for one reason or another, not registered as Italian residents.

The short answer is: if you're a legal resident in Italy, then you can buy a car in Italy.


As a general rule, if you don’t have residency in Italy – even if you own property in Italy or have business interests in the country – you are not legally allowed to buy a car in Italy.

READ ALSO: Can second-home owners get an Italian residence permit?

According to the Italian highway code, you need to have registered your residency with an Italian municipality to be able to buy a new or used vehicle in Italy.

While you might find a friendly neighbour willing to sell you their old motor regardless, you would also need to register the change of ownership with the Motor Vehicles Office (Ufficio Motorizzazione Civile) and the Public Vehicle Registry (Pubblico Registro Automobilistico or PRA).

This is where you'd run into trouble without the right paperwork, which includes a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno), or if you’re an EU citizen, your proof of residence (certificato di residenza). You’ll also need your Italian tax code (codice fiscale) and other documents, some of which you may not be able to obtain without residency.

The Automobile Club d'Italia (ACI) has complete information about these requirements here.

So could you instead bring your own car to Italy from abroad? For short periods, there's no issue with doing this - assuming that you're willing and able to drive between Italy and your home country.

But for the longer term, importing a car to Italy and registering it here would again require you to be able to show proof of Italian residency, according to ACI.

If you live between two or more countries, there's a lot to consider when deciding whether you should - or could - register as a resident in Italy.

Doing so is more than a simple declaration of your presence in Italy; being registered as a resident means you'll face certain requirements (most notably those related to paying taxes) as well as rights in the country. Read more about the process of obtaining Italian residency here.

So if registering as a resident is not an option in your circumstances, you may have to stick with the rental car for now or explore the longer-term alternatives to hiring a car in Italy.

Please note that many bureaucratic processes and requirements often vary from one part of Italy to another. This article is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to purchasing or registering a car in Italy.

For further information and advice please contact your local Motorizzazione Civile office or consult the Automobile Club d’Italia.

See more in The Local's Driving in Italy section.


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manthony 2022/05/19 04:20
Hello, I found the following information on a message board which leads me to believe that a non resident Italian with a second home in Italy can register a car. If anyone has any experiences on this matter please share. Art. 134. Circolazione di autoveicoli e motoveicoli appartenenti a cittadini italiani residenti all'estero o a stranieri (1) (2) 1. Agli autoveicoli, motoveicoli e rimorchi importati temporaneamente o nuovi di fabbrica acquistati per l'esportazione, che abbiano già adempiuto alle formalità doganali, se prescritte, e appartengano a cittadini italiani residenti all'estero o a stranieri che sono di passaggio, sono rilasciate una carta di circolazione della durata massima di un anno, salvo eventuale proroga, e una speciale targa di riconoscimento, come stabilito nel regolamento. 1-bis. Al di fuori dei casi previsti dal comma 1, gli autoveicoli, motoveicoli e rimorchi immatricolati in uno Stato estero o acquistati in Italia ed appartenenti a cittadini italiani residenti all'estero ed iscritti all'Anagrafe italiani residenti all'estero (A.I.R.E.) e gli autoveicoli, motoveicoli e rimorchi immatricolati in uno Stato dell'Unione europea o acquistati in Italia ed appartenenti a cittadini comunitari o persone giuridiche costituite in uno dei Paesi dell'Unione europea che abbiano, comunque, un rapporto stabile con il territorio italiano, sono immatricolati, a richiesta, secondo le norme previste dall'articolo 93, a condizione che al momento dell'immatricolazione l'intestatario dichiari un domicilio legale presso una persona fisica residente in Italia o presso uno dei soggetti di cui alla legge 8 agosto 1991, n. 264. 2. Chiunque circola con la carta di circolazione di cui al comma 1 scaduta di validità è soggetto alla sanzione amministrativa del pagamento di una somma da euro 80 a euro 318. Dalla violazione consegue la sanzione amministrativa accessoria della confisca del veicolo, secondo le norme del capo I, sezione II, del titolo VI. La sanzione accessoria non si applica qualora al veicolo, successivamente all'accertamento, venga rilasciata la carta di circolazione, ai sensi dell'articolo 93. (3) (1) Articolo così modificato dalla Legge 25 gennaio 2006, n. 29 e dal D.L. 27 giugno 2003, n. 151. (2) Vedi art. 340 reg. cod. strada. (3) Comma così modificato dal D.M. 22 dicembre 2010, in G.U. n. 305 del 31-12-2010
cwandless_603fca695ba57 2022/05/19 00:29
The fundamental question of the article focuses on the ability to purchase and use (drive) a car in Italy, as is clearly stated directly under the title of the article as follows: “If you spend extended periods of time in Italy, can you buy a car to use while in the country?” The short answer is that an individual must have a Carta d’Identità to be able to successfully purchase a car and then legally drive that car on the road. A car cannot be used (legally driven) on the road without being first registered and insured by its owner, who must present his/her Carta d’Identita at registration. A permesso di soggiorno (referred to as a residence permit in the article) is NOT enough.
Clare Speak 2022/05/17 12:03
Hi, As you can see, this article is focused on the question of how residency status affects your right to buy a car in Italy - rather than on the car purchase process, the paperwork required to register a car after you've bought it, insurance, residency rights, etc - though these are important points, they are beyond the scope of this particular article. We have linked to further information about the registration process for those who want to know more. If you could let us know exactly which points you believe are misleading and in error we'll be pleased to check them. Thanks, - Clare
cwandless_603fca695ba57 2022/05/16 19:37
This article is extremely misleading and actually in error. It is very important to note that it is a requirement to have a Carta d'Identità to register a car in Italy. You cannot legally drive the car without having it registered. And you cannot register it without having the Carta d'Identita (not just a permesso). AND further, if you have a registered car in Italy (by having a Carta d'Identità, then you also cannot legally drive and be covered by car insurance (even if they sell it to you) unless you have obtained an Italian driver's license within 1 year of receiving a Carta d'Identità. So there is a very big can of worms opened here once someone buys a car (which can be sold to you without having a Carta d'Identità), or receives a Carta d'Identità. And of course, there are also tax implications once someone stays in the country more than a certain number of days per year OR receives a Carta d'Identità. 🤪

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