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Driving For Members

Can I drive a minicar in Italy without a driver’s licence?

Giampietro Vianello
Giampietro Vianello - [email protected]
Can I drive a minicar in Italy without a driver’s licence?
Vintage car restorer Giovanna Parascandolo is pictured at the wheel of an old Fiat 500 in March 2019. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

The new Fiat Topolino minicar is being advertised as a vehicle that "doesn't need a licence". Is this true and could it benefit Italy’s international residents who need to retake their test?

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The Fiat Topolino, a fully electric two-seat minicar that’s set to hit the market in January of next year, is currently being advertised by a number of national media outlets and car magazines as a “vehicle that can be driven without a licence”. 

The announcement hasn’t gone unnoticed among some of The Local readers, who have asked us whether there is indeed any truth to the statement. 

Some have also pointed out how much of an advantage a ‘licence-less’ vehicle would be for non-EU residents whose countries of origin (US, Canada, Australia and South Africa, just to name a few) don’t have licence-exchange agreements in place with Italy, meaning that they must retake their driving tests in order to get an Italian licence. 

So, is the upcoming Topolino (literally, ‘little mouse’) really a potential game changer for foreign nationals living in Italy?

Well, not quite, unfortunately. 

Under Italian law, the Topolino is a quadrociclo leggero (‘light four-wheeler’) as it weighs less than 425 kilograms and ‘only’ reaches a maximum speed of 45 kilometres per hour. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who needs to exchange their driving licence for an Italian one?

The same goes for two other compact two-seaters that have already been in the market for a while now, namely the Citroen Ami and the Opel Rocks-E.

This means that while you won’t need a patente B (the licence needed for most types of cars and motorcycles up to 125 cc) to drive these minicars, you’ll still have to hold a valid patente AM (Italy’s licence for light two-, three- and four-wheel vehicles) to get behind the wheel.

If you’re wondering whether getting a patente AM (also known as ‘patentino’) may be significantly easier (or quicker) than getting a patente B, that isn’t really the case as the steps to obtain either licence are mostly the same.

Candidates have two shots to pass a 30-question theory test within a six month timeframe. If they pass it, they then have 12 months to complete the practical test, with a maximum of two failures allowed.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What's in the Italian driving licence theory test?

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The AM licence does however present two non-negligible advantages compared to the patente B.

While you have to be at least 18 years old to apply for a patente B, the patente AM is available to anyone aged 14 or over.

Also, while applying for a patente B through a local driving school generally costs between 800 and 1,200 euros, applying for a patente AM through an autoscuola costs around 400 euros.  

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Comments (1)

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Susannah 2023/12/01 21:11
There is no way around it. Just do the Patente B theory, then practical and be done with it. You’ll be considered to be a new driver for three years and then it’s all behind you. I have recently joined a fabulous online class that teaches all the theory in English whilst highlighting every word and phrase needed to pass the 30 questions. Anyone interested can Google ‘Ambrish Quick Patente’ for more information.

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