The British embassy and UK government websites advise everyone to swap their UK driving licences for an Italian one. While the UK is a member of the EU, that is generally a fairly straightforward process. So yes, if you can you should – before B-Day (now set for the 31st of January).
However, Brexit being Brexit, things are not always that simple.
You can exchange your existing British licence for an Italian one subject to two rather obvious conditions:
- That the licence is still valid.
- That you are legally resident.
But there is a snag.
Now that the Withdrawal Agreement has been passed in parliament, any British resident in Italy (and the EU) will have until the end of the transition period, namely until December 31st 2020, to exchange their British licence for an Italian or other EU country licence.
Many British would-be residents will not have managed to get through the various bureaucratic hurdles prior to brexi day or its extension – for a variety of reasons, such as not being able to obtain the appointment with the local comune in time.
But British in Italy has been assured by the Italian government that so long as they can prove that they were resident on or before Brexit day or its extension, their applications for residence should be approved and back-dated.
There is, however, no similar leeway for applications to switch driving licences. So when you go to request the change, you will have to show proof of residence – usually a carta d’identità. And if that is after Brexit Day, it seems likely that it will be too late.
Your UK licence will no longer be valid for driving in Europe after Brexit and to stay on the road, you will need to acquire an International Driving Permit. There are two different ones required for European countries so check out which one you need for whichever country or countries you wish to drive in; and in either case you'll need the obligatory green insurance card as well.
For those who drive a UK registered car here, there is another snag. You now need to apply to re-register it in Italy within 60 days of your arrival! So which ‘arrival’ do you claim for that one? And while it is being re-registered you might try to find a friend with a spare car, because yours will be off the road for however long it takes.
Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
If you can persuade your friend to lend you theirs for a while, it is probably cheaper than re-registering a UK car. Wait for the next rottamazione or scrappage scheme (a more or less five-yearly event when the Italian car industry needs a little help), see if you can hand over the redundant UK-registered vehicle and get a massive discount on the brand-new Italian one.
P.S. Remember to take the spare house keys out of the glove box prior to its rottamazione; it's not easy to find them once the car has been crushed!