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Reader question: How long does it take to get a post-Brexit residency card in Italy?

UK nationals have been told that a "carta di soggiorno" is the most efficient way to prove their post-Brexit rights in Italy. But how long can Brits expect to wait for their new electronic residency card?

Reader question: How long does it take to get a post-Brexit residency card in Italy?
How long can you expect to wait for your Brexit residence card in Italy? File photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

What’s the process?

Thanks to Brexit, all British nationals who moved to Italy before the UK’s withdrawal from the EU took effect need to be able to prove that they were resident here before the Brexit transition period concluded at the end of 2020. 

A new carta di soggiorno, a microchipped card that shows your residency status, ID photo and fingerprints, is available to British citizens who were lawfully living in Italy before January 1st 2021.

While getting the new card is not compulsory, it’s the simplest way to demonstrate that your rights in Italy are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement. Many Brits have reported being asked for it when trying to access services or complete paperwork in Italy, and while strictly speaking officials should accept other proof of residency, in practice not having the card can lead to hold-ups.

READ ALSO: Why Brits in Italy are being urged to apply for the new Brexit residence card now 

Applying for the card involves making an appointment with your local police immigration office, or questura, paying an administrative fee at a post office, then going to the questura in person with proof of payment and evidence that you were resident in Italy before the Brexit deadline.

The most straightforward proof is an attestazione di iscrizione anagrafica that specifically states you were registered with your local town hall before the Brexit deadline. But you can still apply for the card if you don’t have the attestazione, or even if you weren’t registered at all: you’ll just have to produce additional documents to demonstrate you fulfilled the requirements for residency here before January 1st 2020.

If you applied to register before this date but haven’t yet received confirmation, you should wait until the registry office (anagrafe) has finalized your residency before applying for the card.

EXPLAINED: What are the different documents Italy’s British residents need after Brexit?

Once your application is processed, your card will be delivered to a police station where you can go and pick it up.

Find the British Embassy’s guide to applying for the carta di soggiorno here. If you need extra help with your application, support is available from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM): email [email protected] or call 800 684 884.

Only UK nationals who were resident in Italy by December 31st 2020 are eligible for the new card. Brits who move after that date will need a visa: find out the requirements here.

How long does it take to get an appointment?

It will vary depending on how many resources your questura has and how many other Brits are applying in your area.  

Police stations are supposed to allow Brits to book an appointment for their residence card application via email or an online form. Check this list for your questura‘s email address, or try searching “questura + carta di soggiorno + Regno Unito + [name of your town]”. 

READ ALSO:

Once you’ve contacted the questura, you should be emailed the details of your appointment, as well as instructions for what to do if you can’t make it.

From the accounts we’ve heard, you could hear back within a day or have to wait several months – and as for the appointment itself, it could be weeks or months after that. It all depends on where you live.

Among The Local’s writers, two requested appointments in January: one in Rome got an appointment in late February, one in Bari is still waiting to attend hers in June.

How long will I have to spend at the questura?

Once you have your appointment, in theory your visit to the questura should be quick: around 15-30 minutes to confirm your details, show your documents, sign some forms, hand over your ID photos and payment receipt, and scan your fingerprints.

Some Brits have reported having to wait despite having an appointment, so show up early and allow extra time. 

READ ALSO: ‘What I learned when I applied for the Brexit residence card for Brits in Italy’

You can maximise your chances of getting in and out quickly by double-checking you have everything you need. Remember that you’ll have to go to a post office beforehand to pay the €30.46 admin fee by postal order (bollettino), and to get some new passport-sized photos if you don’t have four recent ones.

Find a list of everything you should bring in the Italian Interior Ministry’s guide (in English)

Multiple people have encountered problems with their fingerprint scans, with several applicants called back to the questura to give their prints a second or even third time. When you go, be sure to rub in any hand sanitizer gel completely before using the scanner, and ask to wait a few minutes afterwards to see if the system rejects your prints.

How long until my application is processed?

Again, it’s a postcode lottery.

You can check on the status of your application by going to the state police’s website and entering the reference number written on your application receipt: it will either tell you that it’s being processed (displaying a red cross) or is ready for delivery (a green tick).

Some of the first cards were issued to British residents in Milan, who picked them up at the end of March. Several others who applied in January or February are getting their cards now, averaging a wait of two to three months.

But after an initial lag while the design was finalized and the new cards sent into production, the process appears to be picking up speed. Some people have reported that their applications were processed within a month of their appointment at the questura, or in a few cases even less.

Here’s a sample of recent waiting times reported in the citizens’ rights Facebook group Beyond Brexit:

  • Pistoia, Tuscany: “Within a week”
  • Sondrio, Lombardy: “Two and a bit weeks”
  • Rome, Lazio: “Three weeks”
  • Ascoli Piceno, Marche: “Four weeks”
  • Novara, Piedmont: “A month”
  • Bergamo, Lombardy: “Five weeks”

Then when do I get my card?

The wait isn’t quite over once your application has the green tick. You’ll be instructed to wait for an SMS that tells you when the card has arrived at a police station for you to go and pick it up, which may require another appointment.

Some people report that they waited several weeks without receiving a text message: if you haven’t heard anything after a week or two, email or call your questura for an update.

You’ll either be offered an appointment or told when you can queue up to collect your shiny new carta di soggiorno, which you should check carefully for any errors before you leave the police station. 

British nationals collect their Brexit residence cards in Milan. Photo courtesy of Beyond Brexit/Facebook

It should remain valid for either five years (if you’ve been living in Italy for less than five years by the time you apply) or ten years (if you’ve already lived in Italy for five years or more). 

Is there a deadline to apply?

The Italian government hasn’t set a deadline for getting the new carta di soggiorno.

The IOM will continue to offer assistance with applications throughout 2021: find more information on their Facebook page. Anyone who faces difficulties in accessing services in Italy without a card is advised to contact the British Embassy via their Living in Italy website.

For more on residency, healthcare, driving and travel after Brexit, head to our Brexit section.

Member comments

  1. I applied for an appointment for the third time on 27March to the Questura at Massa and my appointment is for 7 September.

  2. The whole process from sending the first PEC email to getting the card has taken us about 15 weeks in Macerata.

  3. We applied for our biometric card in Siracusa Sicily on the 17th of February. We received it on May 12th.

  4. I got my appointment at the Questura a week after I applied for it in January. I even got an email from one of the impiegati telling me how to get to the offices. They treated me like some sort of VIP when I arrived, ushering me past the queues, etc. I felt quite guilty I must say. However since then, I’ve just waited and waited … (Julie, Torino)

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For members

ITALY EXPLAINED

The 7 signs that August has arrived in Italy

While summer holidays are important everywhere, Italy takes the tradition of le vacanze estive particularly seriously. Here's what to expect now that August has arrived.

The 7 signs that August has arrived in Italy

1. Cities are largely deserted

If you’re in a city or town, prepare for it to feel strangely empty away from the obvious tourist destinations.

In Rome, car journeys that once involved a half-hour battle through wild traffic become surprisingly quick and stress-free. And where are the crowds at your usual after-work drinks spot in Milan? Even the smallest towns will be noticeably quieter than usual.

READ ALSO: Ferragosto: Why the long August holidays are untouchable for Italians

This is because all sensible Italian residents have packed up and gone to the beach or the mountains for a month. Next year, you’ll know to do the same.

2. But beaches are packed

Italy was a nation of staycationers even before the pandemic, and in August it’s tutti al mare: everyone flees to the beach, or maybe the mountains, at the same time.

Expect resorts to be packed and hotels, Airbnbs and campsites to be fully booked, especially as international tourists return after two years of travel restrictions.

3. Shops have cheery ‘closed for holidays’ signs

Shop workers and owners take time off like everyone else and it’s very common for small independent businesses like bakeries, pharmacies and florists to close for up to a month.

Some will tell you when they expect to reopen, others just put a sign in the window saying ‘chiuso per ferie’ – closed for holidays.

4. The summer sales are (still) on

Those shops that do remain open – mainly large chain stores and supermarkets –  offer discounts throughout August to those dedicated shoppers who aren’t at the beach. Italy only allows two retail sales a year, and one of those runs through July and August.

5. Everyone you email is out of the office

Need to contact anyone urgently at work this month? If they’re in Italy, then too bad.

Office workers are also usually on holiday, and a great many offices close altogether for three or four weeks.

Forget about out-of-office email replies suggesting an alternative contact or that the person will be checking their email sporadically – they will be on the beach and whatever you want can wait until they are back.

This applies to banks and to any kind of government bureaucracy, and you may also have trouble getting medical appointments at this time of year.

There’s only one place to be in Italy in August, as far as many Italians are concerned. Photo by Giovanni ISOLINO / AFP

6. There are ‘red alert’ heat warnings in place

This summer has been an unusually hot one and Italy has already experienced several extreme heatwaves. But as we get into August temperatures will no doubt be high across the board, meaning the country’s health authorities put heat warnings in place on the hottest days and strongly advise people to stay out of the sun during the hottest hours of the afternoon.

7. Every major road has a traffic warning

Italy’s state police make good use of the red pen when putting together the official traffic forecast for August. All weekends feature ‘red dot’ traffic warnings as people head off on holiday, or return home.

The final weekend of August, when people head home in time for il rientro (the return to school and work in September) is also best avoided.

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