As the year-end approaches, a number of The Local’s British readers have been in touch to ask whether any progress has been made on a reciprocal driving license agreement between the UK and Italy.
If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with the background of this Brexit consequence.
When Britain left the EU there was no reciprocal agreement in place, but UK licence holders living in Italy were granted a grace period in which they could continue to drive on their British licences. This period was later extended to the current deadline of December 31st, 2022.
The situation beyond that date however remains unclear, and concern is growing among the sizeable number of British nationals living in Italy who say no longer being allowed to drive would be a serious problem.
There was the option of exchanging licences before the end of 2021, but many didn’t make the deadline. As has been proven before, this was often not due to slackness but rather all manner of circumstances, from having moved to Italy after or shortly before the cut-off date to bureaucratic delays.
Driving licences: How does the situation for Brits in Italy compare to rest of Europe?
So is an agreement any closer? Or do those driving in Italy on a UK licence really need to go to the considerable trouble and expense of sitting an Italian driving test (in Italian)?
With less than three months now left to go, there’s still no indication as to whether a decision will be made either way.
The Local contacted the British embassy for an update on the situation, and on Wednesday received the following statement from an embassy spokesperson:
“We completely understand the concerns of British citizens living in Italy on this issue. Being able to drive is vital to so many British citizens living here, from running businesses to being able to get to medical appointments.
“Negotiating an agreement with Italy on the exchange of driving licences before the end of the year remains right at the top of the Embassy’s priorities.
“Since our update in August we have continued and intensified further our work with our Italian colleagues and have made progress towards our shared objective. We look forward to providing a further update as soon as we can.”
When pressed on the reasons for the hold up, and asked whether British driving license holders in Italy can expect another eleventh-hour extension to the grace period, the embassy said it could not comment further.
In the meantime, the British government continues to advise licence holders to sit their Italian driving test – while also stressing that they’re working hard on reaching a deal, which would make taking the test unnecessary.
The August update referenced in the embassy’s latest statement refers to a video posted to its Facebook page by British Ambassador to Italy Ed Llewellyn on August 4th.
In the video, the ambassador says that he has recently been in contact with Italy’s transport minister over the issue, and that discussions would continue through August.
As of early October, however, British residents of Italy are still no closer to knowing what the outcome of those talks has been.
Llewellyn adds in his August video update: “our advice remains that you don’t need, if you speak Italian, to wait for that agreement – you can go down the route of taking the Italian test.”
This advice echoes that given in an official newsletter published in mid-July, in which Llewellyn acknowledged the concerns of British residents and confirmed that negotiations are still going on, while urging them to take the Italian test.
“We hope it will be possible to reach an agreement – that is our objective and we are working hard to try to deliver it.
Nevertheless, he said, “our advice is not to wait to exchange your licence.”
“If you need to drive in Italy, you can take action now by applying for an Italian licence. This will, however, involve taking a practical and theory test.”
He acknowledged that “the process is not a straightforward one and that there are delays in some areas to book an appointment for a test”.
The Local will continue to publish any news on the recognition of British driving licences in Italy. See the latest updates in our Brexit-related news section here.
Find more information on the UK government website’s Living in Italy section.