All you need to know about Brexit and how it affects UK Nationals living in Italy

The British Consulate in Milan, represented by Catriona Graham, hosted a Q&A event in Milan for UK Nationals to discuss and provide clarity about their rights in Italy after Brexit. 

In an interview with Wanted in Rome the Consul General answered the most frequently asked questions from a series of  in - person and online meetings, and underlined the importance of requesting the new residency card.

How does the UK’s withdrawal from the EU affect the status of UK citizens living in Italy?

If you were lawfully living in Italy before 1 January 2021, your rights are automatically protected under the Withdrawal Agreement. You continue to have broadly the same rights to live, work, study and access benefits and services as you had before Brexit. And your close family members can join you in Italy at any time in the future.

You have these rights even if you do not hold the new ‘carta di soggiorno elettronica’ (biometric residency card) issued by Italy under the Withdrawal Agreement. But we still recommend you ask for the ‘carta di soggiorno elettronica’, because it provides the clearest evidence of your rights.

What do UK nationals living in Italy need to do?

Italy implements the Withdrawal Agreement through a declaratory system. This means that if you were lawfully living in Italy before 1 January 2021, you automatically have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

You and your family members have the right to request a new residence document, the carta di soggiorno elettronica. and we strongly recommend that you do so. This card is a separate document to the biometric identity card (‘carta d’identita’), and is the best evidence you can obtain to show that you have the rights defined in the Withdrawal Agreement. It shows your right to enter Italy and exempts you from European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and visa requirements.

You should also check you are correctly registered for healthcare if you are eligible. And you should obtain an Italian driving licence if you are a resident in Italy. 

Consul General in Milan, Catriona GrahamPh: Consul General in Milan, Catriona Graham

Who can apply for residency status?

If you were settled in Italy before 1 January 2021 your rights are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. You should now obtain the new ‘carta di soggiorno elettronica’ from your local questura. If you are already registered as a resident with your town hall (comune) you don’t need to do anything further with the town hall unless you move your primary address. 

If you are a UK national wishing to settle in Italy after 1 January 2021 you may well need a visa to move here. On arrival in Italy you will then need to request a non-EU national residency permit (‘permesso di soggiorno’) within 8 days of arriving. You can request this from your local questura (immigration office). Once you have the permesso or a receipt of application you can use this to register your residency with your local town hall.

You can find more information on how to apply for a non-EU national visa on the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website here.

I am a UK national married to an EU citizen.  Do I need to hold residency status?

Everyone intending to settle in Italy for longer than 90 days needs to register their residency with the local town hall including UK nationals married to an EU citizen. 

If you were registered as a resident before 1 January 2021 you should now obtain the new ‘carta di soggiorno elettronica’ from your local questura. This is issued under the Withdrawal Agreement and is evidence of your rights under the Agreement. You should request this even if you are married to an Italian national, for example. 

You should ensure you are correctly registered as a resident in Italy if you are settled here. 

How do the changes affect UK nationals’ right to healthcare?

If you were living in Italy before 1 January 2021 you retain your rights to healthcare here as long as you remain covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. You can read further guidance in our Living in Italy guide. It includes detailed information on how to register for healthcare in Italy. 

UK nationals living in Italy usually access the Italian health system in one of these ways:

  • registering to use the Italian state health system
  • using a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) for temporary stays
  • registering a UK-issued S1 form with the Italian health system
As for all Italians, you have to pay to use parts of the healthcare system, although some parts are free.

Under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement if you move to or travel to Italy after 1 January this year your UK issued S1 or GHIC/EHIC remains valid if you are eligible for one. 

Can UK nationals use their driver’s licence in Italy?

You can use your valid UK licence until 31 December 2021. If you moved to Italy after 1 January 2021, you can use your valid UK licence for 12 months from the date you became resident

If you live in Italy you should obtain an Italian licence. You will need to take a driving test. If you started exchanging your UK licence before 1 January 2021, you do not need to take a driving test.

We continue to negotiate with the Italian government on the right to exchange a UK licence for an Italian one without the need to re-take a driving test. 

It is our priority to reach an agreement before the end of the grace period – 31 December this year. 

Please continue to check our Living in Guide and our social media channels for updates and be sure to sign up for alerts to keep up to date.

What do UK nationals need to know about visas for visiting Italy?  What is the visa process for UK students studying in Italy?

You are likely to need a visa if you are coming to Italy for longer than 90 days. You should check the information available on the Italian government’s website here

It has a dropdown menu so you can choose under which category you are planning to travel to Italy (employed, self-employed, student etc). The website provides information on what type of visa you need to apply for as well as a link to the application form. 

For example for postgraduate students the website details what criteria will need to be met including evidence of accommodation in Italy, financial self-sufficiency, some form of health insurance and evidence of enrolment in an authorised postgraduate course. 

You should also contact your local Italian Consulate for more information. 

Are there any other important issues you are aware of for British nationals that have not already been mentioned? 

If you are a UK national covered by the Withdrawal Agreement you should always carry with you your new ‘carta di soggiorno elettronica’ or other residency documentation when travelling. That’s because as someone who benefits from the Withdrawal Agreement you shouldn’t have your passport stamped when entering or exiting Italy. Our advice is to show border control your residency document even before you show them your identity document (i.e British passport). If your passport is stamped in error it will have no impact on your rights in Italy. Your residency document negates the stamp and you should show evidence of your residency next time you travel. 

The Embassy team have been running a programme of events for UK nationals such as campaigns across TV and printed media, a series of ‘How-to’ videos on social media and we continue to hold monthly online Q&A sessions as well as residency roadshows targeting different areas of Italy. These are announced on all our social media channels (Facebook) and on gov.uk and via the Embassy’s mailing list. You can sign up to our mailing list via our Living in Italy guide. 

Our ‘Living in Italy’ guide on GOV.UK  provides further information and all other essential information for UK nationals in Italy. 

For questions concerning your rights as a British citizen in Italy you can contact us also via our Living in Italy guide.  

And you can check the ‘Living in Europe’ page on gov.uk for more information about your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.