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End of the Brexit transition period: what do Brits in Italy need to do now?

If you’re a British citizen living in Italy, you can continue life in your adopted country after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December. But that doesn’t mean you can relax entirely just yet.

End of the Brexit transition period: what do Brits in Italy need to do now?
Photo: Getty Images

You'll need to take some action to keep all your rights and access to services. This guide, presented in partnership with the UK Government, tells you what you need to do in four key areas: residency, healthcare, travel and driving.

Get the official UK government advice on living in Italy after the transition ends

1. Registering your residency

If you're a UK national who is legally living in Italy before 31 December 2020, there's a welcome message on residency: no need to say ‘arrivederci'. Your right to live in Italy will be protected. 

However, anyone who wants to stay in Italy for more than three months must register as an Italian resident with their local town hall or comune. Once registered, you can apply for an attestazione di regolarità di soggiorno (declaration of legal residence).

If you’ve been living in Italy for more than five years, you should hold an attestazione di soggiorno permanente.

There is a new document – the attestazione di iscrizione anagrafica – that all UK nationals in Italy are now advised to get from their town hall. This applies even if you already have another residency document. That’s because only the new ‘attestazione’ specifically states that you’re covered by the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU. If you have non-EU family members, they should also get it.

“The Italian government has been very clear that it wants British nationals living here to stay and they have advised that UK nationals should try to register their residency by the end of the year if you haven’t done so already,” said Jill Morris, the British Ambassador to Italy. “The new Withdrawal Agreement ‘attestazione’ which has been made available is further proof of your status under the Withdrawal Agreement.”

If you have difficulty registering or getting the new ‘attestazione’, get in touch with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which is working with the UK government to support UK nationals on residency (email [email protected] or freephone: 800684884)

Photo: Getty Images

2. Ensuring you’re registered for healthcare

If you’re living in Italy before the end of 2020, you’ll have a life-long right to access healthcare in Italy, as you do now, for as long as you remain resident. You need to register with the Italian National Health Service (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale – SSN) through your local health authority (Azienda Sanitaria Locale – ASL) after registering your residency. You'll need to meet certain requirements to be able to register. 

Once you're registered, emergency care, GP appointments and hospital admissions will be free – but you might still have to make a co-payment (commonly called 'ticket') to use other parts of the healthcare system.

Get the full official UK government advice on your rights to state healthcare in Italy

You can register for free if:

  • you have a work contract, are self-employed in Italy or are an immediate family member of someone who is

  • you’re an immediate family member of an Italian citizen

  • you hold an Attestazione di Soggiorno Permanente

  • you become unemployed after having worked in Italy, and register on the employment lists (liste di collocamento). This also applies if you register for a professional training course while unemployed

  • you hold a UK social security form, such as an S1 form for pensioners

Don’t fit into one of these categories? Depending on where in Italy you live, you may be able to register for healthcare by paying an annual fee – contact your ASL for more information or, alternatively, take out private health insurance.

3. Checking you're ready for trouble-free travel

You live abroad – so crossing borders is no big deal, right? But you'll face some new rules on travel within Europe next year – so doing your homework now could save you a lot of trouble later.

From 1 January 2021, you'll need six months left on your passport to travel within Europe (be aware that any extra months you had added to your passport's validity when renewing it early last time won't count towards this).

You can check your passport's validity here to know for sure if you need to renew it before booking a trip. This new rule applies to children's passports, as well as adults, and applies for travel to most European countries. 

It doesn't apply for Ireland. Equally, it doesn’t apply if, as a resident of Italy under the Withdrawal Agreement, you want to enter or transit to Italy.

4. Exchanging your driving licence

Italy is a beautiful country to explore by car – whether following the stunning Mediterranean coastline or hopping between hilltop towns.

Photo: Getty Images

But if you still have a UK driving licence, you should exchange it for an Italian licence before 31 December. After that, the rules on driving licence recognition could change – meaning you could end up having to re-sit your test. You can exchange a UK driving licence at an agency of Italy’s Ministry of Transport. So, what are you waiting for? Time to set the wheels in motion!

Staying up-to-date 

You can sign for emails with the latest official UK government updates about these topics in Italy. Since 2017, British embassies across Europe have organised 853 Brexit-related outreach events, with more than 510,000 Brits attending in person or online.

The Embassy in Italy regularly engages with British community groups, shares information on their social media pages, and hosts regular Q&A sessions for UK nationals in Italy. Sessions are announced both on Facebook and on this government page.

Get all the latest official guidance for UK nationals in Italy on these topics and more by visiting the UK government's Living in Italy web page

BRITS IN EUROPE

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.

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