After Britain left the EU at the end of last year, British residents who hadn’t yet got around to converting their UK licence to an Italian one were granted a 12-month grace period in which they could continue to use their British licence in Italy.
Many hoped that Italy and the UK would later come to an agreement which would allow drivers to continue using their British licence beyond that point.
While most other EU countries have already announced that they have come to reciprocal agreements with the UK that will allow driving licences to be exchanged without the need for a test, no such arrangement has yet been confirmed with Italy.
And even though not all other countries have finalized their agreements, according to a statement in the UK parliament, Italy is further behind than anyone else.
Now, with less than four months to go before the grace period expires, Brits are wondering whether to gamble on the two countries reaching an accord by the end of this year – and risk being unable to drive legally come January 1st – or to undergo the time-consuming and expensive process of retaking their driving test in Italy.
A reciprocal agreement between Italy and the UK is still on the table, a UK government minister confirmed to The Local on Wednesday.
“We absolutely are continuing to negotiate with the Italian government on the right to exchange a UK licence for an Italian one without the need to retake a driving test,” said Wendy Morton MP, the Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas, visiting Rome on September 15th.
“I can assure you it’s our absolute priority to reach an agreement before the end of the grace period which is at the end of this year,” she said.
People who move to Italy with a non-EU driving licence need to get an Italian licence within one year of obtaining residency.
If you started the process of exchanging your UK licence before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st 2020, you will not have to re-sit a driving test. But if you hadn’t started the conversion by then, unless an agreement is reached you will need to retake both the theory and practical tests.
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The requirement only applies to UK licence holders who have their full-time residence in Italy. Tourists and second-home owners can continue to use their UK licence when they visit and do not need an International Driving Permit.
While residents with licences from other EU countries – formerly including the UK – can swap their documents without retaking a test, Italy does not exchange licences from most non-EU countries, including the United States, Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand and currently, the UK.
Italy does have reciprocal driving licence agreements with around 20 non-EU countries, including Switzerland, Brazil, the Philippines and Turkey (full list here), which allow holders of these licences to swap their permits without a test.
Find all The Local’s Brexit updates for UK nationals in Italy here.