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DRIVING

BREXIT: Italy extends UK driving licence use to end of 2022

There's some good news for British residents of Italy who haven't converted their UK licence to an Italian one as Italy has confirmed that UK licences issued before January 1st, 2021 can now be used in Italy until the end of 2022.

A general view taken from a bridge shows a few cars driving through a deserted highway leading to Rome's Fiumicino international airport 
Most other EU countries have already announced reciprocal agreements with the UK, allowing driving licences to be exchanged without the need for a test, but there's still no arrangement confirmed with Italy. ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

“While discussions on agreement continue, Italy has confirmed valid UK licences issued before 1 Jan 2021 can be used until 31 Dec 2022,” stated the British Embassy in Rome in social media posts on Christmas Eve.

“All other licence holders can use their licences for 12 months from becoming a resident in Italy but need to take a test to exchange licence within this period,” it added.

No further details were immediately available, but the embassy advised people to keep an eye on the UK government’s ‘Living in Italy’ website for updates “expected soon”.

Though nothing more is known about the 12-month extension so far, the news will at least provide UK licence holders with some further breathing space after a tense wait for confirmation that licences would not become invalid in Italy on December 31st this year.

Most other EU countries have already announced reciprocal agreements with the UK, allowing driving licences to be exchanged without the need for a test, but there’s still no arrangement confirmed with Italy.

A UK government spokesperson told The Local on Wednesday that negotiations were continuing with the Italian government on the right to obtain an Italian licence without the need to re-sit a driving test.

Since Britain left the EU at the end of 2020, UK licence holders living in the country were granted a 12-month grace period in which they could continue to use their British licence in Italy, which, before the extension, had been due to end on December 31st, 2021.

Residents in Italy with UK licences had initially been warned they may need to take an Italian driving test immediately.

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After December 31st, 2022, and if no long-term reciprocal agreement is reached, residents in Italy will still have to take a test to exchange their UK licence for an Italian patente di guida (driving licence). 

Reciprocal driving licence agreements are in place between Italy and 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.

The rules apply to UK nationals who are resident in Italy. People visiting Italy for short periods can continue to drive on a UK licence.

 Find our latest Brexit-related news updates for UK nationals in Italy here.

Find more information on the UK government website’s Living in Italy section.

Member comments

  1. I agree. This has made my Christmas after trying to exchange last year around Christmas time, only to be declined because the ACI did not submit our application until late January and then lied to us for months.

    Hoping this arrangement is sorted out by end of next year.

  2. Huge massive sigh of relief ! It would have been bonkers for them to have made us take a test especially with Omicron just bubbling up. I had just got my first 36 correct out of the 40 questions. That can all go in the pending tray and I shall break out the Prosecco. As you all say best pressie we could possibly have.

    1. Wait, nowhere does it say they WILL reach an agreement to exchange come the end of 2022… if they don’t, taking the test in italian will still be the only option

    2. Agreed, great News. Thank you to the Local for keeping us updated.

      It would be useful to have a link to an Italian notice of the extension to assist anyone who needs evidence of the extension.

      In the meantime, Godspeed to those negotiating the exchange agreements!

        1. 🙁 it didn’t work sorry. It’s linked via the gov U.K. driving in Italy page though if that helps.

          1. Rachel

            Thank you, much appreciated.

            The link doesn’t work because it ignores the “.pdf” at the end. When the “.pdf” is included it goes straight through to the declaration 👍

            I personally, will keep a copy with me when driving in case someone tries to tell me that I am not compliant with the law.

            Let’s hope that the authorities can now come to a sensible conclusion so that we can exchange our licences as soon as possible.

            Thank you again and Happy New Year.

  3. Does anyone know the name of the Minister who is responsible for this section of law ? The real problem is even if the test is passed, you are treated as a neopatentati meaning like a 18 year old kid the cars you can drive for a year a restricted and limited on the speed you can drive.

    I think a petition and proposal should be put together by the collective interests of Canada, UK, Britain and Australia as this impacts all their citizens living in Italy.

    Any ideas who’s problem this is in the government?

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DRIVING

COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

Certain countries around Europe have stricter policies than others regarding drinking and driving and harsher punishments for those caught exceeding legal limits. Here's what you need to know.

COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits?

European countries set their own driving laws and speed limits and it’s no different when it comes to legal drink-drive limits.

While the safest thing to do of course, is to drink no alcohol at all before driving it is useful to know what the limit is in the country you are driving in whether as a tourist or as someone who frequently crosses European borders by car for work.

While some countries, such as the Czech Republic, have zero tolerance for drinking and driving, in others people are allowed to have a certain amount of alcohol in their blood while driving.

However, not only can the rules be different between countries, they are usually stricter for commercial (or bus) drivers and novice drivers as well. Besides that, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is extremely difficult to estimate, so the old “one beer is ok” standards no longer safely apply.

In the end, the only way to be safe is to avoid consuming alcohol before driving. Any amount will slow reflexes while giving you dangerous higher confidence. According to the UK’s National Health Service, there is no ‘safe’ drinking level.

How is blood alcohol level measured?

European countries mostly measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the amount, in grams, of alcohol in one litre of blood.

After alcohol is consumed, it will be absorbed fast from the stomach and intestine to the bloodstream. There, it is broken down by a liver-produced enzyme.

Each person will absorb alcohol at their own speed, and the enzyme will also work differently in each one.

The BAC will depend on these metabolic particularities as well as body weight, gender, how fast and how much the person drank, their age and whether or not (and how much) they have eaten, and even stress levels at the time.

In other words there are many things that may influence the alcohol concentration.

The only way to effectively measure BAC is by taking a blood test – even a breathalyser test could show different results. Still, this is the measuring unit used by many EU countries when deciding on drinking limits and penalties for drivers.

Here are the latest rules and limits.

Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Greece, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, and Croatia

In most EU countries, the limit is just under 0.5g/l for standard drivers (stricter rules could be in place for novice or professional drivers).

This could be exceeded by a man with average weight who consumed one pint of beer (containing 4.2% alcohol) and two glasses of red wine (13% alcohol) while having dinner.

If a person is caught driving with more than 0.8g/l of blood alcohol content in Austria, they can pay fines of up to € 5,900 and to have their license taken for one year in some cases.

In France, if BAC exceeds 0.8g/l, they could end up with a 2-year jail sentence and a € 4,500 fine. In Germany, penalties start at a € 500 fine and a one-month license suspension. In Greece, drunk drivers could face up to years of imprisonment.

In Denmark, first time offenders are likely to have their licences suspended and could be required to go on self-paid alcohol and traffic courses if BAC levels are low. Italy has penalties that vary depending on whether or not the driver has caused an accident and could lead to car apprehension, fines and prison sentences.

In Spain, going over a 1.2g/l limit is a criminal offence that could lead to imprisonment sentences and hefty fines. 

Norway, Sweden, and Poland

In Norway, Sweden, and Poland, the limit for standard drivers is 0.2g/l. It could take a woman with average weight one standard drink, or one can of beer, to reach that level.

Penalties in Norway can start at a one month salary fine and a criminal record. In Poland, fines are expected if you surpass the limit, and you could also have your license revoked and receive a prison sentence.

Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia

The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia have one of the strictest rules in the European Union. There is no allowed limit of alcohol in the blood for drivers.

In the Czech Republic, fines start at € 100 to € 800, and a driving ban of up to one year can be instituted for those driving with a 0.3 BAC level. However, the harshest penalties come if the BAC level surpasses 1 g/l, fines can be up to € 2,000, and drivers could be banned from driving for 10 years and imprisoned for up to three years.

This is intended to be a general guide and reference. Check the current and specific rules in the country you plan to travel to. The easiest and best way to be safe and protect yourself and others is to refrain from drinking alcohol and driving.

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