SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

BREXIT

Can I take Italian meat, cheese and wine into the UK in 2022?

The start of 2022 marks a new phase in the Brexit process – the introduction of checks of goods at the UK border. But what does this mean for travellers wanting to take some Italian cheese, meat or wine into the UK?

A woman cuts into a wheel of parmesan
Planning on taking a little parmesan into the UK? MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

Since the end of the Brexit transition period, travellers who want to bring British food products into Italy have faced strict controls and outright bans on certain items – mainly those containing meat or dairy.

READ ALSO: Why sending parcels between the UK and Italy is more expensive after Brexit

Up until now however, taking Italian produce to friends and family in the UK has been unaffected.

This, however, is set to change in 2022 as the UK begins to introduce its own controls on imports.

Throughout 2022 British authorities have set a series of deadlines for imposing controls on imports from the EU.

This comes with the caveat, however, that British deadlines for controls have already been extended several times because the infrastructure was not ready. It is also not clear at this stage exactly how rigorous checks will be.

January 1st 2022

Implementation of full customs declarations and customs controls.

This refers to businesses importing from the EU on a commercial basis, so won’t affect individuals travelling into the UK, although it’s possible that there will be delays at the ports if businesses are not fully prepared for the new paperwork.

READ ALSO: Brexit: What can Italy’s British residents do about passport stamps?

July 1st 2022

Introduction of checks on specified products including meat and meat products, high-risk food items and certain types of plants. These products will require veterinary certification and physical checks will be introduced at the border.

The rules as written refer to all imports – not only those for commercial purposes – so would cover holidaymakers taking home a little prosciutto as a souvenir, or Brits living in Italy taking salami or ‘nduja as a gift for friends and relatives back in the UK.

What is not clear at this stage is whether UK customs have the capacity to check private vehicles or individual travellers, as well as commercial importers.

The Local has asked the UK government about its policy for private individuals travelling with small amounts of food for personal consumption or to give as gifts.

Bottles of Italian red wines are displayed on the stand of Abruzzo's wine growing cooperative Codice Citra on May 8, 2019 at the TUTTOFOOD fair in Milan.

Bottles of Italian red wines are displayed on the stand of Abruzzo’s wine growing cooperative Codice Citra on May 8, 2019 at the TUTTOFOOD fair in Milan. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

September 1st 2022

Introduction of checks on all dairy produce. The same as above, but extended to all dairy produce, so that covers things such as pecorino cheese, as well as milk, yoghurt and gianduiotti chocolates.

September 1st also marks the introduction of checks on live animals, but this does not apply to domestic pets, who are still covered by the Pet Passport or Animal Health Certificate rules – full details here.

READ ALSO: What Brexit has changed for British visitors to Italy

November 1st 2022

Checks extended to “all remaining regulated products of animal origin, including composite products and fish products”.

This extends the checks and certification so that it covers a wide variety of products including meat, fish, meat or fish products, dairy products or any products containing those things – for example certain types of jelly sweets contain gelatine, so are classed as animal products.

When considering bringing items into the EU from the UK, a good rule of thumb is to look for anything certified as vegan.

Certain types of plants are also covered by the regulations, which would cover travellers bringing flowers, bulbs or plants for the garden. 

Alcohol

Italian wine, beer and spirits are not covered by extra checks, but have since January 2021 been subject to new limits.

Bringing to an end the cherished tradition of the booze cruise, there are now strict limits on the amount of wine, beer, spirits and tobacco that can be brought into the UK from the EU.

The amounts still allow for bringing a few gifts into the UK, but gone are the days when you could drive the car over to Italy and load up on prosecco, barolo and chianti.

Limits:

  • beer – 42 litres
  • still wine – 18 litres
  • spirits and other liquors over 22 percent alcohol – 4 litres
  • sparkling wine, fortified wine (vermouth, sherry etc) and other alcoholic drinks up to 22 percent alcohol (not including beer or still wine) – 9 litres

Member comments

  1. Hilarious, it’s not like UK standards are ever going to be higher than EU standards (which are a tad excessive). Idiocy.

  2. I assume the limits aren’t cumulative?
    And can you take for example 9 litres of still wine and 4.5 litres of sparkling?
    Can anyone clarify please?

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

BREXIT

Driving licences: How does situation for Brits in Italy compare to rest of Europe?

As UK driving licence holders in Italy still wait for answers regarding another extension or a long-awaited deal for the mutual exchange of British and Italian licences post-Brexit, we look at how the situation compares to that of their counterparts across Europe.

Driving licences: How does situation for Brits in Italy compare to rest of Europe?

When Britain left the EU at the end of 2020, the British and Italian authorities hadn’t reached a reciprocal agreement on driving licences.

However, UK licence holders living in Italy were granted a 12-month grace period in which they could continue to drive on their British licences in Italy.

READ ALSO: Q&A: Your questions answered about driving in Italy on a British licence

This was then further extended for another 12 months until the end of 2022.

The UK government announced on December 24th, 2021 that British residents of Italy who didn’t convert their UK licence to an Italian one could continue to use it until December 31st, 2022.

That’s the latest official directive from the authorities, with no decision made on what will happen from January 1st, 2023.

The question on a UK-Italy driving licence agreement rolls on. (Photo by FABIO MUZZI / AFP)

The latest extension – while providing more time – hasn’t ruled out the need to take the Italian theory and practical driving tests and the clock is ticking again with just over six months left of this grace period.

READ ALSO: How do you take your driving test in Italy?

In fact, the authorities recommend sitting the Italian driving exams whatever the outcome, just in case. The process is known to take months, so UK licence holders find themselves once again taking a gamble on waiting for an accord to be reached or taking the plunge by starting preparations for the tests.

As things stand, the latest update to the driving guidance on the British government’s ‘Living in Italy’ webpage in January states:

“If you were resident in Italy before 1 January 2022 you can use your valid UK licence until 31 December 2022,” however, “you must exchange your licence for an Italian one by 31 December 2022. You will need to take a driving test (in Italian).”

The guidance then states: “The British and Italian governments continue to negotiate long-term arrangements for exchanging driving licences without needing to take a test.”

The Local contacted the British Embassy in Rome to ask for an update on the situation, to which they responded:

“Rest assured the Embassy continues to prioritise the issue of UK driving licence validity in Italy and we continue to engage with the Italian government on this issue.”

Presently, the UK’s new ambassador to Italy, Edward Llewellyn, is touring all 20 regions of Italy and no updates on the driving licence have been given in the meantime.

Could there be a deal which sees all UK licence holders in Italy – those who registered their intent to exchange, those who didn’t, those who did register intent but haven’t been able to finalise the process, and future UK licence holders who move to Italy – able to continue using their UK licences in Italy or easily exchange them for Italian ones without having to sit a driving test?

READ ALSO: ‘Anyone can do it’: Why passing your Italian driving test isn’t as difficult as it sounds

It’s still hard to say, as the authorities continue to advise UK licence holders to sit their Italian driving test, while stating that the two governments are still working on an agreement.

The embassy’s most recent announcement was a Facebook post in April acknowledging that “many of you are concerned” about the issue.

“We continue to work at pace to reach a long-term agreement with Italy, so that residents can exchange their UK driving licences without taking a test, as Italian licence holders can in the UK,” the embassy stated.

British residents of Italy can use their driving licenses until the end of this year, the government has confirmed.

British residents of Italy can presently use their driving licences until the end of this year. Photo by PACO SERINELLI / AFP

The embassy reiterated the need for UK licence holders to consider the possibility of obtaining an Italian driving licence via a test, stating: “It is important that you currently consider all your options, which may include looking into taking a driving test now.”

READ ALSO: Getting your Italian driving licence: the language you need to pass your test

So is it true that most European nations have reached successful agreements with the UK over reciprocal driving licence recognition and exchange and the Italian deal is lagging behind?

The evidence suggests so.

UK licence exchange agreements across Europe

As things stand, Italy and Spain are the only European countries where licence exchange negotiations are ongoing.

British drivers living in Spain are becoming increasingly disgruntled at the lack of solutions, as authorities have still made no decision on exchanging driving licences or reaching a deal.

UK licence holders in Spain are currently in limbo, unable to drive until they either get a Spanish driving licence or a deal is finally reached between Spanish and UK authorities for the mutual exchange of licences post-Brexit.

Since May 1st 2022, drivers who’ve been residents in Spain for more than six months and who weren’t able to exchange their UK licences for Spanish ones cannot drive in Spain.

French and British authorities reached a licence exchange agreement in June 2021, considered a generous one for UK licence holders residing in France as those with licences issued before January 1st 2021 can continue using their UK licences in France until either the licence or the photocard nears expiry.

Sweden and the UK reached a deal even earlier in March 2021. British people resident in Sweden can exchange their UK driving licences for an equivalent Swedish one, without needing to take a test, just as they could when the country was a member of the European Union. 

In Portugal, resident UK licence holders can continue to use their valid UK licences until December 31st 2022 but they must exchange their licences for Portuguese ones before that date.

Other EU nations which have decided to allow UK licence holders residing in their countries to swap their driving licences without having to take a driving test include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.   

There are slight variations in the conditions between countries, and some say you “can exchange”, others that you “must exchange” and most encourage UK licence holders to swap “as soon as possible”. In Greece, UK licences continue to be valid without any restrictions or deadlines for exchange.

That leaves Italy and Spain as the two EU/EEA countries where a deal on a straightforward exchange or long-term recognition of UK licences among residents is still hanging in the balance.  

The only question that’s left is why. 

Why are the driving rights of all Britons who resided in Italy before December 31st 2020 not part of the other protected rights they enjoy under the Withdrawal agreement? 

And why is it taking so long to reach an exchange deal?

So far, Italian and British officials have not provided answers to these questions.

The Local will continue to ask for updates regarding the use of British driving licences in Italy.

Are you a British resident in Italy affected by this issue? We’d like to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below this article or email the Italian news team here.

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

See The Local’s latest Brexit-related news updates for UK nationals in Italy here.

SHOW COMMENTS