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BREXIT

Driving licences: Are the UK and Italy any closer to reaching an agreement?

With ongoing uncertainty over whether UK driving licences will continue to be recognised in Italy beyond the end of this year, British residents are asking where they stand.

Driving licences: Are the UK and Italy any closer to reaching an agreement?
Driving in Italy on a UK licence is fine if you're a tourist - but for residents, the situation is becoming complicated. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Many of The Local’s British readers have been in touch recently to ask whether any progress has been made in negotiations between the UK and Italy on a reciprocal agreement on the use of driving licences.

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with the background of this Brexit consequence.

READ ALSO: Frustration grows as UK driving licence holders in Italy wait in limbo

When Britain left the EU there was no reciprocal agreement in place, but UK licence holders living in Italy were granted a grace period in which they could continue to drive on their British licences. This period was later extended to the current deadline of December 31st, 2022.

The situation beyond that date however remains unclear, and concern is growing among the sizeable number of British nationals living in Italy who say no longer being allowed to drive would be a serious problem.

There was the option of exchanging licences before the end of 2021, but many didn’t make the deadline. As has been proven before, this was often not due to slackness but rather all manner of circumstances, from having moved to Italy after or shortly before the cut-off date to bureaucratic delays.

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

So is an agreement any closer? Or do those driving in Italy on a UK licence really need to go to the considerable trouble and expense of sitting an Italian driving test (in Italian)?

With five months left to go, there’s still no indication as to whether a decision will be made either way.

The British government continues to advise licence holders to sit their Italian driving test – while also stressing that they’re working hard on reaching a deal, which would make taking the test unnecessary.

This message has not changed.

On Wednesday, July 27th, British Ambassador to Italy Ed Llewellyn tweeted after a meeting with Italian Infrastructure and Transport Minister Enrico Giovannini: “The British and Italian governments continue to work towards an agreement on exchange of driving licences.”

But the ambassador earlier this month advised UK nationals “not to wait” and to “take action now by applying for an Italian licence”.

In an official newsletter published in mid-July, Llewellyn acknowledged the concerns of British residents and confirmed that negotiations are still going on.

“I know that many of you are understandably concerned about whether your UK driving licence will continue to be recognised in Italy, especially when the extension granted by Italy until 31 December 2022 for such recognition expires.

“Let me set out where things stand. The British Government is working to reach an agreement with Italy on the right to exchange a licence without the need for a test. 

READ ALSO:  Do you have to take Italy’s driving test in Italian?

“The discussions with our Italian colleagues are continuing and our objective is to try to reach an agreement in good time before the end of the year.

“We hope it will be possible to reach an agreement – that is our objective and we are working hard to try to deliver it. 

Nevertheless, he said, “our advice is not to wait to exchange your licence.”

“If you need to drive in Italy, you can take action now by applying for an Italian licence. This will, however, involve taking a practical and theory test.” 

He acknowledged that “the process is not a straightforward one and that there are delays in some areas to book an appointment for a test”.

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

“We will continue to work towards an agreement,” he wrote. “That is our objective and it is an objective we share with our Italian colleagues.“

The British Embassy in Rome had not responded to The Local’s requests for further comment on Friday.

The Local will continue to publish any news on the recognition of British driving licences in Italy. See the latest updates in our Brexit-related news section here.

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

Member comments

  1. The one question we would all like to know is. If we get our licence now which will be a neopatentati, will we be able to exchange for a normal one if there is a deal. Without answering this question then mist people will wait until the 31st December. Answers are needed one way or the other!

  2. We need to know that if we pass our test now and get a neopatentati licence that we can then swap for a normal licence if there is a deal. It’s not as easy as ed thinks, “if you need to drive then do a test” is he not aware of this situation??

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TRAVEL NEWS

The busiest Italian roads to avoid over Ferragosto weekend

Traffic authorities have warned of busy roads as people in Italy set off for the long summer holiday weekend. Here’s what you need to know.

The busiest Italian roads to avoid over Ferragosto weekend

Italy’s autostrade, or motorways, rarely see much in the way of heavy traffic during the cold season. But that all changes in summer, especially in August, when hundreds of thousands of Italians take to the road to reach their chosen holiday destinations. 

The Ferragosto weekend is generally the worst time of year to travel on Italian roads, and the latest road traffic forecasts show this year is no exception.

READ ALSO: The worst dates to travel on Italy’s roads this August

The official road traffic calendar released by the Italian State Police (Polizia di Stato) offers a good overview of which days are likely to see the worst congestion. 

The calendar is colour-coded, with a ‘yellow’ spot indicating heavy traffic, ‘red’ indicating heavy traffic with ‘possible critical conditions’, and ‘black’ indicating ‘critical’ traffic.

Italy's August traffic calendar warning.

Italy’s August traffic calendar warning. Source: Polizia di Stato

As the table shows, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are all expected to be marked by very intense or critical traffic, with congestion worst on Saturday morning.

The situation should improve on Monday, August 15th, the day of Ferragosto, though traffic on most Italian roads is expected to still be fairly heavy throughout the day.

READ ALSO: Ferragosto: Why the long August holidays are untouchable for Italians

Naturally, the best way to avoid getting stuck in traffic over the weekend (and consequently rediscovering your appreciation for Italian swear words) would be to travel outside of the above-mentioned days, that is either before or after them.

Should that not be possible, here’s a breakdown of the roads that are more likely to register nightmarish levels of traffic this weekend, according to Italian media reports. This might help you plan alternative routes or reschedule your departure times accordingly.

Motorways (Autostrade)

  • Motorway junctions RA13 and RA14 near Trieste, Friuli Venezia-Giulia
  • Motorway A14, connecting Bologna (Emilia-Romagna) to Taranto (Puglia)
  • Motorway A1, connecting Milan to Naples
  • Motorway A2, commonly known as the ‘Mediterranean Motorway’ (Autostrada del Mediterraneo), connecting Salerno (Campania) to Reggio Calabria (Calabria)
  • Motorway A30, connecting Caserta to Salerno (Campania)
  • Motorways A19 (Palermo-Catania) and A29 (Palermo-Mazara del Vallo) in Sicily

State Roads (Statali)

  • State Road 16, known as ‘Statale Adriatica’, going from Padua, Veneto to Otranto, Puglia
  • State Road 309, known as ‘Strada Romea’, connecting Venice to Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna
  • State Road 36, stretching from Sesto San Giovanni, Lombardy to Italy’s border with Switzerland (Passo dello Spluga)
  • State Road 18, commonly known as ‘Tirrenia Inferiore’ connecting Naples to Reggio Calabria
  • State Road 106, commonly known as ‘Statale Jonica’, stretching from Reggio Calabria to Taranto (Puglia)
  • State Road 148, known as ‘Statale Pontina’, stretching from Rome to Terracina and
  • State Road 7, known as ‘Statale Appia’, going from Rome to Brindisi (Puglia)
  • State Road 1, known as ‘Via Aurelia’, connecting Rome to Ventimiglia, Liguria
  • State Roads 675 (from Terni, Umbria to Monte Romano, Latium) and 3-bis (from Terni to Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna)
  • State Road 131, known as ‘Statale Carlo Felice’, connecting Cagliari to Porto Torres (Sardinia)

Unsurprisingly, the roads that tend to be busier over the Ferragosto weekend are those leading to popular tourist destinations, especially those located near the seaside.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which parts of Italy will get the most tourism this summer?

If you were planning on using one of the above-mentioned roads to reach your holiday destination, you may want to consider drawing up an alternative route.

A view of the A4 motorway near Verona

Motorists can keep up to date with the situation on the roads (closures, maintenance works, traffic, etc.) through a number of online services. Photo by Claudio MARTINELLI / AFP

Further information

The Italian State Police offers guidance on alternative itineraries at the following online links:

The following resources will keep you up to date with the latest developments on the roads:

This online map from Italy’s motorway construction and maintenance company ANAS features live updates on road closures, maintenance work, traffic levels and even weather conditions. The service is also available through their mobile app, ‘VAI’.

Motorway company Autostrade per l’Italia offers a similar live map, showing road closures and traffic jams as well as the locations of the nearest petrol stations and service areas. 

The Italian Transport and Infrastructure Ministry’s Twitter account gives live updates on the status of the country’s major roads. 

If you want to speak directly to an operator while you’re on the road, you can do so by either contacting ANAS’s customer service at 800 841 148 or using their live chat.

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