As known, following the referendum on June 23rd, 2016, the United Kingdom notified its intention to pursue a withdrawal from the European Union. Then, it took almost three years, after the beginning of the negotiations on June 19, 2017, for the United Kingdom to practically go out of the European Union. Now that the separation is real, many British people who love Europe and Italy have some doubts. Especially those whose desires concern moving to Italy from the UK… what are the new rules after Brexit?
New questions following the exit
The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union has become effective from January 31, 2020. Now that the UK is no longer an EU member state it is considered a third country.
The agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union made it possible to manage the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU in an orderly manner, to protect citizens and businesses.
Many political, administrative, and procedural aspects have yet to be clarified, and more negotiations will be taken in the coming years. The interest of the parties – the European Community and the United Kingdom, is not to complicate the lives of their citizens. Many Brits already live in Italy, and thousands of Italians live in the United Kingdom with a great spirit of friendship and collaboration. But the question we hear more and more these days are:
- Can I still move to Italy after Brexit?
- Can I work in Italy after Brexit?
- Can I buy a house in Italy after Brexit?
- Can I retire to Italy after Brexit?
UK leaving EU: different procedural scenarios
From different perspectives, however, the scenarios are uncertain. On the one hand, there may not be substantial differences from the past. In this case, the British could continue to live, work, or retire in Italy, just as they have done in recent years. On the other hand, there could be changes or new procedures. British ex-pat citizens will have to align to the new guidelines, following the other non-EU citizens coming from countries with which Europe has special agreements (USA, Switzerland, etc).
Here at Victoria-House.it, we are constantly following new developments, especially for crucial topics like:
- granting visas and residence permits
- investments in real estate
- health care
- taxes and pensions
Not to mention other practical issues such as using cars and driving licenses for those arriving from the United Kingdom to the Belpaese, or for sensitive topics like the procedure to transfer your beloved pets to Italy.
Let’s recap what the situation is today for the British in Italy after Brexit through some simple questions and answers.
What happens with short stays for British citizens?
For anyone who spends less than six months a year in Italy, Brexit shouldn’t make any difference. As with most other non-EU citizens, no visa is necessary for short-term stays, and standard travel insurance is suitable to cover health care expenses.
Long-term stays? British people are considered like non-EU citizens
For those who spend more time in Italy – over six months, the new Brexit rules probably will cause just a few bureaucratic difficulties. Those criticalities will be similar to the situations non-EU citizens face today, such as Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, or citizens from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, or Africa.
What will happen to the many Brits who manage their own businesses?
What happens to Brits who do not work but live on investments or retirement income coming from their countries?
It’s difficult to say today so far. We only have to wait for the evolution of the negotiations.
How long can non-EU citizens stay in Italy without a visa?
Italy is within the Schengen Area, a group of 26 European countries that allows free movement. Non-EU passport holders from selected countries like the United States, Australia, Japan, Monaco, Hong Kong, and others, can stay in the Schengen Area without a visa for up to 90 days within 180 days.
There is no reason to doubt that the British, too, could have at least the same rights.
The 90 days without a visa out of the 180 allowed can be divided over all the visits you want to make, allowing you to spend almost six months in Italy if divided over a whole year.
Can non-EU citizens and the British without a specific upcoming agreement live permanently in Italy without a visa?
No, it is not possible. If you want to live in Italy all year round, non-EU citizens must apply for a long-stay visa, even if they are not working.
Apply for Italy Visa from UK
The long-stay visa allows non-EU citizens to stay in Italy from 91 to 365 days and travel within the Schengen Area. You can obtain the permit from the Italian embassies and consular offices in the country of origin. It requires fingerprints as a security measure.
What do you need to apply for a Visa to Italy from the UK?
Having a long-term visa to Italy could be useful for many reasons.
To apply for an Italian annual Visa you need to prove you have money.
It is necessary to prove that you have a recurring income or have sufficient funds to stay in Italy during your stay. The estimated financial requirement is around 30,000 euros per year per person on average.
Hand in hand with the long-term residence visa, you have to require it in your own country before arriving in Italy.
The Italian Residence Permit
The other important document is the Residence Permit. You have to get it through the offices of the Police Headquarters of the Italian Municipality where the applicant will live in Italy. You can reach the town hall offices within a maximum of 8 days after the arrival.
What are the residence permit requirements in Italy?
How to obtain permanent residency in Italy for the British without a specific upcoming agreement and non-EU citizens?
After five years of continuous living in Italy, the applicant can submit a request for permanent residence.
The presentation of documents will be necessary, such as the annual income equal to the amount of the social security benefit at that time and the prove of the ability to speak Italian.
The applicant has to provide the following documents:
- the passport (or another valid document), with the relative entry visa;
- 4 passport-size photos, all identical and recent;
- a revenue stamp of € 16.00;
- documents supporting the application, such as a bank statement showing that you have sufficient funds to live on,
- indication of the address of residence;
- health insurance for a minimum of one year.
Don’t panic, don’t worry! Local staff will often help fill out forms, photocopy documents and procure a revenue stamp.
The Police will also come to the applicant’s home to verify that he/she lives there. In case the applicant is not there, the police will ask for some discreet information from the neighbors.
The residence permit will then be available for the same duration as the visa and the same reasons for staying.
How can non-EU and British citizens become Italian citizens?
The most desirable solution and the quickest one is to find an Italian soul mate. In fact, by marrying an Italian citizen, you can obtain citizenship automatically.
You can also apply for citizenship if the applicant has an Italian parent.
In other cases, obtaining citizenship is linked to the number of years spent in Italy. An EU citizen who has lived in Italy for four years can apply for it, while a non-EU citizen or a citizen who has left the EU must have lived in Italy for at least ten years before obtaining it.
Many Brits currently in Italy are now considering the possibility of getting citizenship, rather than waiting for the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.
How to find work in Italy for British people and non-EU citizens?
Italy does not allow citizens of any country (apart from San Marino and the Vatican City) to work without a residence permit in its national territory. To obtain a work permit, the employer must submit an application to the Italian immigration Office (the one serving your specific town hall), providing information concerning the worker:
- where the worker will live in Italy
- what’s the level of knowledge of the Italian language
- what are the details of the employment contract
- who will pay for the return ticket if the working relationship is interrupted
- all the details regarding professional duties.
The employer must do all this before the worker arrives in Italy. If approved, it will then be necessary to register with the Police Headquarters within eight days of arrival in Italy.
Is it possible for non-EU and British students to study and live in Italy?
For those who want to live abroad, the first opportunity is to come and stay in Italy as a student.
Italy has excellent universities. In Tuscany, especially Siena, Pisa, and Florence have excellent university departments regarding Arts and Science, Medicine, and Engineering.
There are many students coming from abroad. Many of the courses are available in English. Still, some universities require students from other countries to have a good basic knowledge of Italian. The B2+ level in the Italian language is the standard required by the Common European Framework.
University post-graduate courses prepare for obtaining three-year or two-year master’s degrees. Many students come to Italy for master’s courses and with multi-year scholarships.
Tuition fees for state universities are low, generally under € 1,000 per year.
International students must prove that they have between € 12,000 and € 18,000 per year to live in Italy.
A good number of years spent in Italy as a student will be an excellent first step to applying for residency.
Enroll in school: how can non-EU and British citizens in Italy let their children attend education?
Foreign children can access education under the same conditions applied to Italian children, regardless of their legal or illegal status. Children under 16 are required to attend school and can apply for admission during any school period. Foreign citizens residing in Italy can attend higher education or technical-professional training courses, requesting a student visa.
Can non-EU and British citizens get self-employment in Italy?
Autonomy and mobility are fundamental qualities for a strong entrepreneurial spirit. The love for independence and the fascination for agile working are the new frontiers of digital work.
Moving to various countries is a legitimate aspiration. Just think about the possibilities of being able to become a true “digital nomad”. You will be working with your laptop from your penthouse in Florence or by the pool of a villa in Chianti, organizing wine tasting tours and holiday stays for other ex-pats in Tuscany!
As a non-EU citizen working independently, you would still need a work permit. No problem! Italian Embassies or Consulates can issue visas for self-employment. Once you arrive in Italy, you must apply for a residence permit within eight days of arrival. The following documents will be required to confirm the existence of:
- sufficient funds to start the planned activity in Italy
- a sufficient income – on average, would entitle you to free health care
- a professional qualification for the planned activity
- a place to live.
Health and pensions: how can non-EU citizens get Medicare in Italy?
The European Health Insurance Card (the EHIC) currently entitles all EU citizens who visit Italy to access the same medical care as Italians. Inevitably, all of this is now in doubt for British citizens, and much will depend on future agreements.
Those who stay in Italy for more than three months can enroll in the National Health Service (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale), which entitles them to health care equal to Italians. The service is almost entirely free, except for for some specific assistance.
To arrive in Italy and obtain a residence permit, remember that you still need to have private health insurance before being granted the Italian Health Card.
Healthcare: how much will non-EU citizens and Brits pay for a doctor visit or medical examinations?
Regarding most public health care services in Italy citizens pay just a nominal fee. Public health in Italy is the equivalent of the British NHS. For some professional services not included, the extra cost should not exceed 40-50 euros.
There are also many private clinics, which allow you to be visited by a General Practitioner without waiting for the same visit at the hospitals. In this case, the costs are different and much higher.
Private medical insurance: what will non-EU citizens and Brits pay?
If you spend no more than 90 days in Italy, you will need to check that your travel insurance policy adequately covers most of your needs. If you stay longer, your health coverage must be equal to the duration of the visa. The cost will depend on various factors, including the applicant’s age and state of health.
The cost of insurance is rather not cheap in the UK. It can be € 200- € 300 per month for people aged 50, € 500 for a family of four, and up to € 800 for retired couples. Perhaps it would be worth checking the level of health coverage offered for foreigners given locally in Italy.
Pensions: will British citizens coming to Italy or already living here continue to receive their UK pension?
The answer is yes!
As you know, if a British person moves or retires abroad, he/she will have to inform the government office dealing with UK benefits or state pension.
The UK state pension can be received in Italy without any problems. It will increase each year according to inflation and dues paid in the UK.
Social security contributions paid during the stay in Italy are also countable to quantify and determine the UK state pension.
The International Consortium of British Pensioners notes that Italy is one of the EU countries that already had reciprocal social security agreements with the UK.
One concern is that the final acts of Brexit could trigger a drop in the Pound’s value. In this way, it will affect the value of pensions when the money reaches British citizens who live and have moved to Italy.
In order to have a constantly updated guide concerning the current regulations, please keep an eye on the UK government website.
Will a British citizen be able to drive his car in Italy?
Yes, he certainly can drive, but he must have an Italian driving license. To obtain it, it is necessary to take a driving test. If, on the other hand, before January 1, 2021, he had already started to change his British driving license, he does not have to take any driving tests in Italian. He can use the British license valid until December 31, 2021.
Anyone who moved to Italy after January 1, 2021, can use a UK driving license valid for 12 months from the date he became a resident.
For information on driving rules in Italy, it may be useful to read these sources:
What happens if a British in Italy loses his UK driving license or realizes that it has been stolen or has expired?
The solution may be to request the UK Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to obtain an Italian “qualification certificate” and then apply for an Italian driving license.
Is it possible to bring a vehicle registered in the United Kingdom to Italy?
If a British citizen moves to Italy and has obtained residence, he can transfer his car registered in the United Kingdom. Still, he must register it with an Italian plate within 60 days from the date of residence.
It takes some time, and while waiting to receive the new license plate and the new registration documentation, he cannot use the car. Otherwise, the vehicle could be impounded.
Moving with Pets: what should British citizens do with their beloved dogs and cats if they move to Italy?
Pets are so important in the lives of families that international regulations cannot forget them. Be careful as a British-issued pet passport is not valid to travel to the EU and Italy.
Therefore, before embarking on a transfer to Italy (or to other EU countries), it is better to consult your veterinarian. He will tell you what documents are necessary for the travel of pets that comply with EU regulations.
If, on the other hand, the passport for your beloved domestic friend is issued by Italy or another EU member state, everything will be okay and can be used to travel to Great Britain and elsewhere in the EU.
Useful links about this topic: