Everything you need to know about Brexit and its impact on UK nationals


The British Consulate in Milan, represented by Catriona Graham, hosted a Q&A event in Milan for British nationals to discuss and clarify their rights in Italy after Brexit.

In an interview with Wanted in Rome, the Consul General answered the most frequently asked questions during a series of in-person and online meetings, and stressed the importance of applying for the new residence card.

How does the UK’s withdrawal from the EU affect the status of UK citizens living in Italy?

If you were legally resident in Italy before January 1, 2021, your rights are automatically protected by the Withdrawal Agreement. You continue to have broadly the same rights to live, work, study and access benefits and services as before Brexit. And your immediate family members can join you in Italy at any time in the future.

You have these rights even if you are not the holder of the new “carta di soggiorno elettronica” (biometric residence card) issued by Italy under the Withdrawal Agreement. But we still recommend that you request the ‘carta di soggiorno elettronica’, as it is the clearest proof of your rights.

What should British nationals living in Italy do?

Italy is implementing the Withdrawal Agreement through a declaratory system. This means that if you were legally living in Italy before January 1, 2021, you automatically have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

You and your family members have the right to apply for a new residence permit, the card of soggiorno electronica. and we strongly recommend that you do so. This card is a separate document from the biometric identity card (“carta d’identita”) and is the best evidence you can obtain to prove that you have the rights set out in the Withdrawal Agreement. It shows your right to enter Italy and exempts you from the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) and visa requirements.

You should also verify that you are properly registered for health care if you are eligible. And you must obtain an Italian driving license if you reside in Italy.

Ph: Consul General in Milan, Catriona Graham

Who can apply for residency status?

If you moved to Italy before January 1, 2021, your rights are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. You should now get the new ‘carta di soggiorno elettronica’ from your local questura. If you are already registered as a resident with your town hall, you don’t have to do anything more with the town hall, unless you move your main address.

If you are a UK national wishing to move to Italy after January 1, 2021, you may need a visa to move there. Upon arrival in Italy, you will then need to apply for a residence permit for third-country nationals (“permesso di soggiorno”) within 8 days of your arrival. You can apply for it at your local questura (immigration office). Once you have the permanent or an application receipt, you can use it to register your residence with your local town hall.

You can find more information on how to apply for a non-EU national visa on the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website here.

I am a UK national married to an EU citizen. Do I need to have resident status?

Anyone intending to settle in Italy for more than 90 days must register their residence with the local town hall, including British nationals married to an EU citizen.

If you were registered as a resident before January 1, 2021, you must now obtain the new “carta di soggiorno elettronica” from your local questura. This is issued under the Withdrawal Agreement and constitutes proof of your rights under the Agreement. You have to apply for it even if you are married to an Italian national, for example.

You must ensure that you are properly registered as a resident of Italy if you are settling here.

How do the changes affect UK nationals’ right to healthcare?

If you lived in Italy before January 1, 2021, you retain your healthcare rights here as long as you remain covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. You can read more tips in our Living in Italy guide. It includes detailed information on how to register for health care in Italy.

British nationals living in Italy generally access the Italian healthcare system in one of the following ways:

  • register to use the Italian state healthcare system
  • using a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) for temporary stays
  • registration of a UK-issued S1 form with the Italian healthcare system

As with all Italians, you have to pay to use parts of the healthcare system, although some parts are free.

Under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, if you move or travel to Italy after January 1 this year, your UK-issued S1 or GHIC/EHIC remains valid if you are eligible .

Can British nationals use their driving license in Italy?

You can use your valid UK permit until December 31, 2021. If you moved to Italy after January 1, 2021, you can use your valid UK permit for 12 months from the date you became resident.

If you live in Italy, you must obtain an Italian license. You will need to pass a driving test. If you started exchanging your UK license before January 1, 2021, you do not need to pass a driving test.

We are continuing to negotiate with the Italian government over the right to swap a UK license for an Italian one without having to retake a driving test.

Our priority is to reach an agreement before the end of the grace period – December 31 this year.

Please continue to check our Living in guide and our social media channels for updates and be sure to sign up for alerts to keep up to date.

What should UK nationals know about visas to visit Italy? What is the visa process for UK students studying in Italy?

You will probably need a visa if you are coming to Italy for more than 90 days. You should check the information available on the Italian government website here.

It has a drop-down menu so you can choose in which category you plan to travel to Italy (employee, self-employed, student, etc.). The website provides information on the type of visa you need, as well as a link to the application form.

For example, for postgraduate students, the website details the criteria to be met, including proof of accommodation in Italy, financial autonomy, some form of health insurance and proof of enrollment in an authorized postgraduate course.

You should also contact your local Italian consulate for more information..

Are you aware of any other significant issues for UK nationals that have not yet been mentioned?

If you are a British national covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, you must always carry your new “carta di soggiorno elettronica” or other residence document with you when you travel. Indeed, as a person benefiting from the Withdrawal Agreement, you should not have your passport stamped when entering or leaving Italy. Our advice is to show border control your residence document before you even show them your ID (i.e. UK passport). If your passport is stamped by mistake, this will have no impact on your rights in Italy. Your residence document overrides the stamp and you must show proof of your residence the next time you travel.

The Embassy team have run a program of events for UK nationals, such as TV and print campaigns, a series of ‘how to’ videos on social media and we continue to run monthly online Q&A sessions as well as residency tours targeting different regions of Italy. These are announced on all our social media channels (Facebook) and on gov.uk and via the Embassy mailing list. You can join our mailing list through our Living in Italy guide.

Our ‘Living in Italy’ guide on GOV.UK provides additional information and all other essential information for UK nationals in Italy.

If you have any questions about your rights as a British citizen in Italy, you can also contact us via our Living in Italy guide.

And you can check the ‘Living in Europe’ page on gov.uk for more information about your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.


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