Time for Britons to regularise their residential rights in Italy as Brexit train rolls on
As the Brexit train rolls on, we believe it better to regularise your residential rights in Italy sooner rather than later.
Brexit Phase 1 Agreement Reached
On 8 December, the European Commission (EC) and the UK Government reached Agreement on the Divorce Bill, the Irish Border and the protection of UK and EU27 citizen rights post UK Withdrawal.
The European Council will decide on 15 December if sufficient progress has been made between the two sides to allow negotiations to proceed to the second phase of the Transition Period and Trade.
The current Agreement affords a higher protection of reciprocal UK and EU Citizen Rights compared to the previous arrangement negotiated at the end of September but stops short of guaranteeing all existing EU and UK citizen rights. To read the full agreement click here
On the positive side, close family members will now be able to join UK nationals who reside in an EU member state on the official UK Withdrawal date of 29 March 2019, as will children born after this exit date.
On the negative side, the EU has refused to grant British nationals the automatic right to move to live and work in a different EU27 country from that in which they are residing at the moment of Withdrawal.
From a British business standpoint, many UK employers are pleased that EU citizens will be allowed to leave the UK for up to 5 years without losing their right to stay. This allows British firms the freedom to move employees around Europe without fear of the latter losing their right to return to work in the UK. The same rights will apply to UK citizens leaving an EU member state.
No automatic recognition of acquired EU Citizen Rights
Importantly, given the British government’s insistence on “settled status” post Brexit for EU citizens in the UK, there will also be no automatic recognition by EU governments of EU citizen rights for a British citizen who has lived and worked continuously for 5 years in an EU member state, for example Italy.
The Agreement states that “EU27 Member States may require UK nationals and their family members covered by the agreement to apply to obtain a status conferring the right of status and/or obtain a residency document.”
Encouragingly the Agreement goes on to reassure that “administrative procedures for applications for status will be transparent, smooth and streamlined,” that “UK nationals will have at least two years to submit their applications” and that “residence documents will be issued free of charge or for a charge not exceeding that imposed on nationals for the issuing of similar documents.”
The Agreement finally concludes that “further information on these administrative procedures will be provided when available”. While all this will hopefully be “transparent and streamlined”, the devil is often in the detail and the Citizen Rights Protection part of the Agreement cannot be ring fenced and approved on its own.
While positive steps have been taken to protect British and EU citizen rights, it is worth remembering that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed and that means the negotiation of the Transition period and above all of Trade.
An overall UK Withdrawal agreement needs to be reached by October 2018 to allow all 27 EU parliaments to ratify it before 29 March 2019.
It would seem prudent therefore that British citizens take advantage of the instruments currently available to them as EU citizens residing in Italy to protect their rights before Withdrawal.
Obtaining Temporary Residence in Italy
If you are a British national and have stayed more than 3 months in Italy, you must apply for residence (Article 7, Law n 30/2007). In this instance, you will need to demonstrate you are employed or have the means to be self-supporting, in which case you will need to hold a private health insurance policy which is valid for at least one year.
Family members of EU citizens with right of residence are also granted residency where their dependant status is confirmed, whether EU nationals or otherwise (Article 8-10 Law n. 30/2007).
If, as an EU citizen working in Italy, you subsequently lose your job, you may preserve your right of residence if certain conditions are met, for example demonstrating your inability to work.
Obtaining a Permanent Residence Certificate in Italy
British nationals and family members currently resident in Italy, to the extent that they are registered at the “Anagrafe” of their local “Comune”, are eligible to apply for a certificate of permanent residence for EU nationals (Art 16 of Law 30/2007).
This certificate is called the “attestazione di soggiorno permanente in Italia” and can be requested from the “Anagrafe” following 5 years of continuous residence in Italy. It testifies to a right guaranteed by Italian national law which therefore cannot be removed even after the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. By holding this certificate, you are guaranteed access to the Italian National Health Service (SSN) without any time limit.
Importantly, you can only lose this permanent residential status if you leave Italy for more than two years.
While permanent residential status guarantees you the right to stay in Italy as well as other important benefits such as free healthcare it does not provide you the freedom of movement within the EU that you would enjoy as an Italian citizen.
Becoming an Italian Citizen
As a British and therefore EU national, you may apply for Italian citizenship after continuous residence of more than 4 years. You must prove continuous lawful residence by demonstrating registration at the “Anagrafe” of your “Comune” of residence over a 4 year period.
As a diplomat or employee of a UN agency based in Italy, you may not be registered at the “Comune”, and in this instance you may demonstrate residence by way of a permit issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Italian citizenship can also be acquired within 2 years if you have married an Italian citizen and are both residing in Italy. If you have children in Italy the time required is 1 year.
To apply for Italian citizenship online, click below on the link to the Italian Home Office (Ministero dell’Interno, Dipartimento per le Libertà Civili e l’Immigrazione):
Why it is important to regularise your residence in Italy
If you intend to stay in Italy to live and/or work for the foreseeable future, it makes sense to regularise your residence. By doing this, you should have fewer surprises in future and will be able to access fully and legitimately public services such as health and social security.
For financial reasons, some British nationals, concerned about being drawn into an Italian system which is often hard to understand and sometimes feared, are reluctant to regularise residence.
Instead, regularisation of residence not only provides peace of mind but also advantages.
At Unity Financial Partners, we provide international financial planning solutions that are wholly compliant with Italian residence and completely portable if you decide to leave Italy and move to another country.
As Exchange of Information between European banks continues apace we can help you navigate the Italian financial system.
To find out more please contact us at
Tel: 06 45429867
John Douglas Stewart
Head of Business Development