Buying a car in Italy when we are not spending 6 months a year in Italy

popinjaykev Image
06/02/2009 - 09:46

Hello one and allI am going to ask a question which I am certain has been asked before but for whatever reason I have not managed to grasp the response.My wife is spending the summer in Italy but she needs a small car to get around due to the location of our house.Can anyone advise me what the situation is about buying a second hand car without having residency?I cannot believe that this appears so difficult in Italy.Any advice would be greatfully receivedregards kevin  



You need residency to buy a car, plus with insurance and inital cost, it's probably worth investigating a long term rental or lease car. What area of Italy?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gromitwe are located near Montorio Al Vomano in Abruzzo.My understanding was that you needed residency to buy a new car but providing you paid cash for a second hand car you only had to pay for the transfer of ownership and insurance - although I understand that the owner of the car suggested that the car was insured for an additional 2 months and would cover us!! oh Italians you have got to love them..No one seems to have a total picture Gromitbut your advice is greatfully received.regardskev  

Daft as it sounds - one of the easiest options is probably to buy the small car in the UK, insure it with a company that will do extended periods abroad [there are a few] and drive it down  -  bringing it back once a year to re-tax, insure and [if necessary] MOT it  .

If you're buying a new car in the UK, you can order a LHD believe it or not. We did that before we moved out and resgistered it here when we got our residency. It took ages to find a dealer prepared to do it but they are all supposed to let you.

 You can buy a car without residency, but you will need a carta di soggiorno if you are European citizen.  The carta di soggiorno is not compulsory and is to all effects now abolished since March 2007 - but it is an option  certainly when buying a new car.  If the car is used - residence is now needed. 

Well after hearing all this I think we put you off buying a cra here. Secondhand cars have to have a document done by a Notario to endemnify the owners against claims and to leagise the transfer (€500 approx) also. So do like many of us do bring one over from theUK and tax and insure it from theer (or Italsure) alot cheaper and easier. If you are over 50 look at SAGA insurance as it has unlimited EU travel.Good luck.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Well as I am in the uK at present and my wife is in Italy it appears that today we have purchased a car in Italy!! so after all your help and sensible advice my dear lady has let her emotions get the better of her.Family is involved and everyone has assured us that it is ok - my wife is now going for residency and also citizenship - her mother was Italian - it appears that like so many things everything can be handled retrospectively - ahh Italians dont you just love them?

We have an Italian registered car, (absolutely riculously expensive for insurance), as well as a UK registered LHD car. We got the car from Damon Oorloff at and can't praise the level of service, price, accuracy of decription and all round honesty high enough. You can insure through Stephen Williams so long as its registered in the UK but you give your Italian address for "where the vehicle will be kept" box. This insurance was about 1/3 the price for fully comp as was Italian insurance for 3rd party.We would prefer to have Italian registered cars only but don't really want to have to pay that much for insurance.

Hi Pauline. Re UK tax and insurance there is a nasty rumour that some people use a family or friends address to register the car at; and once a year return to the UK to get it MOT'd. As all this mularcky can be done online now afew very bad people use this illegal but effective method........................    

 You have to register the car in Italy after 6 months (or is it a year?)- via the motorizzazzione and it becomes an Italian car.  It costs, depending on the horse power and engine size as well as the infamous cavalli fiscali.  Then there's the revisione - MOT and then you can drive without fear of being stopped by the carabinieri.

We arrived by car some years ago. Our car is a right hand drive Renault and had English number plates. We took it to a garage who asked us to return a week later. The car was waiting for us with Italian number plates and all the relevant documentation. Cost us a wedge, but that's life. We then insured it with Direct Line on line in the Italian version. They did not query the fact that it is right hand drive. I did, but they told me it did not make any difference.Word of caution however. The revision (MOT) is required after a period of time. If you take it to a private MOT garage, they will register it, and when the next revision is due will send you an advice note. When however you first change your plates, the Motorizzazione Centre will do all the paperwork, but do not send out 'expiry' advices for the next revision.Nothing can prevent you from being stopped by the forces of law and order for a 'spot check'. We were recently stopped in Ascoli Piceno by the 'caramba', and my revision had expired. One officer wanted to confiscate the car, have me branded with hot irons, throw me in the dungeons and chuck away the key, but the other was much 'softer'. I pleased 'stupid foreigner' and they kindly pointed me in the direction of a revision garage 200 metres away, told me to go there immediately and get it done! Did that, got the certificate, they also added a small sticker that relates to the type of emissions the car makes to enable us to go into or not a town centre where there may be an 'alternate' number plate policy on a particular day. (Anti-pollution etc).Happy motoring... 

We have a Honda Civic Type R that we are thinking of putting onto Italian plates. Do you know if  Direct Line in Italy accept UK No claims discount. From what I understand one of the reasons that Italian car insurance is so expensive is that there are 14 levels and you start on level 14 and your insurance becomes a little cheaper each year as you go up the levels. We are currently with Saga which as mentioned gives you 365 days of European cover which expires April 2010 as does the MOT. But as we all know you have to apply for residency afer 3 months and once you're a resident there's a time limit as to how long you can keep a non-Itlain plated car.Secondly the car tax is absed on the poer of the engine. The Civic is 200 bhp - anyone have any idea what price band that will fall into. Is there a web site with all this info on simialr to the DVLS one back in the UK.ThanksMartin

Direct Line will accept your no claims bonus but the original statement from the UK is required and it must say how many years no claims you have not just the %age. The document from the UK must be less than 6 months old.

I'm not sure its a good idea friends buying a car for you. Sure it can be done and they can insure it, but if you do have an accident whilst driving the insurance implications could become very complicated indeed. It might be better for you to enter into a long lease or rental deal with a garage. The car is owned in the garage's name and is rented out to you on a long term basis, say for 25 years. You pay the purchase price upfront and pay the garage's annual insurance costs. We did this before we gained residency and it worked very well.

My advice, forget all about buying and rent for short periods or if for a period of say 3months or more bring your car out from England, it takes 4 days if you don't want to kill yourself and insure with SAGA if you are of a certain age , otherwise there are others, to ensure unlimited foreign travel. Driving a right-hand vehicle is not all that difficult if you use your mirrors and with the added bonus that if you make a mistake they'll think it's your wife's fault!

It seems, from reading this thread, that taking out an English car may well be the best solution but one question occurs to me.   People have been talking about tax and insurance.   Insurance, obviously, I understand that but.... surely we pay road tax to drive on English roads and if so why is it needed once the car is in Italy?  Or do you need to buy some sort of Italian tax disc?

In reply to by Big Ben

You pay road tax for 2 reasons a) it validates your Insurance, b) if you are stopped in Italy without Valid Tax Disc you can be fined. If you insure with a specialist Foreign Company they can supply you with a Italian certificate that you can display; but I think that is a whole new can of worms, as then you ghave to get the equivalent MOTs etc etc etc..........In my opininon and at least 6 others who I know, use and UK registerd car and travel back with it once a year to get MOT and Tax done; using a freind or family address. 

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

EU rules regarding road tax are not cross border rules. Each country is different and some do not have road tax. Some have MOT annually some every 2 years and some.... well, don't bother. The eventual aim is to harmonise but that is decades away at best. I cannot see how penalties can be imposed in Italy on the driver of a foreign vehicle which are purely tax or admin (Road Tax and MOT) in another country. If you have a recognised driving licence, a roadworthy car and 3rd party insurance that is all the law requires. If you have insurance obtained validly and do not have road tax or MOT those facts cannot invalidate your liability insurance. Companies could use them like they do for e.g fitting spotlights, in order to deny a fully comp. claim but as a matter of national policy, which most countries have, they cannot squirm out of their obligations on liability claims. The industry has to pay out for uninsured claims anyway and companies refusing liability would be seen as failing their obligations or cheating.

In reply to by grsimon

I've only just seen your post grisimon, so apologies for the delay.Long Term Car Rental. Quite often garages who sell cars and supply rental cars (local garages really) are prepared to rent a car to you for 25 years or longer. Essentially, the ownership of the car is in their name but you have a contract giving you sole use of the car for its lifetime. You pay the cost of the car upfront (the garage making their money on the car sale) and agree to pay the annual insurance and other sundry costs that the garage has to bear. If you are interested, have conversations with some of your local garages to see if you can strike up a deal.

To have a Roadworthy Car in the eyes of the law it must either be pre MOT or have current MOT (which ever EU country your in). If you drive  a car in Italy or the UK not fullfilling this; your Insurance company will use this fact to aviod insuring you and making you solely responsible for any damage or injury caused. In the UK you must have this to get a valid Insurance cover which ever country you drive in.

Roadworthy is defined as complying with (in UK) the Road Traffic Act (Construction and Use Regulations). An MOT has nothing to do with it. It can, and does, happen that you will be prosecuted for, say, defective lights or bare tyres some days after a new MOT.In France CT is every two years and thousands of UK reg. vehicles take the CT test and have French insurance which is fine and well accepted by the police and prefectures. Unlike Italy French insurance is usually cheaper than the UK and the state controls insurance companies more strictly.As I said before your insurance company cannot squirm out of liability claims. No MOT is a normal reason for refusing fully comp. claims. Other reasons that can be used include fitting spotlights, changing engine (even to a smaller one) in fact almost anything they like. Liability insurance is too important to be left to the whims of insurance companies. In theory any insurance company can pay a third party claim and then take civil action against you to recoup their payment but it is a civil action and deliberate deception is difficult to prove plus they could lose and face costs. In practice they just pay up and grimaceThere is no question on any insurance contract application about MOTs. You need insurance to drive to a MOT testing station.

The previous comments on not needing mot to be insured is interesting. It would be great not to have to bring the car back for mot, but also you could not tax the car. If there was a proper and legal solution to keeping a UK car in Italy without the need to return it every year for the mot, it would be fantastic at saving the time money and inconvenience of doing so. Untill a proper solution can be found, I will make the yearly trip wothwhile by bringing in things I want from UK. Regards David and Maria

Bring a fully documented and UK legal car either taking 4 days staying at Reims, Luzern and Parma or go motorail to Alessandria with either Dutch or German rail - nice service and clean. The perfidious French no longer offer Calais to Rome motorail - Ah the good old days! There's nothing terrifying about driving on the "wrong" side and please ensure your insurance co. covers you for time spent abroad. Saga offer a very long term foreign use. Remember to re-discover your left wing mirror you're going to need it! Even the Italians have a very complex job buying a second-hand car!

This has been mentioned many times before!! Saga insurance will cover you for 12 months abroad only if you are with the car for the 12 months. It does not cover you for leaving the car in Italy when you are travelling back and forth. Only one company will do this I know of is Stuart Collins Swansea.