Buying a car in Italy

08/30/2012 - 14:41

Some friends who own a house here in Italy but are not residents would like to buy a car, - not sure if new or secondhand. I realise this has been a topic for discussion in the past but wondered if there had been any recent changes making it possible for non residents to purchase an Italian registered car? Any advice that I can pass on would be appreciated.


You must be resident to buy a car.  (though if buying new the dealers 'can help you'.   Otherwise its not worth the effort trying to beat the system. 

whilst it's not impossible for your friends to buy a car as has been said.They will have to consider the fact that they will be up to all the entailing legal consequences like for example changing their driving licence into an italian one after six months,all road fines and points on their licence,revisione of the car (mot) and,of course Italian insurance which is expensive to say the least.

In most of Europe now it is common to do what you suggest and also under the Euro Directive on licencing and taxation of vehicles Italy also should allow it and they do in some places but.... Apart from all that why bother? There are substantial advantages in keeping your original registration as it pretty much exempts you from all the petty bureaucracy your Italian friends and neighbours have to put up with and the police can't be bothered even if they knew what they were supposed to do.

In reply to by Ram

If you are a resident in Italy, you should take your UK driving licence to the local authorities (carabinieri, I'm pretty sure) and get it entered on the Motorizazzione computer. They will put a sticker on the licence. Not many people do this, and I've not heard of anybody being unable to blag their way around not having done this! However, it is quite important that the address on your UK licence is 'genuine' - otherwise it's invalid according to the DVLA. It's almost certainly not going to be picked up (even in the event of a contravention which gets back to the UK authorities)  if the address on the licence is occupied by some family member with the same surname, but if it is an old address and you have no idea who lives there now you are breaking the law because you are considered not to have a licence to drive anywhere!

A EU licence is valid throughout Europe and no need to change it unless you are forced to do so in order to impose penalty points or suspension in the country of residence. Therefore it cannot be illegal for an Italian resident to have a UK licence with an out of date address. What is the offence? Who can prosecute it? All countries are in the same position as they have old rules which do not fit with the EU directives. In Belgium a man took a case to the European Commission regarding the directive rule that a resident is not allowed to drive a foreign plated car. The Commission decided that since nobody had ever been prosecuted for breaking that rule in any country they would not make a ruling. 

In reply to by cardi

Many years ago,and i mean many..i was stopped by the carabinieri near Milano where i lived,they asked for my licence then they asked me where i lived and i told them.They told me to get it changed immediately for an italian one as i had already been years in italy with an old british licence.I didn't bother.A month later the same carabinieri,in the same place (sods law) stopped me still with the old british one.To avoid the terrible penalties they were promising i had to change my licence into an italian one (now there's just an adhesive strip with your address to put on the british plastic card) then i had to take it to the caserma to prove i'd done it.However if you think about it it's not all so strange otherwise we'd all drive around with licences from the Grand Cayman avoiding points etc.In the case of something very serious event an unvalid or ambiguous licence might prove very risky from an insurance perspective..

".......... Therefore it cannot be illegal for an Italian resident to have a UK licence with an out of date address. What is the offence? Who can prosecute it? ....." The original offence is in the UK - where your driving licence has to have your current address on it  [I've just changed mine, when I moved in the UK] I believe that the licence is not 'valid' with an out of date address - so if you were unlucky enough to have a [serious] accident in Italy and they checked with the UK [computers are a wonderful thing], you could be in deep 'doo doo'

Moving to another countryIf you move to another country, you should check with the driving licence authorities there for information about driving and exchange of licences. You don't need to notify DVLA of a change of address when moving to live abroad.

Just checked on the website "Moving to another country If you move to another country, you should check with the driving licence authorities there for information about driving and exchange of licences. You don't need to notify DVLA of a change of address when moving to live abroad."

.. in as much as they say one thing, but mean another or that is not quite what they intended "but if you...". Another words you don't have to notify a move "abroad", but if it's intended to use the licence "abroad", then you might just have to notify a "change of address" as opposed to "I'm moving abroad" :)

It is the website of YOUR government. As most of you are "Brits", you are, indeed, "abroad". The advice is pertinent to you because should you get into any sort of trouble, it is the "UK rubbish gov site" that will be used to point out why they cannot help you any further. The advice is there and is considerably more accurate than much (not all, Ram) that is written here. Remember also that when you tell the agency of your change of address, they will only accept a UK address, not a "foreign" one. If you lie, it is up to you, but be aware that you will be then breaking both Italian and UK laws.

  You must tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) immediately of any changes to your name, address or both. You can update your driving licence online or send it to DVLA for amendment. A new licence will be issued free of charge unless your photograph’s due for renewal.

You are not being "thick" at all, Ram. You are saying exactly the law regarding your UK driving licence concerning your address. The problem occurs when you are not resident in the UK as you cannot register an address outside of the United Kingdom. If you live overseas, in Italy for example, you have to get an national driving licence for the country you are living in, which for member states of the EU is a simple and painless task, unlike extracomunitarie, such as US citizens, who have to actually sit a full Italian driving test. Once you hold an Italian driving licence, you are of no interest to DVLA, unless you return to live in the UK again, when you will have to apply for a UK licence once you have lived there for six months - just as here.

No you don't have to get an Italian driving license, you just have to get your UK one 'recognised' by the local driving agency. An Italian license will cost about 200 euro but to get your UK one recognised is around 60, for the medical and paperwork. (Paperwork being a pink sticker with your Italian address on, which is attached to your paper license) it's easy to do if you intend to make Italy your main residence.

Read what I wrote once more. I said "If you live overseas, in Italy for example, you have to get an national driving licence for the country you are living in, which for member states of the EU is a simple and painless task". I'm sorry if you failed to understand: I thought it pretty self-explanatory.

qui già - what you have written is perfectly correct until your UK licence expires. Then, if you are no longer a resident of the UK you have no choice (unless you want to lie to the DVLA) to get a full Italian licence (as opoosed to the pink sticker), as you do not have a valid UK address at which to claim a UK one. Also remember that your Italian driving licence number (the pink sticker) will probably have a different expiry date to your UK driving licence.

In reply to by Penny

Having just done it, the costs of converting a UK licence to an Italian one are €50 for the medical, (via ACI, you could maybe negotiate less with a different authorised doctor), and €40 to the licensing authority. I chose to let ACI do the running about for me, which cost me an extra €20.   Italian licences do only run for five years though, (irrespective of age) and have to be renewed - I'm not sure how much that costs. The legislation around a UK licence with an ungenuine UK address is very difficult to establish. You are liable for a fine of up to £1000 for having the wrong address on your UK licence, but (contrary to what I and alanh had suggested earlier) I'm not convinced that it would be considered invalid. Reading around this, you wouldn't get 'points' for having the wrong address, and you'd probably just be advised by a copper if you'd moved house a month or so ago. This changed sometime in the last 20 years - (at that point you could have your bank as an accommodation address for your licence), but once a licence became "a photo id" the insistence on the address being correct came into force. I didn't know you had to have a medical to get the Italian pink sticker on your UK licence!

5 years ago I went to the motorizzazzione to get my pink sticker, who sent me to the polizia stradale, who sent me to the carabinieri who sent me back to the motorizzazzione.  I was informed that what I wanted didnt exist, and why didnt I just drive around until they stopped me.   Which they did - and asked me for my PdS - which I politely explained no longer existed for EU citizens.  The carabinieri wanted to know why my licence wasnt in Italian - because 'we cant be expected to read German' - and I pointed out that page 247 of their black book had the relevant information about EU licences.  Their brains fizzed and i was sent on my way.   Now - my licence expires in 2014 - the blinking of a gnats eye in Sicily - what do I do, renew my UK licence at my parents address, or do the right thing and end up in a hideous labyrinth of Sicilian bureacracy?  Amusing ideas only please. 

come on Ram you've been around for ages! so whats a labarinth for you... if you've got your pink address sticker on yer foreign licence (EU) it makes it equivalent to an italian one and to all effects is an italian one.My old mother has it and when it expires we go ...not the the dreaded motorizzazione but to the friendly local driving school where an army medic ( very domesticated) gets you to do the eye know the one with the disappearing letters..once you're unable to continue which is after the first line he says...we don't look at flies but lorries..and ticks you as A1. ...JOB DONE..euro 75 the sticker later arrives from the Ministero delle infrastrutture(?).... actually mine is an old fashioned italian one in linen issued by the prefettura di milano..the ones where everybodylooks like lucio battisti in the photo...

This business of validity of UK driving licences has been thrashed out many times on expat forums in the EU. Your UK licence is valid until you are 70 and then need a medical.  The plastic card part is valid for 10 years. When it is out of date your licence remains valid but there is an offence of failing to renew it. DVLA will issue you with a 'right to drive' authority which you can use to exchange licences in EU if your plastic card is out of date and the local licencing authority are not up to date. It is estimated that there are over 150,000 people in UK holding out of date cards and up till now no prosecutions.

In reply to by cardi

My UK licence (EU/Pink/Photo one) expires in December. My intentions are (in October) to go to the local autoscuola and ask them to 'transfer' it to an Italian one. I'm not 100% sure what will ACTUALLY happen ! My UK licence has my old UK address on it, so it is of little value as a record of my address here ! As a resident, I am expecting to have to get an 'ok' from the doctor and expecting to get a pink sticker which I believe will last for 5 years (Dec 2017), then I will go through the process again ? I assume that will make me 'legal'. S

I have no pink sticker - i have a photocard and an old paper licence (Green) which i have to show when I hire a car in the UK.... so perhaps its time I took the plunge and got an Italian licence to go with my soon to be acquired citizenship! 

The Italian driving test is in Italian and there is a theory test in Italian. AFAIK if you're non eu, you must convert to an Italian licence, but am happyissimo to be proved wrong.

Probably Ram is correct - but do you perhaps have the right, were you to move to the UK, to claim a UK licence. I'd think so. Does your licence look like a UK one already?  If you do fall into the ''extracommunitari'' category then you have the right to drive for a year on a non EU licence, accompanied by an IDP, then you (if resident in Italy) have to take the test and get an Italian licence. However, if you could slightly fiddle yourself a UK licence then it'd all be hunky dory. It is possible that there is an accord with the EU about Channel Island driving licences - I say this because there was (maybe still is) an agreement between Australia and Eire, and I know an Aussie who has driven about in Italy for decades on an Irish (EU) llicence, and has just recently converted this to an Italian one (without a test).