Dear British Citizens,
I wanted to be in touch to update you on our activities here at the Embassy since my last newsletter in July – and to let you know where things stand on a number of issues, including driver’s licenses.
Since the last time I wrote to you, we have all lived through a very sad and memorable time, with the passing of Her Majesty the Queen on September 8th. We all remember where we were when we heard the news of the Queen’s death – a moment we will remember for the rest of our lives.
The queen’s death has deeply affected Italy. I was on a flight back from London to Rome when the news broke – and upon landing I was greeted with so many kind messages of sympathy from Italians. It was a country the late Queen knew well and loved – having first visited Rome as Princess Elizabeth in 1951, when she celebrated her 25th birthday at Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli. As queen, she returned for four state visits, the most recent in 2013. So many Italians have fond memories of those visits. I lost count of the number of Italians who told me that the Queen was not just our Queen – she was the Queen, and she was deeply loved here, at home, for her 70 years of duty and on duty.
During the period of mourning, we opened condolence books at the Embassy and Residence in Rome, as well as at our Consulate in Milan. At the embassy, some 2,000 people came to sign these days, coming from near and far. A couple I spoke to had traveled from Venice and we also hosted groups of school children. President Mattarella was traveling abroad when news of the Queen’s death broke. Upon his return on Friday evening, he came directly from the airport to my residence to sign the book of condolences – followed by Prime Minister Draghi and members of the Italian government and others in the following days.
It was a deeply touching time, culminating in the funeral of Her Majesty the Queen, which we showed outdoors at the Embassy. Many Italian and British friends came to watch it together.
These ten days have reminded us, I think, of the deep ties that unite Italy and the United Kingdom, ties that the Queen embodied and that the King, who knows Italy so well and has been here many times, perpetuates. Indeed, one of the first Heads of State Her Majesty spoke to in the days following the Queen’s death was President Mattarella.
1. Driver’s license
Since my last Newsletter, the Embassy has continued to work hard on issues that concern you as British citizens living here in Italy.
At the forefront of these problems, the driver’s license. Reaching an agreement on the right to swap your UK license for an Italian license remains my top priority – and my team’s top priority. We are very aware that the clock is ticking towards 31st December 2022 – until then, if you moved here before 1st January 2022 the Italian authorities have agreed that you can continue to use your UK licence. If you moved to Italy after January 1, 2022, you can continue to use your UK license for 12 months after your residency date.
We have worked intensively with our Italian colleagues in view of an agreement. Every week since my last post, our Embassy and Department for Transport teams in the UK and their Italian colleagues have been in touch with each other as we negotiate the technical and legal issues involved. I have also been in regular contact with the Italian Minister of Transport. We all share the same goal: to reach an agreement quickly.
Thanks to all these contacts, we have made real progress and, as I write, we continue to work hard to reach an agreement.
We will let you know as soon as possible, both on our social media channels and on our Living in Italy guide, available on gov.uk.
2. Family and friends visiting Italy
If any of your friends or family (who live in the UK) are planning a trip to Italy, please ask them to check that they have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or health card. Global Health Insurance (GHIC) valid before travelling. Either card will allow them to access the necessary health care when visiting Italy. For more information on how to apply for a GHIC, visit www.nhs.uk/ghic
And remember that your EHIC or GHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance and you should always travel with both. This is because the EHIC and GHIC may not cover you for the full cost of treatment, and some expenses, such as mountain rescue or medical repatriation, are not covered by the EHIC or GHIC.
Your family and friends can find out more about healthcare when visiting Europe on our gov.uk page Healthcare for UK nationals visiting Europe.
3. Citizens’ rights
My team continues to work with our Italian colleagues to ensure that UK residents here and their families enjoy their full rights under the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement. We are particularly focused on health care registration, working with the Italian Ministry of Health on new directions for local health authorities. And we are working closely with the Home Office to ensure that town halls treat UK residents correctly, including those who change their address or apply for an identity card.
Finally, I am committed to keeping British citizens informed, whether you have lived here for many years or are a visitor. I hope to continue to meet many of you during my travels in Italy and at the municipal events that we will organize. Additionally, I will be posting my regular online newsletter as well as online Q&A sessions. Please also continue to check our Living in Italy page as well as our Travel Advice page for the latest information, including your rights.
Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Italy