To drive abroad, Italian citizens are subject to different rules depending on whether they go – for short stays or to take up their residence – to:
- a) European Union’s Member States or countries belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA;)
- b) non-EU countries that have signed reciprocity agreements on the conversion and recognition of driving licences with Italy;
- c) non-EU countries that are not signatories to reciprocity agreements on the conversion and recognition of driving licences with Italy.
- a) EU MEMBER STATES OR COUNTRIES BELONGING TO THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AREA (EEA)
- If you travel to an EU Member State or a country belonging to EEA for short periods of time, you may use your Italian driving licence because, in accordance with the EU Directive 2006/126/EC of December 20, 2006, EU Member States and countries belonging to EEA recognise the driving licences issued by their respective authorities.
- Conversely, if you take up your residence in an EU/EEA country, you have three options available:
– to convert your Italian driving licence into an equivalent one from your country of residence (this is an option, not an obligation);
– to keep your own driving licence by having it recognised by the authorities of the State in which you reside (where provided for by local legislation);
– to keep your original driving licence without doing anything about it. In the latter case, however, there may be inconveniences or delays when a duplicate shall be issued due to loss, theft or destruction of the document, since you need to request information from the State that originally issued the driving licence.
In order to request both conversion (which consists in issuing a new driving licence) and recognition, the driving licence shall be in progress of validity.
You may renew your Italian driving licence by applying only to the local authorities (see Circular No. 30 of May 21, 1999, issued by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport). For further details, we advise you to contact the competent consular Office.
- b) NON-EU COUNTRIES THAT HAVE SIGNED RECIPROCITY AGREEMENTS ON THE CONVERSION AND RECOGNITION OF DRIVING LICENCES WITH ITALY
- In order to drive temporarily in countries with which Italy has signed reciprocity agreements, you need to have an international driving permit (IDP) accompanied by a valid Italian driving licence. The international driving permit is a document for driving in all European and in some non-European countries. It is issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). It shall always be accompanied by a valid Italian driving licence. The purpose of the international driving permit is to provide foreign authorities with the exact interpretation of the driving licence in the holder’s possession. The international Conventions currently in force (the Geneva Convention of September 19, 1949 – ratified by Law No. 1049 of May 19, 1952 – and the Vienna Convention of November 8, 1968, ratified by Law No. 308 of July 5, 1995) introduced two models of international driving permits. In Italy you may obtain either one or the other model of driving permit.
- If you take up residence in a foreign country that has signed a reciprocity agreement on driving licences with Italy, you shall request the conversion of your valid Italian driving licence from the local authorities. By conversion of driving licence we mean issuing – without the obligation to pass theoretical and practical examinations – of a driving licence of the State of new residence corresponding to the Italian driving licence. The majority of bilateral agreements reached by Italy on driving licences provides that – once the new driving licence has been issued – the host countries’ authorities notify the Italian diplomatic-consular authorities, or the authority in Italy designated by the agreement itself, of the conversion made.
Once the new driving licence has been issued, the Italian driving licence is revoked in accordance with Article 130, paragraph c), of the Highway Code (Legislative Decree No. 285/1992).
For short stays in Italy (e.g. for holidays), it is sufficient to have an official translation of your driving licence, which shall be shown at the request of the Italian security authorities and law enforcement agencies. In case of permanent return to Italy, you can drive in Italy with your foreign driving licence for up to one year from the date of return, after which you shall apply for replacing the foreign driving licence obtained with conversion. A new Italian driving licence of a category not higher than the original one will therefore be issued (Article 136, paragraph 5, of the Highway Code).
Please note that the updated list of States with which Italy has reached reciprocity agreements on the conversion of driving licences can be viewed via the link at the website of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Sustainable Mobility (sito del Ministero delle Infrastrutture e della mobilita sostenibili). Finally, the following categories of citizens who move to one of the following States for reasons of service may convert their Italian driving licence:
– Canada: diplomatic and consular staff;
– Chile: diplomatic staff and their families;
– United States: diplomatic staff and their families;
– Zambia: citizens on government missions and their family members. In the event of loss or theft of an Italian driving licence, compatriots residing in non-European countries shall file a report not only with the local authorities, but also with the Italian Police (Presidential Decree No. 104 of March 9, 2000).
- c) NON-EU COUNTRIES THAT ARE NOT SIGNATORIES TO RECIPROCITY AGREEMENTS ON THE CONVERSION AND RECOGNITION OF DRIVING LICENCES WITH ITALY.
In these countries it is not possible to recognise or convert an Italian driving licence.
It is therefore advisable to duly and timely contact the Italian diplomatic-consular Representation in the place where you wish to drive, or the foreign country’s Representation to Italy, in order to find out what documents are required and the regulations in force on the subject.
Holders of Italian driving licences residing or staying for a period of at least 6 months in non-EU countries may obtain from the competent Italian diplomatic-consular authorities confirmation of the validity of their Italian driving licence, which expired no more than three years ago and does not fall under the cases provided for in Article 119, paragraphs 2-bis and 4, of the Highway Code (licences of drivers suffering from diabetes or whose mental and physical fitness shall be certified by special medical commissions). The parties concerned shall undergo the required medical examination to ascertain their mental and physical conditions, after which the diplomatic-consular Representation will issue the appropriate renewal certificate.
The renewal carried out at a diplomatic or consular Representation is valid for driving both in Italy and abroad.
Once residence or domicile in Italy has been taken up again, the driving licence shall be confirmed by the competent Central Office of the Department for Transport, Navigation and Information and Statistical Systems.