A MESSAGE FROM JILL MORRIS, HER MAJESTY’S AMBASSADOR
British Embassy Rome
Issue No. 23
To UK Nationals in Italy,
I want to update you on Italy’s implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement for UK nationals living in Italy before 1 January 2021 and to provide some detailed information on access to healthcare in Italy.
The new Withdrawal Agreement biometric residency card
The Italian government has introduced a new biometric residence document for UK nationals and their family members issued under the Withdrawal Agreement (‘carta di soggiorno elettronica’ or ‘documento in formato digitale sulla base di quanto previsto dall’Accordo di recesso’). If you were living in Italy before 1 January 2021, you should get this card from your local questura.
Read our detailed guidance on how to get the new biometric residence card which we have published here on our Living in Italy guide.
To request the document, you need to book an appointment at your local immigration office at the police headquarters (questura) in person. Make sure you read the Italian government’s guidance on what supporting documentation you will need to provide. You can find it on our Living in Italy guide.
Please note that the new biometric residency card is not the same document as an Italian identity card. If you already hold an Italian identity card you should still get the new biometric residency card from your questura. It is not mandatory, but it will provide you with the clearest evidence of your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.
If you need support in obtaining the new biometric residency card you can get in touch with our UK Nationals Support Fund partner the International Organisation for Migration. You can call them on 800 684 884 or email: UKnationalsit@iom.int
Evidencing your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement in Italy
Italy is using a declaratory system to implement the Withdrawal Agreement. This means that UK nationals who were lawfully living in Italy before 1 January 2021 have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement automatically rather than needing to re-apply for these rights. It also means that the new biometric residency card is not mandatory although we are advising UK nationals to obtain it. This is because it provides the clearest evidence of your automatic rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.
We are aware that some UK nationals have reported difficulties in accessing benefits, accessing healthcare and in registering work contracts since the start of this year. This is because they have been required to show the new biometric residency card or a non-EU residency permit (permesso di soggiorno). As the non-EU national residency permit is not applicable to those covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and the new biometric residency card is not mandatory, we are engaging with the Italian government to support the resolution of these difficulties as soon as possible.
Please consult our Living in Italy guide for updates at www.gov.uk/livinginitaly as well as our social media channels @ukinitaly. UK nationals who may be experiencing problems can contact us via our contact webform on our Living in Italy page.
Healthcare access in Italy
Under the Withdrawal Agreement if you were living in Italy or moved here before 1 January 2021, your rights to access healthcare in Italy will stay the same provided you remain resident and you meet the requirements of the Italian public health system. This also applies to UK nationals who hold an S1 form (i.e. in receipt of a UK state pension or a qualifying exportable benefit) and currently use the S1 form to access healthcare in Italy.
If you are in possession of a valid Italian health card (Tessera Sanitaria), this remains valid and when it expires, you will be able to renew it if you meet the requirements.
If you have one, you can present the new biometric residence card to your local health authority (ASL) to prove your entitlement under the Withdrawal Agreement when applying or renewing your healthcare registration. However, because it is not mandatory to hold the biometric card if you already hold a residency document from your local town hall this is evidence of your status.
If you are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card issued by Italy, this card remains valid for use when you visit the UK, and other EEA countries. The Italian EHIC (also known as TEAM-Tessera Europea Assicurazione Malattia) will cover you for any necessary medical care during a temporary stay in the UK. Remember that the EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance, and you should always make sure you travel with insurance that covers your needs.
If you are an S1 holder living in Italy and you have a UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), this card remains valid for use across the EU for any necessary treatment, until the card expires. Once your EHIC expires you can apply online for a new card – here.
You can find more information about accessing NHS care when visiting the UK by visiting nhs.uk. For further Information on the TEAM please visit the website of the Italian Ministry of Health at https://bit.ly/39l0dsk.
For more information on how to register for healthcare in Italy, please consult https://www.gov.uk/guidance/healthcare-in-italy or you can download our booklet here
Where to find more information on your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement
All UK nationals can find the very latest information on our Living in Italy page on gov.uk. This remains our key resource for UK nationals. It includes details on residency, healthcare and benefits, pensions, driving licences and how to get in touch with us.
We will be holding more live Q&A events for UK nationals on Facebook and YouTube. Please do join us if you can.
And we have just launched our second programme of ‘Residency Roadshows’ for UK nationals across Italy. Each roadshow, hosted with our UK Nationals Support Fund partner the International Organisation for Migration, is held for a specific region or city in Italy and you can sign up for a one-to-one session with our policy experts via our Facebook channel.
Voting rights in UK elections for UK nationals overseas
Last Wednesday’s UK government budget provided for funding to set up legislation to reform the limit of years spent abroad as an entitlement to vote in the UK.
The budget included an Overseas Electors provision of an additional £2.5m to remove the limit preventing British citizens who live overseas from voting after 15 years. Legislation is expected to be laid before Parliament later this year to bring about the reform.
Covid – 19 and travel to the UK
Lastly, I want to provide details for those of you intending to travel to the UK from Italy, including UK nationals returning home. To travel to the UK you must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to 3 days before departure. If you do not comply (and you do not have a valid exemption) your airline or carrier may refuse you boarding and/or you may be fined on arrival. The test results must be in English, French or Spanish.
Before you return to the UK you must provide your journey and contact details. You must self-isolate when you enter the UK from any foreign country except Ireland, unless you have a valid exemption.
When you enter England from abroad (except Ireland), you must follow the new requirements for quarantining and taking additional COVID-19 tests. For those travelling from a country on the banned travel list you will be required to quarantine in a hotel. Different rules apply for arrivals into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
You can find more information here:
My warm wishes and a Happy New Year to you, your families and friends.
Jill Morris CMG
Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Italy