Passaparola – issue 2
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 driving licences.
Since I last wrote to you, we have all lived through a momentous and very sad period, with the death of Her Late Majesty The Queen on 8 September. We all remember where we were when we heard the news that The Queen had died – a moment we will remember for the rest of our lives.
The Queen’s death touched Italy deeply. I was on a flight on my way back from London to Rome when the news was announced– and as I landed, I was met by so many kind messages of sympathy from Italians. This was a country The Late Queen knew well and loved – having visited Rome for the first time as Princess Elizabeth in 1951, when she celebrated her 25th birthday at Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli. As Queen, she returned for four State Visits, most recently in 2013. So many Italians have fond memories of those visits. I have lost count of the number of Italians who have told me that The Queen was not just our Queen – she was The Queen, and she was loved deeply here, as she was at home, for her 70 years of duty and service.
During the Mourning Period, we opened Condolence Books at the Embassy and Residence in Rome, as well as our Consulate in Milan. At the Embassy, some 2000 people came to sign during those days – travelling from near and far. One couple I spoke to had come all the way from Venice, and we also welcomed parties of schoolchildren. President Mattarella was on a trip overseas when the news of The Queen’s death was announced. When he returned on the Friday evening, he came straight to my Residence from the airport to sign the Condolence Book – to be followed by Prime Minister Draghi and members of the Italian Government and others in subsequent days.
It was a deeply touching period, culminating in the funeral of Her Late Majesty The Queen, which we showed in the open at the Embassy. Many Italian and British friends came to watch it together.
These were ten days in which we were reminded, I think, of the deep ties that bind Italy and the United Kingdom, ties which The Queen embodied and which The King, who knows Italy so well and has been here many times, carries forward. Indeed one of the first Heads of State His Majesty spoke to in the days after The Queen’s death was President Mattarella.
1. Driving Licences
Since my last Newsletter, the Embassy has continued to work hard on issues that affect you as British citizens living here in Italy.
Foremost amongst those issues is driving licences. Reaching an agreement on the right to exchange your UK licence for an Italian one continues to be my top priority– and the top priority of my team. We are very conscious that the clock is ticking towards 31 December 2022 – until that date, if you moved here before 1 January 2022, the Italian authorities have agreed that you can continue to use your UK licence. If you moved to Italy after 1 January 2022, you may continue to use your UK licence for 12 months after your date of residency.
We have been working intensively with our Italian colleagues towards an agreement. Every week since my last message, our teams from the Embassy and from the Department of Transport in the UK and their Italian colleagues have been in touch with each other as we negotiate through the technical and legal issues involved. I have also been in regular contact with the Italian Minister for Transport. We all share the same goal: to reach an agreement rapidly.
We have, as a result of all these contacts, made real progress, and as I write we are continuing to work hard towards an agreement.
We will let you have further news as soon as we can, both through our social media channels and through our Living in Italy guide which can be found on gov.uk.
2. Family and Friends visiting Italy
If any of your friends or family (who live in the UK) have an Italy break planned please do ask them to check that they have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) before travelling. Either card will enable them to access necessary healthcare when visiting Italy. For more information about how to apply for a GHIC, visit www.nhs.uk/ghic
And remember, your EHIC or GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance, and you should always travel with both. That is because the EHIC and GHIC may not cover you for the entire treatment cost, and there are certain expenses, such as mountain rescue or medical repatriation, which are not covered by the EHIC or GHIC.
Your family and friends can read 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 British residents here and their families enjoy their full rights under the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement. We are particularly focused on healthcare registration, working with the Italian Ministry of Health on new guidance for the local healthcare authorities. And we’re working closely with the Ministry of Interior to ensure that town halls are handling British residents correctly including those changing address or requesting an identity card.
Finally, I am committed to keeping British citizens informed – whether you have lived here for many years or you are a visitor. I am hoping to continue to meet many of you during my travels around Italy and at the town hall events that we will organise. In addition, I will be issuing my regular newsletter online as well as hosting online Q & A sessions. Please also continue to check our Living in Italy page as well as our Travel Advice page for the very latest information including on your rights.
With very best wishes
His Majesty’s Ambassador to Italy