Can a non-Italian citizen legally purchase or own a car in Italy?
Well, the short answer is yes – but they will require residency status.
To purchase a car in Italy and drive with an Italian registration you have to be an Italian resident.
Now, a quick peruse of the ex-pat forums will show you various work arounds, both legal and not. Some homeowners choose to run the risk and keep a British registered car at their Italian property even though legally they are only allowed to keep the car in Italy for a limited period. They will have to drive back to the UK once a year for an MOT and if caught by the Italian police will face a large fine.
Others go down the route of asking a local friend or acquaintance to buy and register a car for them to drive, coming to some kind of arrangement. A definite grey area…
The only legal methods of vehicular freedom are to hire a car for each trip, drive your UK registered car over to Italy and return to the UK in it before the limited period expires or become an Italian resident.
We asked AIPP Legal members c-legal to clarify the law regarding purchase and registration of a car in Italy.
Car ownership in Italy
Generally speaking, a person who does not reside in Italy or in one of the EU Member States cannot purchase or own a car in Italy.
If you are a foreigner in Italy with residence in another country , even if you have ownership of a property, business or legitimate interests in Italy, you are still not legally entitled to own a car in Italy.
The Italian legislation is restrictive and absolute regarding this. To further clarify this issue, we shall differentiate between:
– An Italian citizen who resides abroad;
– A citizen from EU Member State;
– A citizen from non – EU member State.
Limitation regarding Vehicles registered abroad
Given the above, the Italian Highway Code states that only those who have a residence in any Italian municipality can purchase a new or used vehicle in Italy.
In addition to that, Article 132 of the Italian Highway Code (“Codice della Strada”) states that “the vehicle registered abroad, after completing the customs formalities, can circulate in Italy for a maximum of one year. After this period, if the vehicle is not registered before the competent Authority in Italy, the owner shall ask the office a warrant to leave the national territory.
In case of violation of this law, a pecuniary shall be applied, which is a sanction from €712,00 to € 2.848,00 and the vehicle is seized for 180 days. Unless nationalization or exportation, the vehicle shall be subjected to administrative seize accordingly to the article 213”.
Limitation affecting the Italian citizen who resides abroad
An Italian citizen residing abroad and registered with the AIRE can only purchase a car and register it before the respective Authority if he/she can indicate at the moment of registration a legal domicile (residence) in Italy. In these cases, the domicile in Italy and the AIRE registration will be indicated on the registration certificate and on the ownership certificate.
The case of a citizen from an EU Member State who resides abroad
As for the above case, a citizen from an EU Member State who resides abroad and has a property or has business relations or legitimate interests in Italy can own and register a vehicle in the Public Motor Registry. In this case, the EU citizen shall indicate at the moment of registration a legal domicile in Italy that shall be written on the registration and ownership certificate.
The case of citizen who is neither Italian or from an EU member State
A citizen, who is not Italian or a non-EU resident and in possession of a visa permit can drive in Italy with a car for one year with a special EE plate after registering the vehicle at the Public Motor Registry.
If a foreign citizen has a visa permit and is resident in an Italian municipality with all correct documentation they can then own and drive a vehicle.
In consideration of the above circumstances, the position of a Foreigner with regards to car ownership can be different from another. In this case our AIPP member Italian lawyers shall be available for online legal assistance.
Our thanks to Manlio Gervasi from c-legal for his help with this article.
c_legal is a boutique law firm specialising in administrative and real estate law, assisting national and foreign investors in specialized cross-border real estate transactions concerning Italian property. They are based in Palermo, Italy – contact them for a free consultation at email@example.com or call on +39 0924 527787
Check list before you buy
There are some fundamentals you MUST consider before you start on your journey to purchasing a property in Italy. Download our free buying guides for a road map for your purchase (scroll below).
Choose your agent wisely. AIPP (Association of International Property Professionals) members have all signed up to a strict code of conduct and are covered by the UK Property Ombudsman which makes for a much safer buying environment. You can search their properties by clicking the ‘Search Property‘ link here or at the top of the page.
Know your budget before you start your search. The Alliance recommends using a specialist overseas mortgage broker such as AIPP member Simon Conn who can assess your current situation and advise on what kind of mortgage would be available to you.
Lock in your exchange rate. With the markets a little volatile, it’s wise to protect your budget. By choosing a currency company who can offer you the best rate and fixing it with a forward contract you need not worry about political or economic factors influencing your purchase power. The Alliance works with Clear Currency. Hear what they have to say:
Engage the services of a fully independent lawyer. Your lawyer should work on behalf of YOU and YOU only – not the seller or developer or agent. You can search for an AIPP member lawyer here.
Seek advice on your tax, pension and wealth management requirements. By speaking with a specialist you can ensure your financial affairs are in the best order to limit your liabilities and future proof your income. The Alliance recommends speaking with international financial advisers Blevins Franks.
Speak to those who have gone before you. Join the Alliance of International Property Owners and gain access to our private members only forum where you can search and connect with members with properties in Italy and other areas you wish to know more about (and right now it’s free to join!)