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Driving in Italy with a foreign driving license

Learn the requirements on how to drive in Italy with a foreign license.

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Requirements for Driving in Italy with a foreign license

The Italian Codice della Strada is what sets conditions for driving in Italy. Specifically, Article 135 regulates conditions for driving in Italy with a foreign driving license. If you are considering travelling or relocating to Italy and wonder if your foreign driving license is valid, then you should first know about relevant differences between licenses issued by EU or Extra-EU Countries.

Driving in Italy with a driving license issued by a EU or EEA member state

According to Directive 91/439/EEC, EU citizens with an EU driver’s license don’t have to convert it into an Italian one, and may drive in Italy until its expiration date.

Expiration date of EU driving licenses

An EU driver’s license with an expiration date in line with the standards of Directive 2006/126/EEC, Article 7(2) can be used in Italy until the expiration date. After the expiration date, the foreign driving license must be converted into an Italian license at the Civil Motorization (Motorizzazione Civile).

Those who hold an EU driver’s license with no expiration date, on the other hand, must convert their license to an Italian driver’s license within two years after gaining residence in Italy (Article 7 paragraph 2 of Directive 2006/126/EEC).

Driving in Italy with a driving license issued by non-EU states that have signed bilateral agreements

Holders of valid driving license issued by a state outside EU or EEA may circulate in Italy with it. The license has to be a sworn translation into Italian, for no more than one year after obtaining residency, according to Article 136 of the Highway Code (Codice della Strada).

After one year, they must transfer their driving license to an Italian license, if approved by particular bilateral agreements.

If you need help with obtaining your residency in Italy, read our guide on Italian ID card and local residency registration.

What conversion of the driving license means and for which foreign driving licenses is requested

The conversion of a driving license consists in replacing the driving license issued by the Foreign State with an Italian license. The convertibility of licenses issued by Foreign States depends exclusively on the existence of reciprocity agreements, or bilateral agreements, in force between Italy and the Foreign Country in question.

Have a look here of the updates list of Countries that have signed bilateral agreements with Italy for the conversion of driving licenses.

On the other hand, driving permits issued by nations extra-EU or outside EEA with which Italy has never signed bilateral agreements cannot be converted.

If a person with a non-convertible driving permit wants to continue driving in Italy after a year, they must first pass the Italian theoretical and practical driving tests in order to qualify for an Italian license.

Driving in Italy with a British driving license

Following the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU, British drivers will no longer be able to convert their license into an Italian one.

This majorly depends on the lack of reciprocity agreements between Italy and the UK to manage the conversion of British licenses into Italian ones.

From January 1, 2021, UK nationals shall pass the theory and practical exams to get an Italian license.

The license that was first obtained in Italy and then converted in the UK is the exception to the abovementioned. In this instance, retaking the exams to earn an Italian license upon return to Italy is not essential.

Please notice that, starting from March 30, 2023, the Italian Department of Motor Vehicles offices accept applications for conversion of UK driving licenses, in accordance with the provisions of the relevant Agreement, signed in December 2022

Driving in Italy as a Tourist

Tourists in Italy can drive with a driving license issued by the European Union.

In case of driving licenses issued in a non-EU Country, tourists shall obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) from a local car association, following the abovementioned rules.

If you are renting a car while in Italy, please keep in mind that the Decree on Infrastructures, among others, now makes drivers of rented cars in Italy accountable for any tickets.

Can I drive in Italy with a foreign license plate?

Yes, it is possible to drive in Italy with a foreign license plate. Motor vehicles, motorcycles and trailers registered in a foreign country and owned by a person domiciled in Italy may circulate in Italy but they must be registered with an Italian license plate within 3 months of obtaining residence.

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Regulatory Framework

Directive 91/439/EEC of July 29, 1991 on driving licenses

Reference (Italian only)

Directive 2006/126/CE of the European Parliament and of the Council of December 20, 2006

Reference (Italian only)

Article 136 of Codice della Strada

Reference (Italian only)

Circular Protocol 3401 of January 29, 2021

Reference (Italian only)

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