English Expats in Italy: which are the Brexit implications?

Amongst the chaos of the pandemic, the most striking news of 2021 has seen the light: Brexit and its implications for UK executives and employees who have to perform their managerial and technical duties in the European Union and, in particular, in Italy.

On this front, the year 2020 was a transition year, so that the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom allowed to British citizens, already present in Italy, to manage with an adequate flexibility, a so relevant change and see themselves change from an EU to an extra-EU status.

According to article 9 of the mentioned Withdrawal Agreement, a specific protection was established for the so-called frontier workers that, in the case under examination, are UK citizens who carried out an economic activity pursuant to article 45 or 49 of the Treaty on Functioning of the European Union in one or more States where they were not habitually residing.

Starting from 1st January 2021, the same workers, upon evidence of suitable documentation aimed at demonstrating their effective performance in Italy of a professional activity in accordance with article 18, paragraph 4 of the above-mentioned EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, are entitled to request, at the Police Headquarters (“Questura”) competent over the Municipality where they were resident up to 31st December 2020, an electronic document in digital format, which certifies their residence status.

This request can be made also by the family members accompanying or joining the worker, even if the family reunification occurs after the aforementioned date of 31st December 2020.

The electronic residence document is valid for 5 years (bearing the title "residence card") or 10 years (bearing the title "permanent residence card") if the right of permanent residence is acquired (legal and uninterrupted residence in Italy for 5 years, including periods of stay before or after 31st December 2020).

The procedure to obtain such an electronic document in digital format is based on the residence registration of the UK citizens at the Municipality of their residence on 31st December 2020, which was the deadline of the transitional period provided by the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

All the information useful to obtain the issuance of this electronic certificate is available at the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (www.interno.gov.it).

The main documents to be produced at the competent Police Headquarters are the following: i) a valid identity document ii) a certificate of personal registration issued by the Municipality of residence, which proves registration by 31st December 2020 or, alternatively, iii) a self-certification of being enrolled with the Resident Population Register by 31st December 2020.

Otherwise, the UK citizens who are not enrolled with the Register of the Italian Resident Population on 31st December 2020 will not be entitled to enjoy the benefits arising from the cited EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

However, UK nationals who are not yet registered in the registry by 31st December 2020, but who can prove with suitable documentation their legal staying in the Italian territory on or before 31st December 2020 (for example, employment contract, certificate of enrolment in a course of study) may in any case apply for the electronic residence document at the Police Headquarters of the Municipality of residence.

It is recommended that British citizens, who had enrolled with the Register of the Italian Resident Population before than 31st December 2020, make the application as soon as possible, even if, to date, the Italian Authorities have not yet fixed any deadline to obtain this electronic certificate. 

At last, UK nationals posted to Italy starting from 1st January 2021 will be considered as extra-EU citizens and, therefore, subject to all the provisions established by the Immigration Consolidated Text (Legislative Decree n. 286 dated 25 July 1998, and subsequent modifications).

This means that, for any sojourn exceeding than 90 days in Italy (in a 180-day period) and/or to carry on a working activity in Italy, a UK citizen resident outside Italy has to apply for a prior authorisation to work (so-called “nulla-osta”) and obtain an employment visa (at the Italian Embassy of the foreign country), followed by a “permit of stay”.