How to swap a UK driving licence to an Italian one in 340 difficult steps

An Englishman in Italy

Pecora Nera Driving Licence

I have created a new page for this post because I know this is going to be a long and painful saga. I will update this as I jump, dodge and get blown up by the Italian minefield of bureaucracy.


Last summer I noticed that my driving licence would expire in May 2013. I searched on the internet whether, I could renew my licence with DVLC. Unfortunately this is not ‘legally possible’  because I do not live in the UK. I do have a house in the UK but someone is living in it. Further research seemed to imply that exchanging my UK licence for an Italian licence was easy. I would only need two photos, some money and a completed form. I should have known better, after all this is Italy, a country where I have been stopped for driving with a European UK driving licence.

The carabinieri who stopped me was not the brightest man alive, he tried to explain to Mrs Sensible that I, an Englishman was not allowed to drive in Italy with a Ukrainian driving licence. Mrs Sensible went straight into teacher mode and asked the poor carabinieri, (who was now asking himself why he had stupidly stopped me)  when did the Ukraine joined the EU? Still pointing at the European flag on my licence, Mrs Sensible then explained to him, again in teacher style language, that the UK on my licence actually stood for United Kingdom, and no it did not need to have GB for Grand Britannia on it.

So here, we are fifty-eight days from my driving licence melting down; and I decide enough is enough. I asked Mrs Sensible to phone the local office that deals with driving licences and find out what documents I will need to take to the office and how much it take to change my licence.

OFFICE: Why does your husband want an Italian Driving Licence?

MRS SENSIBLE: Because his UK licence expires in May.

OFFICE: UK licences do not expire. Italy is going to change to licences like the UK one.

MRS SENSIBLE: My husbands licence expires on the 17th May 2013. it is clearly stated on the licence.

OFFICE: Really! Tell your husband to pop into the office this afternoon and we will sort it all out.

MRS SENSIBLE: Pecora, if you go to the office now they will sort it out for you… go now… go.

PECORA NERA: He hasn’t got a clue what he is talking about has he…. ALL RIGHT I am going.

Standing in the office the idota stupido helpful man explained that, for a small sum of money he could stick a sticker on my UK driving licence that would make it valid for another 5 years.

Words failed me, both English and Italian words. I phoned Mrs Sensible and said ” I don’t need a sticker I need a new licence. Hertz car rental is not going to accept an Italian Sticker stuck on my driving licence as proof that it is now valid for another 5 years. Please explain this to this helpful  intelligent  cretino. After Mrs Sensible had had a short telephone conversation with the man, the phone was passed back to me and I was told “He will have it all sorted tomorrow. You will need to call back tomorrow around four in the afternoon.

Tomorrow I will update part 2 after I have driven back to the office and had another discussion with Signor Cretino. Right now I am going to have a glass of wine.

Part 2 

Part 3

Part 4

70 thoughts on “How to swap a UK driving licence to an Italian one in 340 difficult steps

  1. Sounds like you’d better stock up on the wine! You might need a lot more of it by the time this is over! Or maybe you’ll be celebrating at 4.05 tomorrow afternoon. I doubt it though!


    • I only have 58 days to sort this out. Long enough to contract stomach ulcers.

      I could use my UK address to renew my UK licence but.. and it is a big but. if anything happened like some twerp walking under my car. I would be in big trouble.

      So tomorrow I have to go and see the sticker man again. I might try the Alexandria office. They might be a little better informed.


  2. I am on the point of doing likewise with the French administration, having made the unwise decision to tell a French Gerndarme that she didn’t know French legislation about European licenses. Maybe we’ll be able to compare notes and write a European guide 😉


    • It is going very badly. I flipped a coin this morning, a good way of making decisions when you live in Bella Italia. It came up tails, as in try to renew licence on line with the DVLC. The application was rejected because they need a new photo.

      So I either fly to the UK and try to blag it or continue dealing with Mr Cretino. I will see him at 4pm armed with a sharp fork.

      I have done some more research and it is not good. A guy on the britexpats website sorted all the paperwork out within 10 days but then waited 4 months for the licence…. I feel all emotional at the moment. I need a hug or a glass of grappa.


  3. oh gosh, I so don’t envy you Pecora Nera. It drives me mad every time I go to Italy (whether I drive or not). I feel this is going to turn out into a very very long post….. I got stopped leaving Venice Airport last month by Guardia di Finanza. They stopped Mr C first, so I went back and thought “here we go, is it because I is black” moment… but no, they never even opened his British passport, the guy hassled me on my Italian passport flicking through every page, because I don’t have the annual tax stamps in it so he said he could fine me Eur 300, but as he was a nice guy he was letting it go this time….
    This stupido cretino idiota does not know that I am not an Italian resident and you don’t need to pay the annual tax on your passport (who does it go to this tax anyway…) when you travel within the EU, and I was travelling between IT and GB, which to me sounds like the EU……

    Then people ask me why I live in the UK rather than Italy….. I should tell them to read your post….


    • The bit I haven’t mentioned yet…. Is when I married the lovely Mrs Sensible we joined our surnames together.

      My driving licence is Pecora Sensible-Nera. My UK passport and Italian ID is Pecora Nera. Add to the fact that I was born in Malta. Oh Lord!!

      I could do a post just on obtaining my residency. The woman ripped the form up when I wrote Pecora Sensible-Nera. She said just your cognome not your wife’s. When I showed her my driving licence, she thought is was amazing that I had married someone with a similar surname. Were we related she asked??

      In the end she used my birth certificate and wouldn’t allow my hyphenated name.


      • gosh you make things complicated for yourself Pecora Nera. hyphenated surnames!!! in Italy!!!??? where married women keep their own surname and don’t take the husband’s surname?… are you trying to change the world?


        • You should see the names on our letter box.
          Mrs Sensible
          Mr Pecora Nera
          Mr Pecora Sensible-Nera
          Mrs Landlady
          Mrs Landladies deceased nonna (she still gets monthly magazines, something like San Maria or something)
          Poste Italia throw a tizzy if they have a letter and the name is not on the box.


  4. I can tell this is going to be a long-running saga… I look forward to hearing what happens next! My wife has an old UK paper licence that she wants to change to an Italian plastic one. Maybe next time you’re in the office you wouldn’t mind asking them how this works for us? 😉


    • I will ask the man on Monday. He was very confident that he could sort my licence out quickly, but I am sure he had his fingers crossed behind his back.

      Also Italian quickly is not the same as English Quickly.


  5. Euh, Pecora…. I think that you are confusung the validity of your photocard with the validity of your licence. The paper part of your licence should give you the date of your 70th birthday…. I looked it up when my photocard expired and I ended up reading something along the line of “it only matters if you’re in the UK”. I only hand over the paper licence to police here and they’ve never asked for more.


  6. Oh, ok, I get you. You go home and rent a car to buy up all the stock of Walker’s crisps. 😀 I hope I’m going to be able to get a French licence without having renewed my photo card…. 😦 Otherwise I’m going to end up doing an unofficial tour de France with my shopping bags hanging off my vintage Raleigh bike….


  7. australian licences don’t exist in italia. they are simply not on the list and therefore they can’t be changed. so, i thought i might ask my uncle in england if i could borrow his address and, wielding my uk passport, get a british license that i can change here rather than do what looks to be a really fun thing and go for a driving test here and then wear a great big cellotaped ‘p’ plate on the back windshield that, while blocking the rearview as good as completely, also obscures the terrors coming up from behind. it turns out that my uncle is currently working for a company that is cracking down on folk that are doing that very thing.
    by the sounds of it, though, i could just say it’s an ‘austrian’ licence and draw a circle of stars on an avery sticker and apply that to the back.


  8. Did Spain and Italy have sex and produced idiots in government and services offices? Here in Spain my apartment has 3 different house numbers. 137 above the door, 141 for electricity contract, 143 for water/household waste and the Town Hall insisted for 8 months that I lived in 135. A simple conversion from UK NHS to Spanish NHS took a year where 3 times my name was mixed up and a visit to the local Spanish GP was spent with him trying to find me on the computer. My Title deeds has my middle name as “British” Citizen. And everyone wants photocopies of everything !!
    I better check to see if I need a licence to comment on a blog in Italy. Ooops. Too late 😉 Ralph


    • Hi Ralph,
      You probably don’t need a licence to comment on an Italian blog, but you will have to pay some sort of tax.

      I tried to join the local doctors and was asked to provided my UK medical card. It was rejected because it didn’t have the European flag with all the stars on it. To be honest I am not sure we were part of Europe when my card was issued. I went back the following day with the same cardboard card and it was accepted.

      The trick in Italy is always go back the following day if they say no.. because they either forget the rules or the rules have changed.


  9. Great post. I once spent the better part of a month in Italy attempting to change the date of a plane ticket. Finally had to actually go to the airport to do it! Thanks for visiting my blog.


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  13. Dear Pecora, I hope you’re well! You’ve been quiet of late. I’ve been thinking of your trials of getting an Italian driving license. I’ve heard that it’s expensive to get insurance if you have a “uk” (aka regular EU Driving License). What do you reckon? Did you have issues with that or was it purely just to get a new in date license?! Sue


    • Hi Sue,
      I am fine thanks, I have been quiet because we are just about to move house and work has gone a bit crazy, so I am running around in circles like a headless chicken.

      My UK driving licence did not affect the cost of my insurance, I changed it because it was due to expire. There are rules about how long you can drive on a UK licence in Italy, I can find you the link if you want 🙂

      If you decide to change your licence, don’t go to the local agency in your town (Agenzia Disbrigo Pratiche, this is were Mr Cretino worked) go to the main office in the city (Ufficio Motorizazione) because the local agency is just another week link in a crappy system, who just forward your documents to the main office (ufficio Motorizazione) and charges you a fee.

      If you send me a message down the contact form I will send you an e mail with as much info as I can. 😉

      PN 🙂


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