Surviving Brexit: It may be your last chance to apply for residency as EU citizens

On 23 June 2016, the UK held a referendum on its membership of the EU. The question facing voters was: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”. 51.89% of voters voted to leave the EU. The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.

The agreement between Great Britain and the European Union states that the Brexit transition will end on 31 December 2020  until then European regulations on the freedom of movement of people, services, capital and goods will continue to be valid for the United Kingdom.

Moreover, the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement provides that British people who are already lawfully resident in an EU country have the right to remain there, and that includes people who move between Brexit day and the end of the transition period.

What can you do?

The intent of the government is to “protect citizens who built their lives on the basis of the rights deriving from the United Kingdom’s membership of the EU”.

This means that, as things stand, you can still apply as a EU member state citizen until 31 December 2020 and most of the EU member benefits will carry forward after Brexit provided that the application is submitted before Brexit date. Therefore, you are allowed to move to Italy during this period, and it should be inally advisable to take this opportunity as things are set to get a lot more complicated after the 2020 deadline.

It is important to highlight that Italy has been the first country within the European Union to provide guarantees to British citizens in post-Brexit Europe, even in case of “no deal”.

For this reason on 25 March 2019, the Italian government adopted the Brexit Decree (Legislative Decree no. 22 converted into law no. 41 of 20 May 2019), explicitly aimed at “ensuring financial stability and market integrity, the protection of British citizens rights who reside in Italy, as well as the strengthening of the consular network in the United Kingdom and assistance to the Italian community there”.

In particular, article 14 states that “Provisions regarding residency of United Kingdom citizens and their family members, even if they are not nationals of a Member State of the European Union, are present on the national territory at the date of Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union”.

This means, that a British citizen who is registered as a resident in Italy by 31 December 2020 will retain their right to stay in Italy and enjoy the Italian universal health care system, education, entitlement to work, etc.

We know that around one million Britons live in other European countries of whom about 60,000 are based in Italy. They will be allowed to move within the EU countries with no limitations until the end of 2020. Moreover, if you have lived in Italy for five years or more, you will be eligible for a permanent residence permit.


PAY ATTENTION: If you are not registered as a resident, unfortunately, having lived in Italy for many years does not qualify you to stay and live in Italy.


If you are one of many British people who have been chasing their dream of relocating to Italy, as a retirement plan or simply to start a new life in the sun, it could be your last chance to make your dream come true.

Indeed, after 31 December 2020, standard immigration provisions applicable to citizens of non-EU and non-Schengen countries shall apply to British citizens who are not registered as Italian residents at the time of Brexit. Therefore, for example, British citizens will be allowed to stay in Italy for no longer than 90 days within any period of 180 days.

If you wish to be prepared from this new scenario in the best possible way, it is advisable to appoint a specialised professional to go through your personal circumstances and goals ni order to be ready to take action and eventually submit your applications by the end of 2020.

Planning is the key to minimize the negative effects and maximize the benefits of some opportunities that are still available for the next few months.  It is important to bear in mind that, traditionally, most Italian public offices significantly slow down their activities before the Christmas break. If you are planning to become an Italian resident, it is advisable making plans to do so by the end of October 2020.

We can help you to survive Brexit!

Our International Law Firm is available to assist British citizens during the process of obtaining Permanent Residency in Italy. For detailed and personalized advice, do not hesitate to contact our Immigration Department.

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