If you are planning on driving in Italy, you first need to make sure that you are legally permitted to do so. You must be at least 18 years old.
If you come from an EU member state, you can keep using your original license until it runs out. Then you must apply for an Italian license. The way to do so is listed further below. However, please keep in mind that all driver’s licenses in Italy have to be renewed every five to ten years. This applies to foreign EU licenses as well.
If your license was not issued in an EU country, then you must use an International Driving Permit. You can get this permit in your home country, either from the local department of motor vehicles or the local automotive club. The International Driving Permit is legal in Italy for one year after your arrival. After that period, you need to apply for an Italian driver’s license.
There are two ways of obtaining an Italian driver’s license. Some countries have an agreement with Italy, which allows their citizens to simply exchange their foreign license for an Italian one. They have to take neither the written nor the practical test.
You need to go to the local department of motor vehicles (Ufficio Provinciale della Motorizzazione Civile) with your original license and the International Driving Permit. You need to fill out the required forms, have an eyesight certificate from a vision test, and pay the application fee. The Driver’s Portal, although in Italian, is very useful for drivers and first-time test-takers, as it provides a lot of the necessary forms online as PDFs.
If you do not come from a country that has such a license exchange agreement with Italy, the process is a bit more extensive. Along with your old license, passport, residence permit, and photos, you need to provide a certificate proving your physical and visual health. Then you must take a written test, which consists of multiple-choice questions in Italian. The theory exam is followed by the practical test on the open road with an instructor.
Renewal of Italian licenses is as follows: every 10 years for people under 50, and every five years for people between 50 and 70. After the age of 70, you must renew your driver’s license every three years, with frequent medical and vision tests.
Rules on Italian roads differ only slightly from most other European cities. Keep in mind that Italians drive on the right-hand side and pass on the left. Other slight distinctions are described below.
Italy’s speed limits are as follows:
Be sure to keep an eye out for signs and sudden changes in speed limits. Speed cameras have been installed, and police in Italy are cracking down on speeders and issuing substantial fines on the spot.
Seatbelts are compulsory for all passengers in a car, and children under the age of 12 are not allowed to ride in the front seat. Children up to the age of four must have appropriate child restraints. The driver and all passengers will be equally fined if these laws are not obeyed.
Driving while intoxicated is unacceptable in Italy. A maximum amount of 0.5‰ BAC is allowed, though. Drivers within three years of gaining their license cannot have any alcohol in their system while driving. If you are caught, you will face serious charges.
The use of handheld mobile phones by drivers is strictly forbidden.
Be sure to carry your driver’s license and car registration papers on you at all times. If you happen to be subjected to a random police control and you have neither, you will be fined and possibly have your car impounded.
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