All about international driver’s license for Italy: First step to drive legally in EU as a foreigner

By mina
28 May 2024
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Photo of International drvier's license for italy

If you’re a foreign student planning to study in Italy, navigating the Italian roads can be an exciting way to explore the country. This guide covers everything you need to know about international driver’s license for Italy to drive legally in Italy, from short-term visits using an international driver’s license (or permit) for Italy to converting your foreign driver’s license for long-term stays.

Short-term stay up to 12 months : International driver’s license for Italy

If you are in Italy for a short period up to 12 months, you can drive with your valid foreign driver’s license and you should also carry an international driver’s license. 

  1. Obtain an International driver’s license in your home country:
    • What is an international driver’s license for Italy? An international driver’s license is an official, multi-language translation of your driver’s license. It supplements your home country’s driver’s license and makes it easier for local authorities in Italy to understand and validate your driving credentials.
    • Where to get an international driver’s license for Italy: You must obtain the international driver’s license for Italy in your home country before traveling to Italy. Typically, it is issued by national automobile associations or motor vehicle departments. For example, in the United States, the AAA (American Automobile Association) and AATA (American Automobile Touring Alliance) are authorized to issue international driver’s license.
    • Requirements: You will need a valid driver’s license, passport-sized photos, and a completed application form. There may also be a small fee.
    • Validity: An international driver’s license is usually valid for one year from the date of issue.
  2. Carry both licenses:
    • Always carry both your original driver’s license and the international driver’s license while driving in Italy.
  3. No reciprocity agreement needed:
    • You do not need a reciprocity agreement for an international driver’s license for Italy. The international driver’s license is universally recognized and independent of any specific country-to-country agreements.
Photo of international driver's license for Italy

Long-term stay (students and residents)

For those planning to stay in Italy for more than 12 months, you’ll need to either convert your foreign driver’s license to an Italian one or obtain an Italian driver’s license. The process varies depending on your country of origin.

EU/EEA Citizens:

  • Recognition:
    • If you have a driver’s license from another EU/EEA country, it is recognized in Italy.
  • Exchange (Recommended):
    • While it’s not mandatory, exchanging your EU/EEA license for an Italian one is recommended for convenience.

Non-EU/EEA Citizens:

Check reciprocity agreements:

  • Some countries have agreements with Italy allowing for a direct exchange of licenses without a driving test. Check with the local Motorizzazione Civile, which is the government office in Italy responsible for vehicle registration, driver licensing, roadworthiness tests, and related administrative activities. Alternatively, you can check with the Italian embassy in your home country to see if your country has such an agreement.

Translation and legalization:

  • If your country does not have a reciprocity agreement, you may need an official translation of your license. This can be done through a certified translator or an Italian consulate.

Apply for conversion:

Visit the local Motorizzazione Civile office in Italy with your documents. You’ll need:

  • Your original driver’s license and a copy
  • An official translation of the license
  • Passport or permesso di soggiorno (Italian residence permit )
  • Codice fiscale (Italian tax code)
  • Certificato medico (medical certificate) from an authorized doctor. This certificate must attest to your physical and mental fitness to drive, specifically confirming good vision—including peripheral vision and the ability to distinguish colors—and adequate hearing. It should also verify your general physical fitness to operate a vehicle without any medical conditions that could impair driving ability, such as serious heart conditions or epilepsy.
  • Passport-sized photos
  • Application form (available at the office)

Written and Practical Exams:

  • If a direct exchange is not possible, you may need to take the Italian written and practical driving exams.
photo of international driver's license for Italy

General tips for taking the driving test in Italy

  • Language: The theoretical part of the driving test is in Italian. It’s really important to have a good understanding of the language.
  • Driving Schools: Consider enrolling in a driving school. They offer courses to help you prepare for the exams and understand Italian road rules.
  • Insurance: Make sure your car insurance is valid in Italy. Some international policies might cover this, but if not, you’ll need to get Italian car insurance.

Driving in Italy can enhance your experience as a student, giving you the freedom to explore the beautiful landscapes and historic cities at your own pace. By understanding and following these regulations, you can enjoy your time on the road safely and legally. Happy driving!

Follow Go! Go! Italia’s blog and social media for more useful info about living in Italy.

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