Guide To Buying a Car in Italy as a Foreigner

Most of the best cars in the world are from Italian brands. That’s why who wouldn’t dream of purchasing a car in Italy? Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini: name it, and Italy has got it all. 

Foreigners can buy a car in Italy. However, they cannot legally own it. They have to be residents of Italy to purchase a car in the country and drive it with an Italian registration.

If you want to buy a car and stay in Itlay for a long time, it’s worth undergoing the process of becoming a resident. Yet, buying a car in a foreign country is never easy. If you are that motivated, read this helpful guide to buying a car in Italy as a foreigner.

Can you buy a car in Italy as a foreigner? 

Can a foreign national buy a car in Italy? Yes, and no – only residents are eligible to purchase and own a car in Italy.

It can be highly beneficial if you have your car to make your stay in Italy as comfortable as possible. It allows you to access vast swathes of the country that are hard to access by public transport and frees you from having to rely on public transport to get around the country.

However, if you are a foreigner, the one thing that might be bogging your mind is whether you can buy a car in the country. The answer is yes, but they will require a residency status before you can legally register your vehicle.

To buy a car in Italy with an Italian registration plate, you must be registered as a local resident and will require:

  • Residency certificate (Certificato di Residenza)
  • Tax code (Codice Fiscale)
  • Identification document*
  • Proof of car insurance (Assicurazione)  – at least third-party liability

*An identification document is required for the registration of the vehicle with the Traffic Control Authority (Motorizzazione Civile) as well as for the registration of the act of sale with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (Pubblico Registro Automobilistico) run by the Italian Automobile Club (Automobile Club d’Italia).

Buying new vs used car

The process of buying a new car is easier than for used vehicles. New cars are available at dealerships and car garages; used cars are offered mainly by private sellers. If you decide to buy a car from a person, there are many things you should be looking at.

Besides, dealers will do all paperwork on your behalf, while with a private purchase, you will face it on your own. The biggest milestone is to complete an ownership transfer. Which isn’t very complex, assuming you have all documents at hand.

The ownership transfer can be done at the local office of the Automobile Club Italiano (ACI) or the office of the Mottorizzazione Civile. You should go there together with the previous owner. The transfer should be done within 60 days of buying the car.

The documents you need to transfer ownership of a used car:

  • Act of sale (Atto di Vendita)
  • Vehicle documents (Certificato di Proprietà)
  • Car registration certificate (Carta di Circolazione)
  • EU nationals must have a Residence Certificate (Certificato di Residenza)
  • Personal tax codes of the buyer and seller (Codice Fiscale)
  • Non-EU citizens must have a copy of their Residence Permit (Certificato di Residenza).

Where to look for a car in Italy?

One of the best ways to find a car in Italy is to look at online car marketplaces. There you will see both used and new vehicles.

Automobile.it

Automobile.it is one of the largest websites to buy and sell a car in Italy. At the moment of writing, there are over 163,000 used vehicles available. If you are looking to buy a new car, you can choose one of over 16,000 available right now.

Autoscout24.it

Autoscout24 is the largest marketplace for vehicles in Europe. In most countries, they have a dedicated site in the local language with local offers. You can pick one of over 320,000 currently available on the website.

Driving license

To drive your car in Italy, you need a valid driving license. Foreign nationals with an international driving license can use it only for a year during their first year of residency in Italy.

After this period, EU citizens must get them authenticated or converted into Italian licenses. The process isn’t that complicated. On the other hand, non-EU nationals must obtain an Italian license which will take a significant amount of time and money.

Car ownership in Italy

Since you already learned that non-residents of Italy or EU member states can purchase but cannot legally own a car in Italy, let’s dive in deeper about car ownership in the country.

In our example, suppose you are a foreigner living in Italy with a residence in another country. In this situation, there is still a legal barrier to owning a car in Italy. Even if you own a property, business, or legitimate interests in Italy, in such cases, you are not allowed to own a vehicle there.

As far as foreign car ownership is concerned, Italian legislation is very restrictive and absolute. As a further clarification of this issue, we would like to distinguish between the following:

  • Citizens from EU countries
  • Citizens from non – EU countries

EU citizens

Citizens from the EU Member States who live in Italy and own a property or have business relations or legitimate interests in Italy can own and register a vehicle in the Public Motor Registry.

At the time of registration, the EU citizen should indicate a legal domicile in Italy, which shall appear on the registration and ownership documents.

Citizens of non-EU countries

With a visa permit, citizens who aren’t Italian or non-EU residents can drive in Italy with a car for one year with a special EE plate after registering it at the Public Motor Registry. Foreign citizens can only own and operate a vehicle if they have a visa permit and legally reside in an Italian municipality.

How to register a car in Italy?

The most important part of owning a car in Italy is its registration. Without official registration, vehicles can not be used on Italian roads. However, if you are buying a used car, it’s already registered, so you can skip this step and continue with the transfer of ownership.

What if you bring a car from abroad? Vehicles used in Italy for over 60 days with foreign license plates and the owner is permanently residing in Italy must be registered (or registration should be in progress), and the license plates changed within 180 days. In the absence of this, the vehicle will be detained with imminent penalties.

Non-compliance with legal requirements may result in a fine of €7,953. Moreover, during the registration process, you cannot use the vehicle. A violation of this provision may also result in the imposition of penalties. 

How much does a car registration cost?

To register a used car, you will spend around €300 on average.

  • €27.00 to be paid to ACI
  • €32.00 stamp duty to register with the PRA
  • €32.00 for the issue of the registration certificate
  • €10.20 for transport rights
  • and a variable amount for the registration tax and the number plates

If you buy a new car purchase, a professional representative or agency can also handle the registration (for an intermediation fee). But, you can also register your vehicle without the assistance of an intermediary agency if you wish to do so. Here’s the procedure:

The registration of a foreign car with the motor vehicle registration office  (Motorizzazione Civile italiana) has the following steps:

  1. Prior check: all vehicle documents, e.g., technical specifications of the car and VAT obligations, are examined by authorities.
  2. Issue of the registration certificate
  3. Registration in the Public Vehicle Register (PRA): must be made within 60 days of issuing the registration certificate.

Car registration for new vehicles in Italy

Since it’s a new car, you probably have acquired it from a dealer. Hence, the first step is to bring the following document to the car dealership:

  • a valid ID
  • your tax code
  • TT2120 form

After that, a seller is required to deliver those documents to the respective authorities. You only need to wait for the plates, the vehicle registration document, and the certificate of ownership.

Car registration for vehicles brought to Italy

If you bring your foreign car to Italy, it must go through the full registration process with some additional steps.

Step 1: Visit the motor vehicle registration office

For successful car registration, you must visit the provincial motor vehicle registration office (UMC – Motorizzazione Civile) and register with the Public Vehicle Register (PRA). You will need to bring the following documents to obtain a new registration certificate:

Documents do you need for the registration:

  • Copy of the buyer’s ID (residence permit in Italy)
  • Tax code
  • Copy of an Italian residence permit
  • Complete set of documentation for the vehicle is required. If the registration certificate consists of several parts, you must bring them all. On the other hand, in the case of “new” vehicles, there is no need for a registration certificate.
  • Foreign registration certificate
  • NP2C form
  • NP2D form – if the purchase agreement was drawn up with the seller’s signature authenticated by a notary and stamped
  • Form TT 2110 completed and signed by the buyer
  • European Certificate of Conformity (or CoC) with Italian approval

Afterward, the vehicle must be registered into Public Vehicle Register (Pubblico Registro Automobilistico – PRA) within 60 days from the date of issuance of the new registration certificate).

Step 2: Registration at Public Vehicle Register

Applicants must submit their applications at the Automobile Club d’Italia (PRA – Public Vehicle Register). You will be able to obtain a certificate of ownership here.

While this document is not necessary to be able to use a vehicle, the owner should keep it. You will use this to support any future queries that may need to be made at the “PRA” – Public Vehicle Register (changes in ownership, vehicle export, loss report, etc.) on the car.

You don’t have to worry about the registration of vehicles with foreign license plates if the car is:

  • Leased or rented to third parties by a company based in another EU country or within the EFTA area. Furthermore, it should be based at a permanent or temporary address outside Italy through a company having the location mentioned above.

or

  • Allowed to use for people who live in Italy for work reasons or cooperate with an EU or EFTA company with a permanent or temporary seat outside Italy

The whole process usually takes about 3 days to complete. Regardless of the situation, you must always carry vehicle documents signed by the holder with the date on which the vehicle may be used.

Buying a car in Italy for export

If you don’t wish to go through the nitty-gritty of becoming an Italian resident and registering your car in the country, you may opt to buy your car from there and export it to your homeland. 

There has been a change to the regulations that apply to the export of motor vehicles or trailers across the Italian border. This information is vital if you wish to export a car from Italy. Here’s how the new process goes:

The first thing that you need to do is to request the cancellation of your car from the national vehicle archive PRA Pubblico Registro Automobilistico.

You may do this by returning the relevant plates and the registration certificate to ACI (Automobile Club Italia) or directly to the Ufficio della Motorizzazione (Department of Motor Vehicles).

Cancellation is granted on the condition that a vehicle must pass inspection at the latest six months after the date of cancellation request in order to qualify for cancellation.

It is only possible to cross the border with the canceled vehicle if it’s equipped with Foglio di Via (road permit for vehicles going for import/export) and a temporary plate provided by ACI.

Used car prices in Italy

There are several reasons why Italy would be a good place to purchase a used car: the prices are attractive, and there is a wide selection of vehicles to choose from.

Italy, being so close to France and being the birthplace of a number of the world’s most famous car manufacturers, may represent an excellent place for used car buyers to consider. As always, the more expensive the vehicle you are looking for, the greater the chances of getting a good deal on it.

Here’s some info on used car prices in Italy:

Car modelPrice
2016 BMW X3 18D SDRIVE€20,950
2017 Peugeot 3008 1.6 BLUEHDI€22,500
2015 Mini Countryman 2.0 SD€16,500
2014 Volkswagen Sharan 2.0€12,990
2017 Renault Kadjar 1.5 DCI€18,500
Source: ooyo.com

Just remember that before buying a used car in Italy, make sure to test-drive it. Check if it is still in good condition and ask all the questions you need from the seller. After all, if you have already agreed to buy it and you found out that there’s something wrong, it’s not easy to back out from the deal.

Anna

Anna is an experienced expat and writer. She has been living abroad for over 6 years.

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