In the latter quarter of 2018, Matteo Salvini successfully pushed for a controversial package of new laws to come into effect, ostensibly to make it more difficult for asylum seekers to find refuge in Italy. However, there are also consequences for other expats living in the country. Here, we shed light on two of the driving regulations that have come into effect as a result of the new laws, and explain how they might affect expats.
Driving A Foreign Vehicle In Italy
The new regulations are intended to stop vehicles that were registered abroad being driven in Italy, which is a potential problem for a number of expats. Until this law was passed, cars with foreign number plates were permitted to be on the road for up to one year, as long as they weren’t in the country for more than six of those 12 months. However, a new clause in the Highway Code states that it is now “forbidden for anyone who has resided in Italy for more than 60 days to drive a vehicle registered abroad”. Essentially, if you bring your car to Italy with you when you move, you now have just two months to get it registered.
The new rules apply to foreign nationals and Italian citizens alike. As well as putting pressure on migrants to get their paperwork in order quickly, another aim is to crack down on Italian people who drive cars registered abroad in order to unlawfully save money by avoiding tax, saving on insurance bills or escaping fines for dangerous driving. The same rules apply to vehicles registered in the EU and further afield – unless the licence plates are Italian, they need to be swapped.
Do The New Rules Affect Foreign Company Cars?
Theoretically, company cars are exempt from the new regulations as exceptions are made for vehicles leased from companies outside Italy but within the European Economic Area; that is, EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
However, if you drive such a car, you are responsible for carrying documents with you to prove who the car belongs to as well as the length of time of your authorisation to use it. If you are found driving a foreign-plated car without the necessary paperwork, you are liable to pay a fine of between €250 and €1000 and will be required to produce the relevant documents within 30 days of being caught.
What Happens If I Fail To Act On The New Regulations?
Any resident found driving a foreign-registered car illegally faces a fine of anything between €712 and €2848. If caught, you will be ordered to keep your vehicle off road until its plates have been swapped, and you must begin the process of registering it in Italy within 180 days or else risk the authorities seizing it from you.
What Steps Should I Take?
If you intend to drive in Italy long term, you will need to register your vehicle with both the Motorizzazione Civile (Motor Vehicles Office) and the Pubblico Registro Automobilistico (Public Vehicle Registry). Only legal residents can do this, so the first thing you will need to do is secure your permesso di soggiorno (residence permit) or, if you’re an EU citizen, your certificate di residenza (proof of residence). You will also need your codice fiscale (personal tax code).
Additionally, you will need to inform the licensing authority in your home country that you will no longer be using your car there. You will have to show the Italian authorities official proof of deregistration, as well as proof that you own the car.
New Eco Tax On Polluting Cars
Another new regulation that may impact on expats is the eco-tax on high-polluting cars. From March 1st 2019, anyone buying a new car in Italy will be liable to pay a penalty for choosing a polluting model – but they could also benefit from discounts of up to €6000 when opting for an electric vehicle.
This new eco-tax and eco-bonus scheme, which kicks in from March 1st 2019 until the end of 2021, is intended to address Italy’s air pollution problem by encouraging car buyers to purchase lower-emitting models.
Which Cars Does It Apply To?
The scheme applies to brand-new vehicles which were purchased and registered in Italy between March 1st 2019 and December 31st 2021, including those bought for the purposes of leasing. It does not affect anyone buying used cars or vehicles already on the road. The eco-tax only applies to larger models, although some are exempt – camper vans, ambulances and adapted cars for wheelchair access, for example.
The eco-bonus also applies to mopeds, scooters and motorbikes as well as cars. A car must produce 70 grams of carbon dioxide or less per kilometre to be eligible, while two-wheelers must be electric or hybrid, with a maximum power of 11 kilowatts, and they must be replacing a higher-polluting model.
How Much Is The Eco-Tax?
The tax is variable and will be calculated in accordance with how much carbon dioxide is emitted by a car. Here’s how much will be added to the price depending on how many grams of CO2 are produced per kilometre:
• 161 to 175g/km = €1,100
• 176 to 200g/km = €1,600
• 201 to 250g/km = €2,000
• More than 250g/km = €2,500
How Is The Tax Paid?
The tax must be paid using the F24 payment form (the same form that is used for income taxes and other contributions), under reference code 3500. Either the person buying the new car, or the person to whom it is registered, can pay the tax.
How Much Is The Eco-Bonus?
The eco-bonus depends on what type of vehicle you are buying, how much CO2 it produces and whether you are trading in an older model.
• Cars that produce less than 20g of CO2 per km: €6,000 if you’re trading in a car rated Euro 1-4 for EU emissions standards, or €4,000 if not.
• Cars that produce between 70g and 20g of CO2 per km: €2,500 with a trade-in, or €1,500 without.
• Electric or hybrid two-wheel vehicles: If you exchange for a similar vehicle rated Euro 0-2, you can claim 30% off the price of a new vehicle, up to the value of €3,000 (excluding VAT).
How Do I Claim The Eco-Bonus?
The effort for buyers is minimal, as the bonus will be applied directly when you pay for your new vehicle, in the form of a pre-tax discount.
The story is rather different for car dealers, as they will now have to register with the government’s online service and request discounts for specific vehicles. They will then have to use the sales records to claim the discount back from the car maker or importer, who can finally claim the cost from the Italian government in the form of a tax credit.
For more details on the eco-bonus, see the government’s information site.
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