Everything you need to know about driving in Italy

When moving abroad, knowing the driving rules is essential. Read this guide to find out everything there is to know about driving in Italy.


7 minute read
Updated on 12 Jan 2023

Are you planning to move to Italy and wondering what the driving situation is like there? You're in luck – we've got all the info you need right here.

Read on to find out about:

  • Whether or not your license is valid in Italy
  • Car insurance in Italy
  • The driving rules in Italy
  • The tips for driving in Italy

Can you use your original driver’s license in Italy?

If you're planning on driving in Italy, it's important to know the rules and regulations regarding driver's licenses. As with every legal matter in European countries, there’re some differences based on the country where your license is issued from.

Driving in Italy with a driver's license issued in an EU country

Any EU, EEA, or Switzerland-issued driving license is valid in Italy. However, driving licenses with no expiration date must be exchanged within 2 years of attaining Italian residency. In any case, all foreign driving licences, whether exchanged or not, are subject to Italian legislation.

In general, you’re encouraged to exchange your international driving license for an Italian one or register it within 90 days with your local commune to make it easier to renew or replace it in case of expiration or loss.

Driving in Italy with a driver's license issued in a non-EU country

The driving license granted by a non-EU country is valid in Italy for 1 year after attaining Italian residency, provided you’ve an International Driving Permit (IDP).

An IDP is a translation of your driver’s licence that’s issued and validated by your country’s recognised authority. When driving, you need to have both the IDP and your original driver’s licence to legally drive abroad.

After the first year, depending on the agreement that Italy has with your home country, you’ll either need to exchange your foreign driver’s licence within the first year of residence or do an Italian theoretical and practical driving exam.

Non-European countries that allow exchanging of licence

Citizens of the following countries can exchange their driver’s licence for an Italian driver’s licence: Algeria, Argentina, Brazil (until January 13, 2023), Philippines, Japan, Lebanon, Macedonia, Morroco, Moldova, Monaco, South Korea, San Marino, Taiwan, Tunisia, Turkey. Keep in mind that you need to do this within your first year of residence; otherwise, you risk having to take the driving exam.

Citizens from any other non-European countries will need to sit a theoretical and practical driving exam, even if they’re experienced drivers.

Process for exchanging your driver’s license with an Italian one

Regardless of your country of origin, to exchange your licence for an Italian driver’s license, bring the following documents:

  • Bring your driver’s license along with a copy of it to the local Agency of the Ministry of Transport (Ufficio della Motorizzazione Civile)
  • Bring the original and copy of your valid ID and residence permit (if applicable)
  • Fill in the TT 2112 form
  • Provide passport photos
  • Show a medical certificate signifying your ability to drive
  • Pay a fee ranging from €9 to €30

The entire process from submitting your application to receiving your Italian driver’s licence can take approximately 4 months.

Taking a driving test in Italy: Non-Europeans who cannot exchange their licence

If you're planning taking a driving test in Italy, you'll have to go through the following process:

  • Pass a theory exam in order to obtain a learner's permit
  • Practice driving with your learner’s permit
  • Takle the practical driving exam

The best way to prepare for the theory and practical exams is to go through an autoscuola, which will cost between €600 and €700. This price includes theory classes, driving lessons, all taxes and stamps, a medical exam and both the theory (permit) and practical (driving) tests.

The theory exam for getting a driver’s licence in Italy

The theoretical exam serves the purpose of testing your knowledge of the Italian highway Code (Codice della Strada). The exam itself is multiple-choice and consists of 30 questions. You'll need to get at least 24 correct in order to pass.

You can only take the theory exam in either Italian, French or German, but you can find manuals in English.

Once you’ve passed the theoretical exam, you’ll receive your learner’s permit which means that you’re all all set to start preparing to pass the practical driving exam.

The practical driving exam for getting a driver’s licence in Italy

You can take the practical driving exam as early as 1 month after passing the theory. However, there’s a requirement that you need to have completed at least 6 driving lessons with an instructor before you’re allowed to take the driving exam.

You need to bring the following documents with you when you go to take you practical driving exam:

  • Photo identification
  • Proof of vehicle insurance (and photocopy)
  • For foreigners, a residence card (and photocopy)

Car insurance in Italy

In Italy, car insurance is applied to the vehicle rather than the individual driver. The advantage of this is that as long as your car is insured, anyone with a legal license can drive it without being added to the insurance. This can be especially useful for families because fewer pricey plans need to be purchased.

What are the types of car insurance in Italy?

The 3 types of car insurance in Italy are:

  1. Third-party liability insurance

Third-party liability insurance is a legal requirement to drive on Italian roads. This level of insurance covers you if you cause material damage to another vehicle or cause a traffic accident that results in the injury or death of another person.

The minimum cost for third-party liability insurance is between €131-€166. The exact amount of the policy depends on the type of car you own and the insurance company you choose. You can request a policy quote from your chosen insurer for free. There’re several websites where you can compare policies and get discounts from, such as facile.it and segugio.it.

  1. Persona autovetture (personal accident policy)

Persona autovetture is not legally required to drive on Italian roads, although it might be handy. It’s a yearly insurance that compensates the insured in the case of personal death, incapacity, or harm. You may get personal accident coverage for yourself or your entire family that is applicable anywhere in the world.

The cost of the personal accident policy varies on factors such as your age, health history, whether you’re a smoker or the hazardous activities you participate in (e.g. extreme sports). Many insurers offer free online policy quote or can be contacted over the phone. Companies such as Groupama, Generali, Clements Worldwide have an online calculator where you can calculate how much your personal accident policy will be.

  1. Danni autovetture (vehicle protection insurance)

Danni autovetture covers you in the event of an accident caused by you or someone else and can include entire or partial loss. The policy extends much beyond ordinary third-party liability, including coverage for:

  • Theft and fire
  • Vandalism
  • Natural disasters
  • Clash with wild animals

As with the other types of insurance, vehicle protection insurance is determined by your car model and insurer. Insuring your car against weather damage (e.g. hail) typically costs between €150 and €200. Your third-party liability insurer can provide you with a quote on the amount.

What are the driving rules in Italy?

There’re a few things that are different in Italy than in other countries. So it's important that you're aware of the following rules:

What is the speed limit in Italy?

The speed limits in Italy vary based on what type of road you’re driving on. The general speed limit rules in Italy are:

Type of roadSpeed limit
In residential areas50km/h – 70km/h (according to local signs)
Outside built-up areas90km/h – 110km/h
Highways (autostrade)130km/h

The fines for speeding in Italy can be as high as €4,400 for exceeding the speed limit by up to 60 km/h, so make sure to pay attention to the signs.

Which side of the road do people in Italy drive on?

You must drive on the right side of the road and always overtake on the left in Italy.

What are the rules for giving way on the road?

Unless instructed otherwise by signs, you must give priority to the cars coming from the right.

Tips for driving in Italy

Know the emergency number

As with all other countries that are part of the EU, there’s a single emergency number for police, the fire brigade and ambulance service — 112.

Avoid city centers

As tempting as it may be to drive everywhere, you’d be best off avoiding the congested city centers. Instead, you can park your car on the outskirts of the city and use public transport to get to the heart of the city.

Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL) areas

As if the difficulties of driving through the centre of a city in Italy isn't enough, you also have be aware of the Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL) areas. The ZTL zones mean that vehicle traffic is either limited or prohibited for the sake of pedestrians.

You need to get a permit if you want to drive through a ZTL zone. If you don’t do that, you are most certainly going to be fined even if you manage to avoid getting a ticket on the spot.

Keep your headlights on

Italian law requires all drivers to keep their headlights on at all times, even on sunny days. The reason behind this is to help other drivers distinguish your car more easily.

The fine for not having your headlights on starts at €45 and can go up to €100.

Parking in Italy

The type of parking spots in Italy are indicated by the color of their outline. The general ones you should be aware of are:

  • White line parking

White lines signify that you can park in the spot for free indefinitely or within a certain timeframe.

  • Blue line parking

The blue lines indicate that the parking spot is paid. You can pay the parking fee at the designated machines nearby or via a smartphone app.

  • Yellow line parking

Parking spots with yellow lines are exclusively for disabled people.

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