Italian Drivers License

Patente di Guida Overview (Italian drivers license overview)

If you do not have another EU drivers license, or come from another country with which Italy has a Treaty for Exchange of License, you are going to need to go through the process to acquire an Italian license. This means the drivers exam, on road lessons and final drivers test.

You can drive on your Non EU License for ONE YEAR after getting your residency. (Note the key words “getting residency”, if you do not get a residency card, you do not need to exchange. Then again, if you do not get a residency card, you cannot buy a car. In summary – If you are just a part timer, staying only three months or less at a time on a tourist visa, don’t worry about any of this.)

Getting your License – Hard work, but rewarding

If you are not on the list of countries with treaties allowing exchange, you will have go the normal process to get your Patente di Guida, your Italian drivers license. Again, this assumes you are a card carrying resident.

The Proper Route

To get your Italian drivers license you will have to pass the theory test and have a minimum of six drivers lessons from an accredited school. The easiest way to do this is to do it all through a drivers school. The cost will vary but expect to pay between 700-1000 Euro. There are a few other costs involved and I list them at the end of the this section.

What you will need

  • Completed form MC 2112 MEC (available from Motorizzazione Civile offices)
  • A certificate from a doctor (a bit of a formality as they don’t actually examine you, just note if you have any specific items from their list that would require special restrictions if you had a license)
  • Two copies of your carta d’identità
  • Three passport sized photos
  • Copy of your Codice di Fiscale
  • One bollettini payment of 26.40 EU
  • Two bollettini payments of 16 EU
  • Your Permesso/Carta di Soggiorno.

There is another 16 EU Bollottini for the test itself and you will have to pay 40 EU to take the test and 50 for the final road test.

If you skip the drivers school you can save perhaps 400 EU, keep in mind the drivers school takes care of all the bureaucracy, and they know the system inside out. So unless you are fluent in Italian and have a cousin that works in the drivers office, you may consider it money well spent.

Alternate but risky

Because getting an Italian license requires a significant commitment, not to mention, a fairly decent level of Italian language skills, there are a fair amount of people who just keep their foreign license current, and also carry an International Drivers Permit and keep on driving. As far as my personal knowledge goes, I have not come across anyone who was stopped and had their license confiscated. But, and this is the important “BUT”, it could happen. The IDP is not really a permit to drive. It is just a translation. However, Italian police do seem to accept this document. We were stopped once and I forgot to give my IDP to the officer. He looked at my American license and, after looking at my residence card got very angry when he saw I was well over the year limit. He was going to yank my license. Eventually I pulled out the IDP and show it to him hoping it would make a difference, and it was a 180 degree turn. Oh! Well, thats different. Everything is fine. Have a nice day.

Another thing to take into consideration is insurance. Is your insurance company going to try and deny paying a claim on this technicality? Again, I have not personal knowledge of this happening, but…..is it worth the risk?

The Theory Exam and Driving Lessons

This is the hurdle. The really big hurdle. 40 questions, true/false. You can only get four wrong, There are many questions worded in a tricky manner and the categories that the questions are drawn from are seemingly endless. There is a pool questions 7000 deep they can draw from. Even when you mention to Italians that you are studying for the drivers test they roll their eyes, nod and say. Good luck.

You will have to study study study. I will detail the order I did it in and explain why.

  • Step One. You will need learn the driving rules. You can find multi language manuals on Amazon BUT…in my opinion these are not very useful. What you really need to do is “study to the test”, and to do this you need access to all the questions. Good news! There are good web resources for this. My favorite is Patentati.it This site has full tests, tests by specific category, all the questions with the true/false answers listed by category, and other sections listing the most frequently missed questions. Get a user ID and it will keep track of all your practice tests and the error rates. I recommend spending a good deal of time here before going to drivers school. Doing it in this order will give solid foundation in all the specific terms used and, assuming you are not fluent in Italian, will give you a fighting chance to keep up. Take ALL the Quiz by Argument and then Full Quizzes until you are mad that you got more than two wrong.
  • Step Two. Drivers school. You will have a bunch of lectures. Usually about half an hour each long. Either in person, or online. You will use their software which is designed to lead you though it all category by category with multiple practice until you have it mastered. They will also handle all the bureaucracy involved which is a nice thing to not have to worry about.
  • Step Three. After you pass the written (theory) test, you will have to take on road lessons, so it might as well be with the people you have become comfortable with at the school. Again, they will handle all the bureaucracy needed to do the final on road exam.

Useful Study Resources

We ended up with a pretty decent collection of charts and summary sheets. All those intersection diagrams and the precedence of who goes when. (Honestly, none of these intersections exist in real life!!!) License categories. Vehicle categories, signs and all the categories they come from. Just a bunch of stuff that you absolutely have to know and the only way is to memorize them.

Professoressa Heidi’s Study Tips

As a former college study skills instructor, I was able to apply what I used to teach my students to studying for the esame di patente.  My level of Italian is about an A2, but with the help of Google Translate, I learned the information I needed to pass the test.   We started studying using www.patentati.it.  The questions from this site were more like the ones on the actual test.  Our driving school app was good; it came with a manual and lots of test questions, but they were often more difficult than the website.  I was assured that the driving school questions were harder because then when you took the actual test, you would find it very easy.  They were correct!

Hint #1

If your Italian language skills are not great, even an A2 level is not really enough, start on the patentati site about a month before starting autoscoula.  By the time we started school, I could understand what the instructor was talking about during the lectures.  Otherwise, you will be lost and waste money and time.   I did this for at least two to three hours a day.

First, I used the section that had all the questions listed by argomento (category).   I read all the true questions and took notes as I read.  By not reading the false questions, I found that when I came across a questions I didn’t recognize, it was probably false.  Some of my notes, for example, the types of licenses, can be found under the How to Study for the Exam tab.   I took notes in English, and in my own words as much as possible.  I wrote them first and typed them up formally after a few weeks.  Writing notes by hand is a proven memory strategy.  After I read them through and took notes, I did all the quizzes for each argomento.  Some have five, some have twelve; it depends on the importance of the section.  The repetition helps so much!

Hint #2

I started making vocabulary lists and posted them above my desk.  I revised it several times; it was quick to look up when I needed a translation.  Eventually, you won’t need it much as you learn more and more useless (except for the test) words.  Again, my vocabulary lists, in alphabetical order, are under the How to Study tab.

Hint #3

On sections that were more complicated, I made flash cards and kept them in places I knew I could review them at various times throughout the day:  the bathroom, next to the bed, refrigerator, etc.  I also made full size paper signs with the rules and put them up around the television.  It helped that my husband was studying too.   

Hint #4

Set a date to start school.  If you don’t have a date, you keep putting it off.  If you study a little here and a little there, you’ll not remember anything.  It has to be a month or more of concentrated study.  I don’t say this to discourage you, but to help you see what it takes to be successful.   I have taken the Graduate Record Exam and the Miller’s Analogies test for graduate school.  I have never, ever studied so hard for a test in my entire life, and it was so worth it!  I have also never felt such a sense of accomplishment as when I was told “promosso!”  The other thing we noticed is that when Italians hear you passed this test, they are very impressed and share their experiences some of the crazy questions.

We still have to do the actual on road driving test, but after 40 some years of driving, I don’t anticipate any issues with it.  

Convert Foreign License (If conversion allowed)

To convert a foreign license the holder should go to the nearest Provincial Office of Motor Vehicles (Ufficio Provinciale della Motorizzazione Civile) and be prepared to provide the following:

  • Application form TT 2112 (obtained at the Office of Motor Vehicles or by clicking here)
  • The foreign license and at least one clear photocopy of front and back
  • Official translation of the license (may not be required)
  • Valid ID and at least one photocopy of the front and back
  • Residence permit and at least two photocopies of the front and back
  • Two recent passport photographs (white background, head uncovered), signed on the reverse
  • Medical certificate, with photographs, issued within the previous six months certifying that the driver is physically and mentally fit
  • Receipt of payment of the fee (for the current fee amount, inquire at the Office of Motor Vehicles)

Requirements may vary by regional office.  The original licence will be retained or stamped as exchanged. Expect the process to take up to four months after which an Italian licence will be issued.

For licenses issued by Argentina and Romania, proof of authenticity must also be provided. This can only be obtained from the Italian Consulate in those countries.

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