Vehicles with foreign plates are now prohibited for residents in Italy

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Recently, the Italian government passed a new law to crack down on the road tax ("bollo") evasion among other objectives. According to the road code article 93 and 132, effective December 4, 2018, Italian residents are no longer allowed to drive a vehicle with a foreign license plate on public road. Not only this, a qualified person is also prohibited to drive such vehicle registered to a relative, friend or colleague abroad.

Old 1934 Opel classic card
An Opel classic card from 1934

In Italy, in recent years, many car owners decided to register their cars in an E. U. country like Bulgaria, Romania, etc. to save on the road tax, insurance, and avoid paying fines. Especially for an owner of a car with powerful engine, the difference can come out to be up to several thousand euros per year. In Italy, the bollo (road tax) is based on the power of the engine and over certain threshold, each horsepower (or kilowatt) becomes significantly more expensive. A car with a 190-horsepower engine can easily reach 600~700 euros a year in the road tax depending on the region, whereas such car in another country would cost less than 100 euros a year in road tax.

The same can be said for insurance, whereas an average car owner has to pay 1200 euros year for just liability insurance in Naples or Milano, they only need to pay 200 euros a year in Bulgaria.

Also, in 2017, traffic police alone reported 105,982 traffic offences committed by drivers of "foreign" vehicles. Vehicles registered in Romania led the table (21,028), followed by Switzerland (9,222), France (8,475), and Bulgaria (7,775). As at 20 January, 30,653 fines were still unpaid. Therefore, to tighten its control and increase tax revenue, this is the latest tactic from the Italian state.

Under the new law, a person who has residency in Italy for more than sixty (60) days will be not be allowed to drive a foreign-plate car, nor will such person will allowed to drive such car registered to a relative or friend abroad.

The penalty for violating this law comes with a fine of at least 712 euros, and the owner is required to keep the vehicle in storage and register it in Italy within 180 days, otherwise it will be confiscated. An alternative is to pay the file and go to the motor vehicle office to request a temporary license plate to bring the vehicle out of Italy.

For those who are caught driving a company vehicle without a document showing that the vehicle is for business use ("mezzo in comodato") will have to pay a fine of 250 euros (up to 1000 euros) and the vehicle will be sequestered administratively (meaning they don't confiscate the car, you just have to keep it in storage off public road) in the meantime until the person can show such document within 30 days.

Furthermore, a new addition to article 132 states that after one year of importing a vehicle, if it is not successfully registered in Italy, the owner is obligated to send back the original plates and documents of the vehicle.


Who is not a resident of Italy, or does not have residency for more than sixty days.

The vehicle is registered to a leasing or rental-car company which itself registered abroad without a branch or headquarter in Italy.

The vehicle is registered to a company registered abroad without a branch or headquarter in Italy, but only if the driver is an employee or collaborator (such as a contractor) and is using the vehicle for business purpose. This such case, the driver should have in the vehicle a document from the company stating the title of the person who works for it and duration of usage.

Reference: Il Sole 24 Ore


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