British residents have begun collecting their so-called carta di soggiorno after three months of confusion, with some of the first cards picked up in Milan this week.
The residence card, which proves the special status of Brits who were already living in Italy before Brexit, has been a source of frustration with reports of Brits not being able to access healthcare, renew work contracts and withdraw pensions without it – even though it is supposed to be optional.
While citizens’ rights campaigners have called for an urgent response to the problem, the new residence card is at least finally in production.
Amit Kothari and his daughter were among the first Brits to pick up theirs in Milan on Wednesday, announced campaign group Beyond Brexit.
“Finally, it’s a relief to have got our hands on the carta di soggiorno that, hopefully, will safeguard our rights in Italy after Brexit,” said Kothari, who first arrived in Italy when he was five months old.
He described his experience of going to the questura (police immigration office) as a third-country national as “tough”. “I hope that will be the end of it,” he added.
Other UK nationals are still no nearer to getting their hands on the long-awaited card. One Brit couldn’t take hers home with her after receiving an appointment to collect the ID card, Beyond Brexit reports. As there were errors in her personal details, she had to return it and is now waiting again.
“We strongly advise people to check the details on their cards very carefully when they go and collect them,” the group urged.
Other British residents are facing setbacks due to technical issues. Problems with taking fingerprints have slowed down obtaining the card for some, with reports of Brits returning to the questura up to three times to give their prints again.
It seems that this is a snag for those whose fingerprints are ‘worn down’ and can’t be read by the machines as easily.
One member of Beyond Brexit’s Facebook group wrote: “I had to go back to the Questura in Bergamo to redo my fingerprints. I just checked my hands and they (the fingerprints) do seem to have largely disappeared over the years.”
Italian authorities introduced the new Brexit residence card as a simple way of proving the rights of British nationals living in Italy post-Brexit. It’s valid for those who registered for residency before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31st 2020.
The new card is still not mandatory, but getting one continues to be highly recommended.
Further information on the biometric card can be found on the UK government’s website here.
If you need help applying, you can contact the International Organisation for Migration by emailing UKnationalsIT@iom.int or calling 800 684 884.
Anyone who faces difficulties in accessing services in Italy is advised to contact the British Embassy via their Living in Italy website. You can also find more information on the British in Italy website and Beyond Brexit page.