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Shipping Your Car to Italy

Shipping Your Car to Italy? My Car Hates It Here

by The Travel Captain

My car hates Italy and Italy hates my car.  Getting my car registered in Italy has been the bane of my existence since I moved here.  Read My First Impressions of Moving to A Small Town in Italy.   If you’re thinking about shipping your car to Italy, Think Again.  There are tales of expats who successfully manage to import their car to Italy and get it registered.  These successes are few and far between.  I was convinced I’d be that special someone that made it even after reading every single website on the subject saying don’t do it.

Chances are your car will sit in a garage, unregistered and un-driveable for months and months until you decide to finally give up and get it impounded.  Impounded because you can’t sell it for at least 12 months if an import.  Wish I was joking.  I’m halfway to this point now.  Wine and gelato help me forget.  Positive note… I’ve heard I can sell it for parts in Nigeria.

You might be thinking this when shipping your car to Italy:

But I did the math. It’s still cheaper to ship my car to Italy and pay the registration fees than it is to buy a similar car in Italy.  I have all the required paperwork listed on the website, what else do I need?

You’re so naive.  If only it were that simple.  That was me about three months ago.  Then I realized that no matter how much paperwork you have, you’ll need more.  Some of the paperwork is almost impossible to get.  And even when you have that paperwork, the chief bad ass at the Motorizzazione (Department of Motor Vehicle equivalent) has no interest in helping you get your car registered.  Why?  Because he’s lazy and probably has no idea how to deal with the registration of a foreign car.

Over the Edge

I had hope… until two days ago ….when the remote to enter my car stopped working.  It put me over the edge.  For the last two months I have been on the phone with consulates, embassies, several agencies who assist with car registration in Italy (Pratiche Auto), government authorities, customs, salespeople at dealerships, the list is endless.  All so I can get the car I rightfully own registered with Italian license plates. But the world of foreign drivers in Italy is conspiring against me.

I kicked the tire, threw the key against the wall and gave my husband that Don’t even talk to me right now, this is all your fault for moving me to this backward country stare.  The only way to start the car is with the stupid remote.  And if the remote stops working, it has to be reprogrammed with a special code.  Only from the dealer of course.  The closest dealer to me?  About 50km away which requires a $250 tow each way plus the ridiculous cost to reprogram the key.  Why the tow?  Because the car is not registered, so that means its not insured and hence, not allowed on the road.  Like I said, my car hates Italy and Italy hates my car even more.

Shipping Your Car to Italy, When It’s Okay (Maybe)

I would advise you against shipping your car to Italy unless:

    • You are an Italian citizen returning home after living abroad
    • Your car’s last country of circulation was somewhere inside the E.U.
    • If not Italian, you are already in possession of a Permesso Di Soggiorno (residency permit).  Permits can sometimes take up to 6-8 months to get.  So make sure you have one first and then make arrangements to ship your car.  In some cases, the Motorizzazione will accept that your application is in process for the Permesso but sometimes they won’t.  It’s a gamble.  And you must have your car registered within 6 months of it reaching port so it’s a big risk to ship the car without the Permesso Di Soggiorno already in hand
    • You have an Italian Driver’s License (this is no easy task unless your license belongs to a list of countries that Italy will transfer it for (a U.S. License is not on this list).  Or you have an International Driver’s License which eventually will need to turn into an Italian one.  Your Italian must be top notch and you will have to study like hell to get this license
    • Sign off from Cetoc – an agency which certifies that your car’s make and model (European brand or not) is fit to drive in Italy (cost 200 Euro). It’s really about carbon emissions here.  Cetoc will classify your car in one of several categories so the Motorizzazione will know how much to tax you based on your car’s emissions. They say this certification is only for Italian citizens but Motorizzazione will ask you for it anyway, no matter what passport you hold.  Cetoc will ask you to find the silver tag on the car stating the chassis number and weight which the front and rear wheel base can hold.  (Of course my car doesn’t have this on its tag, only the chassis no)
    • The original registration translated to Italian.  And stamped by the Italian Consulate in the country where your car was bought and registered.  If you have the original purchase invoice, bring it.
    • A self declaration from your own consulate stating that you were resident in the country you’re moving from and that you are the rightful owner of the car.  It helps to have the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the country which you lived first stamp/attest the car registration if you are not a citizen of the country you were living in. Obviously do this and the step above before shipping your car to Italy.  I didn’t.
    • Some sort of proof that the car was in circulation in the previous country.  Insurance from previous years for example
    • Customs Bill of Entry for the car (At the moment the moving company which delivered my goods is holding this ransom because they want more money for port charges)

If the above still does not work at the Motorizzazione in your province in Italy, try a different province.  However, the car will need to be physically present in that province at registration as the vehicle inspection test takes place close to the Motorizzazione.  And again, if the car is not allowed to be on the road, you’ll need a tow bed to get it there.

Good Luck with Shipping Your Car to Italy!

Feel free to leave me any questions or suggestions in the comments below.



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