The Italian Driver’s License, Part I

[Week 42] Disaster.
[Week 42] Disaster.
How is it that the process of acquiring an Italian driver’s license is so difficult, when obviously any idiot can get behind the wheel?

Here are the steps to converting a foreign driver’s license* into an Italian one, for those interested in going through the difficult process:

  1. Locate your original driver’s license. Make sure it is not expired.
  2. Bring your original driver’s license to your embassy in Italy, and request that they produce an official translation and affix the embassy’s official stamp. This will likely cost a small amount, in my case 25€.
  3. When the document is ready, bring it to the Prefettura di Roma – Ufficio Legalizzazione. Please take note that unlike in other countries where a notary public can ‘legalize’ a document, in Italy this function is reserved for official legalization offices— in Rome there is only one.
  4. Buy marca da bollo in bulk. For everything in Italy, marca da bollo! NOTE: There are none for sale in the tabacchi right below the prefettura. They even have a “NO MARCA DA BOLLO!!!” sign right behind the cigarettes! So buy your stamps early, and from far away.
  5. Go to the Prefettura early, and get a number. It’s going to be crazy. The numbers are in a roll, held by a man inside. Ignore the queue outside the door, they already have appointments, push forward until you reach the man with the tickets or you will be stuck there forever!
  6. Wait until your number is “called”. Keep an eye on the papers with numbers stuck to the wall… that is the range of numbers being called. For instance if you are number “52” know whether you are “152” “252” “352” all the way to “952”!
  7. When called, head to the counter and hand over all your documents and marca da bollo. A man will stick them on and sign them. They will only legalize five (5) documents at a time so plan ahead!

* note that only certain countries have bilateral agreements with Italy, based on the Codice della Strada (recently revised by Law Decree n. 59 of April 18, 2011 pursuant to the EU Directive 2006/126/CE, 2009/113/CE), check out the Ministero delle Infrastrutture e dei Transporti website.

Congratulations! You’re now ready to apply for an Italian driver’s license! This was just the beginning and there is a long, long road ahead.

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