Buying a car in Italy

Buying a Car in Piedmont

A car is essential for getting around these beautiful parts of Piedmont Italy. How easy is it to buy a car?

Owning a car in Italy

The first thing you need to know is that you have to have residency to own a car in Italy. This is because you have to pay an annual tax, called Bollo, and that's payable to the region (for example Regione Piemonte) and not the state. To get residency is easy for EU citizens but anyone from outside of the EU will need a Permesso di Soggiorno.

So, in other words you have to permanently live here for at least 6 months of the year to get residency, thus own a car. You can register your residency immediately with your town hall (Comune) or Questura (police office that oversees visa applications) once you have an address. If you're working, it means you pay tax in Italy. If you buy a business then you can own a car (work that out! You can have a business but not a car...).

For more information about tax and business in Italy - click here

Buying a new car

It's easy enough as the garage you are buying from will do all the paperwork. They'll need your residency certificate (it must be up to date), your codice fiscale (tax code) and proof that the car is insured.

It works like this:

1. Pay for the car in full.
2. The garage will make copies of all your documents.
3. The garage will register the car in your name and let you know the registration number.
4. Call your insurance company (or do it online) and give them all the details of the car and you.
5. Once you have a document from the insurance company you can collect your car.

Buying a secondhand car

This is a little more complicated but not difficult. Once you have agreed a deal with the seller you need to go with the seller to an ACI office. You have two choices - you can go to an authorised ACI broker or an actual ACI office (ACI is the office that looks after car registration). Going to the latter is much cheaper, as yes, you have to pay for transfer of ownership and it's usually the buyer that pays. The cost is according to the power of the engine. Expect around €500 for an average car (now you know why Italians drive their cars until the doors fall off!)

The office takes the documents (certificate of ownership and libretto). They'll give you the libretto and a sticker to put your name over the name of the former owner. You'll later get a certificate of ownership (Certificato di Proprietà) through the post.

Registring a car without using an agent

There are many ACI agents that will register a car new to you. You go with the owner and sign the paperwork and pay a huge sum of money - about €300 on average. But there's a more simple, cheaper and more direct route. And here's how to do it.

Go with the owner to his local Comune (town hall). You fill in your details as the new owner on the Certificato di Proprietà. The comune official verifies yours and his/hers signature and you pay - 52 cents..

You'll need a Marca da Bollo. This costs €14.62- It's a little stamp that you get from any Tabaccheria. You need to have with you at the comune your ID and your Codice Fiscale.

Make sure the owner gets a copy of the Certificato di Proprietà. Make sure you get the Libretto from the owner. The owner might not let you take the car until you've done the next step and prove you own it.

Now go along to the PRA office. In Asti you'll find it on Piazza Medici (inside the ACI office). Tell them you bought a vehicle and want to register it. They will give you a form to fill out. You give them the certificato di proprietà and after paying about €70 they will give you a label that goes on the back of your Libretto (this is the document you carry with you all the time you drive) and a new certificato di proprietà with your name as the owner.

You'll need these things:

  • Your Codice Fiscale
  • Your ID card
  • Two copies of these things
  • Two copies of the certificato di proprietà that belong to the former owner, and
  • Two copies of the Libretto

That's it, it's simple and not so expensive. We found going first thing in the morning was best - 8.30.

Some other details when buying

Check the car has Bollo (road tax). The owner should have a receipt to show he's paid. It is paid yearly and is according to engine power, not the value of the car (unless it's a classic car - see 'Buying a classic car').

You pay the owner at the same time you do the documents. Don't do it before. People will usually expect cash or to do the transaction in a bank. New laws dictate you have to pay with a cheque if it's more than €999. You can take a cheque to a bank first to verify it's genuine.

It's a bit more hassle than other countries but you are more safe when buying.

Places to buy

Dealers are more expensive than buying privately but you might get a bit more reassurance.

You will notice they hardly ever publicly display their prices. Why? I've never been able to get a clear answer but a recent experience taught me a lesson. We wanted to find a car for our son. We found a Lancia Ypsilon near Cuneo for a reasonable price - it was 1,500 Euros. When we got to the garage he said the price was 2,500 Euros! The same was with another car he had, a Fiat 600. He heard our accent and the price doubled. So beware!! Go with an Italian and don't speak.

Some Websites for new and secondhand cars in Piedmont:

If you are not good with cars, take someone to check it, or ask if you can take it to a garage. Italians, in general, don't look after their cars so it's easy to buy an abused one.

Buying an Italian car makes a lot of sense as parts are easy to get. Go for a FIAT, Alfa Romeo, Lancia. Other makes are popular though.

Can you keep a car here in Italy that's registered in another country?

Yes, but only for 6 months. If you get stopped by the police - and they often do roadside stops - you'll have to prove you're on holiday and not living here. If they think you're resident they will fine you or even take the car away.

Also, if you're tempted to use a UK registered car here and register is as SORN in the UK and not pay road tax or get it MOT'd every year you could be setting yourself up for a lot of trouble. If you have an accident you could lose everything. Is it worth it to save a few hundred Euros? The car has to be legal in the country it's registered in.

For more information on importing a car into Italy click here


Permesso di Soggiorno - Permission or stay/visa and work. The first one is usually for 6 months, then you have to renew. It's costs around €70. Then you get a year, then eventually an everlasting one.

Residency certificate - proof you live in Italy. Once you have an address - rented or owned - you go along to the town hall and ask to register. They will give you a certificate or residency. This expires regularly (about every 3 months) even though you are resident until you tell them you're moving. It's stops fraud. Check yours is up to date before using it.

Libretto - in the UK we used to call it a Logbook or V5. By the way, you keep this in the car.

Certificate of ownership - Certificate of ownership to show you own the car. This you keep at home and only use it when you sell the car.

Bollo - A road tax that is paid yearly and is according to the power of the engine. You get this in some tobacco shops, not all, and ACI agencies. You can visit the ACI Website to get the cost of the Bollo -

My advice:

Buy as new as you can and get the car thoroughly checked. Cars crash a lot here. Also, bargain hard. Really hard. The market is flat and they are giving cars away. Sometimes we see secondhand cars being sold for higher prices than new! If you want a new car get a KM Zero. You can save 25% over the new price. A new Alfa Romeo MiTo can be had for €12k! Just search the web for 'macchine km zero'. It means the company selling the car registered it in their name but it hasn't turned a wheel, it's brand new (they do this when they haven't reached their sales quota stipulated by the manufacturer - so buy at the end of the month!!).

Where to insure?

Do it online unless you prefer to visit a local insurance firm who will usually be pretty good. Online is usually cheaper, but not always. It's worth shopping around.

Here are some online insurance companies:

No Claims Bonus

You might be able to transfer your No Claims Bonus to an Italian firm. I did it when I first moved here and got a good percentage off. It's called Bonus Malus.

Piedmont Guide Book