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 to the state.
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 you should be able to have a car registered to the business.
Seriously! You can spend €5m on a house but you can't own a car unless you have residency. Is there a way around this? Of course, it's Italy! I have a valuable contact in the car industry (specifically with supercars but they can get you anything you want), just get in contact and I can look into it for you.
It's easy enough as the garage you're 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.
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.
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 cheaper as 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.
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 get a certificate of ownership (Certificato di Proprietà) that is really a piece of paper with a QR code so you can download your ownership certificate.
Check the car has Bollo (road tax). The owner should have a receipt to show he's paid. It's 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 or give the bank a call to verify it's genuine.
It's a bit more hassle than other countries but you're more safe when buying.
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. Try to find something online so you know the price before going.
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.
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.
If you have residency you cannot drive a car registered outside of Italy for more than 2 months. As of Jan 2019 they've got very serious about this.
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 download when you need it - for insurance or when you sell.
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 - www.aci.it
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're 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!!).
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:
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.
Once you have the car here you need the bill of sale or invoice for the car, the registration document and a document from the maker that confirms all the technical details of the car - engine size and number, horsepower, tyre sizes, etc. It's called Certificato di Conformità. You can get this from the manufacturer. You just need the chassis number of the car.
Once you have that you'll need to visit an ACI office. They will do everything for you. Once you have the documents and number plates get it insured and take it for its revisione (a two yearly test - MOT in the UK). In Piedmont they also do a scarico test - exhaust emissions. It's called Bollino Blu.
You then need to get your Bollo. Your ACI agent should be able to do this.
If you're bringing a righthand drive car you'll need new headlights, a speedo that reads in Kilometres (in the UK they usually do have KMs as well on the speedo) and your rear fog light needs to be on the left side.
Your revisione is every two years unless it's a new car. A car has its first test when it's 4 years old then every two years.
Your bollo (road tax) is yearly and according to engine power.
The law states that you have to have your car registered in Italy if it stays here more than 6 months. But most people don't worry about it.
You just have to be sure it is properly insured and it has it's yearly test, or whatever the country it is from requires. I've read on forums that some people don't bother, as it involves driving the car back home once a year. My advice is, just do it. You might not have trouble if you get stopped by the police but you will if you have an accident, especially if it's fatal. It's dumb to ignore a law that's there for our safely and the safety of others. If that's too much hassle you might do better to get a car from Italy. It's better to know the car is roadworthy and safe and that it conforms to Italian law.
If have residency here you cannot drive a car registered in another country (you're allowed 2 months). They take this very seriously now (since Jan 2019).
Some companies offer insurance for cars that spend a lot of time abroad but you will probably need to keep the car registered with someone that has residency in the country the car is registered in. Try this insurance company: