When you first arrive, you will want a working cell phone. Some find it easier to keep a U.S. number and use their American wireless carrier with an international plan. However, most people sign up with an Italian carrier. Pre-paid Italian cell phone plans though vendors such as Vodafone or TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile) are well priced and easy to use. Vodafone has customer service locations at both NSA Capodichino and NSA Naples Support Site. These stores are similar to U.S. stores that sell phones, accessories, and carry a number of plans to choose from. If you already have a phone, you must insure it is “unlocked” in order to use an international sim chip. If you bought your phone through a U.S. phone company, there are often fees or penalties associated with unlocking your phone.
Any person desiring to drive in Naples must have a current U.S. driver’s license or a valid license from another country. As stipulated in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), eligible drivers must obtain an AFI driver’s license by attending a local traffic safety driving course and passing a 48-question road sign text. The exam, along with the Alcohol and You test, is given during the Area Orientation immediately following the mandatory Local Driver Safety Orientation Briefing.
Your AFI driver’s license will be valid for five years as long as you maintain a valid ID card. AFI driver license privileges are not authorized for members separating or retiring overseas, so please plan accordingly. We highly recommend you renew your U.S. license before coming to Italy.
If you plan trips to other European countries, an international license, available through AAA offices, is required. Note: regardless of U.S. licensing, individuals under 18 are not allowed to drive in Italy.
Purchasing a Vehicle in Italy
You can purchase new American cars, as well as foreign models, from various sources on and off base. Make sure that any car you buy has all the equipment required for registration and for driving on base, including seat belts and child protective restraints. Automobiles other than Italian made, when bought in Italy, are imported duty free and deliveries can be made to Naples. In addition, when buying Italian cars, you are exempt from paying the Italian government excise tax. Please keep in mind, that your automobile must meet U.S. specifications in order for you to ship it back to the U.S.
The sale of AFI-registered vehicles, purchased locally or shipped to Italy at government expense, are subject to several restrictions. Additionally, if you are not shipping it back to the United States, the vehicle must be properly disposed of prior to your departure from Italy via one of the approved methods. For details on selling or disposing of a vehicle, please see pages 31-32 in Benevenuti a Napoli.
Registration and Insurance
Vehicle insurance for the Naples area is expensive. The cost depends on the vehicle’s make, model and year, and the age of the driver. Vehicles shipped at government expense cannot be released for registration and use without proof of valid insurance.
Third-party liability insurance is mandatory in Italy for all automobiles, trucks, and two-wheeled vehicles, including mopeds. Policy conditions and premiums are established by law and are standardized throughout the country. Premiums vary according to the horsepower of the vehicle and the location of registration. If a vehicle has been insured with only minimum coverage, liability for death or injuries to passengers in that automobile is not covered. To provide this insurance, the owner must specifically ask the insurance agent for coverage.
Comprehensive and collision coverage is not included in the compulsory insurance. They are optional and must be specifically requested. In addition, comprehensive and collision coverage is not always available through Italian insurance companies. Many U.S. insurance companies are not licensed in Italy.
To operate any motorcycle or other two-wheeled vehicle, the registered owner/operator must be 18 years of age and have a motorcycle endorsement on his or her U.S. license. Before registration and licensing, all individuals must show evidence of successfully completing an approved motorcycle safety course here in Naples, if they do not have a previous stateside endorsement.
Check with your insurance company and the nearest government transportation office concerning insurance coverage during shipment overseas. It is a best practice to have new policies become effective immediately upon arrival of the vehicle in Italy. GEICO and USAA are available on the support site.
For more information on vehicles, including shipping your vehicle, purchasing a vehicle in Italy and further details on regulations, insurance, and registration, see pages 27-32 of the Benevenuti a Napoli publication.