The travel rules were relaxed for unmarried couple as part of the latest Italian emergency decree signed on September 7th.
The exception allows the reunification of international couples separated due to the travel rules: partners living abroad can now enter Italy to reach “the person with whom they have a stable emotional relationship, even if not cohabiting.”, the decree text states.
While partners from EU and Schengen countries had been allowed to travel without restrictions since May, those from most non-EU nations have not been allowed in as reuniting with a partner was not classed as an “essential” reason for travel.
The Italian exemption was long-awaited positive news for those separated by the rules, including couples who had postponed weddings and engagements and even couples expecting a child.
But uncertainties remain. Three weeks after the government signed off on the exemption, those hoping to travel say Italy's rules are still too unclear for them to be able to risk making a costly long-haul trip.
Dozens of readers have recently contacted The Local to ask what proof they'll need to show border guards in order to be allowed into the country.
“It has been three weeks since the decree was signed into law but at the moment it is too open to interpretation, especially for those travelling on an American passport, to commit to buying transatlantic airfares to Italy,” one reader told The Local. “So our separation continues.”
What are the rules?
Those travelling to Italy to reunite with a partner who is a resident in Italy must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon arrival, and will need to complete a self-certification form, which is to be handed to local health authorities.
While no special self-certification form for this purpose has been released yet, the Italian Embassy in Washington currently recommends travellers use the latest version and give their partner's address (where they will be required to quarantine.)
But it is still not clear exactly what evidence travellers must provide to prove their relationship is “stable”.
As well as completing the self-certification form, “it is advisable to be ready to show any supporting documentation and to answer any questions from the staff in charge of controls,” according to the Foreign Ministry's Viaggiare Sicuri portal.
But what is “supporting documentation”?
It is not clear whether photos and chat history will be enough for italian border police, or if something more specific will be needed, such as evidence of previous regular visits, as in some other European countries which have introduced travel exemptions for international couples.
When contacted by The Local, the Foreign Ministry's press office on Monday confirmed that the official criteria had “not yet” been published but did not give any further details.
Guidelines will “soon” be drawn up between Italy's Foreign, Health and Interior ministries, Italan newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano reports.
Meanwhile, the Italian Embassy in Washington told The Local it was providing US ctizens travelling to Italy for this reason with a note confirming they are eligible to travel, and said they would also need a “letter of invitation” from their partner to show to border police.
Please note: The Local is not able to advise on specific cases. If you are planning to travel to Italy to reunite with your partner, contact the Italian embassy in your country for the latest information.