TOURISM: Can you really visit Italy from the US if you fly via the UK?

TOURISM: Can you really visit Italy from the US if you fly via the UK?
Tourists in the Italian city of Verona in August 2020. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP
After an Italian government travel website appeared to show no restrictions on tourists coming to Italy from the US if they spend two weeks in the UK or Ireland first, we take a closer look at what the rules actually are.

As Italy and other European countries continue to restrict travel from certain countries, depending on their Covid-19 infection rates, travel to Italy from the USA for tourism is currently not allowed.

There are some exemptions to this for certain travelers – including Italian citizens, people who have their permanent residence in Italy, and for types of travel deemed essential. A new exemption allows the partners of people living in Italy to travel.

See a full list of exemptions here.

READ ALSO: How have Italy's travel rules changed under the latest emergency decree?

But many readers in the US are anxious to return to Italy for vacation or other reasons which are not deemed essential.

Since the Italian government start relaxing some of its travel restrictions in June, we've been getting dozens of emails a week at The Local from people in the US hoping to travel to Italy, asking the following question:

“As an American resident/citizen, can I travel to Italy if I spend 14 days or more in an approved/”safe” country like the UK or Ireland beforehand?”

Here's a closer look at the rules.

What is allowed?

It's important to note that Italy does not have a blanket travel ban on all Americans entering the country. The restriction applies to anyone travelling to Italy from the US (except for those who are exempt, such as Italian citizens), rather than just those with US passports.

So a US citizen living in Germany, for example, would be allowed to travel to Italy now as there are no restrictions on the German-Italian border.

However, most countries in Europe continue to restrict travel from the US.

Many people are asking if they can get to Italy via one of the few European countries which is allowing travel from the US. Currently there are four such countries: The UK, Ireland, Croatia and Slovenia.

That doesn't mean there are no restrictions at all: the UK and Ireland require travelers from the US to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Croatia requires a negative PCR test resuly, taken no longer than 48 hours before arrival. Slovenia requires a negative PCR test AND a 10-day quarantine upon arrival.
 
However, many Americans have contacted The Local saying they are willing to undergo quarantine in one of those countries so that they can travel onward to Italy.

IN NUMBERS: How important are American tourists to Italy?

Tuscany, one of the top Italian destinations for US tourists. Photo: AFP

In recent months, Italian government officials have not responded to repeated requests from The Local for clarification as to whether or not this would be allowed.

However, media reports about a new online tool published by the Italian government last week raised Americans' hopes by appearing to show that this was in fact possible.

In its Covid-19 'survey tool', a travel calculator intended to help make sense of the increasingle complicated set of travel rules, the Italian Foreign Ministry appears to state that American citizens/residents can enter Italy, as long as they have been in an approved country for at least the past 14 days

For travellers who have spent the past 14 days or longer in one of these four countries, the ‘Covid-19 Survey Tool’ produces the following answer:
 
“Based on your answers, you can enter Italy without restrictions.”
 
“Nonetheless, you must fill out a mandatory self-declaration form. The form must be shown to the carrier on boarding and to any other person responsible for checking it.”
 
 
While this site does appear to be saying tourists from the US can enter Italy as long as they have been in an ‘approved’ nation for the past 14 days, the website also features a lengthy disclaimer.
 
It states: “The result of the questionnaire does not guarantee entry into the Country, which remains subject to the assessment of Italian Border Officers (Ministry of Interior). The questionnaire has no legal value.”
 
“We recommend that you keep yourself informed on current rules and regulations before embarking on a trip. Should you need any further clarification, kindly contact Border Officers at your designated entry point, Italian “Prefettura” or “Dipartimento di Prevenzione” of the local Health Authority (Azienda Sanitaria) at your destination.”
A spokesperson for the Italian Embassy in Washington told The Local: “According to the Prime Minister's Decree of August 7, 2020 (and subsequent amendments and ordinances) whoever has been for 14 days in a EU country, and does not have symptoms of Covid-19, may enter Italy for any reason.”
 
“If a US citizen or any other person travelling from the US stays 14 days or more in one or more EU countries  he/she can enter Italy by filling in a self-declaration form.”

 
“At the moment, however, if the traveler has been in certain areas in the EU that are considered at risk (including Croatia) he/she will have to take a swab according to the procedures specified in the law.”
 
The Embassy spokesperson advised readers to refer the Italian Foreign Ministry's website for further information.
 
 
A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Rome said they were not permitted to give recommendations regarding Italy's travel rules, but stated: “The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Warning recommending travelers defer all non-essential travel to Italy due to the global impact of Covid-19.”
 
“The Department of State’s Level 3 Travel Advisory similarly recommends that travelers avoid non-essential international travel to Italy.”
 
The Embassy referred travellers to the US State Department website for further details of entry and exit requirements for US citizens in Italy.

 
The final say on whether any traveller can enter the country or not goes to Italy's border police. Ultimately you will need to convince the border guards you encounter that you have the right to enter the country.
 
For further information, contact the Italian border police before you travel. You can find contact information for border police in the part of Italy you plan to travel to here.
 
For more details, all travelers are advised to check the relevant country information on the Italian government's ViaggiareSicuri website
 
You may also wish to check the Italian Foreign Ministry's website (in English) as well as the latest advice from the government of any countries you're travelling to or from.
 
Please note: The Local is not able to advise on specific cases. Contact your embassy for official guidance.

Member comments

  1. I successfully quarantined in the UK for 14 days in July 2020. I hold a US Passport. Then flew from LHR to MXP (Malpensa) non stop without incident after my two weeks in the UK. Only question asked upon entry was where have you been for the past 14 days. I then stayed at my second home north of Milan for two months. I was prepared with mountains of paperwork showing proof of ownership of my second home but none of that was needed. At the time the Covid numbers were coming down and were quite good both in Italy and the UK and clearly we are in a different time now.My sense is that you really are at the mercy of whoever might be greeting you at border control. My thinking was also that my second home was my key to getting in. As they state, entering for tourism is not allowed yet. I might try the same thing again in December.

  2. I am a USA passport holder who was able to enter Italy, after doing my quarantine in Croatia for 15 days. It was a stressful process, but my Italian boyfriend actually flew to Croatia to cross the boarder with me, we entered through Rome. A week after I arrived the rules for people entering Italy via Croatia changed, people who entered via Croatia would now have to quartile upon arrival. Stressful but understandable.
    I also had to visit the UK for a day and a few days after my return from the UK the rules changed about the need to be swabbed upon arrival, you didn’t have to when I entered. Rules are changing all the time, any American looking to enter Italy during this time has to have patience and stay informed on new rules.

  3. I am a USA passport holder who was able to enter Italy, after doing my quarantine in Croatia for 15 days. It was a stressful process, but my Italian boyfriend actually flew to Croatia to cross the boarder with me, we entered through Rome. A week after I arrived the rules for people entering Italy via Croatia changed, people who entered via Croatia would now have to quartile upon arrival. Stressful but understandable.
    I also had to visit the UK for a day and a few days after my return from the UK the rules changed about the need to be swabbed upon arrival, you didn’t have to when I entered. Rules are changing all the time, any American looking to enter Italy during this time has to have patience and stay informed on new rules.

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