Italy makes coronavirus tests mandatory for travellers from the UK

Italy has added the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Belgium to its list of high-risk countries from which travellers must get tested for coronavirus.

Italy makes coronavirus tests mandatory for travellers from the UK
Photo: AFP

The Italian and British governments have confirmed that testing is now a requirement for all travellers from the UK to Italy.

There was widespread confusion about the requirement after Italian government on Wednesday suggested it would make testing compulsory for people arriving in Italy from these countries under an upcoming emergency decree next week, and the rules were not expected to come into force until October 15th.

However, Italian health minister Roberto Speranza on Thursday October 8th signed an ordinance bringing the rules into effect immediately.

The Italian Health Ministry has added British, Dutch, Czech and Belgian arrivals to the list of travellers required to submit to a swab test upon entry to Italy.

The Italian government has subsequently updated its travel advice.

Photo: AFP

The British Foreign Office also issued the following advice on Thursday:

“A negative Covid-19 test result is required when you arrive in Italy from the UK.

“The test needs to have been carried out in the 72 hours prior to your travel and should be a molecular (PCR) or an antigenic test. You’ll be asked to show proof of your test date and result at the border.”
“You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.”
“Alternatively, you can take a free Covid-19 test at the airport when you arrive in Italy. This usually takes 30 minutes to an hour. You won’t be allowed to leave the airport until you have your result.”
It is not clear how long these rules are expected to remain in place.

Previously only people arriving in Italy from Spain, Greece, Croatia, Malta or one of seven regions of France, including Paris, were obliged to get tested.

Greece, Croatia and Malta have now been removed from the “at risk” list by Thursday's ordinance.

The testing rule applies to everyone departing from one of these countries, regardless of nationality or where you're a resident.

Travellers can either get tested before they leave – both molecular (PCR) and rapid antigen tests are accepted, so long as they're carried out no more than 72 hours before your journey – or within 48 hours of arriving.

Most major airports in Italy now offer rapid testing as soon as you land, as do some international ports and train stations. These tests are free as it is classed as an emergency procedure.

Travellers are advised to contact their destinaton airport in Italy to confirm the availability of testing on arrival.

For more information about how to get a coronavirus test when travelling to Italy, see our guide here.

For more details travellers are advised to check the relevant country information on the ViaggiareSicuri website. You may also wish to check the Italian Foreign Ministry's website (in English) as well as the latest advice from the British government.

Please note: The Local is not able to advise on specific cases.

Member comments

  1. We travelled back from the UK today on an early morning flight and had to have rapid testing at Rome Fiumicino. British Airways staff were unaware of the change, as they didn’t mention it on the flight.

    It’s a quick process once you’ve completed the various forms, and you have to wait in the testing area for the result (which takes 30 minutes). Police were checking that you had your test result slip before they’d let you leave the area.

    Just for reference, it added at least an hour to our journey time, even though the testing area was almost empty when we were there. When it’s busy I should imagine it could get a little chaotic, as your completed forms have to be checked, then you see a doctor who prepares the test before you actually have the nasal swabs taken.

  2. Hi — I will be arriving in Italy by car from France, probably on 12 October. If anyone has done this recently and has any information to share (e.g., where to go for the mandatory test, how long it takes, and so on) I would be very grateful for any tips. Thanks!

  3. Hi all,
    We have just arrived at Catania, we normally fly to Palermo, and having had a pcr test in the UK. We were not asked for proof of a test or advised to take a test within 48 hours etc

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Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”