Italy makes coronavirus testing mandatory for all arrivals from EU

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Italy makes coronavirus testing mandatory for all arrivals from EU
Swab tests will become mandatory for all travellers arriving in Italy from the EU from December 10th. Photo: Pierre Teyssot/AFP

Under its latest emergency decree, the Italian government will require everyone arriving from countries in the EU or Schengen Zone to test negative for Covid-19 before entering Italy.


The new rule takes effect from December 10th, and unlike previous orders, it states that travellers will need to get tested before arriving in Italy or face quarantine.

READ MORE: Italian PM announces Christmas travel restrictions under new emergency decree

Until now only a handful of countries, including Spain and the UK, were subject to mandatory testing, with travellers given the choice whether to get a swab before leaving or upon arrival in Italy, where airports have been offering free rapid testing.

The new decree, signed on December 3rd, says that travellers must instead show their airline or other travel provider proof that they were tested for coronavirus within the past 48 hours before beginning their journey, and that the result was negative. Either PCR or antigen swab tests are accepted, but not antibody (blood) tests.

The requirement applies to people departing from all countries in the EU or the Schengen Zone, as well as the UK. It applies to anyone who has stayed or transited through one of these countries at any point in the past 14 days. 

Those who are unable to produce a negative test result will have to observe a two-week quarantine.


In practice the rule change chiefly makes a difference for people planning to arrive in Italy before December 20th, since from December 21st everyone arriving in Italy – apart from a few exceptions – will have to quarantine for two weeks anyway.

The blanket quarantine requirement will end on January 6th, after which – unless the government announces otherwise – EU travellers will go back to being able to get tested in order to avoid self-isolating, at least until the new decree expires on January 15th.

The testing requirement does not apply to people travelling to Italy from outside Europe, who have to quarantine for two weeks in any case. 

There are exceptions to testing and quarantine rules for flight crew, cross-border workers, healthcare staff, people transiting through Italy for 36 hours or less and others travelling for urgent reasons, as well as for people travelling from the United States on special 'Covid-tested flights beginning December 8th.


How the rules will change

  • Until December 9th: only travellers from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Romania, Spain and the UK have to get tested, or face quarantine. According to the new decree, tests should be carried out before travelling. 
  • From December 10th-20th: all travellers from the EU, Schengen Zone or the UK must get tested before departure, or face quarantine.
  • From December 21st-January 6th: everyone arriving in Italy from overseas must quarantine for 14 days.
  • From January 7th-15th: all travellers from the EU, Schengen Zone or the UK must get tested before departure, or face quarantine.



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