Reader question: Can foreigners in Italy get the Covid-19 vaccine?

As Italy aims to speed up its rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, non-Italian citizens living here are asking about their right to be vaccinated.

Reader question: Can foreigners in Italy get the Covid-19 vaccine?
Photo: AFP
Question: I’m a non-Italian resident in Italy and I am not able to register with the Italian national health service. Will I be entitled to a vaccine and, if so, how can I access it?

What rights non-Italian residents in Italy have when it comes to getting vaccinated for Covid-19 has been a big question among readers of The Local.

People are anxious to know whether distinctions will be made between those registered with Italy’s national health service (SSN) and those access healthcare via the S1 system, or have private health insurance.

Here’s what we know so far.

Who is entitled to be vaccinated in Italy?

Vaccination is expected to be made available for free to all residents of Italy, including those who are not registered with the Italian national health service (SSN), as is the case for all other mandatory or recommended vaccines.

Health Undersecretary Sandra Zampa told Italian media on January 27th that, in order to achieve “herd immunity”, the country needs to vaccinate 70 percent of “Italian citizens and foreigners who live in our country, and who have the same right to protection.”

The Italian Medicines Agency FAQ says that “everyone present in the Italian territory, residents, with or without a permesso di soggiorno (residence permit)” can be vaccinated.

CHARTS: How many people has Italy vaccinated so far?

Photo: AFP

Some regions, including Lazio and Abruzzo, have confirmed that members of the public will be allowed to register via their online booking systems using just a codice fiscale (tax code), without having to enter details of a tessera sanitaria (national health service card).

And it is not possible to get vaccinated privately in Italy.

The Health Ministry has stressed that Covid-19 vaccines should be free for all residents in Italy, and it does not currently allow any private facilities to offer them on a paid basis.

When can I get the vaccine?

The vaccine is not yet available to the general public at the time of writing.

The large majority of those vaccinated in Italy so far are health workers and other key workers, as well as over-80s.

But after hold-ups in the supply chain, Italy is still in the early stages of its vaccine rollout.

READ ALSO: How and when can you get a Covid-19 vaccine in Italy?

So far, a registration procedure for people further down the list has yet to be confirmed.

More details are expected to be given in the coming weeks.

The Italian government is working on a national vaccination platform where the public can register for a jab online and/or via an app, but it is not yet operational. Meanwhile some regions are launching their own systems for booking appointments digitally.

Ultimately Italy plans to offer vaccination to the general public on a walk-in basis at pop-up kiosks in town centres around the country, but this won’t be possible until vaccines that don’t require specialised storage facilities are approved for use.

For more information about the coronavirus situation in Italy, please see the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).

Member comments

  1. I just went to check at the Italian Medicines Agency website and it seems that it is more complicated than this article suggests.

    Here’s the optimistic text that The Local refers to:
    “According to the priority scheme defined in the Vaccination Plan, all people will be vaccinated who are present on the Italian territory, residents with or without a residence permit pursuant to Article 35 of Consolidated Law on Immigration.”

    But here’s the text that follows, which indicates that a tessera sanitaria and other documents are required:

    “A valid identity document and health card (tessera sanitaria) are required. It may be useful to show any health documentation helping the vaccinating healthcare professional to assess the person’s physical condition.

    9. Which documents are required for socially-vulnerable (Italian and foreign) people to receive the vaccine?
    Based on Article 32 of the Italian Constitution and pursuant to the provisions of Article 35 of the Consolidated Law on Immigration, the required documents comprise any document (including expired ones) stating the identity of the person receiving the vaccine, the health card (tessera sanitaria), the European Health Insurance Card, the STP code (straniero temporaneamente presente – Temporarily present foreign person) and the ENI code (Europeo non iscritto – Non registered European citizen).”

    Here is the link
    Best wishes,
    Karen Bermann

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Reader question: What are Italy’s Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Italy's quarantine rules have changed so many times over the past couple of years, it can be hard to keep track. Here's the latest information on when and how visitors need to self-isolate.

Reader question: What are Italy's Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Question: “One of your recent articles says you can exit quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus. But you can also exit quarantine by obtaining a certificate of recovery from Covid-19… true?”

Unfortunately, official proof of having recovered from Covid-19 won’t get you out of the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while visiting Italy – though it can shorten your quarantine period.

The health ministry’s current rules state that anyone who tests positive while in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days: that’s if the person in question is fully vaccinated and boosted, or has completed their primary vaccination cycle, or was certified as being recovered from Covid less than 120 days ago.

That period is extended to 10 days for those who aren’t fully vaccinated and boosted, or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days in order to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell, which can persist for some time after the infection is over).

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine in order to be allowed out.

Read more about getting tested while in Italy in a separate article here.

Quarantined people who keep testing positive for the virus can be kept in self-isolation for a maximum of 21 days, at which point they will be automatically released.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative in order to enter its borders, as long as they are fully boosted or were recently vaccinated/ have recently recovered from Covid.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Some countries (including the US), however, do require people travelling from Italy to test negative before their departure – which means visitors at the tail end of their journey could be hit with the unpleasant surprise of finding out they need to quarantine for another week in Italy instead of heading home as planned.

It’s because of this rule that a number of The Local’s readers told us they wouldn’t be coming on holiday to Italy this summer, and intend to postpone for another year.

If you are planning on visiting Italy from a country that requires you to test negative for Covid prior to re-entry, it’s a good idea to consider what you would do and where you would go in the unlikely event you unexpectedly test positive.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

You can keep up with the latest updates via our homepage or Italian travel news section.