What does the UK government’s ‘amber traffic light’ mean for travel to Italy?

As the UK government has announced changes to its traffic light system for travel, Italy remains on the 'amber' list. Here's a reminder of what that means for people travelling between Italy and the UK now.

What does the UK government’s ‘amber traffic light’ mean for travel to Italy?
Italy is still on the UK's 'amber list' for travel. Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP

This article was updated on June 25th.

The UK’s traffic light system for travel was updated on Thursday, reassigning countries into red, amber and green classifications, based on each country’s health data such as Covid-19 case numbers and vaccination rates.

Italy, although speculated to move onto the UK’s ‘green list’ this time, didn’t in fact get downgraded and remains on the UK’s ‘amber list’, along with all the other countries The Local covers; Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

However, even though Italy hasn’t moved onto a new list, there are some changes for countries in this moderate-risk category.

So what does it mean if you’re travelling between the UK and Italy right now? Here’s the latest you need to know.

Reasons for travel between the UK and Italy

You don’t need to prove that your trip is essential, as travel from an amber list country is permitted for any reason. You also don’t have to be a UK national or resident as entry is not limited to these groups.

However, there are rules on testing and quarantine in place – there are 10 days of isolating and PCR tests are required on days two and eight of quarantine.

Arrivals into the UK must:

  • Have a negative Covid test to show at the border.
  • Complete the passenger locator form – find that HERE.
  • Quarantine for 10 days – this can be done in a location of their choice including the home of a friend or family member and there is no need to pay for a “quarantine hotel”.
  • Arrivals also have to pay for travel-testing kits which cost around £200 per person.

READ ALSO: What Covid-19 tests do I need for travel between Italy and the UK?

Some reasons for travel and professions may have grounds for being exempt from quarantine. You can find more details here.

Although you can travel to an amber list country, the UK authorities advise against it for leisure or tourism reasons. So it’s not a travel ban, but the government warns against it.

As it’s official advice, it can invalidate travel insurance, so check your policy before you travel.

READ ALSO: Who can travel to Italy right now?

If Italy in the future makes it onto the green list, then no quarantine is necessary, unless you tested positive for Covid-19 or if you travelled to England with someone who had tested positive.

Some testing would still remain in place too. You have to take a Covid-19 test on or before day two after you arrive, with children aged 4 and under being exempt.

Italy’s travel rules

The above is what you need to know to enter the UK and is the government’s advice to amber list countries, but what about Italy’s latest travel restrictions?

Travel to Italy from the UK has changed again, as the Italian government reinstated a mandatory quarantine and testing for UK arrivals, amid concerns about the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant.

This comes just a month after Italy had dropped the quarantine for those travelling from the UK.

Travel into Italy from the UK is currently allowed for any reason. However, anyone who has been on British territory in the 14 days before arrival in Italy must quarantine for five days, regardless of nationality. 

You must also submit the address of where you spend the isolation period to local health authorities within 48 hours of arrival. Find contact details here.

The Italian authorities reserve the right to call you up or even visit you in person to check that you’re observing quarantine.

The location can be a private one or that of an accommodation provider (if the provider accepts you quarantining on their premises). There is currently no supervised quarantine under a ‘Covid hotel’ system for arrivals from Britain, as is being used in the UK.

READ ALSO: How should travellers from the UK quarantine in Italy?

Anyone found not to be following these rules could end up with hefty fines, including up to €1000 for breaking quarantine.

The new rules are in force from June 21st until at least July 30th, stated the Italian Embassy in London.

Before your trip, you should also fill out a European Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF), giving details of where you’re departing from and where you’ll be staying. The form is available online here.


What about people who are vaccinated?

On the subject of vaccinated travellers, a spokesman for the British Department of Transport told UK media: “In recognition of our successful domestic vaccination programme, and as part of the Global Travel Taskforce’s checkpoint review, our intention is that later in the summer, arrivals who are fully vaccinated will not have to quarantine when travelling from amber list countries.

For more information on international travel to and from Italy, see the Foreign Ministry’s website.

The Local is not able to give advice on individual cases.

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Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels to discuss the latest Covid situation in China - so could this mark the return of vaccine passports and travel restrictions?

Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

Several EU countries including France, Italy and Spain (as well as non-EU countries including the UK and USA) have already imposed travel restrictions on arrivals from China, over fears of new variants of Covid-19.

The countries announced their restrictions – mostly amounting to compulsory tests and masks – on a unilateral basis at the end of last week, but there have been calls for greater co-ordination at an EU level.

There is now a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of the EU Integrated Policy Response Capability to discuss coordinating measures, with an insider telling Politico: “The idea is to harmonise, but without being extremely prescriptive.”

The meeting has been called by Sweden, which now holds the rotating presidency of the EU. 

So what measures are likely?

At present the countries that have announced restrictions have only imposed testing and mask rules – there is no requirement to show proof of vaccination and no travel bans. All measures only apply only to travellers from China.

A meeting of the European Health Safety Committee last Thursday did not produce any concrete measures, with EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides merely urging member states to coordinate quickly. It was after this that some countries announced their own restrictions.

If anything more concrete comes out of Wednesday’s meeting, it is likely to refer to testing or mask rules only and like the previous EU Covid travel policies, will be advisory for countries to follow.

Because borders are a national competence, countries can impose their own measures without having to consult the EU.

Despite the introduction of the EU digital vaccine passport, countries never managed to entirely co-ordinate their travel rules during 2020 and 2021.

In most EU countries the health pass or vaccine pass apps remain active, and could be used again if necessary. 

Will there be travel bans?

At this stage more draconian restrictions – such as the ‘red lists’ or ‘essential travel only’ rules of 2021 seem unlikely.

Most EU countries have a high level of vaccine cover, so would probably only resort to travel restrictions if new variants – against which current Covid vaccines are not effective – emergence in China (or any other country).