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UPDATE: What are the rules on driving between Italy and the UK right now?

As the coronavirus restrictions continue to change around Europe, here's a look at the different requirements you'll need to be aware of when driving between the UK and Italy. (This article was updated on June 1st)

UPDATE: What are the rules on driving between Italy and the UK right now?
How to travel between the UK and Italy by road. Photo: averie woodard on Unsplash

Travelling by car between the UK and Italy is doable, but not necessarily easy. For the moment at least, it will involve coronavirus testing, quarantine and form-filling along the way.

Here’s a look at what you’ll need to consider at the moment when driving from Italy to the UK. See the bottom of the page for information about travel in the other direction, including on France’s new restrictions on travel from the UK.

Leaving Italy

If you’re driving from Italy, movement has eased up considerably in recent weeks and the country has now relaxed most of its coronavirus restrictions, including those on domestic travel.

You can currently drive to the Swiss or French border without facing any restrictions.

If you’re travelling during the 11pm-5am curfew, you’ll need to fill out a form, which you can download here.

READ ALSO: What Brexit has changed for British visitors to Italy

Some towns and regions in Italy may have their own tougher rules, different from the rest of the region they’re in. For health data monitoring in all Italian regions and autonomous provinces, check here.

To check on the additional provisions and measures for each region, click here. This is worth noting for both leaving and being able to return to Italy.

Photo: Orkun Azap / Unsplash

Under Italy’s current rules, both France and Switzerland are on travel list C. Travel to and from these countries is permitted without a specific need or reason, however you’ll need to be aware of certain requirements when going in either direction.

Crossing the French border from Italy

Travel into France from Italy is allowed for any reason, including for tourism and family visits. This easing of restrictions was introduced on May 3rd, which saw France opening up both its regional and international borders.

You will, however, need to undergo testing if you are coming from an EU country.

When arriving from Italy, you will need to present a negative Covid test at the border, as well as a declaration that you are symptom-free and have not been in contact with any Covid cases.

The test must be carried out within 72 hours of departing for France and the antigenic test is not accepted. You must take a molecular test (PCR) – if you don’t you may be refused entry to France.

READ ALSO: Italy’s green pass ‘should last a year’, says health undersecretary

You can drive straight through France, as there’s no quarantine requirement.

Once you’re in France, there are still restrictions in place at the time of writing including the 9pm curfew, although this will be extended to 11pm from June 9th.

If you must travel past curfew for an essential reason, you will need an attestation permission form. Find the form HERE.

Non-essential shops, cultural sites (cinemas, theatres, museums) and the outdoor areas of bars and restaurants have all been open since May 19th.

Indoor spaces of bars, cafes and restaurants will reopen on June 9th.

Masks are compulsory in all indoor public spaces across the country, and also outdoors in most of the larger towns and cities. If you don’t wear one, you could face a €135 fine.

READ ALSO: Indoor dining and later curfew: Italy’s new timetable for easing Covid-19 restrictions

Photo: Jaromír Kavan / Unsplash

Crossing the Swiss border from Italy

Entry from the Schengen Zone and the EU is permitted, so you can drive across the border from Italy to Switzerland.

But it’s not that easy, as you may have to undergo a quarantine. Travelling from Italy, currently the regions of Campania and Puglia are on the quarantine list. This is true from 27th May and it’s updated every couple of weeks according to the changing health data, so keep an eye on it before travel.

You can transit through the country if you don’t stop and go straight through. Otherwise, the following applies.

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) periodically places nations with a high virus incidence on its quarantine list. So, even if you come from an EU or Schengen state, you will have to quarantine for 10 or seven days, depending on the region.

You can check the official list of countries needing to undergo quarantine here

To quarantine, you must announce your arrival to health authorities in your canton of residence within 48 hours. Then, you’ll need to stay in your home or another accommodation for up to 10 days, without leaving the property or receiving guests.

If you don’t, you could be fined up to 10,000 Swiss francs.

Showing a negative Covid test doesn’t exempt you from having to quarantine – but it can shorten it to seven days, rather than 10.

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on how the EU’s ‘Covid passports’ will work for travellers?

Entering the UK from France

For entry to the UK from France you need a negative Covid test taken within the previous 72 hours.

UK rules allow either a PCR test or an antigen test of more than 97 percent specificity and 80 percent sensitivity – the standard antigen tests available at pharmacies in France meet these requirements but home-testing kits do not.

You need to fill in the contact locator form – find the form HERE.

The quarantine period is 10 days long, but can be done at a location of your choosing including the home or family or friends.

You also need to buy a travel test package and take further Covid tests on day 2 and day 8 of your quarantine. These tests are compulsory and cost on average an eye-watering £200 per person – you can find the list of approved providers HERE.

Find further information on UK travel rules HERE.

On May 17th, the UK government lifted its ban on all non-essential travel abroad and replaced it with the traffic light system, assigning countries to red, amber or green according to health data.

France is currently on the amber list, which is the same as Italy’s current status – and almost all other European countries too. Portugal is currently the only European country on the green list by the way.

 You need to record the countries and territories you drive through on your passenger locator form.

The traffic light list only applies to England, but there are currently no indications that the devolved nations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales will announce a different system.

If you’re entering the UK from an amber country, you can go for any reason. It doesn’t have to be an essential trip and entry is not limited to UK nationals or residents.

Photo: Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

At present the rules around testing and quarantine are the same even for fully vaccinated people.

If France in the future makes it onto the green list, then no quarantine is necessary. Regardless, a negative Covid test is required to enter (or re-enter) England, plus another test on or before day 2 of their stay.

Travelling from the UK to Italy

Again, form-filling and testing requirements will be in place if you’re making the journey in the other direction.

The UK government advises against travel to amber list countries (which include France and Italy) for leisure or tourism reasons.

This isn’t a travel ban, but the official line can invalidate travel insurance, so check your policy before you travel.

EXPLAINED: The European countries on England’s ‘amber’ travel list and what that means

For the moment, you will need to present a negative Covid test at the French and Italian borders, as well as a declaration that you are symptom-free and have not been in contact with any Covid cases.

New restrictions on travel from the UK to France from May 31st

Entering France from the UK has become more complicated again, as France put new restrictions in place on Monday, May 31st, amid concern about the spread of the ‘Indian’ variant in the UK.

If you are returning to your permanent residence in another EU or Schengen zone country then you can travel, as one of the listed ‘vital reasons’ is returning home. You will, however, need to show some proof of your residency, ideally a residency card. If you hold the passport of an EU or Schengen nation, then you do not need to provide a vital reason for travel.

From that date, the new rules state that travel into France from the UK is allowed for vital reasons only. You can find the full list of accepted reasons HERE but it is strict, with only essential work (with certification from an employer) and family emergencies such as the death of a relative counting as a reason for travel.

Reader question: Can I transit through France despite the new travel restrictions?

However, the rules as announced are broadly the same as the travel regime in place for UK arrivals in France between late December and mid March. France at the end of December completely closed its border with the UK for 48 hours, and then reopened to limited travel only, a regime that stayed in place until March 12th.

READ ALSO:

Travellers over the age of 11 will need to show a negative Covid test at the border – this can be either a PCR or antigen test, but must have been taken within the previous 48 hours (a change from the previous 72 hour limit).

You will also need to complete a declaration stating your reason for travel – you can find the declaration HERE.

France is also introducing a requirement for arrivals to quarantine for seven days on arrival in France – which is not required for those transiting through France (see below).

If you’re also travelling through Switzerland, the requirements to come from France are the same as stated (above) when travelling from Italy.

What about if you’re just passing through France?

If you are returning to your permanent residence in another EU or Schengen zone country then you can travel, as one of the listed ‘vital reasons’ is returning home. You will, however, need to show some proof of your residency, again, ideally a residency card.

If you are transiting through France for another reason, that’s allowed provided you spend less than 24 hours in the country.

The testing requirement applies to all arrivals, even if you are only passing through the country. The difference is you are not required to quarantine if you spend less than 24 hours in France.

If you are entering France from an EU or Schengen zone country you will need to show a negative Covid test taken within the previous 72 hours and this must be a PCR test (48 hours for arrivals from the UK).

These rules all apply even to the fully vaccinated.

On re-entering Italy, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Undergo a molecular or antigenic swab, carried out within 48 hours prior to entry into Italy and test negative.
  • Complete a digital passenger locator form. From May 24th, this is compulsory for all people arriving in Italy, regardless of means of transport.
  • There is now no compulsory quarantine for travellers arriving from the EU and Britain.

Please note The Local is not able to give advice on individual cases. For more information on international travel to and from Italy, see the Foreign Ministry’s website and check the restrictions in your destination country with the appropriate embassy.

Find all our latest news updates on travel to, from and within Italy here

Member comments

  1. I will be driving to the Uk in two weeks’ time. I intend to stop overnight in Switzerland and then onto France and the channel tunnel. I will have my PCR test done on the Monday and will enter the UK Thursday. i filled out online a swiss FOPH and got a code straight back for customs. Also a French entry form. Test for day 2 and 8 and 5 day quick realise test all booked! Finger crossed!

  2. Currently in Florence after setting off from Palermo, Sicily yesterday. Going through Switzerland and on to Calais for the ferry. Motorways are quiet 🙂

  3. I am using a 2/8 day kit from testingforall.org which is £99 + £6 recorded delivery charge, i.e. 1/2 the price on UK.gov etc.

  4. I would like to drive from the Uk to Italy. It usually requires 2 nights in hotels on the way. Has anyone managed to get the Covid tests and still get into Italy within the 48 hours? Added to this we will need to stop and shop in France because the Italian quarantine rules don’t allow us to do it there. Tearing my hair out.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Italy’s deputy health minister under fire after casting doubt on Covid vaccines

Opposition leaders called for health undersecretary Marcello Gemmato to resign on Tuesday after the official said he was not "for or against" vaccines.

Italy's deputy health minister under fire after casting doubt on Covid vaccines

Gemmato, a pharmacist and member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party, made the remark during an appearance on the political talkshow ReStart on Rai 2 on Monday evening.

READ ALSO: Covid vaccines halved Italy’s death toll, study finds

In a widely-shared clip, the official criticises the previous government’s approach to the Covid pandemic, claiming that for a large part of the crisis Italy had the highest death rate and third highest ‘lethality’ rate (the proportion of Covid patients who died of the disease).

When journalist Aldo Cazzullo interjects to ask whether the toll would have been higher without vaccines, Gemmato responds: “that’s what you say,” and claimed: “We do not have the reverse burden of proof.”

The undersecretary goes on to say that he won’t “fall into the trap of taking a side for or against vaccines”.

After Gemmato’s comments, the president of Italy’s National Federation of Medical Guilds, Filippo Anelli, stressed that official figures showed the Italian vaccination campaign had already prevented some 150,000 deaths, slashing the country’s potential death toll by almost half.

Vaccines also prevented eight million cases of Covid-19, over 500,000 hospitalisations, and more than 55,000 admissions to intensive care, according to a report from Italy’s national health institute (ISS) in April 2021.

Gemmato’s comments provoked calls for him to step down, including from the head of the centre-left Democratic Party, Enrico Letta.

“A health undersecretary who doesn’t take his distance from no-vaxxers is certainly in the wrong job” wrote the leader of the centrist party Action, Carlo Calenda, on Twitter.

Infectious disease expert Matteo Bassetti of Genoa’s San Martino clinic also expressed shock.

“How is it possible to say that there is no scientific proof that vaccines have helped save the lives of millions of people? You just have to read the scientific literature,” Bassetti tweeted. 

In response to the backlash, Gemmato on Tuesday put out a statement saying he believes “vaccines are precious weapons against Covid” and claiming that his words were taken out of context and misused against him.

The Brothers of Italy party was harshly critical of the previous government’s approach to handling the Covid crisis, accusing the former government of using the pandemic as an excuse to “limit freedom” through its use of the ‘green pass’, a proof of vaccination required to access public spaces. 

But since coming into power, Meloni appears to have significantly softened her stance.

Her appointee for health minister, Orazio Schillaci, is a medical doctor who formed part of the team advising the Draghi administration on its handling of the pandemic.

Schillaci, a former dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at Rome’s Tor Vergata University, has described the former government’s green pass scheme as an “indispensable tool for guaranteeing safety in university classrooms”.

Speaking at a session of the G20 on Tuesday, Meloni referenced the role of vaccines in bringing an end to the Covid pandemic.

“Thanks to the extraordinary work of health personnel, vaccines, prevention, and the accountability of citizens, life has gradually returned to normal,’ the prime minister said in a speech.

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