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EXPLAINED: How should travellers from the UK quarantine in Italy?

Anyone arriving in Italy from the UK now faces quarantine as well as coronavirus tests. Here's what people travelling from the UK need to know about Italy's latest rules.

EXPLAINED: How should travellers from the UK quarantine in Italy?
Travellers from the UK have to quarantine in Italy for five days.Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

Concern over the highly contagious Delta variant prompted the Italian health ministry to toughen its rules for UK arrivals in June – restrictions that have now been extended throughout August.

EXPLAINED: How travel between the UK and Italy has changed

Until at least August 30th, a trip to Italy means two coronavirus tests and five days in quarantine for any travellers who have been in the UK in the past fortnight.That includes people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

With the new rules throwing summer plans into question, here’s a guide to what quarantining in Italy actually involves.

Who has to quarantine?

Compulsory quarantine applies to anyone who has been on UK territory in the 14 days before arrival in Italy, regardless of nationality. 

That means anywhere in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, or British bases on Cyprus.

It also applies to people who transited through any of these places.

It applies regardless of whether you enter Italy by plane, ferry, train, coach, private car or any other means of transport.

Are coronavirus tests still required?

Yes: one in the 48 hours before entering Italy, and a second after five days in quarantine.

You must test negative to be allowed to travel, but a negative result will not allow you to avoid quarantine, which is mandatory regardless. A second negative test allows you to end your isolation period.

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

The UK does not allow people to get tested for travel via the National Health Service, so plan to pay for a private test before your departure.

Italy accepts either molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen swabs for both the pre-travel and post-quarantine tests.

Children aged six or younger are not required to get a test, but should still quarantine.

Are there any other travel requirements?

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

You should also notify the prevention department of the local health authority in the part of Italy you’ll be staying in within 48 hours of your arrival. Depending on where you’re going, this may involve filling out an online form, sending an email or calling a regional helpline. Find contact details here.

When does quarantine start and end?

The official guidance from the Italian Health Ministry states that arrivals must “undergo fiduciary isolation and health surveillance for five days, and undergo an additional molecular or antigenic test at the end of the 5-day isolation period”.

There has been some confusion about whether the day you arrive counts as ‘day one’ or ‘day zero’, and the Health Ministry’s website and ordinances do not specify this.

As you’ll be reporting to the local health office (ASL) in the region of Italy you’re staying in, they will be responsible for telling you exactly when your quarantine period should end, and when you should get tested. Find contact details for local health authorities here.

Once that period is up, you can leave isolation in order to get a test. That’s as long as you have not developed any Covid-19 symptoms and unless your local heath authority has instructed you otherwise.

Whether you can get tested by a private provider such as a pharmacy or have to go through the public health service depends on the rules in your region: ask your local health authority or the regional Covid helpline for advice. In any case, continue avoiding contact with others until you receive confirmation of a negative result.

Anyone with symptoms should remain in isolation and inform their local health authority.

Where should you quarantine in Italy?

Unlike people arriving from India, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, who are obliged to quarantine in designated “Covid hotels”, travellers from the UK can quarantine anywhere of their choosing.

That includes your own residence, a second home or holiday rental.

You can also quarantine at a shared property, such as a friend’s house, but you should avoid close contact with anyone else living there (unless they are also prepared to observe quarantine).

READ ALSO: ‘It’s a nightmare’: How Italy’s extended quarantine for UK travellers has affected you

Hotels may refuse to allow you to quarantine on their property: contact the accommodation before booking to find out what its policy is.

Wherever you decide to quarantine, you should go directly there when you arrive in Italy and settle in for the entire five days: moving from one location to another during your isolation period would be considered a breach of quarantine.  

If you are unable to find anywhere suitable to quarantine in Italy or cannot reach your destination safely, the local authorities reserve the right to put you in accommodation of their choosing, such as a designated hotel, at your expense.

How should you travel there?

You must not take public transport from the airport or ferry terminal where you arrive in Italy: arrange to reach your final destination privately, for instance in a rental car or a taxi. 

A friend or relative is allowed to come and pick you up in their own car, but you should limit your contact with them as much as possible.

Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP

What can you do while you’re quarantining in Italy?

Stay on your own property and avoid contact with anyone else staying there who is not also in quarantine. 

You are not allowed out to go to the shops or to take out rubbish, so make arrangements to stock up on essentials before you arrive or have groceries delivered.

Will anyone check up on you?

Local health authorities reserve the right to telephone or even visit you in person to check that you’re observing quarantine.

As for whether they will or not, reports across Italy vary: some travellers say they were contacted and others report not hearing from the authorities at all.

Penalties for failing to quarantine can be stiff, including thousand-euro fines, so assume the rules will be enforced and act accordingly.

REVEALED: How strictly is Italy enforcing rules on Covid testing and quarantine for UK arrivals?

Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

Are there any exceptions?

People transiting through Italy in a private vehicle for 36 hours or less do not have to quarantine. 

The same goes for people travelling for “proven reasons of work, health or emergency” for 120 hours (five days) or less, according to the Health Ministry.

There are also exemptions for transport crew, diplomats, business travellers and certain students, depending on how long they plan to stay.

There are no exceptions for people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

How long will quarantine remain mandatory for UK arrivals in Italy?

Italy’s testing and quarantine requirements for UK travellers will remain in place until at least August 30th, according to the Health Ministry’s latest ordinance.

Depending on the health situation by then, they may be extended or revised.

Find more information about the requirements for travelling between the UK and Italy on the Italian Health Ministry’s website, or via the Italian Embassy in London and British Embassy in Rome

Member comments

  1. If our trip to Italy is less than 5 days long, or we leave on the 5th day, we are not required to stay longer, right?

  2. If we cross the border from France into Italy can we stay overnight in a hotel on our way to our destination/second home and then quarantine?

    1. I am wondering the same. I can drive through France in on go, but would need to have a night in a hotel just over the Italian border, before continuing to Tuscany .
      Can anyone advise?

  3. Having travelled UK to Italy on 13th June routing via Spain and the ‘grim’ Barcelona-Civitavecchia ferry I hope port control is up to speed on the requirements. With the on/off messing around in the French quarantine rules in early June the ferry route into Spain became more obvious.

    Boarding formalities in Barcelona were a mere temperature check outside the car in 37 deg C heat, having handed in Grimaldi Lines own C-19 paperwork and answered a question on whether we had taken a C19 test. No check made on paperwork.

    The test taken in Barcelona is a joke, more a case of we’ll take your €50/head and certify you fit to get on the ferry; the certifying documents were produced prior to the PCR test reaction completed.

    The ferry being over three hours late into Civitavecchia having left Spain late and called into Sardinia en route meant all health service/ port/ customs staff had departed for the day. We just drove out of the port totally unchallenged.

    And then we in Italy have the latest issue with large numbers of Ukrainians entering Italy to go to match at the Stadio Olympico on Saturday having previous been in Moscow, allowed to arrive unchecked, and yet we’re being encouraged as Brits in Italy to go to the match! I’ll pass on that thanks!

  4. Does anyone have a concept of what ‘proven reasons of work…’ might be? We are travelling to Italy to meet our agent to provide documentation and signatures for the sale of our property in Le Marche.

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TRAVEL NEWS

REVEALED: Countries fear non-EU travellers face delays under new EES border checks

A number of countries in Europe's Schengen area admit they fear delays and insufficient time to test the process ahead of new, more rigorous EU border checks that will be introduced next year, a new document reveals.

REVEALED: Countries fear non-EU travellers face delays under new EES border checks

Schengen countries are tightening up security at the external borders with the introduction of a new digital system (EES) to record the entry and exit of non-EU citizens in May 2023.

The EES will enable the automatic scanning of passports replacing manual stamping by border guards. It will register the person’s name, type of the travel document, biometric data (fingerprints and facial images) and the date and place of entry and exit. The data will be kept in a centralised database on a rolling three-year basis that is re-set at each entry. 

What the EES is intended to do is increase border security, including the enforcement of the 90-day short-stay limit for tourists and visitors.

EU citizens and third-country nationals who reside in a country of the Schengen area will not be subject to such checks as long as they can prove residency in an EU country however they will still be caught up in any delays at passport control if the new system as many fear, causes longer processing times.

READ ALSO: Foreigners living in EU not covered by new EES border checks

But given its scale, the entry into operation of the system has been raising concerns on many fronts, including the readiness of the physical and digital infrastructure, and the time required for border checks, which could subsequently cause massive queues at borders.

A document on the state of preparations was distributed last week by the secretariat of the EU Council (the EU institution representing member states) and published by Statewatch, a non-profit organisation that monitors civil liberties.

The paper contains the responses from 21 countries to a questionnaire about potential impacts on passenger flows, the infrastructure put in place and the possibility of a gradual introduction of the new system over a number of months.

This is what certain the countries have responded. Responses from Denmark, Spain and Sweden do not appear in the report but the answers from other countries will be relevant for readers in those countries.

READ ALSO: What the EU’s new EES border check system means for travel

‘Double processing time’

Austria and Germany are the most vocal in warning that passport processing times will increase when the EES will become operational.

“The additional tasks resulting from the EES regulation will lead to a sharp increase in process times”, which are expected to “double compared to the current situation,” Austrian authorities say. “This will also affect the waiting times at border crossing points (in Austria, the six international airports),” the document continues.

“Furthermore, border control will become more complicated since in addition to the distinction between visa-exempt and visa-required persons, we will also have to differentiate between EES-required and EES-exempt TCN [third country nationals], as well as between registered and unregistered TCN in EES,” Austrian officials note.

Based on an analysis of passenger traffic carried out with the aviation industry, German authorities estimate that checking times will “increase significantly”.

France expects to be ready for the introduction of the EES “in terms of passenger routes, training and national systems,” but admits that “fluidity remains a concern” and “discussions are continuing… to make progress on this point”.

Italy is also “adapting the border operational processes… in order to contain the increased process time and ensure both safety and security”.

“Despite many arguments for the introduction of automated border control systems based on the need for efficiency, the document makes clear that the EES will substantially increase border crossing times,” Statewatch argues.

‘Stable service unlikely by May 2023’

The border infrastructure is also being adapted for collecting and recording the data, with several countries planning for automated checks. So what will change in practice?

France will set up self-service kiosks in airports, where third-country nationals can pre-register their biometric data and personal information before being directed to the booth for verification with the border guard. The same approach will be adopted for visitors arriving by bus, while tablet devices such as iPads will be used for the registration of car passengers at land and sea borders.

Germany also plans to install self-service kiosks at the airports to “pre-capture” biometric data before border checks. But given the little time for testing the full process, German authorities say “a stable working EES system seems to be unlikely in May 2023.”

Austria intends to install self-service kiosks at the airports of Vienna and Salzburg “in the course of 2023”. Later these will be linked to existing e-gates enabling a “fully automated border crossing”. Austrian authorities also explain that airport operators are seeking to provide more space for kiosks and queues, but works will not be completed before the system is operational.

Italy is increasing the “equipment of automated gates in all the main  airport” and plans to install, at least in the first EES phase, about 600 self-service kiosks at the airports of Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa, Venice and in those with “significant volumes of extra-Schengen traffic,” such as Bergamo, Naples, Bologna and Turin.

Switzerland, which is not an EU member but is part of the Schengen area, is also installing self-service kiosks to facilitate the collection of data. Norway, instead, will have “automated camera solutions operated by the border guards”, but will consider self-service options only after the EES is in operation.

Gradual introduction?

One of the possibilities still in consideration is the gradual introduction of the new system. The European Commission has proposed a ‘progressive approach’ that would allow the creation of “incomplete” passenger files for 9 months following the EES entry into operation, and continuing passport stamping for 3 months.

According to the responses, Italy is the only country favourable to this option. For Austria and France this “could result in more confusion for border guards and travellers”. French officials also argue that a lack of biometric data will “present a risk for the security of the Schengen area”.

France suggested to mitigate with “flexibility” the EES impacts in the first months of its entry into service. In particular, France calls for the possibility to not create EES files for third-country nationals who entered the Schengen area before the system becomes operational, leaving this task to when they return later.

This would “significantly ease the pressure” on border guards “during the first three months after entry into service,” French authorities said.

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