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Q&A: Your questions about Italy’s quarantine for UK arrivals answered

As Italy's five-day quarantine rule for travellers from the UK remains in place until at least August 30th, many readers have contacted The Local to clarify what that entails and what to do if you think you're exempt. Here we answer the questions you've asked the most.

Q&A: Your questions about Italy's quarantine for UK arrivals answered
Photo: Stefanie Loos/AFP

**Note: This article is no longer being updated. Find the latest travel news here.**

For travellers entering Italy from the UK, there’s currently a five-day quarantine and testing in place on arrival until at least August 30th.

The Italian authorities first introduced the travel restrictions back in June following concern over the highly contagious Delta variant, and extended the measure on July 29th just hours before the rule was due to expire. Its not yet known whether the rule is likely to be extended beyond the current expiry date of August 30th.

Based on information from the Italian health ministry and other government sources, here are the answers to the questions readers have asked most frequently since the announcement.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Q: How long do I have to quarantine for and when does it start?

A: 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.

Q: How do I get tested to end quarantine?

Once your isolation 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 the local health authority will book your test for you or you’ll need to organise your own via a private provider depends on the rules in each Italian region: ask your local area’s health authority (ASL) or the regional Covid helpline for advice.

You must continue avoiding contact with others until you receive confirmation of a negative result.

If you do get symptoms, you should remain in isolation and inform your local health authority.

See more details about getting a coronavirus test in Italy here.

Q: Do children need to get tested to end quarantine too?

A: Children under the age of six don’t need to take a Covid-19 test to be released from quarantine (but they must observe the five-day isolation period in any case).

Q: What about if I go to another country before Italy? Can I skip quarantine if I arrive from Switzerland for instance?

A: 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.

So the quarantine for UK arrivals does not apply only if you have been out of the UK territory – including these places listed – for 14 days already.

Q: Can I avoid quarantine if I drive to Italy and pass through other countries without stopping?

A: No. The quarantine applies to all those who have transited through any of the places listed above within the past 14 days – arriving via another EU country doesn’t mean the five-day isolation period no longer applies.

You must quarantine in Italy regardless of whether you enter the country by plane, ferry, train, coach, private car or any other means of transport.

READ ALSO: 

It’s advisable to check the UK’s official travel advice for any countries you plan to travel through. The requirements may change if you have travelled from, or transited through, a country on Italy’s travel Lists D and E – perhaps even increasing your quarantine period.

Check the Italian government’s online questionnaire (in English) for more details.

Q: I read about some exemptions. How can I prove I don’t need to quarantine?

A: People transiting through Italy in a private vehicle for 36 hours or less do not have to quarantine. You’ll need to check with the local border police for the documentation you may need to prove this.

People travelling for “proven reasons of work, health or emergency” for 120 hours (five days) or less are also exempt, according to the Health Ministry.

In both cases, there is no need to complete testing and isolation – however, some airlines may still require testing as per company policy, so you’ll need to check before travel.

Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE/AFP
The digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF) still needs to be completed in both these instances.
As for proving how you meet the criteria for exemption, very little information is available about this on Italian government websites.

“The final decision on exemptions rests with the Italian border police,” a representative of the Italian embassy in London told The Local.

“It is up to you ultimately whether you consider the journey to be urgent and/or essential and if so, any supporting documentation supporting your case should be supplied.”

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

For more information on exemption from quarantine and testing, click here.

Q: I’m fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Does that make me exempt from quarantine?

A: No. There are no exceptions, even for people who have been fully vaccinated against the virus.

“The NHS pass does not exempt you from the 5-day isolation on arrival for those arriving from the UK,” the Italian Embassy in London confirmed.

Once you’re out of quarantine however, you can use the NHS certificate in place of the Italian ‘green pass’.

“The NHS pass from the 6th August will allow the same access (to indoor restaurants, gyms, trade fairs etc) as the European green pass scheme,” the Embassy said, adding that it was valid  “both in digital and paper format. There will be no need for conversion.”

Q: Is the Italian government likely to do a U-turn on this decision and revoke the rules before August 30th?

A: While we may be used to the current UK government backtracking after enforcing various measures. this is more unusual in Italy and has not happened before with Covid travel restrictions. So far, Italy has only lifted previous similar travel restrictions on their expiry date.

While it looks unlikely, the Local will continue to follow updates closely and report on any changes to the rules.

Q: Where should I quarantine when I get to Italy?

A: Travellers from the UK can quarantine anywhere of their choosing – you don’t need to go to a designated ‘Covid hotel’. Your own residence, a second home or holiday rental are all accepted places to self-isolate.

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

Hotels are also acceptable places to isolate for the mandatory five days, but they may refuse. Contact the accommodation before booking to find out what its policy is.

Q: Can I spread my quarantine across different accommodation?

A: No. 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.

Q: What if I can’t find a place to quarantine?

A: 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.

Q: Can I use public transport to get to my quarantine accommodation?

A: No. The current rules state that you must not take public transport from the airport or ferry terminal where you arrive in Italy. You’ll need to get to your destination privately, for instance in a rental car or a taxi.

A family member or friend can pick you up, provided that they come in their own car, but advice states that you should limit your contact with them as much as possible.

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

Photo: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP

Q: When I’m in quarantine, can I go out to buy groceries?

A: No. You are not allowed out to go to the shops  or to take out rubbish, so you will make arrangements to stock up on essentials before you arrive or have groceries delivered.

Q: What about if I’m staying with family or a friend? Do they need to quarantine too?

A: No – as long as you avoid contact with anyone else staying in the same property.

Q: Can I leave the property to walk my dog?

A: No. This would be breaking your quarantine. You’ll need to make arrangements to have your dog walked if you are travelling with one.

Q: Will I get checked up on while I’m in quarantine?

A: Local health authorities have the right to telephone or even visit you in person to check that you’re observing quarantine. This is why you’re asked to provide an address and contact number when reporting your arrival.

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

Q: Will I be fined if I break quarantine?

A: There are steep penalties for failing to quarantine, including thousand-euro fines. The safest thing is to assume the rules will be enforced and act accordingly.

Q: Will mandatory quarantine for UK arrivals in Italy continue after August?

Although Italy’s testing and quarantine requirements for UK travellers will remain in place until at least August 30th, there are no current indications whether this will continue into September or be dropped entirely.

A decision will depend on the health situation closer to the end of August, with such announcements often made just days or hours before they’re due to be revised.

The Local will continue to follow the travel restrictions closely. Please check our homepage or travel news section for the most recent reports on any changes to the rules.

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. The Italian declaration says that those who transit through the UK are required to quarantine, however, it’s is imprecise. In some cases, ‘transit’ means land-side transit rather than air-side transit (where one connects through LHR, but does not leave airport property). Has anyone been able to find additional information on air-side transit? We’ve got tickets from the US that return through LHR.

    1. Hi,

      The rules apply to anyone who has been on UK territory in the 14 days before arrival in Italy, including in transit and regardless of mode of transport used, so this would appear to include flight transit – although it’s not explicitly stated. We’d recommend checking this with your airline.

      Best wishes,

      – Clare

  2. Hey all.

    I am due to fly from London to Rome soon to go on a cruise from Civitavecchia. I notice that on the PLF form you can choose a cruise ship as your destination. Does this mean, as the cruise ship is leaving Italy within 36 hours of my arrival that i do not have to quarantine? I’m finding this all very difficult and getting anxious.

    1. Hi,

      People transiting through Italy in a private vehicle for 36 hours or less do not have to quarantine. So if you are travelling directly from the airport in Rome to the cruise ship terminal, this shouldn’t be a problem. We’d recommend confirming this with the cruise operator.

      Best wishes,
      – Clare

      1. The cruise line have no idea apparently!

        Trying to call the local COVID helpline for Rome but it’s all in Italian (for obvious reasons) and I can’t get an answer. If anyone can help I’d really appreciate it!

  3. We are taking our motorhome to The heel of Italy in August. I am a bit baffled as to where to put as our contact address for quarantine. Do I have to try to book into a campsite for 5 days or can we keep driving to Puglia where will can stay with our daughter? Do I register with the region we enter in Italy or do we register in Puglia? Very confused 🤔

  4. I’m planning to drive to Italy from the UK at the beginning of September. I know the rules could change again before then, but if they don’t, does anyone know if this journey will be OK?

    I’ll drive from France to Genoa one morning, take a ferry from there to Palermo (overnight), then from Palermo drive to the east of Sicily, where I’ll take another (quick) ferry and drive to my final destination. The journey is under 48 hours, with one night spent on a ferry. The first time I’ll spend a night on land I’ll have reached my final destination, where I can quarantine for five days if this is still necessary.

    Does anyone know if ferry travel will be permitted in this case? I’ve seen that public transport isn’t, but I don’t know if ferries are included in this. I don’t know how else I can do this journey – I need to get to the south of Italy (Calabria) by car, and a 15 hour drive through Italy in one day isn’t something I can realistically do – also travelling with a dog!

    Any further knowledge or pointers would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

    Sarah

  5. Hi, we are based in the UK, but getting married on Sept 4th in Tuscany. We and long with 50 guests are quarantining ahead of the wedding, but our UK based band cannot quarantine. We are assuming that quarantine is extended again.

    I believe they are exempt from quarantine as they are traveling to Italy for work. Has anyone had any experience of a band flying in for a wedding (or another event)? Any idea what is required at the Border?

    Any advice much appeciated

    Thanks
    John & Olivia

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For members

BREXIT

Frustration grows as UK driving licence holders in Italy wait in limbo

British nationals living in Italy are becoming increasingly concerned by the lack of news about a reciprocal driving licence agreement post-Brexit, and say the current 'catch-22' situation is adversely affecting their lives.

Frustration grows as UK driving licence holders in Italy wait in limbo

There is growing discontent among UK licence holders residing in Italy who are currently playing a waiting game on the validity of their driving licences.

Those who are driving in Italy on a UK-issued permit currently have just over six months left before their licence is no longer accepted on Italy’s roads.

READ ALSO: Driving licences: How does situation for Brits in Italy compare to rest of Europe?

That is, unless a deal is reached between the UK and Italy, or another extension period is granted.

Another extension would mark the third time the authorities have deferred making an agreement on UK driving licences in Italy.

When Britain left the EU at the end of 2020, British and Italian authorities hadn’t reached a reciprocal deal on driving licences.

However, UK licence holders living in Italy were granted a 12-month grace period in which they could continue to drive on their British licences in Italy.

With just days to go before the deadline in December 2021, those still using a UK licence were granted a reprieve when it was further extended for another 12 months until the end of 2022.

But the situation from January 1st, 2023, remains unknown.

In the remaining few months, British nationals driving in Italy who hadn’t converted their licence to an Italian one before January 1st, 2021 face the same choice again: wait and hope for an agreement or start the lengthy and costly process of taking their Italian driving test.

There is still no confirmation on reaching an agreement on driving licences. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Many UK nationals have contacted The Local recently to express their frustration, anger and concern over the situation, explaining how the possibility of not being to drive in Italy would profoundly impact their lives.

For some, it would mean not being able to get to work, losing their independence, not being to reach supermarkets for the food shop in remote areas, or not being able to take their children to school.

And in the meantime, many readers told us it means ongoing worry and uncertainty.

Reader David (not his real name), who moved to the southern region of Puglia shortly before Brexit hit, tells us he now finds himself in a “horrible catch-22 situation”.

He summed up the feeling among many of those who contacted The Local by saying: “It is highly concerning and not at all helpful for mental or physical health in a period when we are trying to settle in to a new life in Italy.”

He points out that, for him, retaking his driving test and getting an Italian licence would also mean having to sell his car and buy one with a less powerful engine.

“I realise that if I pass the Italian driving test and obtain an Italian licence, then I will be a neopatente (new driver) with three years of serious restrictions,” he says.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about getting an Italian driving licence post-Brexit

Newly administered licences in Italy carry restrictions including on the maximum engine size of the car the holder may drive, tighter speed limits on the motorway and extra penalty points for breaking them.

“In this situation, I am honestly dis-incentivised to get the Italian licence unless there seriously is a real ‘no deal’ scenario on the table,” he says.

“Because if I get an Italian licence now – and of course I could choose now to invest a lot of time and money to get it – and then an agreement is reached to exchange licenses, then I might find myself in a worse position than if I just waited to do an exchange.”

“I am sincerely hoping for an agreement to be reached for experienced drivers with a UK licence.”

James Appleton lives in Milan and says he feels “frustrated about the situation”. Although he concedes that he lives in the city with all the convenience that implies, he is worried about having a car sitting outside his flat that he can no longer drive from January.

“The frustration now is with little over six months left of the year, advice from the authorities has continued to be quite unhelpful,” he tells us.

“We keep hearing, ‘consider your options’. I know my options: I have to start the process of taking a test, which is expensive and lengthy, and which may turn out to be unnecessary, or wait until the end of the year. Those have been my options for year and a half,” he adds.

Frustration for many British nationals still waiting on a post-Brexit driving licence agreement. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

“I feel very much in limbo. If it gets to November and we still haven’t heard anything, I risk having a car that I can’t drive from January as my licence may no longer be valid.

My hope would be if there’s not to be a deal, let us know so there’s time to take the test,” James says. “I don’t want to find out with a week to go, like last year.”

He points to the fact that many other non-EU countries have reciprocal driving licence agreements with Italy, so why not the UK? Meanwhile, Italy is one of only two countries in the EU still not to have made a deal on driving licences.

While he said he didn’t want to sound “entitled”, the lack of clarity was simply confusing.

READ ALSO: Q&A: Your questions answered about driving in Italy on a British licence

Like many others, he tried but didn’t manage to convert his British licence in time as he moved to Italy shortly before the Brexit deadline.

James registered as a resident in December 2020, leaving little time to begin the conversion process. He admitted it was partly his fault “for not having realised the consequences of what was going to happen”.

But “there are some people in a position where it wasn’t so straightforward to convert your licence,” he notes.

This was true for another reader, who wished to remain anonymous. She tells us that she tried to begin the conversion of her UK driving licence three times in Imperia, where she lives, but was told to “wait and see what is decided”.

“No one has taken a note of my requests and attempts so I cannot prove my attempts to get this sorted or listed,” she says.

READ ALSO: How to import your car or motorbike to Italy

In her case, it would therefore be difficult to prove that she began the conversion process before January 1st, 2021.

She also faced setbacks when trying to convert her licence in time after applying for residency before Brexit.

On being told that she needed her final ID card (carta d’identità) proving her residence, she returned to her town hall but couldn’t get the card for another seven months due to no appointments being available.

“Then I couldn’t get the licence exchanged as the person dealing with this was not at work on the day I went. I had to fly back to UK then Covid restrictions kicked in, hampering travel and by then UK was out of Europe and the Italian/UK driver’s licence issues remained unsolved,” she added.

The question on a UK-Italy driving licence agreement rolls on. Photo by FABIO MUZZI / AFP

So is there any hope that an agreement will be reached and those driving on a UK licence won’t need to sit an Italian driving test?

At this point there are no indications as to whether a decision will be reached either way. The British government continues to advise licence holders to sit their Italian driving test, while also stating that they’re working on reaching a deal.

The latest update to the driving guidance on the British government’s ‘Living in Italy’ webpage in January states:

“If you were resident in Italy before 1 January 2022 you can use your valid UK licence until 31 December 2022,” however, “you must exchange your licence for an Italian one by 31 December 2022. You will need to take a driving test (in Italian).”

The guidance then states: “The British and Italian governments continue to negotiate long-term arrangements for exchanging driving licences without needing to take a test.”

So far, so much conflicting advice, as many readers point out.

Of those who have decided to take the plunge and sit the Italian driving test, some say it’s “not as difficult as it sounds” while others report having trouble with the highly technical questions in the theory test, not to mention the fact that the test has to be taken in Italian.

If you speak French or German better than Italian, the test may be available in those languages – but not in English.

READ ALSO: Getting your Italian driving licence: the language you need to pass your test

“My question is why can’t you take your driving test in English? Adding it as an option for taking the test would help,” says Njideka Nwachukwu, who moved to Italy in 2019. She failed the theory test and has to try again, at a further cost.

Even if you find taking the test a breeze, the process is known to take around six months – if you pass everything first time – and to set you back hundreds of euros.

At the time of writing, neither Italian nor British government officials have given any indication as to if or when a deal may be reached, or an explanation of why the two countries have not yet been able to reach an agreement.

Nor has any explanation been given as to why this important aspect of life in Italy was never protected under the Withdrawal Agreement in the first place.

When contacted by The Local recently for an update on the situation, the British Embassy in Rome stated: “rest assured the Embassy continues to prioritise the issue of UK driving licence validity in Italy and we continue to engage with the Italian government on this issue.”

The Local will continue to ask for updates regarding the use of British driving licences in Italy.

Thank you to everyone who contacted The Local to tell us how they are affected by this issue, including those we couldn’t feature in this article.

Find more information on the UK government website’s Living in Italy section.

See The Local’s latest Brexit-related news updates for UK nationals in Italy here.

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