EXPLAINED: How can you get Italy’s ‘green pass’ if you’re not vaccinated?

Photo: Andreas SOLARO / AFP
Since Italy made proof of Covid-19 vaccination, recovery or a negative test a requirement to enter venues around the country, many readers have contacted The Local to ask how the 'green pass' works if you're not vaccinated. Here's what you need to know.

Italy’s ‘green pass’ became mandatory to enter indoor restaurants, museums, concert venues, gyms, spas, theme parks and many other sites across the country from August 6th.

The Covid health pass is designed for people who got vaccinated, recovered or were tested in Italy, with agreements also in place for tourists and visitors who got vaccinated in another country.

Q&A: Your questions answered about Italy’s new Covid health pass

While Italy aims to have the whole adult population vaccinated by the end of September, those who are not yet vaccinated, and don’t have a certificate of recovery from infection, seem to leave only one route to getting the ‘green pass’: testing.

Meanwhile, people who live in Italy and can’t have the vaccine for health reasons are able to apply for an exemption certificate.

Here’s what you need to know, whether you’re a resident or are just visiting.

What to do if you’re a resident in Italy

If you have residency in Italy, people who cannot receive or complete the vaccination for health reasons can use a vaccination exemption certificate.

According to a Ministry of Health circular released on August 4th, this certificate is issued by the vaccination services of the regional health service (Servizi vaccinali delle Aziende ed Enti dei Servizi sanitari regionali) or by doctors involved in the national anti-Covid vaccination campaign.

Photo: Andreas SOLARO/AFP

If you already received an exemption certificate from the regional health services, they’re valid until September 30th, come in a paper format and are free. They also don’t state the reason for the exemption.

This certificate can be used to access services and activities that require Italy’s ‘green pass’, according to advice given on Italy’s Digital Green Certificate (DGC) website.

What should I do if I’m visiting Italy from abroad and I’m not vaccinated?

If you’re coming to Italy for a holiday or to visit friends and family, you’ll need to go down the testing route to gain access to Italy’s venues and sites.

This is also true for unvaccinated residents in Italy who aren’t eligible for a vaccination exemption certificate and haven’t recovered from the virus within the previous six months.

READ ALSO: The essential Italian phrases you need to know for getting tested and vaccinated

According to the regulations, these are the accepted tests to obtain Italy’s health certificate:

  • PCR test, also called a molecular test or in Italian simply un tampone (“a swab”) – this detects the presence of genetic material (RNA) from the virus and is usually carried out via a nasopharyngeal swab. The swab is sent off to a lab for processing and the results are emailed out later (usually within 48 hours)
  • Rapid antigen test on the common European list for Covid-19 (test antigene or test antigenico, or sometimes just tampone rapido, “fast swab”) – carried out using a nasal swab, which enables the rapid detection of virus antigens within around 15 minutes. It must be carried out by health workers or trained personnel who certify the test type, the date of testing and the result. They will send the results to the national DGC platform for the certificate.

Rapid self-tests or home tests (autotest or test fai da te in Italian), saliva tests and serological tests are currently not recognised.

READ ALSO: Can tourists and visitors use Italy’s Covid ‘green pass’ to access museums, concerts and indoor dining?


Where can I get a test?

Tests can be carried out without a prescription at Italy’s airports, pharmacies, labs, testing centres, or even at your accommodation via private doctors such as Med in Action or Medelit.

You can find antigen testing at most pharmacies in Italy. Look out for signs saying ‘test Covid-19’ in the window.

Most pharmacies offer testing without appointments, but some, especially the smaller ones, may require booking in advance. You can usually just walk in and make your reservation.

Many international airports in Italy, including Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa, Venice, Florence, Pisa, Bari, Cagliari and others, have on-site Covid testing facilities. Tests are usually rapid antigen swabs, though others may be available, and fees range from around €20 (Florence and Pisa) to €50 (Milan). You can find further details on the relevant airport’s website.

At train stations in larger Italian cities you can also get tested for free at pop-up centres run by the Red Cross (Croce rossa).  Their pop-up testing centres usually offer a rapid antigen test.

PCR tests would normally be done at a specialist Covid testing centre, a medical lab, health centre or doctor’s office.

If a PCR test takes up to 48 hours, does that mean it’s not an option as the green pass testing period only lasts 48 hours?

Although the PCR test is an accepted test, its longer wait time does make it a less appealing option for the green pass. It’s also generally more expensive than the rapid antigen tests.

Prices at private laboratories or pharmacies vary from region to region: rapid antigen tests start at €15 but can cost as much as €50, while molecular PCR tests can cost up to €100.

Although PCR test results can take up to 48 hours, one reader contacted The Local to say that their PCR test conducted in Desenzano, Lombardy, cost €60 and took 20 hours to be delivered.


Compared to the rapid antigen test, though, it still takes longer and costs more on average.

If the test result is valid for 48 hours, does that mean I have to re-do a test every 48 hours?

Yes. If you want to visit gyms, swimming pools, museums, cinemas, theatres, sports stadiums and other public venues throughout your time in Italy, you’ll need to keep getting tested. The official full list of places where a pass is required can be found here (in Italian). 

A green pass that has been generated from a negative Covid result is valid for 48 hours from the time of sampling – that is, when the test was taken.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the government will expand the green pass scheme further in September, when it will also become mandatory for public transport.

The requirement will apply to passengers on domestic flights, ferries and long-distance trains from September 1st.

For more information on how non-residents can get a Covid-19 test while in Italy, check here.

How do I get the test result on my phone?

Once you’ve taken a Covid-19 test, the data is submitted to the Ministry of Health’s centralised system, which will then generate a certificate.

According to the DGC website, the data transmission takes a few hours and the certificate will be created within the same day.

Some readers have reported being told that longer waiting times for the results of rapid tests at pharmacies were due to “system crashes” at particularly busy times.

So if the test is valid for 48 hours from the time of sampling and considering it takes a few hours to generate the certificate, it’s worth noting that the green pass will be available for fewer than 48 hours in reality.

You can access your pass via the official website, but you will need an authorisation code from your test provider or doctor. Find more information here.

If you have problems receiving it, the lab or pharmacy where you got tested should be able to help you – the Covid certificate containing the QR code is accepted in both paper and digital format.

If you’re having problems getting your health certificate, here’s a list of the most common questions about the green pass answered.

Find the latest updates in our green pass news section and further details on the official website (currently only available in Italian).

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