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EXPLAINED: What are the rules for travel between the USA and Italy?

Rules for travel between Italy and the USA changed once again on December 16th. Here are the latest rules on Covid tests, vaccination and quarantine.

EXPLAINED: What are the rules for travel between the USA and Italy?
Photo: JAIME REINA/AFP

Travel from the USA to Italy

Travel from the USA to Italy is still permitted for tourism purposes, though Italy has marginally tightened the rules with its latest travel ordinance that came into force on December 16th.

It remains the case that passengers arriving in Italy from the US need to produce both a Covid vaccination or recovery certificate and a negative test result to avoid having to quarantine on arrival; and both rapid antigen tests and molecular PCR tests continue to be accepted for entry into Italy.

However, while a PCR test can still be taken within 72 hours of arriving in Italy in order to be valid for entry, with the new rules, rapid antigen tests must be taken within 24 hours of arrival to be accepted.

Note that the rules are based on the country you are travelling from, and not on your nationality. Americans travelling to Italy from other countries can check which rules will apply to them here.

In summary:

Vaccinated travellers/those who have recovered from Covid in the past six months

– can travel to Italy for any reason and do not need to quarantine, provided they show proof of vaccination or an official recovery certificate, and a negative PCR Covid test result less than 72 hours old or a negative antigen test result less than 24 hours old at the border.

All arrivals will also need to fill out the passenger locator form before leaving the US.

Vaccination can be proved with a CDC vaccine card or any official vaccination certificate in Italian, English, French or Spanish. A recovery certificate must be provided in Italian (via an official sworn translation if necessary) to be accepted, according to a circular published to the Ministry of Health’s website.

READ ALSO: Q&A: Answers to your questions about Italy’s new travel rules

Unvaccinated travellers/those without a recovery certificate

– can still travel to Italy for any purpose, including tourism, but will have to quarantine on arrival. They must still produce a negative PCR test result less than 72 hours old or a negative antigen test result less than 24 hours old at the border, and fill out the passenger locator form mentioned above.

The quarantine period lasts five days, and travellers leaving quarantine will need to get a negative Covid test result (PCR or antigen) from a pharmacy before they can interact with people again.

The quarantine can be done at a private home, holiday rental, or hotel, though if you plan to stay in someone else’s commercial accommodation you should double check that they’re happy to host a guest who needs 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).

Both rapid antigen tests and molecular PCR tests are accepted in Italy for entry into the country and for leaving quarantine.

READ ALSO: How and where to get a coronavirus test in Italy

Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

To count as fully vaccinated, travellers must 

  • Have received a vaccine that is approved by the European Medicines Agency – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson.
  • Have been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks after the second injection for double-dose vaccines or for two weeks after a single shot for people who had the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The vaccination certificate/vaccine card should contain

  • The holder’s name, surname, and date of birth.
  • The type and batch of each vaccine administered.
  • The date(s) on which the vaccine(s) were administered.
  • The name of the State and the health authority that issued the certificate.

A recovery certificate should contain “information about the holder’s past SARS-CoV-2 infection, following a positive test” and the date of the holder’s first positive Covid test, as well as the holder’s full name and date of birth and the name of the State and the health authority that issued the certificate.

In Italy

Once in Italy, a basic ‘green pass’ health certificate or its equivalent, showing that the holder is vaccinated against, recovered from, or has recently tested negative for Covid, is required to stay in hotels and to access all public transport, as well as facilities like ski slopes and museums.

A ‘super green pass’ or its equivalent, showing that the bearer is vaccinated against or recovered from Covid, is now also required to access a range of other venues and services, including indoor seating at restaurants, as well as cinemas, theatres, concerts, nightclubs, and sports events.

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

In all cases, the CDC vaccine card should be accepted in lieu of the basic green pass and the ‘super green pass’, although there have been some reports of train conductors refusing to let passengers board without an actual green pass – so if it’s really important to catch a particular train, for example, you might want to pay for a test.

Until at least December 31st, prices for rapid antigen tests will be capped at €15 for adults and €8 for minors aged 12-18 at pharmacies participating in a government scheme to subsidise the costs of obtaining a basic green pass. Children under the age of 12 are not required to have the green pass.

Your basic green pass will be valid for 48 hours from the time of your negative antigen test result, or for 72 hours from the time of your negative PCR test result.

It is not currently possible to convert your CDC vaccine card to an Italian green pass without first being present in Italy.

The process varies from region to region and between local health authorities, can easily take a couple of weeks, and is targeted at Italian citizens and residents staying in the country long term – so it’s not really worth attempting this if you’re just in the country as a tourist.

READ ALSO: Where do you now need to show a Covid green pass in Italy?

Photo: Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

From Italy to the USA

After a lopsided summer in which Americans could holiday in Italy, but Italian people could not holiday in the USA, the USA opened its borders as of November 8th.

It’s worth noting that the US government continues to advise its own citizens against visiting Italy – this is advice not a ban, but can affect travel insurance, so check your policy before travelling.

What documents do I need to travel from Italy to the USA?

The US allows its own citizens to enter regardless of vaccination status, but anyone aged two years and older must provide either a negative Covid-19 viral test taken within one day of travel or documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from Covid-19 in the 90 days prior to travel.

The CDC’s website says it uses a one-day rather than a 24 hour time frame “to provide more flexibility to the air passenger and aircraft operator (…) For example, if your flight is at 1pm on a Friday, you could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Thursday.”

If you need to be tested for travel to the US, both rapid antigen tests and molecular PCR tests can be carried out without a prescription at Italy’s airports, pharmacies, labs, testing centres, or via private doctors such as Med in Action or Medelit.

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.

Find more details about coronavirus testing in Italy here.

Aside from a valid biometric passport, there is one important document that all travellers must print, fill out and sign, as without it you will not be allowed to board the plane.

Called the ‘Passenger Disclosure and Attestation to the United States of America”, this CDC form is easy to miss, as it is often buried among other travel-related information airlines send to passengers as part of an email that comprises booking details, baggage allowance, and mask requirement.

Only the most attentive passenger will notice a link called “Stricter regulations on entering the USA”, which compiles various rules, including this form.

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

American residents in Italy are subject to the same Italian entry requirements as all other travellers, so must produce a vaccination or recovery certificate and a negative test result in order to avoid quarantining on return from the US.

For further details on the requirements for travel between the US and Italy, please see:

Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases.

You can keep up with the latest news updates via our homepage or travel news section.

Member comments

  1. Is an antigen test acceptable for American traveling from New York to Rome? Or must it be a PCR? This is not clear on Alitalia or other places I have checked.

    1. You can do either test. Just make sure your days and times are correct. We decided to take an antigen test bc PCR results can take 5 days to return Example: I took rapid antigen test to get in & made sure it was up to 48 hours before I entered italy.
      I arrived in italy sept 16th and took my antigen test sept 14th- I was able to get in from Chicago to FLR.
      Safe travels!

      1. Hi Les7,
        Everything I have read says within 72 hours, but you mention 48 hours. Where did you find that? I am getting my test at 320pm on Sunday and arrive in Rome on Tuesday at 735am. We then fly to Bari at 9am. Will the 320pm test be okay? Seems like it to me, but the time difference always puzzles me.

        1. Correct, “within 72 hours” means a time frame UP TO 72 hours. So although 70 hrs is acceptable, 48 hours would also be acceptable. Don’t worry, I was also very confused before traveling here, but did the exam within the 48 hour time frame and was able to enter Italy. I flew with Lufthansa and they were very information & helpful during the process, i have attached a link from their airline. See below

          https://lufthansa.travel-regulations.com/route-info?language=en&origin=DFW&destination=FLR&via=FRA&flight-numbers=LH439-LH9496-

          1. Excellent. I think we are okay then. Thanks very much! We are so excited to be finally able to accomplish our move to Italy! All the best, Mo

  2. Does an American tourist (US citizen & resident) traveling to Italy from France after having spent 3 weeks in France still have to show a negative test, as well as vaccine card and PLF upon entry in Italy?

  3. Hello, I have made it to Italy and the information in the article is correct. We were able to fly here with a negative covid test as well as our CDC vaccination cards.
    Once in Tuscany (Montespertoli) we attempted to use our CDC card and we’re denied restaurant entry although they will allow you to sit outside. A green pass was required here sept 16th-22nd.
    That said, we went to pharmacy to get tested and they give the green pass after giving your identification card/drivers license and email address. You can ask for a paper copy or use your QR code via email.
    We rode Italio bullet train & the conductor informed our CDC cards were fine to ride Italio train.
    While touring the Vatican, although we used green passes to play it safe, other guests in our group were able to use their CDC card.
    Now we are in Almafi coast & we’ve eaten out 2xs and the restaurant hasn’t asked for green pass or cdc card.
    What I’ve learned is it has been different for every city.

  4. The article states that “both rapid antigen tests and molecular PCR tests are accepted for entry into Italy.” In the USA, Walgreens pharmacy offers three types of tests, which it describes as follows:

    (1) PCR tests (results within 72 hours)
    (2) Rapid molecular tests (results within 24 hours)
    (3) Rapid antigen tests (results within 1 hour)

    Unfortunately, type (3) is not available anywhere remotely close to where we live, so I’d like to make sure that type (2) – a rapid molecular test – is also acceptable to the Italian authorities.

    Thank you!

  5. I just returned from Italy, you can send me questions about $, covid, travel…… Although not an expert, I hopefully can help.

  6. Just returned from a week in Rome. Our experience was as follows: Took a rapid test (antigen) within 72 hours of arrival time in Rome and filled out the EULF locater form. Both documents, including Vax Cert were checked out by the airline (Delta) before we got our boarding passes. (Online check was not possible because of these checks). After that there was no checking of any documentation. We were not asked for any proof of anything when we cleared through Fiumicino airport.

    During our stay whenever we were asked for vax proof (where they require Green Pass for Italians) all the museums that we went to were fine with the white CDC card (a few checked ID to match the name on the cert). Found it very comforting that practically everyone in the Metro was following the mask mandate, and while everyone walked around maskless in the open, they all dutifully put on a mask when then went into stores and other indoor places.

    To return to the US, US law required a test (rapid antigen acceptable) within 72 hours of departure. We found that most pharmacies, especially near busy piazzas like the one at the Spanish Steps, had a little white tent outside that did the testing. You had to make a booking for a day/time and pay in advance at the pharmacy (the antigen cost us Euro 22 apeice). It was all very efficient and the result was emailed in about an hour after the test was taken.

    At the airport, again everything was checked at the airline counter (this is why you have leave enough time since it is all checked individually). Delta (and I assume other US carriers too) provide you with all the info you need to have for entry, including a link to the state dept Attestation Form, which you should pre-fill before you get to the airport, otherwise you have to do it at the counter on your phone holding up the process. The airline agent will check that the form was submitted and check your Test result and that’s all you will be asked. Nobody checked anything at JFK. In both departure and arrival, the checking of all the required documents was left to the airline so that you cannot actually board the plane without complying with the entry rules for each country.

    We had the most wonderful week in Rome. So glad that we made the trip.

  7. I will not travel to Italy until they stop this green pass theater. ….and I’m italian. Florida…here I stay

  8. The testing requirement makes travel for ordinary people impossible. How are you supposed to enjoy a trip to Italy if you spend the whole time worried about possibly being stuck there for an extra 10 days. Only the retired and privileged are able to take that risk.

  9. We arrived in Italy on 15 DEC. We are fully vaccinated (Pfizer plus booster) and were tested. The next day the new rules came out and now we are having problems gaining entry to restaurants.Twice in the past two days here in Umbria we were told that only an UE green pass is acceptable. No QR Code, no entry.

    It is impossible to obtain a Green Pass, all we have is our CDC cards. I am concerned that this will ruin our Holiday trip if we cannot go out to restaurants with friends.

    Anyone else experiencing similar denials?

    1. I can’t speak with 100% clarity but in the past I’ve visited the local Farmacia to get a Rapid Antigen test and they were able to produce a Green Pass with bar code for me. Those may then be able to be created to go with your vaccination record you’re carrying with you to provide a QR code for the duration of your trip. This is just an assumption so don’t bet your house on this information. Keep in mind that some Farmacia are more willing to work with visitors than others. And, as usual, language barriers might be an issue. For the most part I’ve found most of the Farmacia to be very helpful when they’re able to communicate effectively.

      Good luck!

      1. The rule changes mean that this is no longer possible for entering restaurants. A Green Pass from a negative test is only valid to enter the workplace.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Italy’s summer tourism boom driven by American arrivals

Tourist spending in Italy is set to return to pre-pandemic levels this summer, boosted largely by visitors from the US, says a new industry report.

Italy's summer tourism boom driven by American arrivals

Italy’s tourism earnings are predicted to total €17 billion this summer, restoring the industry to a state of health not seen since the start of the pandemic, according to a study released by the retailers’ association Comfcommercio on Monday.

Americans are the lead drivers of the recovery, the report shows, with 2.2 million US visitors expected to bring in €2.1 billion between July and September – 20 percent more than over the same period in 2019.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which parts of Italy will get the most tourism this summer?

Canadians, Australians and South Africans are also anticipated to make up a significant proportion of this year’s visitors.

The high value of the dollar against the euro is thought to be partly responsible for this year’s boom in US arrivals.

The euro slipped to parity with the dollar for the first time in nearly 20 years this month, as a cut in Russian gas supplies to Europe heightened fears of a recession in the eurozone.

It has since recovered a little, to around $1.02 per euro, but remains a huge bargain for visitors, giving tourists from dollar countries a spending power boost of well over 10 percent from six months ago.

The number of Spanish arrivals is also expected to return pre-pandemic levels this summer, with an estimated one million visitors due to arrive between July and September.

Domestic tourism is also up, with 35 million Italians travelling on holiday in their own country despite an ongoing cost of living crisis caused by soaring inflation and exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, according to a separate study by the agricultural association Coldiretti.

READ ALSO: Ferragosto: Why the long August holidays are untouchable for Italians

By contrast, the number of tourists coming to Italy from Asian countries is down; while EU sanctions introduced in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have seen Russian tourism drop to near zero.

Germany, a key source of tourism particularly in the Italian south, was down 27 percent in July compared to 2019 – a drop thought to be caused by air travel disruption.

In a typical year, the majority of Italy’s tourists (14.1 percent) come from Germany, figures from Italy’s National Statistics Agency Istat show. Around three percent come from the US, and another three percent from the UK.

“The return of foreign tourism after three years helps to consolidate our economic recovery. The outlook, however, is uncertain due to the decrease in consumption, the unrest in air transport and the unknown pandemic,” said Confcommercio president Carlo Sangalli in a televised statement.

“Support for the tourism sector must therefore be among the priorities of the next executive in terms of combating expensive energy and reducing the tax burden,” he added.

Italy will vote for a new government in late September after its ‘unity’ coalition government collapsed in July, triggering snap elections.

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