This article was last updated on January 11th, 2022.
The rules on travel between Italy and the UK have changed multiple times recently following the rise of the new Covid-19 variant named ‘Omicron’.
British transport minister Grant Shapps announced the latest change to the rules, which came came into force at 4am on Friday, January 7th – and for the time being only concern arrivals into England.
It follows Italy’s update to the international travel rules in December, which imposed stricter requirements on passengers coming from the UK.
The UK had previously tightened travel requirements for arrivals from many countries, including Italy, at the start of December.
Here’s a summary of what you need to know when travelling in either direction.
What are the rules for travel from Italy to the UK?
Fully-vaccinated arrivals will no longer need to take a pre-departure test if travelling to England, according to the UK announcement.
The complicated and expensive ‘Day 2’ testing system remains in place, requiring a pre-booked test to be done within two days of arrival in the UK.
However, this too is set to be relaxed, with no isolation time for fully vaccinated arrivals until their test results arrive.
Travellers can also book the less expensive antigen (lateral flow) test, rather than a PCR test, which came into force at 4am on Sunday, January 9th.
The requirement applies to everyone arriving in England, while Scotland’s rules now state that fully vaccinated travellers don’t need to take a pre-departure test, only the day 2 test once in Scotland, which can be either a PCR or a rapid antigen test.
Wales, on the other hand, also doesn’t require testing for fully vaccinated travellers. Unvaccinated arrivals do still require a test before entering the country, however – both the PCR or antigen tests are permitted, but they must be taken no more than 48 hours before the start of the journey to Wales.
If you qualify as fully vaccinated for travel to Northern Ireland from Italy, you don’t need to take a Covid-19 test before you travel either. Again, you’ll need to undergo a Day 2 PCR or antigen test.
The existing rules remain in place around the Passenger Locator Form for England, while unvaccinated travellers still have to purchase a Day 2 and Day 8 test and quarantine for 10 days on arrival.
Since the summer, numerous readers of The Local have flagged up the slow and unreliable nature of many UK test providers – tests can only be booked from the list of “government approved” suppliers from this list and NHS tests cannot be used for this purpose. Many reported test results being returned days later.
The Day 2 test must be ordered ahead of travel – without a booking reference you cannot complete the Passenger Locator Form, which is required to board all transport to the UK.
There are three options for tests:
- Home tests – these test packs are sent out to the address where you will be staying. You do the test at home and then post the sample to the lab, who email you the results when ready. There have been problems with test kits for some providers not arriving at the address given, while others take up to 10 days to email out the results – even for people who have paid extra for a quick-results service.
- Test centre tests – this involves booking in advance at a test centre near where you will be staying – people self-isolating are permitted to leave the address and go to a test centre. It can be hard to find one of these centres near you, especially if you are outside London. The test centre then posts off the sample to the lab and you wait for the results by email. Again this can take several days to arrive.
- Airport tests – it is compulsory to have booked the Day 2 test in advance, but if you want to avoid long waits for results, many airports now offer PCR tests with rapid results, in around three hours in some cases. However, these are expensive and not necessary since the rules extended to also allow antigen tests.
Once in the UK, travellers need to be aware of some reinstated anti-Covid measures. The obligation to wear masks was reintroduced and extended to more places last month – it is once again a requirement to enter shops and to use public transport.
Travelling from the UK to Italy
Italy updated its international travel rules on December 16th, tightening restrictions on travellers from the UK.
All travellers must still get tested before departure, even if they are double or triple-vaccinated, but the testing timeframe has been shorted.
It remains the case that vaccinated and tested UK travellers do not have to undergo a five-day quarantine on arrival, which was scrapped as of August 31st.
However, in its latest ordinance the Italian health ministry has halved the validity of rapid antigen tests for entry into the country.
It’s now necessary to show a negative result of an antigen swab test carried out within 24 hours of entry into Italy (as opposed to 48 hours) as well as a certificate issued on completion of the vaccination cycle.
Molecular (PCR) tests should taken within the 48 hour period before arrival.
To be valid for entry, vaccines must be recognised by the EMA (European Medicines Agency).
The UK is one of Italy’s List D countries, which means it is in a higher risk category than countries in the EU and Schengen zone, but that travel for tourism and other non-essential reasons is allowed.
For those who are unvaccinated, it is still possible to travel to Italy from the UK.
However, if you haven’t completed a vaccination cycle, you will need to take a rapid antigen or PCR test within the stipulated time frames, and will be required to quarantine for five days on arrival.
After these five days, you must take a molecular or antigen test to end the isolation period. You’ll also need to contact the local health authorities at the address indicated in the Passenger Locator Form, or dPLF.
All travellers must complete this online form. Find it here.
Within Italy, there are currently no restrictions on travel and movement between regions under current rules set by the national government, though local authorities can impose their own measures at any time.
If a region or province is declared a ‘red’ zone, travel restrictions would be in force for everyone – with a ban on travel even within the town or municipality except for work, health or urgent reasons.
Italy has a number of other measures in place which travellers should be aware of, including the requirement to wear masks at all times in public, outdoors as well as indoors. More protective FFP2 masks are mandatory in some places including cinemas and on public transport.
Proof of vaccination or recovery is also mandatory for access to all public transport, hotels, restaurants and most leisure venues across the country as of January 10th. Proof of a negative test result is no longer acceptable in these cases.
Find more information on how Italy’s vaccine pass rules apply to visitors here.
For more information on the requirements for travel to Italy:
- Italian Foreign Ministry’s information page for Italian citizens returning from abroad and foreign citizens in Italy
- Italian Foreign Ministry’s ‘safe travels’ website www.viaggiaresicuri.it
- Italian Health Ministry’s travel information page.
You can also call the Italian coronavirus information line:
- From Italy: 1500 (freephone number)
- From abroad: +39 0232008345 , +39 0283905385
Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases. For more information about how the rules may apply to you, see the Italian Health Ministry’s website or consult the Italian embassy in your country.
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