Explained: How Italy’s rules on travel from EU countries have changed

The rules on travel to Italy have changed for people arriving from within the EU. Here's what you need to know.

A traveller at Rome's Fiumicino airport.
A traveller at Rome's Fiumicino airport. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Italy has brought back a requirement for arrivals from other EU countries to take a coronavirus test before departure, while unvaccinated arrivals must quarantine for five days.

The Italian government announced the changes on Tuesday and they came into effect on Thursday morning, leaving people with existing plans to travel from within Europe this week scrambling to get tested.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What Covid-19 rules are now in place in Italy?

If you’re planning to travel to Italy soon, here’s a closer look at the rules in place from December 16th according to the latest ordinance signed by the Italian health minister.

Travel from within the EU

The new rules mean all EU travellers, including those who are double or triple-vaccinated against Covid-19, must now also show a negative test result from within the 24-hour period before departure (for rapid antigen tests, also known as lateral flow or LFTs) or the 48 hours before departure (for PCR or molecular tests).

Previously, EU arrivals had to show proof of vaccination or recent recovery OR a negative test, not both.

The new rules are in effect from Thursday, December 16th until at least January 31st.

Meanwhile, those travelling to Italy who are not vaccinated (or not classed as vaccinated under Italian rules) must take a pre-departure test, undergo a five-day quarantine period on arrival, and then test for release.

Italy recognises all jabs approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as well as three others recognised by Italy’s drug regulator, regardless of where in the world they are administered.

The vaccines currently recognised by the EMA are:

  • Cominarty (Pfizer)
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Spikevax (Moderna)
  • Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) 
  • Nuvaxovid (Novavax)

Additional vaccines recognised in Italy are:

  • Covishield (Serum Institute of India), manufactured under license from AstraZeneca;
  • R-CoVI (R-Pharm), manufactured under licence from AstraZeneca;
  • Covid-19 vaccine-recombinant (Fiocruz), manufactured under licence from AstraZeneca.

READ ALSO: ‘Fit to fly’: Are Covid lateral flow tests valid for travel to Italy?

All travellers must also fill out an EU digital passenger locator form (dPLF) giving details of their whereabouts while in Italy, regardless of whether or not they are subject to quarantine. Find the form here.

Children aged under 12 are not subject to the five-day quarantine rule if they are travelling with adults who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid, reported Italy’s Ansa news agency on Wednesday, citing government sources.

The health ministry’s new ordinance extends the provisions made for minors under a previous ordinance issued on October 22nd.

Article 8 of the previous decree states that “minors accompanied by a parent are not required to undergo isolation if this obligation is not imposed on the parent because they are in possession of a vaccination certificate or a certificate of recovery”.

In general, the new ordinance keeps all other previous rules for EU travellers in place.

This means the rules still apply equally to passengers whether travelling to Italy by air, road, rail or any other mode of transportation.

While international air and rail passengers should have pre-departure tests checked ahead of boarding, those arriving via road may be subject to checks when crossing the Italian border.

Rome’s airport authority on Thursday said it would also stepping up security controls for arrivals to ensure compliance with the law, but stated: “Minister Speranza’s directive, which came into force today, does not change the responsibility for checks that remains with the airlines before departure from the various EU countries in order to ensure maximum safety on the plane.”

Arriving passengers who are unable to show both proof of vaccination and a valid negative test result will not be prevented from entering the country, but are subject to the five-day quarantine and double testing requirement.

Non-EU countries

For those arriving from the UK and northern Ireland, the Italian health ministry’s ordinance stated that molecular (PCR) tests must now be taken within the 48 hour period before departure and rapid antigen (LFT) tests in the 24 hours before arrival, instead of 48 as was previously the case.

The rules for arrivals in Italy from the UK, northern Ireland and the British Isles otherwise remain unchanged under the new update. Travellers were already subject to a testing requirement, as well as the five-day quarantine period if unvaccinated.

For other non-EU countries on Italy’s travel list D, including the United States and Canada, the new ordinance effectively extends existing measures and there are no changes.

The ordinance also extends Italy’s ban on travel from eight countries in southern Africa implemented in late November following the detection of the Omicron variant.

The Italian health ministry is on Thursday updating its online guidance for travellers (here in English) based on the new ordinance.

Please note The Local cannot advise on individual cases. For further details about how Italy’s current Covid-19 health measures apply to you, please consult the Italian embassy in your country or see the Italian health ministry’s website (available in English).

Member comments

  1. I live in Italy (but am a US citizen/expat) and am traveling by private car to France this weekend. When I return to my home in Italy, again by private car, must I also take the covid test before crossing the border? Even if I test positive, isn’t it true that I would be allowed to return to my home?

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EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

Venice is introducing a new system to discourage day-trippers in hopes of curbing problems with overtourism in the popular hotspot. Here is what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: How will the tourist-control system work in Venice?

After years of discussing a possible “tourist tax”, the city of Venice has confirmed it will make day-trippers pay from €3 to €10 for access to the city centre starting on January 16th.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the goal of the new tourism fee is to discourage day tourism at certain times of the year and encourage overnight tourism. Day-trippers will have to pay a fee, but those who stay overnight continue only to have to pay the city tax of €2 to €5, according to a government press release.

The Commission and the City Council will now examine the regulatory text for the final green light scheduled for the summer.

“We are the first in the world to introduce this system, and we are aware that not everything will work well from the beginning, but we will be ready to improve in the course of work. We want to guarantee the tourist the best quality of the visit and make sure that the city is able to give visitors all the services they need”, said Tourism Secretary Simone Venturini.

READ ALSO: After flooding and coronavirus, is it time Venice stopped relying on tourism?

How much will I have to pay?

The contributo di acesso, or access contribution, will cost from €3 to €10, depending on factors such as tourism numbers for the day and season.

The city will determine a certain threshold of tourists, after which people will be required to pay higher sums. Travellers are encouraged to book in advance to avoid price increases.

Does the payment have to be made in advance?

The government said that nobody would be denied entry to Venice, meaning a pre-registration is not necessary. However, the mayor said that those who book their visit in advance would be “rewarded”. The reward will likely discount the fee.

How will the system work? Where do I pay?

According to the City of Venice, the payment is an alternative to the city tax. It will be required from every person that goes to the old city centre of Venice, as well as other major tourist destinations and islands in the region.

READ ALSO: 16 surprising facts about Venice to mark 16 centuries of the lagoon city

A single payment guarantees access to the old town and the smaller islands.

Tourists will be able to pay through an online and “multilingual” platform where they will receive a QR code to present in case of controls. Tickets should also be available to buy in connection with public transport – so if you are arriving by train, it will be possible to buy the train ticket and the entry pass together.

Who is excluded or exempt from the payment?

There are several exceptions to the payment, according to the website. Among them are residents from the Comune di Venezia, those who work or study there, and those who own homes in the city.

Additionally, exceptions include those born in the Comune di Venezia, children under six years of age, people with disabilities and their accompanying person, public workers, volunteers, people visiting family members, prisoners, or attending funerals, and many others.

Residents of the Veneto region “up to the thresholds that will be set by a specific Council resolution” are also exempt.

Those who stay overnight and, therefore, already pay the city tax through their hotel or short-term rental booking are also exempt from the fee.

The city of Murano, in the metropolitan region of Venice (Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash)

What about people arriving on cruises?

Venice is a very popular stop for cruise ships and people visiting the city on a cruise tour will also have to pay the fee as they disembark in the old town. However, the City of Venice said they might determine a lump-sum measure in agreement with the relevant carriers.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why more of Italy’s top destinations must limit tourist numbers

Which smaller islands are included?

Only one ticket and payment is required for those travelling to multiple islands, including Venice. The islands that are part of the group are:

  • Lido di Venezia
  • Pellestrina
  • Murano
  • Burano
  • Torcello
  • Sant’Erasmo
  • Mazzorbo
  • Mazzorbetto
  • Vignole
  • S. Andrea
  • La certosa
  • S. Servolo
  • S. Clemente
  • Poveglia

What if I simply don’t pay?

If you fail to produce proof of payment or that you are exempt from the fee, the sanction is from €50 to €300. The fine is the same in the case of people making false statements trying to obtain exemptions or reductions.

Additionally, visitors who don’t pay in advance will have to pay the full €10 fee.

For more info click here.