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EXPLAINED: How Italy’s international travel rules change in February

Italy's entry rules for international arrivals have been updated. Here's what you need to know if you're planning to travel.

Passengers wearing protective masks walk across a terminal at Milan's Linate airport.
Photo: Miguel MEDINA / AFP

This article was last updated on February 7th, 2022.

On January 27th, Health Minister Robert Speranza signed an ordinance updating Italy’s international travel rules. The new rules came into force on February 1st and will be in place until at least March 15th.

Starting on February 1st, Italy also slashed the validity of its Covid vaccine pass to six months from the last dose, which was set to impact the ability of foreign visitors who had received their last dose more than six months ago to enter the country.

This rule was amended in a new decree that came into force on February 5th, which states that vaccine certificates showing that the holder has undergone a full primary vaccination cycle (one dose of Johnson & Johnson or two doses of all other recognised vaccines), and received a booster shot, now have unlimited validity.

Here’s how all these rule changes affect visitors travelling to Italy from abroad:

Travel from within the EU

On January 27th, the Italian government confirmed there would be a change for arrivals from the EU from the start of February: anyone travelling to Italy from within the bloc now needs to show proof of vaccination, recovery, or a recent negative Covid test to enter the country without a self-isolation requirement.

This simplifies previous rules, which required travellers entering Italy from within the EU and Schengen area to show both proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid and a recent negative test result. Anyone unable to provide both was formerly subject to a five-day quarantine period.

READ ALSO: How do Italy’s Covid ‘super green pass’ rules apply to visitors?

Under the new rules, for those without proof of either vaccination or recovery, Italy accepts a negative result from a rapid (lateral flow) test taken within 24 hours of arrival in the country, or from a PCR (molecular) test taken within the 48 hours before arrival.

Bear in mind that the test must be from a certified provider that issues you with a certificate containing your full name, personal information, and a time stamp showing when the test was taken – a DIY home test result will not be accepted unless it meets this criteria. 

These rules are set to be reviewed again by March 15th.

Another change to be aware of at the EU level from February 1st is that health passes issued based on two vaccine doses are now valid for nine months. These rules apply when crossing international borders within the European Union and Schengen area.

READ ALSO: How the rules of the EU Covid certificate for travel will change from February

Passengers keep a safe distance while checking in at Milan's Linate airport.
Passengers keep a safe distance while checking in at Milan’s Linate airport. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Travel from outside the EU

According to the Italian foreign ministry’s Viaggiare Sicuri (Travel Safe) website, the existing rules for all other countries are extended for six weeks until March 15th, 2022.

The website refers to the same January 27th ordinance that announced the changes to intra-EU travel restrictions.

This document states that rules on travel to and from “foreign countries or territories continue to apply, until the date of March 15th 2022, with the remaining measures set out in the ordinance of the Minister of Health of October 22nd, 2021 and the order of the Minister of Health of December 14th, 2021”.

That means that for all countries on Italy’s travel ‘List D’, which includes the US and Canada, it remains the case from February 1st that tourism to Italy is permitted without a self-isolation requirement, provided the traveller produces a valid vaccination or recovery certificate and a negative test result.

Based on Italy’s new vaccine pass validity rules that came in on February 1st, a foreign-issued vaccine certificate based on two doses (or one for Johnson & Johnson) is valid for entry to Italy for six months from the date of the last dose. A vaccine certificate based on a booster shot, by contrast, has indefinite validity.

For more details about these rules, see the Italian health ministry’s existing travel guidance on their website.

The test result can be from a PCR (molecular) test taken in the 72 hours before arrival or a rapid (antigen) test taken within the 24 hours before arrival in Italy.

The exception is the UK: if coming from here, passengers must take a PCR test within the 48 hours before arrival or a rapid test within the 24 hours before arrival.

Those whose vaccination certificate is expired may still enter the country, but must self-isolate for five days on arrival and test negative for Covid to exit quarantine. They must still take a PCR test within the 48 hours before arrival or a rapid test within the 24 hours before arrival in order to enter Italy.

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

For countries on Italy’s more restricted ‘List E’, it remains the case that travel to Italy is permitted only for work, health, study, absolute necessity, to return to one’s residence, or to reunite with an Italian resident with whom the traveller is in a “proven stable relationship”.

Travellers from countries on this list must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival or a rapid test taken within 24 hours of arrival in Italy; and must quarantine for ten days on arrival and test negative for Covid to exit quarantine.

Please note that The Local is not able to advise on individual cases. For more information about how Italy’s travel rules apply to you, please see the Italian government’s travel website here or consult the Italian embassy in your country.

Find all the latest Italian travel news updates from The Local here.

Member comments

  1. The way it is written in the article “a PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival or a rapid test taken within 24 hours of arrival in Italy” makes it sound like the tests are to be taken after arrival into Italy. In fact, the tests must be administered prior to travel, and negative results presented at the time of travel.

    1. Hi Pamela,

      Thanks for pointing this out. The wording has now been clarified.

      Best wishes,
      – Clare

  2. How is it possible to drive from the UK to Italy via France and Switzerland in less than 24 hrs, if a test must be taken within 24hrs prior to arrival? Or should I look at rules for entry to France and rely on passage from an EU country ?
    Peter

    1. we did this last year peter, we had to do a lateral flow test during the evening of our overnight stop in france. this was submitted online and the result comes back within minutes in a format that is suitable for entry purposes. the main problem was that the poor wifi at the gite wasnt stable and the mobile phone signal one bar. it was frustrating that the signal dropped out and it took several attempts to send a photo of the test and we only had one hour after registering the test to complete it. at least now you dont have to fill in transit forms for switzerland 24 hours before entry which we also did at the gite. we used project screen for prenetics and bought them several weeks before travel.

      1. However, if you are travelling from an EU country into Italy why is it therefore necessary to have the test done for entry to Italy? Or is the info ambiguous?

  3. Have been looking at holiday in Thailand – I have an invite from friends in Hua Hin a couple of hours from Bangkok, but cannot travel on a return flight via Bangkok as they are on the E List.

    However, Phuket is OK as there is a Travel Corridor between the Island of Phuket and Italy – but for the rest of Thailand it is on List E, that means 10 days isolation on return. However Thailand has now brought in a test and release test on arrival and results same day and your free to go anywhere – additional test on day 5 is required. Prior to this all tourists had to comply to the sandbox rules ie. couldnt leave Phuket .. but now they can… the regulations are only valid until the 15th March so hoping … Has anyone seen or heard anything about putting the whole of Thailand on the Safe Travel corridor .. sees crazy that you can fly in and out of Phuket and declare your flights in accordance with the regulations – but in the meantime go off on a jolly that effectively know one would know about.. This is a massive loop hole …

  4. Hallo, would anyone be able to tell me if, in order to enter Italy, from a D ist country, the vaccination certificate still has a validity of 270 days? With all the Super green pass information recently for what is required to access venues, transport etc in Italy, there seems to be a lot of confusion if same timelines apply also just to travel to Italy – especially for who has not received booster i.e if you don’t have booster then completed vaccination certificate is valid only for 180 days when in Italy but what about to travel to Italy – is that 180 days or 270 days for people who have not yet received their booster, especially for children who might not have the possibility to receive boosters. The Viaggiare Sicuri web sites and questionnaire do not mention expiration/validity of vaccine certs for entry requirements. Many thanks

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TRAVEL NEWS

REVEALED: Countries fear non-EU travellers face delays under new EES border checks

A number of countries in Europe's Schengen area admit they fear delays and insufficient time to test the process ahead of new, more rigorous EU border checks that will be introduced next year, a new document reveals.

REVEALED: Countries fear non-EU travellers face delays under new EES border checks

Schengen countries are tightening up security at the external borders with the introduction of a new digital system (EES) to record the entry and exit of non-EU citizens in May 2023.

The EES will enable the automatic scanning of passports replacing manual stamping by border guards. It will register the person’s name, type of the travel document, biometric data (fingerprints and facial images) and the date and place of entry and exit. The data will be kept in a centralised database on a rolling three-year basis that is re-set at each entry. 

What the EES is intended to do is increase border security, including the enforcement of the 90-day short-stay limit for tourists and visitors.

EU citizens and third-country nationals who reside in a country of the Schengen area will not be subject to such checks as long as they can prove residency in an EU country however they will still be caught up in any delays at passport control if the new system as many fear, causes longer processing times.

READ ALSO: Foreigners living in EU not covered by new EES border checks

But given its scale, the entry into operation of the system has been raising concerns on many fronts, including the readiness of the physical and digital infrastructure, and the time required for border checks, which could subsequently cause massive queues at borders.

A document on the state of preparations was distributed last week by the secretariat of the EU Council (the EU institution representing member states) and published by Statewatch, a non-profit organisation that monitors civil liberties.

The paper contains the responses from 21 countries to a questionnaire about potential impacts on passenger flows, the infrastructure put in place and the possibility of a gradual introduction of the new system over a number of months.

This is what certain the countries have responded. Responses from Denmark, Spain and Sweden do not appear in the report but the answers from other countries will be relevant for readers in those countries.

READ ALSO: What the EU’s new EES border check system means for travel

‘Double processing time’

Austria and Germany are the most vocal in warning that passport processing times will increase when the EES will become operational.

“The additional tasks resulting from the EES regulation will lead to a sharp increase in process times”, which are expected to “double compared to the current situation,” Austrian authorities say. “This will also affect the waiting times at border crossing points (in Austria, the six international airports),” the document continues.

“Furthermore, border control will become more complicated since in addition to the distinction between visa-exempt and visa-required persons, we will also have to differentiate between EES-required and EES-exempt TCN [third country nationals], as well as between registered and unregistered TCN in EES,” Austrian officials note.

Based on an analysis of passenger traffic carried out with the aviation industry, German authorities estimate that checking times will “increase significantly”.

France expects to be ready for the introduction of the EES “in terms of passenger routes, training and national systems,” but admits that “fluidity remains a concern” and “discussions are continuing… to make progress on this point”.

Italy is also “adapting the border operational processes… in order to contain the increased process time and ensure both safety and security”.

“Despite many arguments for the introduction of automated border control systems based on the need for efficiency, the document makes clear that the EES will substantially increase border crossing times,” Statewatch argues.

‘Stable service unlikely by May 2023’

The border infrastructure is also being adapted for collecting and recording the data, with several countries planning for automated checks. So what will change in practice?

France will set up self-service kiosks in airports, where third-country nationals can pre-register their biometric data and personal information before being directed to the booth for verification with the border guard. The same approach will be adopted for visitors arriving by bus, while tablet devices such as iPads will be used for the registration of car passengers at land and sea borders.

Germany also plans to install self-service kiosks at the airports to “pre-capture” biometric data before border checks. But given the little time for testing the full process, German authorities say “a stable working EES system seems to be unlikely in May 2023.”

Austria intends to install self-service kiosks at the airports of Vienna and Salzburg “in the course of 2023”. Later these will be linked to existing e-gates enabling a “fully automated border crossing”. Austrian authorities also explain that airport operators are seeking to provide more space for kiosks and queues, but works will not be completed before the system is operational.

Italy is increasing the “equipment of automated gates in all the main  airport” and plans to install, at least in the first EES phase, about 600 self-service kiosks at the airports of Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa, Venice and in those with “significant volumes of extra-Schengen traffic,” such as Bergamo, Naples, Bologna and Turin.

Switzerland, which is not an EU member but is part of the Schengen area, is also installing self-service kiosks to facilitate the collection of data. Norway, instead, will have “automated camera solutions operated by the border guards”, but will consider self-service options only after the EES is in operation.

Gradual introduction?

One of the possibilities still in consideration is the gradual introduction of the new system. The European Commission has proposed a ‘progressive approach’ that would allow the creation of “incomplete” passenger files for 9 months following the EES entry into operation, and continuing passport stamping for 3 months.

According to the responses, Italy is the only country favourable to this option. For Austria and France this “could result in more confusion for border guards and travellers”. French officials also argue that a lack of biometric data will “present a risk for the security of the Schengen area”.

France suggested to mitigate with “flexibility” the EES impacts in the first months of its entry into service. In particular, France calls for the possibility to not create EES files for third-country nationals who entered the Schengen area before the system becomes operational, leaving this task to when they return later.

This would “significantly ease the pressure” on border guards “during the first three months after entry into service,” French authorities said.

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