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What you need to know about travel to Italy this spring

Planning on paying a visit to Italy in the coming weeks? Here's our guide to the recent changes to the country's Covid restrictions.

Visitors enjoy an outdoor lunch in Rome's Campo dei Fiori.
Visitors enjoy an outdoor lunch in Rome's Campo dei Fiori. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Getting to Italy

Italy has extended its international travel rules and entry requirements for another month, until April 30th.

The current rules therefore remain in place; entry into Italy is allowed from any country, for any reason, provided the traveller has any one of:

  • A certificate showing the holder has been fully vaccinated and boosted with a recognised Covid vaccine (see the bottom of this section for vaccines recognised by Italy).
  • A certificate showing the holder has completed a primary vaccination cycle with a recognised Covid vaccine less than nine months ago.
  • A certificate showing the holder recovered from a Covid infection less than six months ago.
  • A negative result from a rapid antigen test taken in the 48 hours before arriving in Italy, or from a molecular (PCR) test taken in the 72 hours before arriving in Italy (the test result must be certified by an official provider – self-certifying a negative result from a DIY test does not count).

Travellers who arrive in the country without any one of these documents will not be denied entry, but will be required to self isolate for five days on arrival and test negative for Covid before they can leave quarantine.

All passengers must also complete the EU dPLF (passenger locator form) before departure, and may be denied boarding if they fail to do so.

Italy currently accepts all EMA-recognised vaccines, as well as Covishield (Serum Institute of India), R-CoVI (R-Pharm), and Covid-19 vaccine-recombinant (Fiocruz).

The Italian ‘green pass’ and equivalents

For several months now, Italy’s ‘reinforced’ or ‘super’ green pass health certificate or an equivalent, showing that the holder is vaccinated against or recently recovered from Covid, has been required to access most venues and services across the country.

As of April 1st, these requirements have been loosened, and only a limited number of venues require the ‘super green pass’. Some spaces require only the ‘basic green pass’, which can be easily obtained via a negative Covid test result from a pharmacy for those without a vaccination or recovery certificate (see ‘Getting a Covid test in Italy’, below).

All foreign-issued vaccination or recovery certificates (provided the vaccines in question are recognised by Italy – see above) are considered equivalent to the Italian super green pass and will give you access to all the same spaces.

You do not need to convert your vaccination or recovery certificate into an Italian green pass as a visitor to Italy.

People who were vaccinated in the EU or UK will have received a QR code along with their vaccine certificate that can be easily scanned and checked by public sector and service industry workers, just like an Italian green pass.

Those with an ordinary vaccination or recovery certificate without a QR code simply need to show their certificate to the person conducting the checks. You do not need a QR code for your certificate to be recognised.

Certificates that show the holder is fully vaccinated and boosted have indefinite validity as a ‘super green pass’ equivalent in Italy. Certificates showing the holder has recovered from a Covid infection or completed a primary vaccination cycle only are valid for six months from the date of the first recorded infection or the last dose.

You can find more detailed information about how the super green pass works for visitors in Italy here

Adults travelling with children

According to the latest guidance from the Italian foreign ministry, minors under the age of six travelling to Italy are exempt from the requirement to take a Covid test to enter the country – indicating that under-sixes do not need to provide any certifications when travelling to Italy.

In the absence of more detailed instructions, it should be assumed that minors over the age of six are subject to the same requirements as adults entering the country.

Once in Italy, all children under the age of 12 are exempt from the requirement to produce a green pass or the equivalent certification to access any venues or services that otherwise require one.

Face mask rules

Face masks are no longer required outdoors in Italy, unless you find yourself in a crowded area – so you’ll need to have one readily available at all times, even if you’re not wearing it.

From April 1st, Italy relaxes its rules on the type of mask required in indoor settings.

Face masks are still required in all indoor public spaces in Italy.

Face masks are still required in all indoor public spaces in Italy. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP.

High grade Ffp2 masks continue to be required on all types of domestic public transport (both local and long-distance); enclosed cable cars and chair lifts, including at ski resorts; and at shows, screenings, events and competitions open to the public (whether indoors or outdoors).

In all other indoor public spaces, lower grade surgical (but not cloth) masks can be used from April 1st. 

READ ALSO: How do Italy’s Covid rules change in April?

Masks should be worn in nightclubs and discos, but can be removed when someone is dancing.

Children under the age of six, people whose disabilities mean the use of a mask would obstruct their breathing, and people working directly with disabled people in circumstances where the use of a mask would make communication unfeasible are exempt.

Hotels, bars and restaurants

From April 1st, Italy is scrapping the requirement for hotel guests to show a Covid health pass.

Guests will still need to produce a valid vaccination or Covid recovery certificate (referred to in Italy as a ‘reinforced’ or ‘super’ green pass) to access indoor spas, gyms and other sports facilities within the hotel, however.

These certificates have indefinite validity for those who are fully vaccinated and boosted. For those who have only undergone a primary vaccination cycle, or have recovered from Covid but are unvaccinated, they are considered valid in Italy for six months from the date of the last dose/first infection.

To dine outdoors at restaurants, no certificate of any kind is needed from April 1st.

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

For indoor restaurant dining, a ‘basic’ green pass is required. This can take the form of either a valid vaccination or recovery certificate, or a health pass obtained via a recent negative Covid test result 

No health pass of any kind is required, however, to dine indoors at hotel restaurants that are reserved for the exclusive use of guests and are not open to the general public.

There are no restrictions on outdoor dining in Italy as of April 1st.

There are no restrictions on outdoor dining in Italy as of April 1st. Photo by ANDREA PATTARO / AFP

Museums and cultural sites

From April 1st, no health certificate of any kind is required to access museums in Italy.

The same holds true for other cultural sites and places of historic interest.

Theatres, cinemas, concert halls, nightclubs, other indoor entertainment venues and indoor sports arenas, however, do require a valid vaccination or recovery certificate.

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

Outdoor sporting events and competitions can be accessed via the ‘basic’ green pass that can be obtained via a negative Covid test, or via a vaccination or recovery certificate.

Shopping

As of April 1st, the requirement to show a Covid health pass to access most shops in Italy is dropped.

From this date, no certificate of any kind is needed to enter any kind of store.

As shops are an indoor public space, face masks (either surgical or Ffp2) are required.

Individual shops or shopping centres may also at their discretion continue to limit the number of customers in the store at any one time.

Shops in Italy can now be entered without any kind of Covid health pass.

Shops in Italy can now be entered without any kind of Covid health pass. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP.

Travel within Italy

Italy has scrapped its four-tiered colour-coded ‘zone’ system which awarded a Covid risk status to individual regions or towns based on their infection rate and hospital admissions data, and which sometimes placed restrictions on interregional travel.

Travel within Italy is therefore unrestricted; however throughout the month of April, the basic green pass is required on all long-distance public transport, including planes, ships, ferries, planes and coaches.

No health pass of any kind is now required for local public transport (such as city buses and trams).

A high-grade Ffp2 face mask is currently required on all public transport in Italy.

Getting a Covid test in Italy

Getting a rapid antigen or PCR test in Italy in order to obtain the basic green pass health certificate to access certain venues and services is relatively straightforward.

A large number of pharmacies in Italy provide rapid testing services; look out for signs saying ‘test Covid-19’ in the window. 

If you need a PCR test you will probably have to book one at a specialist Covid testing centre, a medical lab, health centre or doctor’s office.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

Once you receive your negative result (the test can not be a home test but must be administered by the pharmacy or lab itself), the pharmacy will issue you with a basic green pass that contains a QR code.

The pass will be valid for 48 hours from the time the test was carried out in the case of a rapid test, or 72 hours in the case of a PCR test.

You can find detailed guidance on getting a Covid test as a visitor to Italy here.

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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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