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Q&A: Your questions about travel to Italy and Covid rules answered

As Italy continues to ease Covid restrictions, readers have got in touch with The Local to ask what they need to know about planning a trip to Italy. Here are your travel questions answered.

Q&A: Your questions about travel to Italy and Covid rules answered
Travel to Italy is opening up again, which has drawn a lot of questions about the rules. Here's what you need to know. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

Travel to Italy and within the country has changed multiple times over the past two years.

Now, as the country has relaxed most of its restrictions and is opening up to international tourism, we have been receiving dozens of questions from readers of The Local about visiting Italy and what that entails.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What are the latest rules for travel to Italy from the US and Canada?

Below are further details of the Italian rules for travellers, and answers to the specific questions readers have asked most frequently about travel to Italy in the coming weeks and months, based on the Italian government’s latest decree and current advice from the health ministry.

Q:  What are the current entry requirements?

A: Entry into Italy is allowed from any country, for any reason, provided the traveller can show valid proof of vaccination, proof of recovery, OR a recent negative test result, under the current travel rules which remain in place until at least May 31st.

Passengers who arrive without any one of these documents will still be allowed into the country, but must self-isolate for five days on arrival.

Arriving in Italy:

Q: What documents do I need to show and what format should they be in?

A: You’ll need to be able to show one of the following:

  • A certificate showing the holder has been fully vaccinated and boosted with a recognised Covid vaccine (see below 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).

You may present your Covid vaccination or recovery certificate and negative test result in either digital or paper format, according to the Italian health ministry. That means an email shown on your phone containing your test result or certificate will be accepted.

As of May 1st, passengers no longer need to complete the EU passenger locator form in order to gain entry to Italy.

Q: What kind of proof of vaccination is accepted?

A: You must have completed at least a full primary vaccination cycle carried out less than nine months ago to enter Italy without a testing or quarantine requirement.

If you have completed your primary vaccination and received a booster shot, you can enter Italy at any time.

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).

Both digital and paper vaccination certificates are accepted. The certification must be issued by an official state provider and contain the holder’s full name and date of birth.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?

Your travel to Italy questions answered. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Q: What information should my Covid vaccination or recovery certificate contain?

A: According to the Ministry of Health’s website, vaccination certificates should provide:

  • 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 (holders must have completed at least a full primary vaccination cycle, but a Johnson & Johnson cycle is considered complete after one shot).
  • The name of the State and the health authority that has issued the certificate.

Recovery certificates should provide:

  • The holder’s name, surname, and date of birth.
  • “information about the holder’s past SARS-CoV-2 infection, following a positive test” (exactly what information isn’t specified, but as the certificate must be issued by a health authority, one or two lines from the authority summarising the nature of the holder’s past infection is likely to be what’s required).
  • The date of the holder’s first positive Covid test (the certificate is valid for 180 days from this date).
  • The name of the State and the health authority that has issued the certificate.

Vaccination certificates, in paper or digital format, must be in at least one of the following languages:

  • Italian
  • English
  • French
  • Spanish

Q: Do I still need to complete a passenger locator form when travelling to Italy?

A: No. This rule was abolished on May 1st.

Q: What happens if I arrive in Italy without the required documents?

The Ministry of Health website makes clear that arrivals are subject to the five-day quarantine rule if they can’t show proof of vaccination or recovery, or a negative test result.

Q: What are the travel restrictions for children traveling with a vaccinated adult?

A: 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.

Visitors walk past a bed of tulips in the garden of the Pralormo Castle in Pralormo, near Turin. Spring has arrived in Italy. Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

Q: I’m planning to drive through Italy for travel to another destination. Do I need to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test?

A: According to an ordinance introduced in February and in place until April 30th, the answer is no – as long as you have no symptoms of Covid-19.

You don’t have to show a vaccination or recovery certificate, or proof of a negative test, to enter Italy if you’re passing through, by private means, for a maximum of 36 hours.

Covid rules within Italy:

Q: What is Italy’s Covid ‘green pass’ and do I need to obtain one?

A: Until May 1st, Italy’s digital health certificate, known as the ‘green pass’, was required to access a large number of venues and facilities.

Since the start of May, the green pass (which can be obtained through proof of vaccination/recovery/a negative test result) has been almost entirely abolished, and remains in use only in hospitals and residential care homes.

That means that international visitors to Italy do not need to present an Italian green pass or its equivalent in the form of a foreign-issued vaccination or recovery certificate to enter any venue (apart from hospitals or care homes).

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

Q: I had my booster shot more than six months ago. Will my vaccination certificate be recognised in Italy?

A: Yes. You can enter Italy if you have completed a primary vaccination cycle plus booster dose with EMA-approved vaccines, carried out at any time.

Once in Italy, the rules are the same. According to the Ministry of Health website, in any circumstances in which a vaccination certificate is required (currently, solely to access hospitals and care homes), the booster shot after a primary vaccination cycle is accepted without the need for re-vaccination.

Q: I haven’t had a Covid vaccine booster shot. Will my certificate from the initial vaccination cycle be recognised in Italy?

A: That depends on when you completed your initial vaccination cycle.

You must have completed a primary vaccination cycle with an EMA-approved vaccine carried out less than nine months ago to enter Italy.

Once in Italy, certificates issued after the primary vaccinated cycle – for those without a booster shot – are valid for six months for the purpose of gaining access to hospitals and care homes. As of May 1st, vaccine certificates are no longer required to gain access to other venues and facilities in Italy.

Italy’s green place is still in place for some weeks yet. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

Q: Are there any restrictions on unvaccinated travellers to Italy now?

A: Almost none. As mentioned above, travellers who don’t have a valid vaccination or recovery certificate need a recent negative test result to enter Italy without a quarantine requirement.

Once in Italy, a valid vaccination or recovery certificate is required by law only to gain access to hospitals and care homes.

Q: What are the restrictions on travel within Italy, and on public transport?

A: Earlier in the pandemic, Italy placed various restrictions on interregional travel – but all such rules have now been dropped.

Travel within Italy is therefore unrestricted and no health pass of any kind is now required on public transport.

However, a high-grade Ffp2 face mask is currently required on all local and long-distance public transport in Italy.

Restrictions are still in place for long-distance public transport (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP)

Q: Does Italy still have a mask mandate in place?

A: In some indoor public places, yes, until at least June 15th.

Though Italy’s mask mandate was mostly scrapped on May 1st, the requirement to wear a high-grade Ffp2 mask remains in place for all local and long-distance public transport and for indoor entertainment venues, including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, live music events, and indoor sports events and competitions.

Schools and health and social care environments also continue to require masks, but in this case lower-grade surgical masks are accepted.

READ ALSO: Where do you still need to wear a mask in Italy from May 1st?

Although face masks are no longer required by law in other venues, local authorities and individual businesses can (and often do) impose their own, stricter rules – so it’s wise to have a mask readily available at all times, even if you’re not wearing it.

Q: I have a disability that prevents me from wearing a mask. Will I be exempt from the mask mandate in Italy?

A: Yes. According to the Viaggiare Sicuri website, if you have an illness or disability incompatible with wearing a mask you do not have to adhere to the mask-wearing rules in force.

Under rules first introduced in 2020, you may be required to present a valid medical certificate proving your exemption on health grounds in the event of a police check.

The mask exemption also extends to children under six years of age and anyone doing sports.

Q: Is the Italian government likely to change any of the rules before summer?

A: Italy’s current travel rules are due to expire on May 31st, and its mask mandate and green pass rules on June 15th.

While the Italian government could announce changes if the health situation develops significantly, it is unlikely to revoke the recent rule changes before their scheduled expiry dates. This has not happened before with Italy’s Covid travel restrictions.

While it looks unlikely, the Local will continue to follow updates closely and report on any changes to the rules.

Q: How do I get tested for Covid-19 in Italy?

A:  Getting a rapid antigen or PCR test in Italy is relatively straightforward – whether you need to get tested because you have symptoms or in order to travel on to another country.

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

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

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

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 certificate that contains details of the test result and the time it was taken. In Italy this is known as a ‘basic green pass’ or green pass base, and comes with a QR code.

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

Q: What happens if I test positive for Covid-19 while I’m in Italy?

A: Firstly, if you suspect you may have Covid-19, you need to minimise your contact with anyone else.

The Italian health ministry says you should isolate yourself where you’re staying and call a doctor, Italy’s nationwide Covid hotline (1500), or the regional helpline where you are (full list here) for assistance.

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

They will help you arrange an emergency test. Do not go to a medical centre or pharmacy in the meantime.

If you are positive following the test (either molecular or antigen), you will need to isolate for at least ten days from the first positive swab – of which the last three are symptom-free (excluding loss of taste and smell).

According to a decree passed on March 24th, the isolation period is reduced to seven days if you have had a booster shot or if you completed the primary vaccination cycle less than 120 days ago (four months).

You must show proof of a negative test to end isolation. If you are still positive after a molecular or antigen test and have had no symptoms for at least seven days (except loss of taste or sense of smell), you can end isolation after 21 days.

Q: Are there any regional variations in the travel rules?

A: Individual regions in Italy may introduce stricter measures, depending on the health situation of the area.

It’s recommended to check any additional rules before travel – you can see a full list of the regional websites for further information here.

For more information on the requirements for travel to Italy:

You can also call the Italian coronavirus information line:

  • From Italy: 1500 (toll-free 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.

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

Member comments

  1. Could you please be more specific about the unvaccinated and those who only have 2 doses more than 6 months ago? I’ve seen that they need to quarantine 5 days, but I’m not sure now.

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For members

TOURISM

Why Italian resorts are struggling to fill jobs this summer

Italy's tourist season is expected to be back in full swing this year - but will there be enough workers to meet the demand?

Why Italian resorts are struggling to fill jobs this summer

Italy’s tourist numbers are booming, sparking hopes that the industry could see a return to something not far off pre-pandemic levels by the summer.

There’s just one catch: there aren’t nearly enough workers signing up for seasonal jobs this year to supply all that demand.

READ ALSO: Will tourism in Italy return to pre-pandemic levels this year?

“There’s a 20 percent staff shortage, the situation is dramatic,” Fulvio Griffa, president of the Italian tourist operators federation Fiepet Confesercenti, told the Repubblica news daily.

Estimates for how many workers Italy is missing this season range from 70,000 (the figure given by the small and medium enterprise federation Conflavoro PMI) to 300-350,000 (the most recent estimate from Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia, who last month quoted 250,000).

Whatever the exact number is, everyone agrees: it’s a big problem.

READ ALSO: Dining outdoors and hiking: How visitors plan to holiday in Italy this summer

Italy isn’t the only European country facing this issue. France is also short an estimated 300,000 seasonal workers this year. Spain is down 50,000 waiters, and Austria is missing 15,000 hired hands across its food and tourism sectors.

Italy’s economy, however, is particularly dependent on tourism. If the job vacancies can’t be filled and resorts are unable to meet the demand anticipated this summer, the country stands to lose an estimated  €6.5 billion.

Italy's tourism businesses are missing an estimated 20 percent of workers.
Italy’s tourism businesses are missing an estimated 20 percent of workers. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

“After two years of pandemic, it would be a sensational joke to miss out on a summer season that is expected to recover strongly due to the absence of workers,” said Vittorio Messina, president of the Assoturismo Confesercenti tourist association.

Different political factions disagree as to exactly what (and who) is to blame for the lack of interest from applicants.

READ ALSO: Travel in Italy and Covid rules this summer: what to expect

Italy’s tourism minister Massimo Garavaglia, a member of the right wing League party, has singled out the reddito di cittadinanza, or ‘citizen’s income’ social security benefit introduced by the populist Five Star Movement in 2019 for making unemployment preferable to insecure, underpaid seasonal work.

Bernabò Bocca, the president of the hoteliers association Federalberghi, agrees with him – along with large numbers of small business owners.

“What’s going to make an unemployed person come to me for 1,300 euros a month if he can stay sprawled on the beach and live off the damned citizenship income?” complained an anonymous restauranteur interviewed by the Corriere della Sera news daily.

“Before Covid, I had a stack of resumes this high on my desk in April. Now I’m forced to check emails every ten minutes hoping someone will come forward. Nothing like this had ever happened to me.” 

READ ALSO: MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

Italy is experiencing a dire shortage of workers this tourist season.
Italy is experiencing a dire shortage of workers this tourist season. Photo: Andrea Pattaro / AFP.

Five Star MPs, however, argue that the focus on the unemployment benefit is a distraction from the real issues of job insecurity and irregular contracts.

There appears to be some merit to that theory. A recent survey of 1,650 seasonal workers found that only 3 percent of the people who didn’t work in the 2021 tourist season opted out due to the reddito di cittadinza.

In fact the majority (75 percent) of respondents who ended up not working over the 2021 season said they had searched for jobs but couldn’t find any openings because the Covid situation had made it too uncertain for companies to hire in advance.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

Others said the most of jobs that were advertised were only for a 2-3 month duration, half the length of the season (again, due to Covid uncertainty), making it not worth their while to relocate.

Giancarlo Banchieri, a hotelier who is also president of the Confesercenti business federation, agrees that Covid has been the main factor in pushing workers away from the industry, highlighting “the sense of precariousness that this job has taken on in the last two years: many people have abandoned it for fear of the uncertainty of a sector that has experienced a terrible time.”

The instability brought about by two years of Covid restrictions has pushed many workers away from the tourism sector.
The instability brought about by two years of Covid restrictions has pushed many workers away from the tourism sector. Photo: Andrea Pattaro / AFP.

“I said goodbye to at least seven employees, and none of them are sitting at home on the citizen’s income,” Banchieri told Repubblica. “They have all reinvented themselves elsewhere; some are plumbers, others work in the municipality.”

READ ALSO: OPINION: Mass tourism is back in Italy – but the way we travel is changing

To counteract the problem, Garavaglia has proposed three measures: increasing the numbers of visas available for seasonal workers coming from abroad; allowing people to work in summer jobs while continuing to receive 50 percent of their citizen’s income; and reintroducing a voucher system that allows casual workers to receive the same kinds of welfare and social security benefits as those on more formal contracts.

Whether these will be enough to save Italy’s 2022 tourist season remains to be seen, but at this stage industry operators will take whatever fixes are offered.

“The sector is in such a dire situation that any common sense proposals much be welcomed,” the Federalberghi president Bocca told journalists.

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