Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash
Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash

Everything Americans (not only) need to know about traveling to Italy this summer*
*Subject to change! Don’t worry, we’ll update this post from time to time.

See below for the official requirements for overseas visitors, updated Feb 4th 2022.

As I work on tentative itineraries for clients dreaming of a trip to Italy, the trepidation is - naturally - real. Can I? / Can’t I? Do I always have to wear a mask? What tests do I need? Even if I’m vaccinated? Really? Pretty much sums up the 5 stages of grief making travel plans in this post-pandemic stage. Adding to their trepidation, government websites aren’t always updated and often have conflicting information, especially in a place like Italy, whereby regions are responsible for local regulations, but the national government can issue an overriding decree. Complicating things further, are those intrepid travelers who wish to visit a few countries this time around. Really? Certainly, it’s a great time to travel due to far fewer tourists crowding the sights, but getting multiple covid tests and hours spent navigating websites to see what the latest update is in which country...is not so high on my ToDo list.

So here’s the latest in helping you travel to Italy without going into quarantine, specifically for USA-Italy travel. Following are requirements for all travelers to Italy, regardless whether you have been vaccinated.

  1.  Start with a search for a Covid-Tested Flight – Now offered by all major airlines. Check with your airline about masks and other regulations. The airlines - not the governments - are the gate keepers here. If you want to be on that plane, you have to prove you’re Covid-free. Some airlines / or countries require a test 72 hrs prior to arrival. Some, from the time you depart. This is an important distinction. My brother-in-law almost got rejected due to the discrepancy...which, by looking at a time stamp on his test, was he able to just make it under the time limit.
  2. If you are not vaccinated get your PCR Test for travel (this is the kind that takes DNA or something, not a rapid test – Note: While cheap, rapid tests will not be accepted. What´s the difference? A rapid test takes 3 minutes and a PCR test takes 15 minutes, both tests take a swab from your nose). You have been forewarned. Once you’ve gotten your negative test results, you are issued a certificate of sorts, showing said negative test result. If you go thru a gateway city, you will get re-tested with rapid test results right at the airport. [Bonus! The USA no longer scrapes your brain through your nostrils. Unfortunately, that is not the case in Europe, where taking swabs is, still momentarily, highly uncomfortable.] Plan to get to the airport well in advance of 2 hrs, accordingly. You will be asked to show your PCR certificate all along the way.
  3. Arrival in Italy
    You will have to get in line to undergo yet another rapid test [Yes, it’s overkill because even if you contracted something on the flight over...never mind]. Once you have your results, you can leave the airport, no quarantine! This may take 1-2 hours upon arrivals. So, if you’re booking a car service, or trying to catch a train, plan accordingly
  4. Enjoy Italy!!! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  5. Leaving Italy
    Again, in that last town, no matter how big / how small where you’ll be say, 48 or 72 hours prior to departure, you must search for a local lab to get another PCR test for travel = Viaggiare. Most towns or regions will list their labs readily, so do not be put off by this. You make an appointment (and no, the info is not usually in English) and you go to the laboratory. Next comes the hardest part: Channeling your inner New Yorker and standing up for the right to get tested at your appointed time due to the influx of last-minute line jumpers who will show up, no appointments, and try to make their way in front of you. Do not let them past you. Italians (finally!) learned in Covid to stand in long lines for loads of things, so they now know how to do it. Make sure your appointment is respected – Note: Anger will get you nowhere. Pleading, everywhere. Think: Puss-in-Boots in Shrek.
  6. During all of this process, you will be asked to fill out a whole lot of forms. Nothing pleases Italians more than generating bureaucracy. Oftentimes, you will have to print out that form and bring it with you. If you are not staying at a hotel, you can get your forms printed by waltzing into a Cartoleria (paper goods / trinkets shop) and sometimes Tabacchai shop (where they sell cigarettes) and emailing the form from your phone to the shop owner who will then print it out for you for the cost of about 10 cents.
*Enjoy Italy!!! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – Please note below the section on mask wearing in Italy.*
italy travel 1

A note about masks: Almost everyone in Italy wears masks when out in public . When you walk into a restaurant / get seated / or go into pay or use the bathroom, even though we’re all eating without masks, it is commonplace to make sure you have a mask on when doing so, out of courtesy to staff. Most coffee shops will not let you use the bathroom without your mask on. 

I imagine that as more people are vaccinated, the mask mandate will be loosened up. Already, I tend to wear a mask only when walking on crowded sidewalks, and never in any open spaces or parks, or out with my dog at night. In small towns, there is close to 100% compliance. Some towns do, indeed, have mask police, issuing fines. This may be due to lack of ready compliance (You can still find in Italy’s south, people riding motorcycles without helmets), or the fact that the smaller towns may not have strenuous vaccine programs in place). I generally view masks as a courtesy.

Much of Italy has opened its restaurants (even for indoor dining), museums, open air concerts and outdoor theaters. They can generally be enjoyed with masks. On beaches, we found almost no one in masks, but everyone walking around the town were. I have a mask I pull up and down accordingly. Hopefully, this will change with more vaccinations.

In fact, we all hope that with vaccination cards, none of the above is necessary. Unfortunately, these cards are easily forged and thereby not so telling. Switzerland, by the way, does accept the white CDC card, pretty much the only country to do so, and not requiring a battery of tests as a result. But if people forging cards start traveling more, and cases go up, we’ll be right back to the drawing board of closed borders and establishments. So, I like to consider it my civic duty, within reason.

One of the best sites for good up-to-date information on all of this and requirements around Europe is: Schengen Visa Info

And finally, a note about the cost of testing: Each test costs money. In the USA, maybe not so much. At the airport, expect to be charged around 20 euro (rapid test). At a local lab (in the last city you’re in 48 hrs prior to flight), it could run as high as €75 (Italy). While in Switzerland, the PCR Test amounts to over $200/person. Many US insurance policies cover all your Covid-related test fees. So be sure to keep the receipts. Depending on your health insurance, you may be reimbursed 100% with no deductible, even on tests in Italy. However, there are plenty of places where you can get PCR tests for free, train stations in major cities are an example.

Contact me to know more about local regulations or for trip planning - off-the-beaten path places to see, or divine places to stay at: Facebook: Family Travel Italy • or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We quote from the New York Times:

"Italy makes a distinction between tourists and those traveling for other reasons, such as businesspeople or students. Visitors from Europe, Israel and Britain can visit Italy without quarantining, regardless of their reason, but need to take a coronavirus test. Visitors from the United States and other non-European countries that are considered low risk (Japan, Canada, Australia and Singapore) can also come regardless of their motivation, but need both a coronavirus test and a 10-day-quarantine. Americans avoid the quarantine if they take special “Covid-tested flights” that require taking a test both before and after the flight, and submitting an E.U. digital passenger locator form. These Covid-tested flights are already available from New York and Atlanta to Milan and Rome, and will soon be offered to Venice and Naples. From countries considered high risk, only travel for essential reasons (such as business, study or medical care) is allowed, and no travel is allowed from India and Brazil.

Medical facilities

Italy has one of Europe’s best health care systems. When northern Italy was severely hit in March and April 2020, hospitals were overwhelmed but that is no longer the case. The percentage of intensive care units taken over by Covid patients is declining and is now at 23 percent, according to statistics compiled by Gimbe, the research foundation.

The official requirements as of Februari 4th 2022

Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, New Zealand, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (including Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Channel Islands and British bases on the island of Cyprus and excluding territories outside mainland Europe), Republic of Korea, United States of America, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions.

Entry into Italy without self-isolation 

Anyone who has stayed or passed through one of the countries on List D in the 14 days prior to entering Italy without self-isolation (5 days) must comply with the following regulations:

  • fill out the Passenger Locator Form prior to entering Italy. This form replaces the self-declaration made to the travel company and can be shown in both digital and paper format
  • undergo a molecular swab carried out within 72 hours prior to entry into Italy and the result of which is negative, or an antigenic test carried out within 24 hours prior to entry into Italy, the result of which is negative. In the case of arrivals from the UK and Northern Ireland and British Isles, the molecular swab must be taken in the 48 hours prior to entering Italy
  • present the COVID-19 Green Certificate, or equivalent certificate, certifying the completion of the vaccination cycle to the transport operator at the time of boarding and to anyone appointed to carry out the checks. Persons who have stayed in or passed through Canada, Japan and the United States of America in the fourteen days prior to their entry into Italy, can also show a COVID-19 Green Certificate certifying recovery or a certificate issued by the competent health authorities certifying recovery. These certificates can be shown digitally or on paper. 

Entry into Italy with self-isolation requirement (5 days)

This prevention measure shall be applied only to people entering Italy without showing either a negative swab test or a vaccination certificate. Travellers who do not present the vaccination certificate must:

  • fill out the Passenger Locator Form prior to entering Italy. This form replaces the self-declaration made to the travel company and can be shown in both digital and paper format
  • undergo a molecular swab carried out within 72 hours prior to entry into Italy and the result of which is negative, or an antigenic test carried out within 24 hours prior to entry into Italy, the result of which is negative. In the case of arrivals from the UK and Northern Ireland and British Isles, the molecular swab must be taken in the 48 hours prior to entering Italy
  • notify the Prevention Department of the local health authority of their entry to Italy. See COVID-19 Numeri verdi regionali for the contact details of local Italian health authorities
  • travel to their final destination in Italy by private transport only
  • remain in self-isolation at the address indicated on the Passenger Locator Form for a total of 5 days
  • take another molecular or antigen swab test at the end of the 5 days in self-isolation

Validity of the Covid-19 Green Pass for access to activities and services in Italy 

As of 1 February 2022, the validity of the COVID-19 Green Pass (certification) of completion of the primary vaccination cycle and of successful recovery from Covid-19 to access activities and services in Italy is 6 months.

Persons from a foreign country in possession of a certificate issued by the competent foreign health authorities of recovery from Covid-19 or completion of the primary anti-SARS-Cov-2 vaccine cycle with a vaccine authorised or recognised as equivalent in Italy, where six to nine months have elapsed since the completion of the primary anti-SARS-Cov-2 vaccine cycle or since recovery from COVID-19, are also required to present a COVID-19 Green Pass (certificate) of completion of a rapid antigen test swab or molecular test swab in order to access all services for which the Super (reinforced) Green Pass is required (such as hotels, public transportation, museums, events). Consult the table of permitted activities and the site dgc.gov.it .

The validity of the above swabs is 48 hours if antigen test or 72 hours if molecular test.

In the case of vaccinations with vaccines that are not authorised or not recognised as equivalent in Italy, whose certifications have a validity of 9 months, access to services and activities is allowed in any case after having carried out a rapid antigen test swab or molecular test swab with a negative result for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The validity of the above swabs is 48 hours if antigen test or 72 hours if molecular test.

It is not mandatory to carry out test swabs in case of vaccination with booster dose, with EMA-authorised vaccine or equivalent, or in case of recovery from Covid-19 after vaccination with completion of the primary cycle or booster dose. 

The certifications for vaccination with booster dose or recovery from Covid-19 after vaccination for completion of the primary cycle or booster dose do not have a predetermined validity.

Vaccination certificates

  • The certificate may be shown in paper or digital format and must be in one of the following languages: Italian, English, French or Spanish. 
  • Certificates are valid only if they meet the following conditions:
  • it must be issued by the national health authority of the country the person is travelling from
  • the vaccine used for vaccination must be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA):Comirnaty by Pfizer-BioNtech
  • Moderna
  • Vaxzevria
  • Jansen (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Nuvaxovid (Novavax)  

See the circular of 23 September, 2021 Equivalence of anti SARS-CoV-2 / COVID vaccines administered abroad

Green certificates equivalences in Italy

Certificates issued by the health authorities of Canada, Japan, Israel, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (including Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and British bases on the island of Cyprus) and the United States are equivalent to those of the European Union for access to businesses, services and transport in Italy . They can be presented on paper or digitally, in compliance with the requirements established by the circular of 30 July 2021.

Minors

All children under 6 years of age entering Italy are always exempt from the pre-departure swab; they are also exempt from the fiduciary isolation if the accompanying parent with whom they are travelling is not subject to this obligation.

All minors aged 6 years or older are required to take the pre-departure swab, if they are not also in possession of the vaccination certificate they are exempt from fiduciary isolation if the accompanying parent with whom they are travelling is not subject to this obligation.

 

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