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EXPLAINED: How Italy’s travel rules change in March

As Italy has announced it will ease Covid travel rules for non-EU arrivals from March, here's a closer look at how the restrictions are set to change.

EXPLAINED: How Italy’s travel rules change in March
Italy has relaxed its Covid restrictions for international travellers, opening up tourism. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

From March 1st, the rules for arrivals from outside the EU will be simplified, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced on Tuesday.

Non-EU arrivals will no longer need to show both proof of vaccination against or recovery from Covid and a negative test result.

Either a vaccination certificate, recovery certificate or negative test result will be sufficient for entry to Italy from that date.

READ ALSO: Italy to ease Covid travel rules for non-EU arrivals on March 1st

The relaxation of the rules, which is hoped to boost Italy’s tourism sector following two years of Covid restrictions, means travel restrictions for non-EU travellers will be the same as for those coming from within Europe.

The health ministry has not yet updated the official information on its website, a copy of the ordinance text signed by Speranza has been published by Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.

Here’s a closer look at the rules for based on the information available so far.

Paperwork to enter Italy

Just one of the following will now be required for non-EU arrivals: a vaccination certificate, certificate of recovery or a negative test result, Speranza said.

This follows Italy’s introduction of the same rule for EU arrivals on February 1st.

Therefore, vaccinated and recovered travellers won’t need to get tested as well for travel to Italy – though this still currently the rule until Monday, February 28th.

It also means unvaccinated travellers and those not recovered from Covid-19 will be able to enter Italy with just proof of a negative test.

Italy’s travel rules will be simplified for non-EU arrivals from next month. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

The change applies to travellers from outside the EU, such as those from the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, Israel and Japan, for instance.

Passengers can present certificates of recovery, vaccination or testing in digital or paper format.

You also still need to complete a digital passenger locator form (dPLF) – find the instructions and download link here.

READ ALSO: UK ends Covid test requirements for fully-vaccinated travellers

As before, the dPLF must be completed by everyone arriving in Italy, by any means of transport, before entering the country. It can also be completed and shown in either paper or digital format.

Some exemptions apply, such as to those transiting through Italian airports to another country or to students attending a course in a country other than the country of residence, for instance.

The rules will continue to be enforced by airlines upon boarding: the new Italian ordinance specifies that carriers must check the dPLF and that travellers have one of the required entry certifications before boarding.

Carriers are also obliged to deny boarding to those who show Covid-19 symptoms.

Quarantine rules lifted

There’s no isolation period for non-EU arrivals. Quarantine on arrival only applies if you fail to produce the required documents.

In this case, you’d need to isolate at the address you listed on the digital Passenger Locator Form for five days, followed by a molecular or antigenic swab at the end of this period.

This therefore appears to include those arriving from ‘list E’ countries, who are currently subject to a 10-day quarantine on arrival. The Italian authorities are yet to update their official travel information or to confirm whether the current travel lists will remain in place, however.

Children under the age of six are exempt from testing requirements, according to the ordinance text.

No travellers will need to quarantine on arrival in Italy as long as they can show the required documentation. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

What type of vaccination certificate is valid?

While the new ordinance confirms that either digital or paper certificates are valid for entry to Italy, there is some confusion around what counts as “vaccinated” for entry purposes.

Neither Tuesday’s ordinance nor the previous set of rules for EU arrivals specified how many shots of a Covid-19 vaccine travellers must have had and within what timeframe, or whether the vaccine must be approved by the Italian or European medicines agencies.

Travellers who are in doubt as to whether their vaccination certificate will be recognised should contact their airline for advice before travelling.

Italy’s move followed a recommendation on Tuesday from the EU council, made up of member states, that all countries “should lift the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU for people vaccinated with an EU or WHO approved vaccine, provided they have received the last dose of the primary vaccination cycle at least 14 days ago and no more than 270 days prior to arrival, or have received a booster dose.”

However this recommendation is not legally binding and member states may apply their own rules as they see fit.

The rules once you’re in Italy

The change from March 1st applies only to the rules when entering Italy. Travellers should be aware that a different, stricter set of measures is in force within the country.

Italy has recently expanded the use of its domestic ‘green pass’ proving vaccination, testing or recovery.

So, even though you may enter Italy with just a negative test, once you’re here you’ll need to be either vaccinated or recovered to access everything from hotels and restaurants to public transport under rules set to stay in force until at least March 31st.

The so-called ‘basic green pass’ (green pass base) obtained via a negative swab is restricted to shops, public offices and hairdressers, for example. Therefore, it’s not enough for travelling to Italy for tourism and all that entails – like staying in hotels and dining in restaurants.

Boarding a train or domestic flight in Italy is not currently allowed without proof of vaccination or recovery.

There are no restrictions for tourists travelling to the independent states of San Marino and Vatican City once in Italy.

READ ALSO:

Health passes based on recovery or two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine are valid for six months in Italy, while proof of full vaccination with a booster is valid indefinitely.

Travellers from any other European member state can show their country’s version of the green pass, or health pass – which is recognised on par with Italy’s – to gain access to all venues where it is required.

Italy also recently announced special exceptions for some non-EU tourists meaning they may not have to show the same proof of vaccination as residents.

Will the rules be extended past March?

The new set of rules will remain valid until March 31st, according to the ordinance text.

It appears unlikely that the rules will be tightened again after that – at least ahead of the summer tourist season.

“I think the ordinance gives an important signal to the tourism sector. We have in fact lifted the quarantine for all those arriving in our country from any country,” Health Undersecretary Andrea Costa told Sky TG24 news.

“For a country like Italy where the tourism sector is a fundamental element, it means being able to plan. And this is certainly a positive sign,” he added.

For further details about Italy’s current Covid-19 health measures please see the Italian health ministry website (available in English).

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UPDATE: What are the Covid travel rules between Italy and the UK?

With the rules on travel between Italy and the UK set to change again, here's what you need to know about the latest restrictions.

The travel rules between Italy and the UK have changed again.
The travel rules between Italy and the UK have changed again. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

The rules on travel between Italy and the UK have changed multiple times over the past few months in response to the evolving Covid-19 health situation.

Another change is incoming from March 1st, as Italy plans to drop the testing requirement for vaccinated or recovered travellers from non-EU countries, which includes the UK.

Here’s the latest summary of the what you need to know when travelling in either direction.

Travelling from the UK to Italy

From March 1st, Italy will relax the rules for arrivals from outside the EU, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: Italy to ease Covid travel rules for non-EU arrivals on March 1st

According to a new ordinance on Italy’s Covid travel restrictions, travellers entering Italy from non-EU countries like the UK will no longer need to show both proof of vaccination against or recovery from Covid and a negative test result.

Either a vaccination certificate, recovery certificate or negative test result is accepted for travel into Italy when the new rules come into force.

The change brings the UK, and other non-EU countries, in line with travellers coming from Europe, since Italy introduced the same rule for EU arrivals on February 1st.

So, if you’re vaccinated or recovered, you won’t need to get tested as well for travel to Italy – though this is still currently the rule until Monday, February 28th.

It also means unvaccinated travellers and those not recovered from Covid-19 will be able to enter Italy from the UK with just proof of a negative test.

Passengers can present certificates of recovery, vaccination or testing in digital or paper format.

Digital or paper copies are accepted for travel into Italy. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

What counts as vaccinated for entry purposes isn’t clear, as neither Tuesday’s ordinance nor the previous set of rules for EU arrivals specified how many shots of a Covid-19 vaccine travellers must have had and within what timeframe, or whether the vaccine must be approved by the Italian or European medicines agencies.

If you want to be sure that your vaccination certificate will be recognised, you should contact your airline for advice before travelling.

The digital passenger locator form (dPLF) requirement is still in place under the latest rule changes – find the instructions and download link here.

You have to complete this form regardless of the means of transport you enter Italy by, before entering the country. It can also be completed and shown in either paper or digital format.

Airlines will continue to check documentation and enforce these rules. The new Italian ordinance specifies that carriers must check the dPLF and that travellers have one of the required entry certifications before boarding.

You’ll also be denied boarding if you show any Covid-19 symptoms.

Once in Italy, there is no quarantine requirement. The only case where this would apply is if you failed to provide the required paperwork, in which case you’d be obliged to undergo a five-day quarantine at the address you listed on the digital Passenger Locator Form. This would then be followed by a molecular or antigenic swab at the end of the isolation period.

Travel within Italy

While these will be the rules for entering Italy from March 1st, UK travellers need to be aware of a different, tougher set of restrictions once in Italy.

Italy has extended the use of its domestic ‘green pass’ proving vaccination, testing or recovery to cover almost all aspects of life in the country.

Although you will be to enter Italy with just a negative test, once you’re here you’ll need to be either vaccinated or recovered to access everything from hotels and restaurants to public transport under rules in force until at least March 31st.

A visitor shows her Covid-19 certificates for scanning before entering a museum. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

Obtaining a negative test result alone only will provide you with the so-called ‘basic green pass’ (green pass base). But this is restricted to much fewer services such as shops, public offices and hairdressers, for example.

If you’re travelling to Italy for tourism and all that entails, like staying in hotels, eating out and visiting museums, it’s not enough.

Boarding a train or domestic flight in Italy is not currently allowed without proof of vaccination or recovery either.

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

Following a decree announced by Italy’s health minister on February 2nd, foreign visitors, including those from the UK, who are boosted against Covid-19 with a vaccine recognised by Italy can access all venues and services in the country on an indefinite basis.

Those who have completed their primary vaccine cycle more than six months ago but have not received a booster shot can still access all services and venues (such as hotels, restaurants and public transport) by taking a rapid antigen or PCR test from a certified provider (e.g. a pharmacy).

A negative rapid test result will produce a pass that is valid for 48 hours; a negative PCR test result will produce a pass that is valid for 72 hours.

Within Italy, there are currently no restrictions on travel and movement between regions under current rules set by the national government, though local authorities can impose their own measures at any time.

If a region or province is declared a high risk ‘red’ zone, travel restrictions are in force for the unvaccinated; for those who are vaccinated, no restrictions are imposed.

READ ALSO:

Italy has a number of other measures in place which travellers should be aware of, including the requirement to wear masks indoors – the requirement to wear masks outdoors has now been dropped. More protective FFP2 masks are mandatory in some places including cinemas and on public transport.

Find more information on how Italy’s vaccine pass rules apply to visitors and check the validity of different vaccine certificates here.

What are the rules for travel from Italy to the UK?

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland often have different entry rules – make sure to check the latest official guidance for the specific UK destination you’re travelling to.

England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all updated their restrictions on February 11th.

READ ALSO: UK ends Covid test requirements for fully-vaccinated travellers

You no longer need to take a Covid-19 test prior to arrival into the UK if you’re fully vaccinated, while this is still a requirement for those unvaccinated a maximum of two days before travel.

It is also now the case that fully-vaccinated passengers travelling to these countries are no longer required to take a Day 2 test; while non-fully-vaccinated arrivals are not required to self-isolate and do not have to take the Day 8 PCR test.

Passengers who are vaccinated can now upload proof of their vaccination status instead of a Day 2 test booking reference. The UK does not require a booster shot in order to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’. 

Under 18s do not require any tests.

The existing rules remain in place around the Passenger Locator Form, which must be completed in the 48 hour window before arrival.

You can find the Passenger Locator Form HERE. However, make sure you complete the document in plenty of time, as travellers have reported technical glitches with the form in recent weeks.

For more information on the requirements for travel to Italy:

You can also call the Italian coronavirus information line:

  • From Italy: 1500 (freephone 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 news updates via our homepage or travel news section.

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