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TRAVEL

Italy’s latest travel rules, explained

Italy's travel rules can be tricky to keep up with. We break down who is allowed to travel to Italy, why, when, and whether you'll have to quarantine.

Italy's latest travel rules, explained
Italy has banned entry from certain countries under all circumstances. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The rules on travelling to Italy have changed several times in the past month, and they're different from the rest of the EU. 

Some tourism is allowed; some travel to and from outside Europe is allowed; some journeys are allowed with a quarantine; and some places you just can't go.

Think of Italy's travel rules as a traffic light system: some countries have the green light for unrestricted travel, some are on amber with a quarantine requirement, and some are stuck on red with no tourism allowed.

Here are the rules, explained.


Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP

No restrictions, no quarantine

Most travellers within Europe can travel freely to and from Italy without having to justify their reasons for travel or quarantining upon arrival.

Most other European countries have also now dropped their own restrictions on Italy, meaning that travellers won't have to quarantine when they return home either: check with your government for its latest travel advice.

Where?

  • All other members of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
  • All non-EU members of the Schengen Zone: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
  • The UK: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Microstates and enclaves: Andorra, Principality of Monaco, Republic of San Marino and the Vatican City State.

Who?

  • Citizens of those countries.
  • Foreign residents living in those countries.
  • Family members of a citizen or resident: spouse, civil or cohabiting partner, dependent children aged below 21 years, other dependent lineal relatives.

Exceptions: people who have travelled outside any of these countries in the 14 days before arriving in Italy, who will have to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

For example, someone travelling to Italy from France on July 15th would be required to self-isolate if they had travelled to France from the US on July 10th; but would not be required to self-isolate if they travelled from the US to France before July 1st.

Since July 24th, Italy also requires people travelling from Romania or Bulgaria to quarantine for their first 14 days in Italy. The rule applies to anyone who has been to either country in the two weeks before arriving in Italy, however briefly.

And as of August 12th, travellers entering Italy from Spain, Greece, Croatia or Malta must get tested for coronavirus either within 72 hours of departing or 48 hours of arriving. Provided they test negative, they are not obliged to quarantine.


Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP

Free to visit, but subject to 14-day quarantine

In line with advice from the EU, since July 1st Italy has re-allowed travel from approved countries with a low infection rate however unlike in neighbouring countries they will need to follow quarantine rules.

Travellers from these countries are free to visit Italy for any reason, including tourism, but they must quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

You are expected to make your own arrangements for self-isolation before your arrive, including planning where you will quarantine and how you'll get there from the airport: you must not use public transport. You should inform the authorities of your plans via this form (available in English), which you will expected to show to border officers on arrival.

Where?

As of the last update on August 7th, the EU's 'safe list' includes 10 countries:

  • Australia 
  • Canada
  • Georgia 
  • Japan 
  • New Zealand 
  • Rwanda
  • South Korea
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia
  • Uruguay

China has also been approved, but the EU is waiting for confirmation that the arrangement will be reciprocal before adding it to the list.

The list will be reviewed and updated every two weeks.

Who?

The exemption only applies to residents of these countries, not people who may be nationals but live elsewhere. For example, an Australian residing in the US still could not visit Italy as a tourist.

READ ALSO: What's the latest news on travel from the US to Italy?


Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Can only come in an emergency, subject to 14-day quarantine

Non-essential travel to Italy remains banned from the US, India, Russia and most other countries in the world.

READ ALSO: Who is allowed to travel to Italy from outside the EU?

People departing from these countries cannot come to Italy as a tourist, but they are allowed to enter for urgent, essential reasons that they will have to justify to border police.

Why?

  • Work 
  • Health 
  • Absolute necessity 
  • To return home or to a place of residence
  • Study

If you can prove your trip is essential and are allowed into Italy, you will have to quarantine yourself for 14 days after you arrive. 

You must complete a form (available in English here) informing authorities of where you plan to isolate yourself and your arrangements for getting there: you must not travel by public transport.

Exceptions: You may not have to quarantine if you are only making a short trip to Italy (less than 120 hours) for proven work, health or other urgent reasons, or if you are only transiting briefly through the country on your way to somewhere else. People with connecting flights in Italy must simply remain inside the airport.


Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Barred in almost all circumstances

As of July 9th, the Italian government introduced a travel ban on certain countries with high rates of infection. Four more countries have been added to the list since then.

Direct and connecting flights to and from these countries are suspended until further notice.

Where?

  • Armenia
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Bosnia Herzegovina
  • Brazil 
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Kosovo
  • Kuwait
  • North Macedonia
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Oman
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Serbia

Who?

The ban applies to anyone who has been to any of those countries within the past 14 days, even if they were just transiting there.

Exception: Citizens of Italy, another EU country, the Schengen Zone or the UK who live in Italy permanently are allowed to return home from one of the countries on the 'risk list'.

For more information, check the Italian Foreign Ministry's website (in English), as well as the latest advice from the government of any countries you're travelling to or from.

Member comments

  1. Is completing the purchase of a house considered an urgent need? I must sign and transfer funds, I can be in and our in just a few days.

  2. I have had several people help me try to decipher from the esteri.it website whether or not I, as an American currently living in the US, can travel to Italy. It seems to me that IF I spend at least 14 days in an “approved” country I could then enter into Italy. But they really don’t make it super clear and when I tried to email them and get clarification, they responded by copying part of the website, which was the part I had mentioned I needed clarification on….Oh good ole Italian Government! But the consensus has been that I could travel for tourism purposes after 14 days elsewhere (or quarantining there). Hope that’s correct!

  3. It does seem like one from the US could quarantine for 14 days. How can we get clarification?

  4. We each have a Permesso di Soggiorno and have documentation that gives us permission to stay in a house owned by a daughter. Does that count as resident status and allow us to enter Italy? We are planning to travel Aug. 1st and return the first of the year. That is where we would be quarantining for the two weeks.

  5. From what I’ve read, you can enter Italy unrestricted if you quarantine in the U.K. for 14 days. It depends on the country you’re traveling from, not your country of origin. I was living with my fiancee who’s an Italian citizen from December 2019 to the middle of June 2020. I had to return to the United States to take care of an emergency. I’m flying to London on August 12th where I’ll be quarantining for 14 days before booking a flight to Rome. I’ll let you know how it works out.

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VENICE

‘Fighting for survival’: Has Venice become a city no one can live in?

As the population of Venice sinks below 50,000, activists say 'normal life' is impossible in the floating city. What does the future hold for its dwindling number of residents?

'Fighting for survival': Has Venice become a city no one can live in?

Venice made national and international headlines last week with the news that its resident population had fallen below 50,000 for the first time, a stark symbol of the city’s metamorphosis from thriving metropolis to tourist playground.

There was some initial confusion as to the source of the figure: a widely-shared story from news agency Ansa said that Venice City Hall (the Comune di Venezia)’s statistics office had recorded its population size as 49,997 on August 10th – but when contacted by The Local, the comune denied having provided any such information, and said its most up-to-date population stats only cover up to July 31st.

Instead, the number appears to have come from Venessia, a Venice-based activist group which maintains a (de)population counter based on provisional updates from the civil registry office that have yet to be vetted.

The counter put the city’s population below the 50,000 threshold on August 10th; as of Thursday, the number had dropped to 49,989.

Matteo Secchi points to a population tracker that counts 49,997 Venetian residents.
Matteo Secchi points to a population tracker that counts 49,997 Venetian residents. Credit: Venessia.com

The exact moment when Venice lost its 50,000th resident may be lost to history, but what’s undeniable is that the city’s permanent population is disappearing at an alarming rate, from over 174,000 in 1951 to less than a third of that today. Meanwhile, its tourist numbers continue to break records.

“I feel like a stranger in my own home,” says Matteo Secchi, a native Venetian who leads the Venessia.com group and runs its website.

“I live near the Rialto Bridge, and there are no more Venetians there, only foreigners. Not that there’s anything wrong with foreigners…. we are open to all cultures, but we would like ours to survive too.”

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

Secchi currently works on a hotel reception desk after his own B&B went under during the pandemic – an irony which, given Venessia’s emphasis on the damage inflicted by the tourist industry on the city, is not lost on him.

“Everyone works in the tourism sector here,” he says matter-of-factly.

It’s not that tourism is an inherent evil, says Secchi, acknowledging that it’s made Venice rich; but its implacable hold on the city has driven up rents and property prices, causing ordinary shops and affordable accommodation to disappear.

“There are fewer of us all the time because you can’t live normally,” he says.

He compares modern-day Venice to Disneyland, saying he often feels like “a little monkey: people come and take photos and say, ‘look at this nut!'”. What young person wants to live their life as an unpaid theme park mascot?

OPINION: Why more of Italy’s top destinations must limit tourist numbers

In 2009, Secchi and the other Venessia organisers staged a mock funeral for Venice after its population dropped below 60,000. The spectacle involved rowing a pink coffin down the Grand Canal, flanked by several gondolas, and depositing it outside City Hall.

Though he’s proud of the demonstration and the attention it received (“The second-biggest news story out of Italy that year, after the Aquila earthquake!”) he has no plans hold another one this time, noting that of the five founding members of his organisation, he’s the only one still alive.

Venessia's 2009 'funeral' for Venice.
Venessia’s 2009 ‘funeral’ for Venice. Photo by ANDREA PATTARO / AFP.

Venessia has a long list of recommendations for how to rebuild the city’s population, including giving tax breaks to all non-tourism businesses, offering financial incentives for landlords to rent to residents rather than tourists, and having a ten-year moratorium on building tourist accommodation (“Do you think the comune would agree to this?” I ask of the latter. “No!” Secchi chuckles).

One of the organisation’s more realistic proposals is levying a tax on tourist rentals to finance the renovation of Venice’s dilapidated public housing, much of which stands curiously empty for a city with some of the highest rents and real estate values in the country.

READ ALSO: ‘The myth of Venice’: How the Venetian brand helps the city survive

There’s no easily accessed public record of exactly how many empty public housing units there are in Venice, but the issue was the subject of a Vice documentary in the early days of the pandemic, when some restaurant and hotel workers suddenly out of a job were forced to squat in abandoned buildings unfit for human habitation.

Secchi becomes particularly animated on this point. “It’s very interesting – these numbers now form the basis of our protest, we’re going to focus on them. It’s been years that we’ve been saying ‘ah, there are all these empty homes’, but we’ve never got official figures.” 

Activists hold up a banner displaying the number 49,999, as part of a campaign to draw attention to Venice's rapid depopulation.
Activists hold up a banner displaying the number 49,999, as part of a campaign to draw attention to Venice’s rapid depopulation. Credit: Venessia.com

While the activist is frustrated with the comune‘s inaction in the face of what he sees as a slow-motion catastrophe, Secchi doesn’t think the city’s current leaders are worse than its any of its previous ones.

“In the past 40 years, there hasn’t been an administration capable of handling this issue,” he says.

A quality they all tend to share, in Secchi’s view, is that they have a “coda di paglia” – literally, a ‘straw tail’; an expression that refers to a person who is highly defensive in response to any criticism.

When the latest population figures made the headlines, the comune were quick to dismiss the issue as a false alarm, saying that the numbers fail to take into account all the students and temporary workers who live in the city without being registered residents.

READ ALSO: How will the new tourist-control system work in Venice?

Secchi rejects the notion that these people in these categories count as Venetians, arguing that a community is made up of individuals who put down roots, not those who pass through for a few months or years.

But if they want to view the issue purely in terms of numbers, he says, by their own logic the comune should take into account all the people who falsely claim Venice as their primary residence in order to evade the inflated property taxes that come with second home ownership, but in reality live elsewhere most of the year.

A banner hung on a washing line bears the number 49,999. Venessia began a countdown to the number as publicity campaign to draw attention to the city's population decline, several months ago.

A banner on a washing line bears the number 49,999. Venessia began a countdown publicity campaign to highlight the city’s population decline several months ago. Credit: Venessia.com

Venice has recently taken one step to address its over-tourism problem, with the announcement by Mayor Luigi Brugnaro at the start of July that the city will impose a long-discussed tourist tax of €3-€10 for day-trippers from January 2023.

Whether the tax will have any real calming effect on tourism, or be used to benefit residents in a way that might help rebuild their numbers, remains to be seen.

“We’re in favour of freedom, but we also want to defend our identity,” says Secchi.

“We’re not fighting for anything strange; we’re fighting for our survival.”

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