Travel within the European Union resumed in June, and since July 1st visits to Italy have been possible from some countries outside Europe – but not for everyone.
Which countries are allowed to travel to the EU?
The EU allows free travel within all 27 member states, as well as a handful of their neighbours: the non-EU members of the visa-free Schengen Zone – Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein; the microstates Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican; and the United Kingdom, which is still in the transition phase of exiting the EU.
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Outside of these countries, the EU has opened up its external borders only to places on its regularly revised 'safe' list. Residents of these countries can travel freely to the EU for any reason, including tourism.
The latest version of the list – updated on August 7th – has 10 countries on it. They are:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
If and when the Chinese government readmits EU visitors, China will also be added to the list.
Meanwhile four countries have been removed since the list was first issued in June: Algeria, Serbia, Macedonia and Morocco.
Countries with high Covid-19 rates such as the USA, India and Russia are not on the list. Residents of these and most other countries can only travel to the EU for essential, urgent reasons.
What does this mean for people wishing to visit Italy?
Firstly, the travel rules are based around where you are coming from, not what passport you hold. So a non-EU citizen travelling from France, for example, would be permitted to enter Italy because there are no health restrictions on the French-Italian border.
Secondly, this does not affect non-EU citizens who are permanent residents of Italy, although they will need to show proof of residency at the border.
Essential travel has been permitted throughout the lockdown and this continues, although the definition of essential travel into the EU is stricter than many countries' individual rules.
So the rules really affect tourists, second-home owners and those wishing to visit family and friends in Italy.
On September 7th. the Italian governmnt also signed off on a travel ban exemption for those in “stable” relationships – meaning people can travel from outside Europe to visit their partners even if they are not married or cohabiting. See more details in a separate article here.
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
What is essential travel?
People who can travel into the European bloc include:
- Citizens of an EU country;
- Non-EU citizens who are permanent residents of an EU country and need to come home;
- People travelling for imperative family reasons;
- Non-EU nationals travelling to study;
- Highly qualified third-country workers whose job is essential economically and cannot be postponed or performed abroad;
- Healthcare workers;
- Essential seasonal workers;
- Frontier workers;
- Delivery drivers and transport personnel;
- Diplomats, humanitarian or aid workers;
- People in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons;
- Passengers in transit.
Find more details on the exemptions here.
Who has to quarantine?
Unlike most other EU countries, Italy opted to keep quarantine mandatory for anyone entering from outside the European bloc.
That means all long-haul travellers – including people entering from one of the countries on the EU's 'safe list' – must self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.
Are any countries banned from Italy?
Yes. In July Italy introduced a travel ban on certain countries with high infection rates, barring entry outright to anyone who has been there in the past 14 days – even if they just passed through.
As of July 16th, Italy's 'risk list' included 16 countries:
- Bosnia Herzegovina
- North Macedonia
- Dominican Republic
There is an exception, however, for EU/Schengen/UK citizens who live in Italy and need to return home.
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
When will the rules change?
Italy extended all of its travel restrictions until at least September 7th under a new emergency decree that came into force on August 10th.
Meanwhile the EU says it will revise its list every two weeks. The list is largely based on the health situation in individual countries, so how quickly the ban on Americans and other non-EU tourists is lifted really depends on the evolution of the health situation in their own countries.
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Countries were included on the safe list if the coronavirus outbreak in the country was judged to be the same or better than that EU average. The bar was fixed at 16 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks.
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.
Please note: The Local is not able to advise on specific cases. Contact your embassy for official guidance.