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Reader question: Which Covid vaccines will Italy accept for tourists this summer?

As Italy plans to welcome back tourists this summer, some worry their Covid-19 vaccination won't get them over the border.

Reader question: Which Covid vaccines will Italy accept for tourists this summer?
Visitors by the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

QUESTION: Italy says it will allow people who have been vaccinated to visit – will I be able to enter with the Moderna vaccine?

Italy has promised to “welcome back the world” this summer, starting with people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Frustratingly for those trying to finalize plans, the Italian government has not yet set a firm date for when vaccinated tourists can travel freely without quarantine – though ministers have hinted that it will be mid-May for travellers from the European Union, the UK or Israel, and June for visitors from the United States and other non-EU countries.

READ ALSO: How the Italian government has left tourists angry and confused about summer plans

This is in line with EU leaders’ promise to launch a travel pass valid across the entire bloc from next month, in the form of a digital certificate that shows you have either been fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative or have antibodies after recovering from Covid-19.

Italy’s equivalent, the certificato verde or “green pass”, is already valid for domestic travel when crossing in or out of regions that have been declared higher-risk orange or red zones (find a map of the zones currently in place here).

It’s essentially just a certificate issued by your local health authority or testing centre, either on paper or in digital form, but the idea ultimately is to create a uniform, scannable version that will also be usable abroad.

Passes issued in Italy will naturally show vaccination with one of the vaccines that are currently in use here: Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech (also called Comirnaty), AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) or Johnson & Johnson (Janssen).

READ ALSO:

A passenger with a negative test result prepares to board a “Covid-free” train from Milan to Rome. Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP

But what about people who have been vaccinated elsewhere?

“All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by the European Medicines Agency,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said back in April.

Italy confirmed in its last emergency decree that “certificates issued in a third country following a vaccination recognised in the European Union and validated by a Union member state” can be used for travel within Italy just the same as Italian certificates.

READ ALSO: ‘Our tickets are booked’: the Americans who can’t wait to return to Italy

The European Medicines Agency has so far cleared four vaccines, all of which are in use in Italy (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson).

It is currently reviewing four more: the Chinese vaccine Sinovac, German-made CureVac, American candidate Novavax, and Russia’s Sputnik vaccine. These will be approved if they stand up to the regulator’s requirements, but at present they are not in use anywhere within the EU. (Sputnik is currently in use in San Marino, which despite lying within Italy’s borders is neither part of Italy nor the EU.)

You can check which vaccines the EMA has authorised via its website

Whichever vaccine you get, for travel purposes you’ll need to have received all the doses required for full protection – so two shots for Moderna, Pfizer or AstraZeneca, and one for Johnson & Johnson.

The Italian government is expected to give further details about its plans to restart travel in the coming days.

Stay up to date with Italy’s travel rules by following The Local’s travel section and checking the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).

Member comments

  1. Delta and Alitalia have plans to return daily service and additional routes, starting the end of May. Light at the end of the tunnel, I think a semi summer is ahead!

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COVID-19 RULES

Reader question: What are Italy’s Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Italy's quarantine rules have changed so many times over the past couple of years, it can be hard to keep track. Here's the latest information on when and how visitors need to self-isolate.

Reader question: What are Italy's Covid quarantine rules for travellers?

Question: “One of your recent articles says you can exit quarantine by testing negative for the coronavirus. But you can also exit quarantine by obtaining a certificate of recovery from Covid-19… true?”

Unfortunately, official proof of having recovered from Covid-19 won’t get you out of the requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while visiting Italy – though it can shorten your quarantine period.

The health ministry’s current rules state that anyone who tests positive while in Italy is required to immediately self-isolate for a minimum of seven days: that’s if the person in question is fully vaccinated and boosted, or has completed their primary vaccination cycle, or was certified as being recovered from Covid less than 120 days ago.

That period is extended to 10 days for those who aren’t fully vaccinated and boosted, or those who recovered from Covid or completed their primary vaccination cycle more than 120 days ago.

In either case, the infected person must have been symptomless for at least three days in order to exit quarantine (with the exception of symptoms relating to a lost sense of taste or smell, which can persist for some time after the infection is over).

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

The patient must also test negative for the virus via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test on the final day of the quarantine in order to be allowed out.

Read more about getting tested while in Italy in a separate article here.

Quarantined people who keep testing positive for the virus can be kept in self-isolation for a maximum of 21 days, at which point they will be automatically released.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative in order to enter its borders, as long as they are fully boosted or were recently vaccinated/ have recently recovered from Covid.

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

Some countries (including the US), however, do require people travelling from Italy to test negative before their departure – which means visitors at the tail end of their journey could be hit with the unpleasant surprise of finding out they need to quarantine for another week in Italy instead of heading home as planned.

It’s because of this rule that a number of The Local’s readers told us they wouldn’t be coming on holiday to Italy this summer, and intend to postpone for another year.

If you are planning on visiting Italy from a country that requires you to test negative for Covid prior to re-entry, it’s a good idea to consider what you would do and where you would go in the unlikely event you unexpectedly test positive.

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.

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