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HEALTH

Reader question: What kind of coronavirus test do I need to take for travel to Italy?

Italy has started to relax many of its travel restrictions, but all arrivals still need to show proof of a negative coronavirus test. Here's what you need to know.

Reader question: What kind of coronavirus test do I need to take for travel to Italy?
Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP
 
Question: I will be travelling to Italy from another EU country soon. Is a negative coronavirus test result still required? And what type of test do I need to take?

As of May 16th, Italy has scrapped its quarantine requirement for all travellers from EU member states, including for those travelling for non-essential reasons. But these arrivals are still required to show a negative test result (just one, not two as was previously the case).

From most other countries at the moment stricter rules, including both quarantine and testing requirements, remain in place in almost all cases. See the Italian government’s entry rules by country here.

There are no exemptions to the testing requirement at present for fully-vaccinated travellers to Italy from any country, though the EU is looking at changing the rules.

Some of the travellers who are now allowed to enter Italy again from List C countries have written to The Local to ask whether they can take a rapid coronavirus test, or whether it’s mandatory to take a PCR swab test.

What are the types of test you can take?

Italy’s health ministry says that the results of both PCR and antigenic swab tests are accepted.

A PCR (molecular) test – this is the more reliable, but also more time-consuming test which tells you if you are actively infected with coronavirus. It involves taking a nose or throat swab and examining it for traces of the virus’s genetic material. The sample has to be sent to a lab for analysis, which means results can take around a day.

It’s considered the most reliable form of testing, even if it’s not 100 percent accurate. This kind of test can be taken alone, or may be needed to confirm the results of an antigen or antibody test.

An antigen test (sometmes known as a ‘rapid swab’ test) is also conducted via a nasal swab, but the sample is tested for proteins that are found on the surface of the virus – a simpler and quicker process which means you can get the result within around 15-20 minutes. These are the tests being used for the screening of passengers at airports, stations and ferry terminals in Italy.

READ ALSO: How you can get a free coronavirus test in 11 Italian cities

Italy does not appear to accept the results of sierological (blood) tests or rapid home tests, also known as lateral flow tests.

All travellers need a ‘green certificate’ proving their negative test result, according to the Italian health ministry. This is the name being used for a piece of paper from a testing centre which states your result. The Italian government has not given any requirements for the certificate to be in Italian, English or any particular language.

According to the health ministry’s guidance, travellers eligible for entry from “list C” countries must:

In the event of failure to produce a green certificate proving a negative swab test, passengers are subject to the following preventive measures:

  • ten days of self-isolation at the address provided in the digital Passenger Locator Form
  • swab test at the end of the ten-day isolation period.

Children aged 2 and under are exempt from the requirement.

As the travel rules are subject to change at short notice, anyone planning to travel to Italy is advised to check this official Italian government travel calculator, which gives the current requirements for entry from each country (in English).

Reader questions:

Travellers may also need to take a coronavirus test before travelling home from Italy. You can find testing stations at major Italian airports, and we have a list of testing centres which provide results in English here.

For more information on the requirements for travel to Italy (in English):

You can also call the Italian coronavirus information line:

  • From Italy: 1500 (toll-free number)
  • From abroad: +39 0232008345 , +39 0283905385

See the latest news updates from Italy in The Local’s travel section.

Member comments

  1. I have a problem with the test being taken 48 hour before. If you are coming from Australia or even the US with a connection, how is it possible you can actually make this deadline?! Most countries ask for 72 hours- a little more reasonable.
    Just think: you take your test 48 hours before your scheduled entry into Italy let’s say Tuesday at 10AM US time.
    You wait about 24 hours before you get the result. Sometimes longer in my experience. You get to let’s say Amsterdam where you connect on your way to Florence. You then wait four hours for your flight. Remember you’ve also lost 6 hours due to time change…guess what? You’re over the 48 hours! Ridiculous! And that’s the US. Imagine China or New Zealand!

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For members

STRIKES

Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

Travellers are once again set to face serious disruption as Italy will experience a new round of transport strikes in February. Here's what you can expect in the coming weeks.

Calendar: The transport strikes to expect in Italy this February

Travel to, from and across Italy was disrupted by dozens of strikes in January

And, while many travellers might have hoped for a change in the trend, strikes are set to continue into February as Italian unions have already announced a further round of demonstrations affecting rail and public transport services as well as airline travel.

Here’s an overview of February’s main strike actions, including a national public transport strike on Friday, February 17th and another nationwide walkout from airport ground staff on Tuesday, February 28th.

Public transport

February 17th: Public transport staff will take part in a national 24-hour strike on Friday, February 17th. 

The strike was called in late January by Italian union USB (Unione Sindacale di Base) to protest against precarious work and “wild privatisation” attempts on the part of the Italian state.

READ ALSO: Should you travel in Italy when there’s a strike on?

There currently aren’t any details as to what percentage of workers will take part in the action. As such, the amount of disruption travellers should expect on the day cannot be estimated yet. 

Air travel

February 12th: Air traffic control staff at Perugia’s San Francesco d’Assisi airport will take part in a 24-hour strike action on Sunday, February 12th. 

It isn’t yet clear how the walkout in question will affect air travel to and from the airport on the day.

Travellers at an Italian airport

A national strike from ground service staff may cause delays and queues at many Italian airports on Tuesday, February 28th. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

February 28th: Baggage handlers and other airport ground service staff will take part in a national 24-hour strike on Tuesday, February 28th. 

It isn’t yet clear how the strike will affect air travel during the day, though a similar demonstration caused significant delays and queues at some Italian airports in late January.

ENAV air traffic operators based in Calabria are also expected to strike on February 28th, with the walkout set to start at 1pm and end at 5pm.

Rail

February 5th-6th: Calabria-based Trenitalia staff will strike from 9pm on Sunday, February 5th to 9pm the following day. 

A list of guaranteed services in the region is available here.

February 9th: Staff from Lombardy’s Trenord will take part in a 22-hour strike – from 2am to 11.50pm – on Thursday, February 9th.

Empty train platform in Codogno, Lombardy

Staff from Lombardy’s regional railway operator Trenord will strike for 22 hours on Thursday, February 9th. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

It’s currently unclear whether Trenord will operate minimum services on the day. Any information regarding the strike will be released on the following website page

February 12th-13th: Trenitalia staff in Emilia-Romagna will strike from 3.30am on Sunday, February 12th to 2.30am on Monday, February 13th.

A list of guaranteed services in the region is available here.

February 19th: Veneto-based Trenitalia staff will strike from 9am to 5pm on Sunday, February 19th. 

Guaranteed services are available here.

On the same day, there will be no service between Milan’s Milano Centrale station and Paris’s Gare de Lyon due to a strike from staff at France’s national railway company SNCF.

READ ALSO: Trains and planes: Italy’s new international travel routes in 2023

February 20th: Trenitalia personnel in Lombardy are expected to strike from 9am to 5pm on Monday, February 20th. 

Guaranteed services haven’t been made available yet. 

You can keep up to date with the latest strike news from Italy HERE.

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