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EXPLAINED: How should travellers from the UK quarantine in Italy?

Anyone arriving in Italy from the UK now faces quarantine as well as coronavirus tests. Here's what people travelling from the UK need to know about Italy's latest rules.

EXPLAINED: How should travellers from the UK quarantine in Italy?
Travellers from the UK have to quarantine in Italy for five days.Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

Concern over the highly contagious Delta variant prompted the Italian health ministry to toughen its rules for UK arrivals in June – restrictions that have now been extended throughout August.

EXPLAINED: How travel between the UK and Italy has changed

Until at least August 30th, a trip to Italy means two coronavirus tests and five days in quarantine for any travellers who have been in the UK in the past fortnight.That includes people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

With the new rules throwing summer plans into question, here’s a guide to what quarantining in Italy actually involves.

Who has to quarantine?

Compulsory quarantine applies to anyone who has been on UK territory in the 14 days before arrival in Italy, regardless of nationality. 

That means anywhere in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, or British bases on Cyprus.

It also applies to people who transited through any of these places.

It applies regardless of whether you enter Italy by plane, ferry, train, coach, private car or any other means of transport.

Are coronavirus tests still required?

Yes: one in the 48 hours before entering Italy, and a second after five days in quarantine.

You must test negative to be allowed to travel, but a negative result will not allow you to avoid quarantine, which is mandatory regardless. A second negative test allows you to end your isolation period.

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

The UK does not allow people to get tested for travel via the National Health Service, so plan to pay for a private test before your departure.

Italy accepts either molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen swabs for both the pre-travel and post-quarantine tests.

Children aged six or younger are not required to get a test, but should still quarantine.

Are there any other travel requirements?

Before your trip, you should also fill out a European Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF), giving details of where you’re departing from and where you’ll be staying. The form is available online here

You should also notify the prevention department of the local health authority in the part of Italy you’ll be staying in within 48 hours of your arrival. Depending on where you’re going, this may involve filling out an online form, sending an email or calling a regional helpline. Find contact details here.

When does quarantine start and end?

The official guidance from the Italian Health Ministry states that arrivals must “undergo fiduciary isolation and health surveillance for five days, and undergo an additional molecular or antigenic test at the end of the 5-day isolation period”.

There has been some confusion about whether the day you arrive counts as ‘day one’ or ‘day zero’, and the Health Ministry’s website and ordinances do not specify this.

As you’ll be reporting to the local health office (ASL) in the region of Italy you’re staying in, they will be responsible for telling you exactly when your quarantine period should end, and when you should get tested. Find contact details for local health authorities here.

Once that period is up, you can leave isolation in order to get a test. That’s as long as you have not developed any Covid-19 symptoms and unless your local heath authority has instructed you otherwise.

Whether you can get tested by a private provider such as a pharmacy or have to go through the public health service depends on the rules in your region: ask your local health authority or the regional Covid helpline for advice. In any case, continue avoiding contact with others until you receive confirmation of a negative result.

Anyone with symptoms should remain in isolation and inform their local health authority.

Where should you quarantine in Italy?

Unlike people arriving from India, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, who are obliged to quarantine in designated “Covid hotels”, travellers from the UK can quarantine anywhere of their choosing.

That includes your own residence, a second home or holiday rental.

You can also quarantine at a shared property, such as a friend’s house, but you should avoid close contact with anyone else living there (unless they are also prepared to observe quarantine).

READ ALSO: ‘It’s a nightmare’: How Italy’s extended quarantine for UK travellers has affected you

Hotels may refuse to allow you to quarantine on their property: contact the accommodation before booking to find out what its policy is.

Wherever you decide to quarantine, you should go directly there when you arrive in Italy and settle in for the entire five days: moving from one location to another during your isolation period would be considered a breach of quarantine.  

If you are unable to find anywhere suitable to quarantine in Italy or cannot reach your destination safely, the local authorities reserve the right to put you in accommodation of their choosing, such as a designated hotel, at your expense.

How should you travel there?

You must not take public transport from the airport or ferry terminal where you arrive in Italy: arrange to reach your final destination privately, for instance in a rental car or a taxi. 

A friend or relative is allowed to come and pick you up in their own car, but you should limit your contact with them as much as possible.

Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP

What can you do while you’re quarantining in Italy?

Stay on your own property and avoid contact with anyone else staying there who is not also in quarantine. 

You are not allowed out to go to the shops or to take out rubbish, so make arrangements to stock up on essentials before you arrive or have groceries delivered.

Will anyone check up on you?

Local health authorities reserve the right to telephone or even visit you in person to check that you’re observing quarantine.

As for whether they will or not, reports across Italy vary: some travellers say they were contacted and others report not hearing from the authorities at all.

Penalties for failing to quarantine can be stiff, including thousand-euro fines, so assume the rules will be enforced and act accordingly.

REVEALED: How strictly is Italy enforcing rules on Covid testing and quarantine for UK arrivals?

Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

Are there any exceptions?

People transiting through Italy in a private vehicle for 36 hours or less do not have to quarantine. 

The same goes for people travelling for “proven reasons of work, health or emergency” for 120 hours (five days) or less, according to the Health Ministry.

There are also exemptions for transport crew, diplomats, business travellers and certain students, depending on how long they plan to stay.

There are no exceptions for people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

How long will quarantine remain mandatory for UK arrivals in Italy?

Italy’s testing and quarantine requirements for UK travellers will remain in place until at least August 30th, according to the Health Ministry’s latest ordinance.

Depending on the health situation by then, they may be extended or revised.

Find more information about the requirements for travelling between the UK and Italy on the Italian Health Ministry’s website, or via the Italian Embassy in London and British Embassy in Rome

Member comments

  1. If our trip to Italy is less than 5 days long, or we leave on the 5th day, we are not required to stay longer, right?

  2. If we cross the border from France into Italy can we stay overnight in a hotel on our way to our destination/second home and then quarantine?

    1. I am wondering the same. I can drive through France in on go, but would need to have a night in a hotel just over the Italian border, before continuing to Tuscany .
      Can anyone advise?

  3. Having travelled UK to Italy on 13th June routing via Spain and the ‘grim’ Barcelona-Civitavecchia ferry I hope port control is up to speed on the requirements. With the on/off messing around in the French quarantine rules in early June the ferry route into Spain became more obvious.

    Boarding formalities in Barcelona were a mere temperature check outside the car in 37 deg C heat, having handed in Grimaldi Lines own C-19 paperwork and answered a question on whether we had taken a C19 test. No check made on paperwork.

    The test taken in Barcelona is a joke, more a case of we’ll take your €50/head and certify you fit to get on the ferry; the certifying documents were produced prior to the PCR test reaction completed.

    The ferry being over three hours late into Civitavecchia having left Spain late and called into Sardinia en route meant all health service/ port/ customs staff had departed for the day. We just drove out of the port totally unchallenged.

    And then we in Italy have the latest issue with large numbers of Ukrainians entering Italy to go to match at the Stadio Olympico on Saturday having previous been in Moscow, allowed to arrive unchecked, and yet we’re being encouraged as Brits in Italy to go to the match! I’ll pass on that thanks!

  4. Does anyone have a concept of what ‘proven reasons of work…’ might be? We are travelling to Italy to meet our agent to provide documentation and signatures for the sale of our property in Le Marche.

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TRAVEL NEWS

What’s it like travelling through Italy’s airports now?

As flight disruption continues in Europe during the August holiday season, passengers tell The Local how Italy’s airports are faring.

What's it like travelling through Italy's airports now?

Strikes and staff shortages have made air travel problematic across Europe since early June, but airports in some countries have been much more badly affected than others.

There are reports of ongoing serious disruption everywhere from Spain to Germany, with at least 15,700 flights already cancelled across the continent this month.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: Airlines cancel 15,000 flights in August

Outside of Europe, more travel chaos has been reported in Australia this month, while passengers travelling to and from the UK have suffered months of disruption and cancellations.

Despite some limited strike action earlier in the summer season, Italian airports by contrast appear not to be badly affected.

Between June 20th and July 24th, some 3,600 flights from Italian airports were cancelled, or 1.8 percent of national flights and 3.6 percent of international flights, according to data from Italian National Civil Aviation Agency ENAC.

The most cancellations (377) were recorded on July 17th, the date of Italy’s last transport strike.

Fewer Italian flights are likely to be cancelled in August, with no strikes planned. However, travel to and from the country hasn’t necessarily been a trouble-free experience for everyone this month.

Passengers wait in Barcelona’s El Prat airport during the first wave of Ryanair strike action in July. Photo: Pau BARRENA/AFP

“It’s clear that the Italian airport system has reacted differently to the difficulties, even if the recovery was sudden,” ENAC president Pierluigi di Palma said in an interview with Italian national broadcaster Rai.

“I would say that we are mostly suffering the consequences of what’s happening in continental airports.”

The knock-on effect of flight cancellations and delays elsewhere has caused some disruption for passengers in Italy, while things are particularly busy this month as the number of people travelling to the country has shot up, exceeding 2019 levels.

Tania Davis, 41, travelled from London Heathrow to Venice with her two children in early August and tells The Local that while she found travelling from Heathrow “stressful and chaotic” everything was “fine” on the Italian side.

“We arrived very late at night because our flight was delayed by just over two hours, but once we got to Italy coming through arrivals and then getting our flight home a week later, everything went smoothly. I can’t fault the airport. It was as busy as you’d expect at this time of year but the lines moved quickly.”

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

Some travellers reported facing long delays going both ways, for different reasons. Reader David and his wife flew from Manchester to Brindisi in late July and back again two weeks later.

“We made the mistake of arriving at Brindisi for our flight home three hours before flight time as we had done on the way out, advised by Ryanair,” he tells The Local.

“We sailed through security at Brindisi, no staffing issues there unlike in Manchester where it took 90 minutes to get through.

“But our flight was then delayed, by three hours in the end. Arriving early just meant we had to spend even more time waiting in departures,” he says.

“t’s a really small airport and every flight on the board was delayed, so we were packed in like sardines in this small space with no ventilation.”

“The pilot said our flight was late arriving due to missing an air traffic control slot at Manchester,” he adds.

Other than delays apparently caused by disruption across flight networks, there have been very few reports of problems such as long security queues and lost baggage at Italian airports.

The government warned Italian passengers last month to take hand baggage only when travelling – but this was due to concerns about luggage being lost at destination airports, not at those within Italy.

Passengers wait at Rome’s Fiumicino airport during a strike airline company staff on July 17, 2022. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Italy has escaped the worst of the travel chaos “both for structural reasons and for the measures that the government has taken to limit the consequences of the pandemic”, writes Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

Airport staff shortages are not a major problem in Italy, where “there are generally more worker protections and restrictions on dismissal than in other countries such as the United Kingdom,” Il Sole explains.

Italy was also the only EU country to ban layoffs amid the pandemic, Il Sole points out, with the government in 2020 forcing airline companies to keep their staff on even when flights were grounded.

This ban lasted until 2021, when it was replaced with financial incentives for companies that refrained from laying off staff.

Di Palma said the government’s interventions meant “we have been able to stem the haemorrhage of ground personnel that occurred at foreign companies during the pandemic, saving precious resources”.

READ ALSO: Italy’s summer tourism boom driven by American arrivals

While this is good news for passengers flying to and from Italy’s airports this summer, the ongoing situation across Europe means some disruption to travel plans remains likely.

The passengers we spoke to advised anyone flying this month to pack light, dress for comfort, and “lower your expectations”.

If your flight is cancelled or significantly delayed, you may be entitled to receive compensation from your airline. Find more information here.

Have you travelled to or from Italy in August? How did your experience compare to those featured in the article? Please leave a comment below to let us know.

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