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EXPLAINED: What are the Covid-19 testing rules for travelling between the US and Italy?

Now that people can travel between the United States and Italy more freely, here's a look at the testing requirements you'll need to be aware of.

EXPLAINED: What are the Covid-19 testing rules for travelling between the US and Italy?
Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/ AFP

Italy’s recent easing of travel restrictions will have come as a relief to The Local’s American readers living in Italy, as they can finally make long-postponed trips to see loved ones.

After more than a year of tough travel restrictions, Italy dropped its quarantine requirement for US arrivals in June – as long as certain criteria are met.

EXPLAINED: How has Italy changed its rules on travel from the US and Canada?

Meanwhile however, travel to the US from Italy remains banned in most cases, though there are exemptions for US residents and citizens.

Travel between the two countries remains complicated, and many readers have been in touch to ask for details of the requirements both ways ahead of upcomng trips.

What are the rules on testing and travel to the US from Italy?

If you’re on the ‘eligible for travel’ list, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires that you get tested and be able to show proof of a negative result – or show evidence of having recovered from Covid-19 within the last 90 days.

You’ll need to get tested up to a maximum of three days before travel by air into the United States, as detailed in the CDC’s order, which also lists all the requirements and exemptions.

Note that this is three days, not 72 hours, which gives you more flexibility.

“By using a 3-day window, test validity does not depend on the time of the flight or the time of day that the test was administered,” writes the CDC.

So if you take a flight on a Friday, you can take your test up to the prior Tuesday at any time of day.

Photo: Ezequiel BECERRA/AFP

According to the CDC, you must “show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight, or be prepared to show documentation of recovery (proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel).”

This rule applies to all passengers over the age of two years old.

The US accepts results of a ‘viral test’, which the CDC explains can be either an antigen test (which is available in Italy) or a nucleic acid amplification test or NAAT (which is not currently available).

READ ALSO: How and where to get a coronavirus test in Italy

Although the Italian Foreign Ministry’s website states that a PCR test is aso accepted, this more expensive test is not required according to the CDC guidelines.

Rapid test results are acceptable as long as they are one of the types of viral test listed in the order.

Any test result must be in the form of written documentation (paper or electronic copy), which must show:

  1. Type of test
  2. Entity issuing the result (e.g. laboratory, healthcare entity or service)
  3. Specimen collection date. A negative test result must show the specimen was collected within the 3 days before the flight. A positive test result for documentation of recovery from COVID-19 must show the specimen was collected within the 3 months before the flight.
  4. Information that identifies the person (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number)
  5. Test Result

If, on the other hand, you have had Covid-19 within the last three months, the CDC confirms that you may travel instead with a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official that proves this, and states you have recovered and been cleared for travel.

The positive test result from when you contracted Covid-19 and the letter together are referred to as “documentation of recovery.”

You’ll need to confirm that all the information you’ve provided and that your testing results are true in this attestation form.

Quarantine requirements on arrival in the US

Requirements change depending on whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated.

If you’re vaccinated, you’ll need to take another Covid test between 3 and 5 days after arrival in the US and no quarantine is required.

If you’re unvaccinated, you’ll also need to take a new Covid test between 3 and 5 days after arrival in the USA. If the test is negative, quarantine is reduced to 7 days from the day of entry into the country. If you don’t take a test, this is extended to 10 days.

The CDC recommends delaying international travel until you are fully vaccinated.

What about the rules when travelling/returning to Italy?

Travel between the United States and Italy has got easier since the Italian government dropped quarantine for arrivals from the US, Canada and Japan last month.

As of June 21st, passengers from these destinations were permitted to enter Italy under the EU’s ‘green pass’ scheme.


That means a ten-day quarantine rule will not apply to travellers who can provide proof of being fully vaccinated or having recovered from Covid-19, or who can show a negative result from a test taken within the 48 hours before arrival in Italy.

The new rules state that travellers now need two key documents to enter Italy: either a certificate of vaccination, a negative test result or a medical certificate of recovery, and a European Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF) for contact-tracing purposes.

People who were vaccinated in the US do not need an Italian ‘green pass’ but must be able to show equivalent proof of vaccination from the CDC.

For further information on when and where Italy accepts CDC vaccination cards, where you have to show your documents and whether these can be in paper or digital form, click here

Please note The Local is not able to advise on invividual cases. For further details, see the Italian Foreign Ministry’s website (in English), or contact your airline or the relevant embassy.

For more information about the current coronavirus situation and health measures in Italy please see the Health Ministry’s website (in English).

Member comments

  1. It is silly for Biden to not allow vaccinated people re-entry to the US, especially when you consider that Italy and every other sensible country is allowing visitors who have been vaccinated.

  2. If I test positive for Covid and have to wait to return to the US, will I be able to find a place to stay on short notice? A place that accepts covid-positive guests?

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EXPLAINED: Has Italy still got any Covid rules in place?

Italy is blissfully free of Covid restrictions this summer - or is it? Here's what you need to know about the country's few remaining rules.

EXPLAINED: Has Italy still got any Covid rules in place?

If you thought Italy’s Covid rules ought to have more or less expired by now, you’d be right – almost. 

There are essentially no travel restrictions, no vaccination or testing obligations, and very few situations in which people are required to mask up.

However, a few nationwide health rules do remain in place that are worth knowing about.

Here’s what they are.


One notable exception to Italy’s Covid rule relaxations is the continued requirement to wear a mask in parts of health and residential care facilities that house vulnerable or immunosuppressed patients.

This rule had been due to expire on April 30th, but was renewed by decree on April 29th and will remain in place until the end of the year.

READ ALSO: What to expect when travelling to Italy in summer 2023

That means if you work in such a facility or need to visit a friend or family member there, you should come equipped with a mask.

Under-6’s, people whose disability prevents them from wearing a mask, and carers for whom wearing a mask would prevent them from communicating with a disabled patient are the only exceptions.


Then there are the quarantine rules.

‘Italy still has quarantine rules?!’ you ask incredulously.

According to former health director Giovanni Rezza, who retired this May, the answer is yes.

It was Rezza who signed off on a health ministry decree dated December 31st, 2022 that established the country’s latest quarantine restrictions.

Tourists visiting Italy no longer face Covid-related restrictions, though rules may apply in some circumstances. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

That decree says that those who test positive but are asymptomatic must self-isolate for five days, or until they test negative at a pharmacy or health facility – whichever happens sooner.

Those who do experience symptoms should either test negative before exiting quarantine, or wait until they are symptomless for at least two days.

At the end of the isolation period, those who have left quarantine without taking a test are required to wear a high-grade FFP2 mask in public until the tenth day since the onset of symptoms or first positive test result.

READ ALSO: What are the upcoming strikes in Italy and how could they impact you?

People who have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid should wear an FFP2 mask in public until the fifth day since the last point of contact.

Earlier this month, Rezza told journalists at the national broadcaster Rai that since no expiration date was stipulated, the decree remains in force indefinitely.

The health ministry doesn’t appear to have weighed in on the matter, so for now it should be assumed that the quarantine rules are still active.

Of course, this all relies on the honour system, as most Covid tests these days are taken (if at all) in people’s own homes without the knowledge or involvement of state health authorities.


Finally, there have been some recent reports of new international travel restrictions specifically relating to China.

There has been talk of Italy’s airports reintroducing tests for arrivals from China. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP.

Towards the end of May, newspapers La Stampa and La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno reported that Covid tests had been reintroduced at Italy’s airports for arrivals from China, which has seen an uptick in cases.

However, neither the health ministry website nor the Foreign Ministry’s Viaggiare Sicuri (‘Travel Safe’) website appear to have published any updates to this effect.

In December 2022, Italy’s health ministry mandated that all arrivals from China must produce a recent negative test result before leaving for Italy and to take a test on arrival, though this rule was due to expire at the end of January.