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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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TRAVEL: Delays expected as Italian airport workers strike on Friday

Passengers travelling to and from Italian airports were warned to expect delays on Friday, January 27th, due to strikes by baggage handlers and other staff, with Milan's Linate set to be worst affected.

TRAVEL: Delays expected as Italian airport workers strike on Friday

Strike action on by staff from airport ground service companies may result in delays and queues at some Italian airports, with ticket desks, check-in and baggage handling likely to be affected.

At the national level, ground support staff will take part in a strike held by several of Italy’s biggest trade unions during the day, while an additional strike by baggage handlers at Milan’s Linate airport is expected to cause further disruption.

“It won’t be so much a problem of cancelled flights, even if sometimes the airlines seize the opportunity to cancel one that would leave half empty, but of delays,” Renzo Canavesi, CUB union leader for the Lombardy region, told La Stampa.

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

At Linate, ground service company Swissport Italia and handling companies Airport Handling and Air Cargo plan to strike on Friday.

Staff from Swissport Italia will hold a 24-hour strike at Linate, while the other two ground operators will strike for four hours (from 10.30am to 2.30pm for Airport Handling; from 9pm to 1am of the next day for Airport Cargo).

Passengers are advised to arrive early for flights and to check the status of their service before leaving for the airport.

Passengers may be entitled to compensation in the event of severe delays or flight cancellations. See our guide for further details.

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