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TOURISM

How can tourists and visitors use Italy’s Covid ‘green pass’ to access museums, concerts and more?

Italy has expanded of its Covid-19 health pass scheme making the certificate mandatory to visit museums, attend live events or dine at a restaurant indoors. With the new rules coming into force during Italy's peak tourist season, many visitors are wondering how the change will affect their trip.

How can tourists and visitors use Italy's Covid 'green pass' to access museums, concerts and more?
Italian museums will soon require visitors to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative coronavirus test. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Italy has been using the so-called green pass since June, though initially its main purpose was to allow vaccinated or tested travellers to enter without having to quarantine. It was also required in a small number of circumstances in Italy, including attending a wedding reception or visiting a nursing home.

But the Italian government has since significantly expanded the use of the health passport within the country, and the new rules mean that visitors will need the certificate long after they’ve crossed the border. 

Q&A: Your questions answered about Italy’s new Covid health pass

From August 6th, many businesses, venues and cultural sites in Italy are legally required to ask their customers to show a green pass before they’re allowed to enter. 

That includes: indoor bars and restaurants, though only if you’re sitting inside; museums; theatres, cinemas and concert venues, including outdoors; gyms; indoor swimming pools; wellness centres and spas; theme parks; conferences and trade fairs; bingo halls and casinos, and more. Find the official list here (in Italian). 

The government has also decided to extend the green pass to long-distance trains, domestic flights and interregional buses and ferries – but this requirement will come in later, from September 1st.

With the change cming in at Italy’s peak time of year for travel and tourism, here’s what to expect if you’re planning a trip.

What is Italy’s Covid-19 ‘green pass’?

The certificazione verde proves that the holder has either been vaccinated with at least one dose, recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months, or has tested negative in the previous 48 hours.

The certificazione verde is available to anyone who has been vaccinated, tested or recovered in Italy, including those who have only had the first of two doses. 

The certificate comes in a standard format with a scannable QR code, and can either be saved on a smartphone in digital format or printed out as a hard copy. 

You can download it from an official government website, www.dgc.gov.it, or ask your doctor or local pharmacy to access it for you. Find full instructions here.

Photo: Olivier MORIN/AFP

Can tourists get a green pass?

The Italian version of the green pass is only for people who were vaccinated, recovered or tested in Italy. If that’s you, find out exactly how to claim it here.

If you got your shots, tests or treatment elsewhere, it depends on the country.

If it is within the European Union, things are straightforward: you don’t need the Italian green pass since each member state’s certificates are mutually recognised everywhere in the EU. In other words, you should get your own country’s equivalent – the pass sanitaire in France, Impfpass in Germany, certificado COVID digital de la UE in Spain, or any other EU version – and use it when visiting Italy just the same as you would at home.

EU countries also recognise certificates from non-members that are part of the Schengen Zone, which means that health passports from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are equally valid in Italy.

You can’t upload these documents to the Italian system, but they should be recognised when scanned by Italian authorities and when entering businesses and venues.

Outside the EU, it gets more complicated.

At the border, Italy currently accepts vaccination certificates, tests results and medical certificates of recovery from the United States, Canada or Japan. For the US, that includes paper vaccination cards bearing the CDC logo.

In an ordinance signed on July 29th, the Italian Health Ministry confirmed that documents issued by health authorities in the following five non-EU countries will be accepted for access to venues within Italy:

  • Canada
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom (including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and British military bases on Cyprus)
  • United States of America

Italy has no agreed to accept vaccination certificates from any other non-EU country, apart from the ones mentioned above, meaning it is still unclear what visitors from those countries are expected to do.

Since the green pass expanded to include most venues across Italy, businesses have struggled to enforce the new rules with tourists being turned away amid confusion of how it should be used.

There have also been technical difficulties with the government’s VerificaC19 app, which businesses use to scan QR codes, including those generated by other countries’ health certificates.

However, a fix is reportedly due shortly for British tourists, with some already saying their NHS app is now being recognised.

READ ALSO: What can you still do in Italy without a Covid-19 ‘green pass’?

Photo: ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP

Some other EU or Schengen countries do allow people vaccinated outside the bloc to convert their vaccination certificates into a local pass that can then be used throughout the EU and Schengen Zone, notably France and Switzerland (though Switzerland does not recognise AstraZeneca vaccinations unless they took place in the EU). 

Click to find out how you could potentially convert your non-EU proof of vaccination in France or in Switzerland – and bear in mind that some travellers have told The Local they were not able to complete the process.

READ ALSO:

Travellers who were vaccinated outside the EU do have one sure-fire route to access the Italian health pass: by getting a coronavirus test in Italy.

Find out how to get tested in Italy here, and learn how to download the green pass using your test number here.

Remember that passes obtained via testing are only valid for 48 hours.

The Italian government has promised to cap the price of swab tests in pharmacies and from other private providers throughout the summer, from August until September 30th, to reduce the financial burden on people who find themselves having to get tested repeatedly.

Member comments

  1. The Italian government must be jokers, they want everyone to be vaccinated but have specifically precluded all persons residing in Italy who do not possess a Tessera Sanitaria card. In addition it looks like all world countries bar the EU will not be allowed to visit bars, restaurants and other cultural buildings etc. Basically Italy is closed to everyone who is not EU resident and not double vaccinated in Italy and in possession of the green card. It’s time to pack up and leave the country!

      1. Hi Clare, problem is you can’t have the green pass without the vaccination. It’s a catch 22 situation. Until the blinkered government realise 2 or 3 million people can’t get vaccinated because they don’t have the health card. 🤷‍♂️

          1. Hi Clare, thanks again for your help and the replies from others. Unfortunately we have tried all the channels without success. Been to the Farmacia who made an appointment at the clinic who point blank refused us without the health card. I tried via your online link to Bari ASL, completed the same appropriate form 4 times now over the last 4 weeks and no reply. Approached Alberobello ASL who told me to fill the online form again no reply. Tomorrow we’ll go in person to the local vaccination clinic in Alberobello and see what they say. Defies logic. I have noted however Italians seem to ignore emails and online applications, phoning isn’t possible as my Italian is just not good enough. 🙄

  2. Ian,
    As you most surely know, Italy is chronically behind in most things. But in the end, they do get their act together.
    The green pass requirement for restaurants, theaters, etc does not kick in until Aug 6 I believe. There’s still time, and I’m sure that in the end reason will reign and vaccination cards from non EU countries will be proof enough. So hang tight and enjoy the most beautiful country in the world!

    1. I appreciate your comments but as of now you cannot have a vaccination without a tessera Sanitaria. Without this card you can’t have the green pass. I don’t think this is going to change until the government realise they forgot about the 2 or 3 million people who don’t have a card.

      1. My friends that live in Italy but do not have a tessera sanitaria both received the vaccine. It was organised through their comune so maybe worth getting in touch with yours? 😊

      2. Hi Ian
        Yes, my friends who are not enrolled in the health system have been able to be vaccinated. I was observing the other day that vaccination rates seem to have picked up ( seemed so hit and miss to start) and I don’t think I know anyone now who hasn’t been able to get a vaccination. Please keep checking with your Comune and/or doctor/pharmacy. The green card no problem when vaccinated here.

        1. Hi Gracie, thanks for your help. We did try in April at the commune but they refused point blank. Perhaps it has changed now. We’ll give it another try.

          1. Hi Ian. Lots changes daily around here and around the world I guess. Difficult to keep tabs on. Yeah do go to your vaccination sites. Also a couple of folks I know were able to book online without a health card. I think they just used their Codice Fiscale. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Difficult to know sometimes what will work when.
            Buon fortunato.
            Gracie.

  3. Thank you for your reply. We did try going to the ASL in our Commune in April but were told no uncertain terms it was not possible to have the vaccination without the health card and promptly told us to apply and pay up to £10,000 per year subscription. You can imagine our response. Perhaps 3 months on things have changed.

  4. I’m in the United States right now. I’ll be returning home to Italy in October. I’ve had both Pfizer shots in June recorded on my CDC vaccination card. I’ll be taking a Covid test to take a Covid free flight when I return. Where do I go with these documents to get a Green Pass? From everything I’ve read, this looks like the usual Italian bureacratic shuffle we all know and love.

  5. Claire
    As always, thank you and the folks at The Local.it for clarifying and helping during this confusing time. Im pretty sure the Italian government is trying to figure out how they can accept a (USA)simple, easily forged, no data base backed piece of paper saying we’ve been vaccinated. Our home is here, we are registered with the health system but we were vaccinated in the USA. So we wait and see what is finally decided. And get tested a lot 🤷‍♀️ if we want to go go go which we definitely would like to.
    You all provide great information and help keep me somewhat sane in a “this person said, that person told me, I saw it on social media” ..world. Not to mention not trusting my Italian language skills to navigate all the details.
    Thank you again.

  6. Maybe I missed something in the article but does this mean that a tourist from the United States will not be able to visit restaurants and museums?

      1. The article does say the US vaccination cards, bearing the CDC logo will be equivalent of the green pass…… Don’t want to worry you but my friend from the States is currently in Italy and said his CDC card did not work in Rome. We’re set to speak in two days regarding this, but his initial words were “its easy to get, just a hassle” so I’m hoping we have some information soon before everyone is due to travel. good luck!

        1. Spoke with friend who returned from Italy to the United States. Although he did have his CDC vaccination card, he was unable to gain access to places with it. That said, he has informed he went to a pharmacy, showed CDC card & upload the vaccination card, fill out a form, get covid tested, & wait two hours for an email and that is how he received the green pass in Italia & it was valid for a month.

  7. We’re flying from Canada to Venice on September 25th. Canada won’t have a national vaccination certificate until late December at the earliest. We have provincial proof of Pfizer vaccination – on our phones, and on paper – and we hope by the end of September Italy will be recognizing them and issue us a green pass or the tourism equivalent. It’s hard to imagine being allowed in to the country to stay for three weeks, but being unable to dine indoors, visit museums and churches, etc. A friend from another province is in Italy right now and is going to keep in touch after August 6th to let me know how things work out for her. Fingers crossed!

    1. Hi, I am also flying to Venice from Montreal on September 15th. I am very curious to know what you have learned from your friend that came back on August 6th. I still have time to cancel without losing all my investment and really struggling to make a decision. Thank’s!

      1. She was in Venice for several days around August 28th. Her only problem was at the Palazzo Cini, where she had to explain her Ontario proof of vaccination was valid. But they let her in once she explained. There was no problem anywhere else.
        We are still going on September 25th and don’t anticipate any problems. Just make sure you get a negative covid test within the three days before you land on the 15th. You need both now – proof of vaccination and a negative test result.

  8. Can anyone advise if the green pass requirement for tourists will cover those who have received at least one dose of an EU approved vaccine? We are travelling to Italy in early September and have two mixed vaccines – one Covishield and one EU approved vaccine.

  9. Also, i am now hearing from American tourists entering Italy that they are not having to show a Negative Covid test paper if they have the CDC card. This is for when they enter into Italy. Have they changed the rules for this. I have spoken with multiple people who stated they did not ask for the negative test papers when they arrived.

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For members

MONEY

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

If you're visiting Italy from outside the EU you risk running up a huge phone bill in roaming charges - but there are ways to keep your internet access while avoiding being hit by extra charges.

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

Travelling without access to the internet is almost impossible these days. We use our phones for mapping applications, contacting the Airbnb, even scanning the QR code for the restaurant menu.

If you’re lucky enough to have a phone registered in an EU country then you don’t need to worry, thanks to the EU’s cap on charges for people travelling, but people visiting from non-EU countries – which of course now includes the UK – need to be careful with their phone use abroad.

First things first, if you are looking to avoid roaming charges, be sure to go into your settings and turn off “data roaming.” Do it right before your plane lands or your train arrives – you don’t want to risk the phone company in your home country starting the clock on ‘one day of roaming fees’ without knowing it.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Italy this summer

But these days travelling without internet access can be difficult and annoying, especially as a growing number of tourist attractions require booking in advance online, while restaurants often display their menus on a QR code.

So here are some techniques to keep the bills low.

Check your phone company’s roaming plan

Before leaving home, check to see what your phone plan offers for pre-paid roaming deals.

For Brits, if you have a phone plan with Three for example, you can ask about their “Go Roam” plan for add-on allowance. You can choose to pay monthly or as you go. Vodafone offers eight day and 15 day passes that are available for £1 a day.

For Americans, T-Mobile offers you to add an “international pass” which will charge you $5 per day. Verizon and AT&T’s roaming plans will charge you $10 per day. For AT&T, you are automatically opted into this as soon as your phone tries to access data abroad.

READ ALSO: Seven things to do in Italy in summer 2022

These all allow you to retain your normal phone number and plan.

Beware that these prices are only available if you sign up in advance, otherwise you will likely be facing a much bigger bill for using mobile data in Italy. 

Buy a pre-paid SIM card

However, if you are travelling for a longer period of time it might work out cheaper to turn off your phone data and buy a pre-paid SIM card in Italy.

In order to get a pre-paid SIM card, you will need your passport or proof of identity (drivers’ licences do not count).

READ ALSO: TRAVEL: Why now’s the best time to discover Italy’s secret lakes and mountains

Keep in mind that you will not be able to use your normal phone number with the new SIM card in, but will be able to access your internet enabled messaging services, like WhatsApp, Facebook and iMessage. Your phone will need to be ‘unlocked’ (ask your carrier about whether yours is) in order to put a new SIM card in.

Here are some of the plans you can choose from:

WindTre

WindTre, the result of a 2020 merger between the Italian company Wind and the UK network provider Three, currently offers a “Tourist Pass” SIM card for foreign nationals. For €24.99 (it’s sneakily marketed as €14.99, but read the small print and you’ll see you need to fork out an additional €10), you’ll have access to 20GB of data for up to 30 days.

The offer includes 100 minutes of calls within Italy plus an additional 100 minutes to 55 foreign countries listed on the WindTre website. Up to 13.7GB can be used for roaming within the EU. The card is automatically deactivated after 30 days, so there’s no need to worry about surprise charges after you return from your holiday. To get this SIM card, you can go into any WindTre store and request it.

A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.
A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Vodafone

Vodafone has had better deals in the past, but lately appears to have downgraded its plan for tourists, now called “Vodafone Holiday” (formerly “Dolce Vita”), to a paltry 2GB for €30. You get a total of 300 minutes of calls and 300 texts to Italian numbers or to your home country; EU roaming costs €3 per day.

Existing Vodafone customers can access the offer by paying €19 – the charge will be made to your Vodafone SIM within 72 hours of activating the deal. 

READ ALSO: MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

The Vodafone Holiday offer automatically renews every four weeks for €29 – in order to cancel you’ll need to call a toll-free number. The Vodafone website says that the €30 includes the first renewal, suggesting the payment will cover the first four weeks plus an additional four after that, but you’ll want to double check before buying. You’ll need to go to a store in person to get the card.

TIM

TIM is one of Italy’s longest-standing and most well-established network providers, having been founded in 1994 following a merger between several state-owned companies.

The “Tim Tourist” SIM card costs €20 for 15GB of data and 200 minutes of calls within Italy and to 58 foreign countries, and promises “no surprises” when it comes to charges.

You can use the full 15GB when roaming within the EU at no extra charge, and in the EU can use your minutes to call Italian numbers. The deal is non-renewable, so at the end of the 30 days you won’t be charged any additional fees.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

To access the offer, you can either buy it directly from a TIM store in Italy, or pre-order using an online form and pay with your bank card. Once you’ve done this, you’ll receive a PIN which you should be able to present at any TIM store on arrival in Italy (along with your ID) to collect your pre-paid card. The card won’t be activated until you pick it up.

Iliad

Iliad is the newest and one of the most competitive of the four major phone companies operating in Italy, and currently has an offer of 120GBP of €9.99 a month. For this reason, some travel blogs recommend Iliad as the best choice for foreigners – but unfortunately all of their plans appear to require an Italian tax ID, which rules it out as an option for tourists.

Contract

Though buying a pre-paid SIM card is a very useful option for visitors spending a decent amount of time in Italy, as mentioned above, there’s a significant different difference between buying a one-time pre-paid SIM versus a monthly plan that auto-renews.

Make sure you know which one you’re signing up for, and that if you choose a plan that will continue charging you after your vacation has ended, you remember to cancel it.

UK contracts

If you have a UK-registered mobile phone, check your plan carefully before travelling. Before Brexit, Brits benefited from the EU cap on roaming charges, but this no longer applies.

Some phone companies have announced the return of roaming charges, while others have not, or only apply roaming charges only on certain contracts.

In short, check before you set off and don’t assume that because you have never been charged extra before, you won’t be this time.

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