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EXPLAINED: What you need to know about travel between the USA and Italy

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about travel between the USA and Italy
Photo: JAIME REINA/AFP
Tests, quarantine, green passes - travel between Italy and the USA is a complicated business that depends on where you live and your vaccine status. Here's how it all works.

Travel from the USA to Italy

Travel from the USA to Italy is permitted for tourism purposes, though the rules were marginally tightened when Italy released its latest travel ordinance on August 31st.

Passengers arriving in Italy from the US now need to produce both a Covid vaccination or recovery certificate and a negative test result to avoid having to quarantine on arrival.

Note that the rules are based on the country you are travelling from, and not on your nationality. Americans travelling to Italy from other countries can check which rules will apply to them here.

Vaccinated travellers/those who have recovered from Covid in the past six months

– can travel to Italy for any reason and do not need to quarantine, provided they show proof of vaccination or an official recovery certificate, and a negative Covid test result less than 72 hours old at the border.

All arrivals will also need to fill out the passenger locator form before leaving the US.

Vaccination can be proved with a CDC vaccine card or any official vaccination certificate in Italian, English, French or Spanish. A recovery certificate must be provided in Italian (via an official sworn translation if necessary) to be accepted, according to a circular published to the Ministry of Health’s website.

Both rapid antigen tests and molecular PCR tests are accepted for entry into Italy.

READ ALSO: Q&A: Answers to your questions about Italy’s new travel rules

Unvaccinated travellers/those without a recovery certificate

– can still travel to Italy for any purpose, including tourism, but will have to quarantine on arrival. They must still produce a negative test result less than 72 hours old at the border, and fill out the passenger locator form mentioned above.

The quarantine period lasts five days, and travellers leaving quarantine will need to get a negative Covid test result from a pharmacy before they can interact with people again.

The quarantine can be done at a private home, holiday rental, or hotel, though if you plan to stay in someone else’s commercial accommodation you should double check that they’re happy to host a guest who needs to self-isolate.

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

Both rapid antigen tests and molecular PCR tests are accepted in Italy for entry into the country and for leaving quarantine.

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

Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

To count as fully vaccinated, travellers must 

  • Have received a vaccine that is approved by the European Medicines Agency – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson. The Italian authorities have still not officially approved the Indian-produced Covishield vaccine.
  • Have been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks after the second injection for double-dose vaccines or for two weeks after a single shot for people who had the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The vaccination certificate/vaccine card should contain

  • The holder’s name, surname, and date of birth.
  • The type and batch of each vaccine administered.
  • The date(s) on which the vaccine(s) were administered.
  • The name of the State and the health authority that issued the certificate.

A recovery certificate should contain “information about the holder’s past SARS-CoV-2 infection, following a positive test” and the date of the holder’s first positive Covid test, as well as the holder’s full name and date of birth and the name of the State and the health authority that issued the certificate.

In Italy

Once in Italy, a ‘green pass’ or its equivalent is required for access to venues including tourist and cultural sites, sports matches, indoor seating in bars and restaurants, and long-distance train, ferry, and domestic air travel.

The green pass proves that the holder has been vaccinated with at least one dose, has recovered from Covid in the last six months, or has tested negative within the last 48 hours (for rapid antigen tests) or 72 hours (for PCR tests).

READ ALSO: How can you get Italy’s ‘green pass’ if you’re not vaccinated?

In all cases, the CDC vaccine card should be accepted in lieu of the Italian health certificate, although there have been some reports of train conductors refusing to let passengers board without an actual green pass – so if it’s really important to catch a particular train, you might want to pay for a rapid antigen test.

Until at least December 31st, prices for the tests will be capped at €15 for adults and €8 for minors aged 12-18 at pharmacies participating in a government scheme to subsidise the costs of obtaining a green pass. Children under the age of 12 are not required to have the green pass.

Your green pass will be valid for 48 hours from the time of your negative test result.

It is not currently possible to convert your CDC vaccine card to an Italian green pass without first being present in Italy.

The process varies from region to region and between local health authorities, can easily take a couple of weeks, and is targeted at Italian citizens and residents staying in the country long term – so it’s not really worth attempting this if you’re just in the country as a tourist.

READ ALSO: Where do you now need to show a Covid green pass in Italy?

Photo: Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

From Italy to the USA

After a lopsided summer in which Americans could holiday in Italy, but Italian people could not holiday in the USA, the USA has announced that its borders will be reopening from the beginning of November – no exact date was given.

The US announced on Monday that it would reopen its borders to fully vaccinated travellers, provided they undergo testing and contact tracing.

The US government also advises its own citizens against visiting Italy – this is advice not a ban, but can affect travel insurance, so check your policy before travelling.

Americans living in Italy

The recent changes in Italian rules affect US citizens living in Italy who had planned a trip home to see friends or family.

The US allows its own citizens to enter regardless of vaccination status, but anyone aged two years and older must provide either a negative Covid-19 viral test taken within three days of travel or documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from Covid-19 in the 90 days prior to travel.

American residents in Italy are subject to the same entry requirements as all other travellers, so must produce a vaccination or recovery certificate and a negative test result in order to avoid quarantining on return.

If you need to be tested for travel to the US, both rapid antigen tests and molecular PCR tests can be carried out without a prescription at Italy’s airports, pharmacies, labs, testing centres, or even at your accommodation via private doctors such as Med in Action or Medelit.

READ ALSO: The essential Italian phrases you need to know for getting tested and vaccinated

Most pharmacies offer testing without appointments, but some, especially the smaller ones, may require booking in advance. You can usually just walk in and make your reservation.

Find more details about coronavirus testing in Italy here.

For further details on the requirements for travel between the US and Italy, please see:

    Please note that The Local cannot advise on specific cases.

    You can keep up with the latest news updates via our homepage or travel news section.


    Member comments

    1. Is an antigen test acceptable for American traveling from New York to Rome? Or must it be a PCR? This is not clear on Alitalia or other places I have checked.

      1. You can do either test. Just make sure your days and times are correct. We decided to take an antigen test bc PCR results can take 5 days to return Example: I took rapid antigen test to get in & made sure it was up to 48 hours before I entered italy.
        I arrived in italy sept 16th and took my antigen test sept 14th- I was able to get in from Chicago to FLR.
        Safe travels!

        1. Hi Les7,
          Everything I have read says within 72 hours, but you mention 48 hours. Where did you find that? I am getting my test at 320pm on Sunday and arrive in Rome on Tuesday at 735am. We then fly to Bari at 9am. Will the 320pm test be okay? Seems like it to me, but the time difference always puzzles me.

          1. Correct, “within 72 hours” means a time frame UP TO 72 hours. So although 70 hrs is acceptable, 48 hours would also be acceptable. Don’t worry, I was also very confused before traveling here, but did the exam within the 48 hour time frame and was able to enter Italy. I flew with Lufthansa and they were very information & helpful during the process, i have attached a link from their airline. See below

            https://lufthansa.travel-regulations.com/route-info?language=en&origin=DFW&destination=FLR&via=FRA&flight-numbers=LH439-LH9496-

            1. Excellent. I think we are okay then. Thanks very much! We are so excited to be finally able to accomplish our move to Italy! All the best, Mo

    2. Does an American tourist (US citizen & resident) traveling to Italy from France after having spent 3 weeks in France still have to show a negative test, as well as vaccine card and PLF upon entry in Italy?

    3. Hello, I have made it to Italy and the information in the article is correct. We were able to fly here with a negative covid test as well as our CDC vaccination cards.
      Once in Tuscany (Montespertoli) we attempted to use our CDC card and we’re denied restaurant entry although they will allow you to sit outside. A green pass was required here sept 16th-22nd.
      That said, we went to pharmacy to get tested and they give the green pass after giving your identification card/drivers license and email address. You can ask for a paper copy or use your QR code via email.
      We rode Italio bullet train & the conductor informed our CDC cards were fine to ride Italio train.
      While touring the Vatican, although we used green passes to play it safe, other guests in our group were able to use their CDC card.
      Now we are in Almafi coast & we’ve eaten out 2xs and the restaurant hasn’t asked for green pass or cdc card.
      What I’ve learned is it has been different for every city.

    4. The article states that “both rapid antigen tests and molecular PCR tests are accepted for entry into Italy.” In the USA, Walgreens pharmacy offers three types of tests, which it describes as follows:

      (1) PCR tests (results within 72 hours)
      (2) Rapid molecular tests (results within 24 hours)
      (3) Rapid antigen tests (results within 1 hour)

      Unfortunately, type (3) is not available anywhere remotely close to where we live, so I’d like to make sure that type (2) – a rapid molecular test – is also acceptable to the Italian authorities.

      Thank you!

    5. I just returned from Italy, you can send me questions about $, covid, travel…… Although not an expert, I hopefully can help.

    6. Just returned from a week in Rome. Our experience was as follows: Took a rapid test (antigen) within 72 hours of arrival time in Rome and filled out the EULF locater form. Both documents, including Vax Cert were checked out by the airline (Delta) before we got our boarding passes. (Online check was not possible because of these checks). After that there was no checking of any documentation. We were not asked for any proof of anything when we cleared through Fiumicino airport.

      During our stay whenever we were asked for vax proof (where they require Green Pass for Italians) all the museums that we went to were fine with the white CDC card (a few checked ID to match the name on the cert). Found it very comforting that practically everyone in the Metro was following the mask mandate, and while everyone walked around maskless in the open, they all dutifully put on a mask when then went into stores and other indoor places.

      To return to the US, US law required a test (rapid antigen acceptable) within 72 hours of departure. We found that most pharmacies, especially near busy piazzas like the one at the Spanish Steps, had a little white tent outside that did the testing. You had to make a booking for a day/time and pay in advance at the pharmacy (the antigen cost us Euro 22 apeice). It was all very efficient and the result was emailed in about an hour after the test was taken.

      At the airport, again everything was checked at the airline counter (this is why you have leave enough time since it is all checked individually). Delta (and I assume other US carriers too) provide you with all the info you need to have for entry, including a link to the state dept Attestation Form, which you should pre-fill before you get to the airport, otherwise you have to do it at the counter on your phone holding up the process. The airline agent will check that the form was submitted and check your Test result and that’s all you will be asked. Nobody checked anything at JFK. In both departure and arrival, the checking of all the required documents was left to the airline so that you cannot actually board the plane without complying with the entry rules for each country.

      We had the most wonderful week in Rome. So glad that we made the trip.

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