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COVID-19 RULES

Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?

With Covid-19 mask requirements still in place in Italy, readers have asked for clarification on where the rules apply and what type of mask should be used.

Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?
A passenger wearing a mask at Rome's Fiumicino airport. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Question: ‘We’re travelling to Italy soon. Will we need to wear a mask on the plane or when we arrive, and what type of mask do we need?”

After repeated changes to the rules on when and where face masks must be worn in Italy, many readers with plans to travel to Italy in the coming weeks have written to The Local to ask for clarification.

READ ALSO: Q&A: Your questions about travel to Italy and Covid rules answered

While the mask-wearing rules were eased in some settings such as bars and restaurants from May 1st, they were not removed altogether – with Italy’s Covid measures remaining stricter than many other European countries.

If you’re flying to Italy, you’ll need to be aware that masks will remain obligatory for passengers on flights to and from Italy and at Italian airports until mid-June, as the Italian government confirmed on Friday, despite the end of an EU-wide requirement on Monday, May 16th.

This is because Italy’s current rules specify that higher-grade FFP2 masks should be worn on all forms of public transport, including buses, trams, regional and high-speed trains, ferries, and planes until June 15th.

National regulations take precedence, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed when announcing the end of the EU rules.

READ ALSO: Where do you still need to wear a mask in Italy from May 1st?

FFP2 face masks are required on public transport in Italy. Photo by BARBARA GINDL / APA / AFP

Until the same date, masks also remain a requirement at Italy’s cinemas and theatres, hospitals and care homes, indoor sporting event and concert venues, schools and universities.

And they’re still a common sight in many other venues, despite no longer being mandatory.

Some readers living outside of the EU have noted that they are able to get hold of an FFP2 mask, as these are not sold in their home country.

Because FFP2 masks are not widely available in most countries outside of Europe, Intercontinental flights to Italy should allow other types of higher-grade masks to be used in place of FFP2. 

For example, current guidance from Italian national carrier ITA airways says: “it is mandatory to wear FFP2/KN95/N95 face masks on board all flights.” 

If in doubt, passengers are advised to ask their airline for advice before travelling.

The Italian government does not appear to have issued any specific guidance on the use of KN95/N95 face masks once you’re in the country, however.

While there have been media reports of passengers being turned away from using public transport in Italy if they attempt to board while wearing a surgical or cloth mask, no reports mention passengers being denied boarding when wearing an N95 mask.

READ ALSO: Why are so many Italians still wearing face masks in shops?

In any case, travellers should be able to easily pick up some FFP2 masks upon arrival in Italy.

They are readily available at pharmacies and general stores around the country, and prices are not as high as they were earlier in the pandemic, with a pack of ten now usually costing around 7-8 euros.

Member comments

  1. We bought a big pack of KN95 masks with us and have not had any issues. Possibly because one has to look quite closely to tell the difference between KN95 and FFP2.

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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: Can I buy a car in Italy if I’m not a resident?

If you spend extended periods of time in Italy, can you buy a car to use while in the country? It all depends on your residency status.

Reader question: Can I buy a car in Italy if I'm not a resident?

Question: ‘We own a second home in Italy and we’d like to purchase a car to use there during our visits. But we’re not registered as residents. Are we allowed to buy a car in Italy?’

It’s a common question from people who spend extended periods of time in Italy but are, for one reason or another, not registered as Italian residents.

The short answer is: if you’re a legal resident in Italy, then you can buy a car in Italy.

As a general rule, if you don’t have residency in Italy – even if you own property in Italy or have business interests in the country – you are not legally allowed to buy a car in Italy.

READ ALSO: Can second-home owners get an Italian residence permit?

According to the Italian highway code, you need to have registered your residency with an Italian municipality to be able to buy a new or used vehicle in Italy.

While you might find a friendly neighbour willing to sell you their old motor regardless, you would also need to register the change of ownership with the Motor Vehicles Office (Ufficio Motorizzazione Civile) and the Public Vehicle Registry (Pubblico Registro Automobilistico or PRA).

This is where you’d run into trouble without the right paperwork, which includes a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno), or if you’re an EU citizen, your proof of residence (certificato di residenza). You’ll also need your Italian tax code (codice fiscale) and other documents, some of which you may not be able to obtain without residency.

So could you instead bring your own car to Italy from abroad? For short periods, there’s no issue with doing this – assuming that you’re willing and able to drive between Italy and your home country.

READ ALSO: Q&A: Your questions answered about driving in Italy on a British licence

But for the longer term, importing a car to Italy and registering it here would again require you to be able to show proof of Italian residency.

If you live between two or more countries, there’s a lot to consider when deciding whether you should – or could – register as a resident in Italy.

Doing so is more than a simple declaration of your presence in Italy; being registered as a resident means you’ll face certain requirements (most notably those related to paying taxes) as well as rights in the country. Read more about the process of obtaining Italian residency here.

So if registering as a resident is not an option in your circumstances, you may have to stick with the rental car for now or explore the longer-term alternatives to hiring a car in Italy.

Please note that many bureaucratic processes and requirements often vary from one part of Italy to another. This article is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to purchasing or registering a car in Italy.

For further information and advice please contact your local Motorizzazione Civile office or consult the Automobile Club d’Italia.

See more in The Local’s Driving in Italy section.

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