Travelling to Italy, do I need a Covid test before or after the journey? will I be required to self-isolate? Will I be allowed to enter Italy at all? This depends where you are travelling from and the current Covid-19 restrictions.
Where are you travelling from?
Italy have placed each country in a lettered category relating to their Covid risk. Each letter has different rules regarding entry, testing, self-isolation etc. “A” is considered the least risk and has no limitations. Australia and New Zealand are in D. But, the USA and UK are currently in “E” and have the highest restrictions.
The category a country is in will periodically be re-assessed.This could result in your country being moved to another letter at any time. Another review is expected around the 6th January 2021. In addition, if you are planning to travel via another country, you should also be aware of the restrictions there too.
To better understand what you might expect when travelling to Italy in 2021, we should first look at the current situation. Below, I will summarize the Italian government’s guidance for those travelling to Italy from the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand at the start of 2021. I have also included links to Italian government pages, so that you may easily find updated information before travelling to Italy.
This guidance can change at any time and may be different for other countries. Therefore, I suggest checking the list on the Viaggiaresicuri website before travelling.
Travelling to Italy from the UK
Air traffic from the United Kingdom was suspended by the Italian Minister of Health on 20th December 2020 to contain the spread of the new COVID-19 variant found in the UK. Since then, a new ordinance, dated 23rd December, allows the return to Italy only of citizens with registered residence in Italy or who show proven reasons of necessity/urgent need. The measures of this ordinance run until 6th January.
At the moment, those allowed to enter Italy from the UK are obligated to undergo a molecular or antigen test in the 72 hours prior to boarding, and a second test at the Italian airport or within 48 hours of arrival. In addition, you are obligated to remain in self-isolation with health surveillance for a period of fourteen days. The self-declaration form for entry to Italy can be found on Ministro Degli Affari Esterni website.
Furthermore, from 23rd December, 2020 up to 15th January, 2021, the United Kingdom has been moved from List C to List E. The United States of America are currently in List E. Therefore, the guidance being given to them should also apply to UK Nationals after 6th January. Unless, there is a further change.
Will I need a travel visa?
From the 1st January British citizens will not need a Schengen short-stay visa to spend up to 90 days in Italy within a period of 180 days. However, if you are planning to stay in Italy for more than 90 days (‘long stay’) within 180 days, you will be subject to National visa requirements according to the Italian immigration rules applied to third country nationals. This is according to the London Consolato Generale d’Italia.
Where can I get travel guidance?
Whatever country you are travelling from, you can use the interactive questionnaire on the The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (in English). You’ll be asked four questions about where you are travelling from, then given information specific to your needs. If you plan to arrive in Italy after 7th January 2021, they recommend doing the questionnaire again after that date and prior to travelling. I’ve found it to be the easiest way to get information specific to your departure country.
Travelling to Italy from the USA
The United States of America is currently categorized in List E. You can enter Italy only if you meet certain requirements. You must fill out a self-declaration form indicating that you fall into one or more of the following categories: a. proven work reasons; b. absolute urgency; c. health reasons; d. study; e. return to one’s home, domicile or residence; f. citizen of the European Union; g. family member of EU citizen; h. non-European Union citizens (third-country nationals) holding long-term residence status in a European Union country; i. family member of person with long term residency; j. to reach the domicile/home/residence of a person referred to in letters f) and h) of this list with whom there is a proven and stable emotional relationship. Therefore, travel for tourism is not allowed.
Persons entitled to check your self-declaration may ask you to provide evidence related to your statement (such as an employment letter, a medical certificate, a letter from an Italian school or University).
Isolating on arrival
Those arriving from List E countries must: Self-isolate for 14 days, informing local Health Authorities of their presence in Italy, so that they can activate health surveillance procedures. They must also, reach their final destination using only private means of transportation.
Further restriction may be adopted at any time on a national and regional level. This will depend on the regular risk assessments carried out by the Ministry of Health. You can find useful information on local restrictions on the website of the Ministry of Health, by clicking: Containment Measures in Italy
Travelling to Italy from Australia
Australia and New Zealand are currently in category D. According to Italian law, travel from these countries is allowed without the need for a reason. However, you must undergo fiduciary isolation and health surveillance for 14 days. You must also fill in a self-declaration form and reach your final destination in Italy only by a private vehicle.
Measures in place within Italy
Since 3rd November, Regions and Autonomous Provinces have been classified into three colour zones – red, orange and yellow. These correspond to three risk scenarios, for which there are specific restrictive measures. The most restrictive measures are concentrated in the area or Regions at maximum risk, (red zone). Before Christmas most regions were in the lowest yellow zone. Further details can be found at Salute.gov.it
Positive signs for 2021
The whole of Italy was temporarily put in “red zone” for the periods around Christmas, New Year and Epiphany (6th January). The aim being to restrict gatherings and contain the virus. Since the peak of the second wave in mid-November the daily new cases have thankfully been falling. On 28th December the number of new cases was under nine thousand. The distribution of the vaccines began on 27th December, bringing a glimmer of hope as they were transported through quiet city streets sparkling with festive lights.
On hearing about the new Coronavirus variant, that was quickly sending the UK into a third wave, Italy were quick to stop flights from the UK. Now we wait to see if this move and Christmas restrictions have been enough to lower the number of new cases in the first weeks of 2021. There is expected to be a review of epidemiological data and restrictions around the 6th January. One thing we have learnt, is that a lot can change in a week.
Wishing you happy and safe travels to Italy in 2021.