Tourists take photos at the Portico d’Ottavia ruins in Rome’s Jewish Quarter on September 15th. Photo: AFPSome travel from the US to Italy is allowed, but only in certain circumstances. Here’s what you need to know.
With many people in the US still anxious to get back to Italy as soon as they can, here’s what is happening with the Italian travel rules for Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Italian government updated its emergency regulations on September 7th, but the rules covering travel from the US to Italy are largely unchanged. They are up for review again on October 7th.
The latest decree includes a new travel ban exemption for those in “stable” relationships – meaning people can now travel from outside Europe to visit their partners in Italy.
But otherwise, the rules for people wanting to visit Italy from the US remain the same: non-essential travel is not allowed
Those hoping to plan an Italian vacation are keeping a close eye on the European “safe list”.
The EU has published its list of “safe” countries which it recommends members allow travellers to enter from – but the USA is still NOT on it.
So what does this mean for Americans?
Firstly, the travel rules are based around where you are coming from, not what passport you hold. So a US citizen travelling from France, for example, would be permitted to enter Italy because there are no health restrictions on the French-Italian border.
Secondly there are exemptions in place for certain travellers including Italian citizens and people who have their permanent residence in Italy, and for types of travel deemed essential.
But travelling from the USA for tourism is currently not allowed.https://02c1a769b7c0ef938bcd89cef211cbe5.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
Is that decision final?
Italy is set to revise its current Covid rules on October 7th.
It is not known whether ministers will look at revising travel restrictions at this point as cases are rising again across Europe, and transmission rates remain high in the US.
The EU revises its “safe list” every few weeks, as it is based on virus circulation in each country. To make the EU’s “safe list”, countries must have controlled the coronavirus outbreak to the same degree as the EU average or more, with levels set based on ECDC data.
The latest version of the list, updated on August 7th, has 10 countries on it: Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay
But there is no indication that that is about to happen, as new case numbers remain high in the US and Italy’s own figures have also risen again in recent weeks.
As the EU’s list is advisory, member states are free to impose different rules if they want. So in theory the Italian government could lift the restriction on the USA if they chose to.
But while it remains complicated, not all travel to Italy is completely impossible.
There are exemptions for what is considered “essential travel”.
What is “essential” travel?
The EU does not define what counts as an ‘imperative reason’, however people who can travel into the European bloc now include:
- Citizens of an EU country
- Non-EU citizens who are permanent residents of an EU country and need to come home
- Healthcare workers engaged in crucial work on the coronavirus crisis
- Frontier workers and in some circumstances seasonal workers
- Delivery drivers
- Diplomats, humanitarian or aid workers
- Passengers in transit
- Passengers travelling for imperative family reasons
- Persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons
- Third country nationals travelling for the purpose of study
- Highly qualified third-country workers IF their employment is essential from an economic perspective and cannot be postponed or performed abroad
Who else can travel to Italy?
US citizens who are permanent residents of Italy can travel, but they will need to show proof of residency at the border.
Some travelers warn that even though they were entitled to enter Italy – for example being a resident, or the spouse or child of an Italian citizen – they still faced difficulties and lengthy checks at the border.
On September 7th. the Italian government also signed off on a travel ban exemption for those in “stable” relationships – meaning people can travel from outside Europe to visit their partners even if they are not married or cohabitin
Unmarried partners of Italian citizens, and relatives other than spouses and children, were not allowed to travel under previous rules.
However, anyone allowed to travel to Italy for reasons deemed essential will stlll need to undergo quarantine on arrival in Italy.
You will also be subject to any other travel rules associated with travel from those countries. For example, at the moment travellers from Croatia (as well as four other countries) need to undergo mandatory coronavirus testing on arrival in Italy.
As the travel restrictions change frequently you are advised to check for updates regularly on the Italian government’s Viaggiare Sicuri website.
You will also need to fill in extra paperwork at the airport relating to the purpose of your trip and a contact locator form providing details for how you can be contacted if one of your fellow passengers later tests positive for Covid-19.
Finally check carefully with your airline on any extra rules, especially around masks. Some airlines specify that medical-grade masks must be worn and you can be denied boarding if you turn up at the airport without the correct type of mask.
Will US travellers arriving in Italy have to quarantine?
Yes, if you can prove your trip is essential and are allowed into Italy, you will have to quarantine yourself for 14 days after you arrive.
Even travellers from countries on the EU’s “safe list” are still required to quarantine on arrival in Italy, which is not the case in other EU member states.
You will also need to complete a self-certification form (available in English here) informing authorities of where you plan to isolate yourself and your arrangements for getting there. You must not travel by public transport.
Health authorities will call you daily throughout the quarantine period to check whether you have symptoms.
If you’re not able to quarantine at your home address, Italian health authorities will require you to stay at a state-run facility – which could be anything from a repurposed hotel to army barracks. Readers have asked if they could spend spend the period at a regular hotel, but most are carefully screening guests for Covid symptoms and are very unlikely to accept guests hoping to quarantine on their premises.
Are there many flights available from the US to Italy?
Some flight connections have been reistated, such as Alitalia’s Rome-New York route, and passengers can freely purchase tickets. Yet this does not mean that restrictions for travelling into Italy have been lifted.
In fact many of those hoping to travel on these flights told The Local that they were turned away at the airport.
Some passengers said they had trouble finding clear, official travel information ahead of their flight, meaning they traveled unnecessarily to the airport hoping they may be able to board after being allowed to book tickets.
Alitalia confirmed to The Local that the airline could not provide passengers with Italian travel information before they arrived at the airport.
“On our website we recommend that travelers check the entry restrictions of the destination country on the local Department of Foreign Affairs website,” an Alitalia spokesperson told The Local.
“Passengers should also inform themselves if they are eligible for travel to Europe,” they added, citing information from the US Embassy in Italy.
At the time of writing, the US government was “recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Italy”.
Anyone planning to travel is advised to check the latest updates from the US State Department and Centers for Disease Control, and to find out whether they are covered by their travel insurer. Otherwise, and unless you are an Italian resident registered with the Italian health authorities, you can incur medical bills if you fall sick while in Italy.
The US Embassy in Rome directed us to the following advice for any US citizens planning to travel to Italy:
- Visit the COVID-19 crisis page on travel.state.gov for the latest information regarding foreign countries’ quarantine requirements and other global impacts.
- Have a plan to depart from Italy that does not rely on US government assistance.
- Check with your airlines or cruise lines regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
- Visit the Embassy webpage on COVID-19 for information on conditions in Italy.
- Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions affecting travel to the U.S.
- Review the Italian National Institute of Health’s website (available only in Italian).
This also applies to those who are entering Italy via another European country on a connecting flight, such as via Germany or the UK, if they have been in the US (or anywhere else outside of Europe) within the past 14 days.
For more details travellers are advised to check the relevant country information on the ViaggiareSicuri website. You may also wish to check the Italian Foreign Ministry’s website (in English) as well as the latest advice from the government of any countries you’re travelling to or from.