Travel to Italy: COVID-19 Requirements & What You Need to Know

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If you’re a frequent traveler like me, and even if you aren’t, it probably seems like the COVID-19 pandemic has lasted forever. Well, here’s some good news – most European countries are now open and welcoming visitors from around the world!

My family recently returned from our first trip to Europe since the pandemic. We settled on Italy because – well – it’s our favorite travel destination and we missed it! We had an absolutely wonderful time, and – with smaller crowds than normal – it turned out to be a great time to visit.

Of course, there were a few hoops we had to jump through in order to get to Italy and enjoy our time there. With that said, Italy’s COVID requirements weren’t a huge deal and things ran rather smoothly.

If you’re considering traveling to Italy in the near future, don’t let Italy’s COVID-19 requirements and restrictions hold you back. Just prepare in advance! Here are a few things to complete, gather, and know before you go.

(Editor’s Note: Remember, COVID-19 restrictions and requirements are changing rapidly. Information contained in this piece is from November 2021. You can find the most current information about COVID-19 requirements and restrictions in Italy here.)

Must Haves

Certain items are required of foreign travelers before entering Italy. As of November 2021, here are some things you’ll absolutely need before you go.

(Psst…we’ve also created a handy trip planning checklist to help you get organized for your next trip! Get the checklist here.)

1) Passport

Since you’re traveling internationally, you’re going to need a passport.

For Americans without a passport, or if yours is close to expiring, be sure to apply early. It’s still taking longer than usual to process passport applications. Currently, processing times are hovering around 8-12 weeks for regular processing and 5-7 weeks for expedited delivery. Trust me, you definitely don’t want your trip ruined because your passport didn’t arrive in time.

On a personal note, I applied for an expedited passport renewal back in December 2020. I had a trip to Mexico about 12 weeks from the date of my application, so I knew the timeline was going to be tight. I also realized it was going to be tough to get a new passport once we started traveling on the regular again.

Even with expedited processing, I had to sweat it out. I ended up getting my passport on time, but not without a near mental meltdown from the stress of waiting.

What’s the moral of the story? Don’t wait to apply for your passport. Do it now.

2) Vaccination Card or EU Green Pass

As of November 2021, travelers from the United States, Canada, and several other countries need to present proof of their COVID-19 vaccination to avoid a self-isolation requirement upon arrival in Italy. Acceptable proof of vaccination includes an EU COVID-19 Green Pass or the equivalent document from your home country (ie: a CDC vaccination card from the USA).

Proof of vaccination is also required to enter museums, eat indoors, and participate in other indoor activities. Again, American travelers can present their CDC vaccination cards at each site while European travelers should sign up for an EU Green Pass.

As of right now, children under 18 are exempt from the proof of vaccination requirements, provided they are with a vaccinated adult. Again, you can find Italy’s latest entry requirements here.

It is possible to enter the country without being vaccinated, however, you will be required to self-isolate for five days upon arrival. At the end of the isolation period, you’ll also need to test negative for COVID-19. Additionally, to gain entry to museums and indoor activities, you’ll need to present a negative test taken no more than 48 hours prior to entry. (In my opinion, those are pretty big hurdles to jump. Why spend your precious time in Europe trying to find ways to get tested?)

Additionally, an EU Green Pass is available to travelers not from the EU, but it is a major hassle to obtain. Honestly, don’t complicate things. Just bring your vaccination card, put it in a card protector, and keep it in a safe place. It’s much easier, trust me.

3) Negative COVID Test for Arrival

Again, as of November 2021, Americans need to present a negative COVID test prior to boarding their flight to Italy. The test should be taken within 72 hours of your arrival.

Acceptable tests include molecular and antigen swab tests. There are several free and paid testing options available for travelers from the United States. We spent two nights in New York City prior to departing for Italy, so we all took free rapid antigen tests at a CVS in Midtown Manhattan.

4) EU Digital Passenger Locator Form

This form must be completed by all adults in your party prior to departure for Italy. Minor children should be included on the accompanying adult’s form. Failure to submit the form could mean you’ll need to self-isolate for five days, so don’t forget to do it.

Honestly, the form is super simple. You’ll need to fill out information pertaining to you, your flight, and where you are staying. It takes about five minutes to complete, and you can find the form here.

5) Negative COVID Test for Return to United States

The United States still requires all passengers arriving on international flights to present a negative COVID-19 test within three days of your departure to the U.S., regardless of your vaccination status. As such, it is important to plan for how and when you’ll be tested before you come home.

PCR and antigen testing is available to visitors from the United States at many private clinics, pharmacies, and Red Cross sites throughout Italy. Keep in mind, you may need to book an appointment in advance.

To avoid any hassle and save our precious time in Italy, we bought test kits prior to leaving home and packed them in our luggage. Then, we took the tests under the guidance of an online proctor at eMed.com. Not all tests are accepted, so check with your airline to see if your test qualifies.

Doing our proctored COVID test
Helping our daughter with her proctored COVID test

Should Haves

The following items are not required under all circumstances, but it is a good idea to have them anyway.

1) Travel Insurance

Having travel insurance isn’t a requirement of traveling to Italy, but it is always a good idea – especially during these uncertain times. Travel insurance helps protect your travel dollars from unexpected trip cancellations and interruptions, illness and injuries while traveling, and more.

Unfortunately, not all travel insurance policies assist with COVID related losses. The coronavirus pandemic has been a “known event” for quite some time, which means some policies may not cover you at all.

At a bare minimum, I suggest buying a travel insurance policy that will help you cover unreimbursed travel expenses should you get sick before or during your trip. To help you sort through the options, check out our list of the best COVID-19 travel insurance policies here.

2) International Drivers Permit

When it comes to traveling within Italy, I highly recommend traveling by train. The train system in Italy is easy, reliable, and relatively cheap. In fact, you can get almost anywhere you want to go by train.

With that said, certain trips may require renting a car. Hopping in a rental car may help you visit some hard to reach places, plus it can help make your travel plans even more flexible.

To rent a car in Italy, you will need an International Driving Permit. Applying for a permit is a simple process which you can accomplish through AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance for only $20. You must provide two original passport photos, a photocopy of both sides of your drivers license, and the permit fee along with the application. Allow about four weeks processing time to receive your permit.

Final Thoughts: Traveling to Italy During COVID

If you’re worried about Italy’s travel restrictions and requirements, don’t be. It seems like far more of a hassle than it actually is.

Most of the work comes before your trip even starts. Once you get everything together, the process is fairly smooth and unobtrusive. Simply carry your vaccination cards with you throughout Italy, and you should be good to go.

Right now, the crowds are small and the lines are short, allowing you to experience Italy in a way that is rarely possible. Savor the moment, enjoy your trip, and happy traveling!

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