With Italy set to make the Covid-19 health pass compulsory in many venues at the height of the tourist season, many visitors are wondering how the change will affect their trip.
Italian museums will soon require visitors to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative coronavirus test. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP
Italy has been using the so-called green pass since June, though initially its main purpose was to allow vaccinated or tested travellers to enter without having to quarantine. It was also required in a small number of circumstances in Italy, including attending a wedding reception or visiting a nursing home.
But the Italian government has since significantly expanded the use of the health passport within the country, and the new rules mean that visitors will need the certificate long after they've crossed the border.
From August 6th, many businesses, venues and cultural sites in Italy are legally required to ask their customers to show a green pass before they’re allowed to enter.
That includes: indoor bars and restaurants, though only if you’re sitting inside; museums; theatres, cinemas and concert venues, including outdoors; gyms; indoor swimming pools; wellness centres and spas; theme parks; conferences and trade fairs; bingo halls and casinos, and more. Find the official list here (in Italian).
The government has also decided to extend the green pass to long-distance trains, domestic flights and interregional buses and ferries – but this requirement will come in later, from September 1st.
With the change cming in at Italy's peak time of year for travel and tourism, here's what to expect if you're planning a trip.
What is Italy's Covid-19 'green pass'?
certificazione verde proves that the holder has either been vaccinated with at least one dose, recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months, or has tested negative in the previous 48 hours.
certificazione verde is available to anyone who has been vaccinated, tested or recovered in Italy, including those who have only had the first of two doses.
The certificate comes in a standard format with a scannable QR code, and can either be saved on a smartphone in digital format or printed out as a hard copy.
You can download it from an official government website, www.dgc.gov.it, or ask your doctor or local pharmacy to access it for you. Find full instructions here.
Can tourists get a green pass?
The Italian version of the green pass is only for people who were vaccinated, recovered or tested in Italy. If that's you, find out exactly how to claim it here.
If you got your shots, tests or treatment elsewhere, it depends on the country.
If it is within the European Union, things are straightforward: you don't need the Italian green pass since each member state's certificates are mutually recognised everywhere in the EU. In other words, you should get your own country's equivalent – the
pass sanitaire in France,
Impfpass in Germany,
certificado COVID digital de la UE in Spain, or any other EU version – and use it when visiting Italy just the same as you would at home.
EU countries also recognise certificates from non-members that are part of the Schengen Zone, which means that health passports from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are equally valid in Italy.
You can't upload these documents to the Italian system, but they should be recognised when scanned by Italian authorities and when entering businesses and venues.
Outside the EU, it gets more complicated.
At the border, Italy currently accepts vaccination certificates, tests results and medical certificates of recovery from the United States, Canada or Japan. For the US, that includes paper vaccination cards bearing the CDC logo.
In an ordinance signed on July 29th, the Italian Health Ministry confirmed that documents issued by health authorities in the following five non-EU countries will be accepted for access to venues within Italy:
- United Kingdom (including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and British military bases on Cyprus)
- United States of America
Italy has no agreed to accept vaccination certificates from any other non-EU country, apart from the ones mentioned above, meaning it is still unclear what visitors from those countries are expected to do.
Since the green pass expanded to include most venues across Italy, businesses have struggled to enforce the new rules with tourists being turned away amid confusion of how it should be used.
There have also been technical difficulties with the government’s VerificaC19 app, which businesses use to scan QR codes, including those generated by other countries’ health certificates.
However, a fix is reportedly due shortly for British tourists, with some already saying their NHS app is now being recognised.
Some other EU or Schengen countries do allow people vaccinated outside the bloc to convert their vaccination certificates into a local pass that can then be used throughout the EU and Schengen Zone, notably France and Switzerland (though Switzerland does not recognise AstraZeneca vaccinations unless they took place in the EU).
Click to find out how you could potentially convert your non-EU proof of vaccination in France or in Switzerland – and bear in mind that some travellers have told The Local they were not able to complete the process.
- The essential Italian phrases you need to know for getting tested and vaccinated
- What documents do Americans need for travel to Italy?
- What happens if I test positive for Covid-19 while visiting Italy?
Travellers who were vaccinated outside the EU do have one sure-fire route to access the Italian health pass: by getting a coronavirus test in Italy.
Remember that passes obtained via testing are only valid for 48 hours.
The Italian government has promised to cap the price of swab tests in pharmacies and from other private providers throughout the summer, from August until September 30th, to reduce the financial burden on people who find themselves having to get tested repeatedly.