Many people visit Italy each year. In fact, their tourism levels seem to be growing in almost every sector, which is great news for people who want to visit the country.
Here’s what travelers need to know before they try to enter Italy. When they understand these things, they will be able to do so safely and knowing they have their paperwork in order.
Update: The Italy Self Declaration Form is no longer needed.
Form is received and reviewed.
Receive the approved document.
Present the document upon arrival.
The processes and procedures for entering Italy will vary based on the reason why a person is coming to the country as well as their country of origin. Other factors may also influence Italy’s entry policy, such as a person’s criminal record, previous travel history, and more. The policies below are standard but may also be subject to change.
Italy is part of the Schengen Zone in Europe. This group of countries has identical or similar visa policies to make it easier to visit the area as a whole.
If a traveler’s country has a mutual entry policy with the Schengen Zone, then its residents will be able to stay in those countries for up to 90 days in a 180 period without needing a visa. This list of countries is subject to change at any time, so it’s important that travelers research before they go.
That way, they will know if they need a visa. If they do require one, they will need to apply for and obtain it before they leave home. They will not be able to get on a flight or begin travel to Italy if they cannot demonstrate that they will have permission to enter when they get there.
Travelers who do not need to get a visa will need to apply for and obtain an Electronic Travel Information & Authorization System (ETIAS) visa waiver before they travel. How this document works and how to obtain one is discussed below. Travelers should not have problems obtaining this document.
All they need to do is fill out the application and have a valid passport. It’s important to note that people who want to spend more than 90 days out of any 180-day period in Italy will need to get a formal visa.
People seeking asylum in Italy need to present themselves to the authorities there. They will need to give them identifying information and let them know if they are traveling with family. People who fear persecution in their home countries, those who are afraid they will suffer violence, be made into slaves, be tortured, or be sentenced to death can apply for asylum.
Aid will be provided so that applicants can complete the C3 form, which includes their personal data and detailed information about what they fear if they return home and why they fear it. Asylum seekers can get temporary resident permits, which allow them to remain in Italy while their applications are being processed. They cannot, however, leave Italy.
Italy makes every effort to process these applications quickly and efficiently. Asylum seekers will hear as soon as possible about the outcome of their application.
People planning to study in Italy, whether short or long-term, will need to apply for and obtain a student visa before they arrive. The short-term student visa is a type C visa, and it allows people to enter and take short courses that last up to 90 days. The type D visa permits students to stay for more than 90 days.
Students should start the application process as soon as they are admitted to a school or educational course in Italy. They can make an appointment at the nearest Italian consulate. They will need a clean criminal record, proof of acceptance into an Italian school, a completed application, and all the relevant fees.
Students who plan to stay long-term in Italy will need to show that they can support themselves and that they have both medical insurance coverage in Italy and a place to live there. International students who are not from the EU can work up to 20 hours a week while they are in Italy studying. This limit ensures they have adequate time to complete their studies.
EU students can work more, but they need a job offer from Italy and approval before they do so. It can take up to 2 months for this approval to come through.
People who want to enter Italy to work will need to get a slightly different version of the type D visa mentioned above. Their employer in Italy will need to file forms before they can apply. They will also need to make sure that Italy is open to international employees at the time of their application. The country only offers a limited number of these visas each year.
It may take several months to process a work visa for Italy. This can make it difficult to get a job there, as most employers don’t want to wait that long for someone to start. However, some employers value international applicants and are willing to wait. People can find one of these to begin the process.
Once they have a signed contract, they will need to get an appointment with the Italian embassy or consulate closest to home to start the process.
People who enter Italy and want to move there long-term may choose to pursue a permanent residence permit there. First, though, they need to live in Italy for at least 5 years. They can do this with a work permit or a long-term student permit, as outlined above. At some point during their stay, they can apply for a temporary residence permit.
These permits are usually valid for up to 5 years, though they may be job or school dependent. Once they have been there for 5 years, they can apply for a permanent resident permit. They will need to prove that they have lived in Italy lawfully and have contributed to the economy, and that they have financial support and a place to live.
If they can prove these things, then getting permanent resident status in Italy is not difficult.
Anyone who comes from a country that is not approved for the ETIAS (more on that later) for Italy will need a visa to enter the country. This list can be subject to change, so travelers will need to check and make sure they have the right paperwork before they try to enter the country.
In addition, anyone who wants to stay longer than 90 days in Italy in any 180-day period or anyone entering for reasons not covered by the ETIAS will need a visa. Since Italy is part of the Schengen Zone in Europe, travelers can also enter Italy on a Schengen Visa. These permit travel to multiple countries in the zone, not just one or two.
However, travelers who want to stay in Italy for longer than 90 days will need an Italian National Visa, not one issued by the Schengen Zone. Italy offers a wide variety of visas, so travelers can pick the one that best applies to their specific situation and apply for it. They should do this through the Italian embassy or consulate.
People who want to enter Italy will need a few pieces of documentation. They will show these to immigration officials when asked so they can enter Italy. The first essential document is a valid passport. Every traveler needs their own passport, though some children may be covered under their parents’ documents.
If the traveler requires a visa, they need to be able to show this when they enter Italy. A copy is not good enough - they will need to show the original document. Travelers permitted to enter on the ETIAS system will need to show proof of approval. They can print out this proof or show it electronically.
In addition, travelers should have the following documentation available, in case they need it when entering Italy. They should be able to show proof of accommodations, either at a private address or at a hotel. They should also show that they are insured in case of a medical emergency in Italy.
Travelers may need to prove that they have enough money to cover their stay in Italy, as well as proof that they intend to leave before their visa/permit expires. Some travelers may need to inform their local immigration office, called a questura, within 48 hours of arriving in Italy. Those who need to do this should be informed at the immigration desk.
The ETIAS is applied for and approved entirely online, so travelers don’t have to worry about working with an embassy or a consulate or about giving up their passport to get a visa. The ETIAS application asks for a variety of pieces of data from applicants, as well as an application fee that must be paid before it can be processed.
Travelers will need to be ready to enter their name, date of birth, gender, and place of birth. They must also give an email address, a physical address, and a phone number. They will need their passport because the ETIAS application requires their nationality, passport number, date of passport issue, and expiration.
It also requests some details about their travel plans. This includes the EU member state where they plan to enter but may ask for other details, too. Travelers should be ready to answer questions about their past travel and any criminal activity. These are standard and are used to screen all applicants.
Note that the ETIAS is only good for leisure travel, business travel, short-term medical travel, or transit travel. All other visitors will need to get a visa regardless of their country of origin. Once the ETIAS has been processed, travelers will be notified electronically. It usually only takes up to a few days but occasionally may take longer than that.
The approved ETIAS will be tied to the traveler’s passport number, but they should also be ready to show their electronic approval at the border if it is requested. The ETIAS can be used to enter any Schengen Zone country. Travelers to Italy can also visit other places in the area if they so desire.
Note that travelers will need to show their passport, in addition to their approved ETIAS, for entry into Italy. They cannot get in with the ETIAS alone or with other forms of identification.
All passports must be valid upon entry into Italy, and must also be valid for at least three months beyond the traveler’s planned date of departure from Italy or other Schengen countries. Passports that will expire before this will need to be renewed before they can be used to enter Italy or get a visa or ETIAS for the country.
All passports also need to have at least two blank pages in them. One will be stamped upon entry into Italy and the other when the traveler exits the country. If the passport does not have these, it will need to be renewed before the trip. Some countries can simply add pages if this becomes a problem.
Passports also need to be undamaged. The embedded microchip in the front cover must be intact and scannable and pages need to be free from dirt, tears, rips, and other damage. In particular, the page with the traveler’s personal data needs to be intact. If travelers are concerned about passport damage, they need to ask at a local consulate before they go.
Damaged passports will need to be replaced before travel can take place.
As of 2019, German citizens were the most frequent visitors to Italy. They came at more than double the rate of US citizens, who took second place. Beyond that, every slot in the top 10 countries with the most visitors to Italy is in Europe except for China, which took fifth place.
In general, Italy is a very popular country to visit. It is fifth around the world for the number of international travelers who cross its borders every year. This makes sense because there is so much to see in Italy. Between the art, the culture, and the history, so many people want to visit Italy.
Some people do manage to enter Italy without a visa, passport, or ETIAS permission. These people usually come by boat from countries across the Mediterranean. Italy is a popular destination for these refugees because it is one of the easiest European nations to get to.
However, Italy is cracking down on these immigrants.
It claims it cannot support the high number of people that are coming every year and is attempting to send them elsewhere in Europe whenever possible. Other people live in Italy illegally after overstaying their visas. They may work underground or stay with friends and relatives.
While entering and living in Italy without permission is possible, it is not at all encouraged. The government can and will deport people who they discover to be living this way. Once Italy deports a person, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for them to enter the country again. It may be equally impossible for them to enter the Schengen Zone, too.
Instead of entering illegally, it makes more sense for travelers to take the time to get their paperwork in place unless they are in grave danger if they stay where they are.
People enter Italy for a wide variety of reasons. The vast majority do so because they want to see the art, culture, architecture, and history that the country has to offer. Most of these people come on short 1-2 week trips. They focus on the things that are the most important to them and see as much as they can in that time. Other people visit Italy for business. They may be trying to expand their business to Italy or they may already have business opportunities there that they want to nurture or grow.
Yet other people want to enter Italy because it is safer than their home countries. Many people fleeing Syria and other war-torn countries may try to find a safe haven in Italy. Students love Italy not only because of their top-tier universities but because Italy is a great place to study art, religion, history, and more. They can have hands-on experiences there. Some students stay for a long time, to complete a degree in Italy. Others come for shorter classes that focus on Italy’s history, food, and more.
People come to Italy to work all the time. They may simply get a job there and need to move in order to take it and fulfill their duties. Other people specifically try to find work in Italy because they have always wanted to live there and having a job seems like a good way to get a long-term visa. Travelers may also come to Italy to visit family, get medical care from certain doctors, experience wine country, and more. There are so many reasons to visit Italy.