Best ways to get into Italy

Minimum validity of travel documents.

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, as well as some non-EU citizens who are visa-exempt (e.g. New Zealanders and Australians), need only produce a passport which is valid for the entirety of their stay in Italy.Other nationals who are required to have a visa (e.g. South Africans) and even some who are not (e.g. travelers from the United States) must have a passport which has at least 3 months’ validity beyond their period of stay in Italy. For more information, visit this webpage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy.

Italy is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty – the European Union (except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signedand implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. This means that there may be spot customs check but no immigration checks (travelling within Schengen but to/from a non-EU country) or you may have to clear immigration but not customs (travelling within the EU but to/from a non-Schengen country).

Airports in Europe are thus divided into “Schengen” and “non-Schengen” sections, which effectively act like “domestic” and “international” sections elsewhere. If you are flying from outside Europe into one Schengen country and continuing to another, you will clear Immigration and Customs at the first country and then continue to your destination with no further checks. Travel between a Schengen member and a non-Schengen country will result in the normal border checks. Note that regardless of whether you are travelling within the Schengen area or not, many airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport.

Nationals of EU or EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) countries only need a valid national identity card or passport for entry – in no case will they need a visa for a stay of any length.

Nationals of non-EU/EFTA countries will generally need a passport for entry to a Schengen country and most will need a visa.

(1) Nationals of these countries need a biometricpassport to enjoy visa-free travel.
(2) Serbian nationals with passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate (residents of Kosovo with Serbian passports) do need a visa.
(3) Taiwan nationals need their ID number to be stipulated in their passport to enjoy visa-free travel.

The nationals of the following countries do not need a visa for entry into the Schengen Area: Albania(1), Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina(1), Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia(1), Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova(1), Monaco, Montenegro(1), New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia(1, 2), Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan(3) (Republic of China), United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, additionally persons holding British National (Overseas), Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports.

The non-EU/EFTA visa-free visitors noted above may not stay more than 90 days in a 180 day period in the Schengen Area as a wholeand, in general, may not work during their stay (although some Schengen countries do allow certain nationalities to work – see below). The counting begins once you enter any country in the Schengen Area and is not reset by leaving one Schengen country for another.

However, New Zealand citizens may be able to stay for more than 90 days if they visit only particular Schengen countries. See the New Zealand Government’s explanation.

If you are a non-EU/EFTA national (even if you are visa-exempt, unless you are Andorran, Monégasque or San Marinese), make sure that your passport is stamped both when you enter and leave the Schengen Area. Without an entry stamp, you may be treated as an overstayer when you try to leave the Schengen Area; without an exit stamp, you may be denied entry the next time you seek to enter the Schengen Area as you may be deemed to have overstayed on your previous visit. If you cannot obtain a passport stamp, make sure that you retain documents such as boarding passes, transport tickets and ATM slips which may help to convince border inspection staff that you have stayed in the Schengen Area legally.

Note that:
British subjects with the right of abode in the United Kingdom, and British Overseas Territories citizens connected to Gibraltar, are considered “United Kingdom nationals for European Union purposes” and therefore eligible for unlimited access to the Schengen Area.British Overseas Territories citizens withoutthe right of abode in the United Kingdom, and British subjects without the right of abode in the United Kingdom, as well as British Overseas citizens and British protected persons in general, do need visas.

However, all British Overseas Territories citizens except those solely connected to the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas are eligible for British citizenship and thereafter unlimited access to the Schengen Area.

Foreign military entering Italy under a Status of Forces Agreement do not require a passport and need only show their valid military identification card and travel orders. Their dependents, however, are not exempt from visa requirements.

All non-EU, EEA or Swiss citizens staying in Italy for 90 days or less have to declare their presence in Italy within 8 days of arrival. If your passport was stamped on arrival in Italy, the stamp counts as such a declaration. Generally, a copy of your hotel registration will suffice if you are staying at a hotel. Otherwise, however, you will have to go to a police office to complete the form (dichiarazione di presenza). Failing to do so may result in expulsion. Travellers staying longer than 90 days do not need to complete this declaration, but must instead have an appropriate visa and must obtain a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno).

By plane

Larger airports are served by the major European airlines (Air France/KLM, Lufthansa, British Airways, Iberia, SAS, Finnair, Swiss, TAP, Austrian…).
Intercontinental airlines mainly arrive in Rome and Milan, with Rome being the main international gateway into the country.
Most of mid-range international flights arrive to the following Italian cities:
Rome – with two airports: Fiumicino (FCO – Leonardo da Vinci) and Ciampino (CIA) for budget airlines.
Milan – with two airports: Malpensa (MXP) and Linate (LIN); in addition, Bergamo (BGY – Orio al Serio) is sometimes referred to as “Milan Bergamo”.
Bologna (BLQ – Guglielmo Marconi).
Naples (NAP – Capodichino).
Pisa (PSA – Galileo Galilei).
Venice (VCE – Marco Polo); in addition, Treviso (TSF – Antonio Canova) is sometimes referred to as “Venice Treviso”.
Turin (TRN – Sandro Pertini).
Catania (CTA – Vincenzo Bellini).
Bari (BRI – Palese).
Genoa (GOA – Cristoforo Colombo).
Prominent airlines in Italy

Alitalia (IATA: AZ), ☎ 892010. Flag carrier and national airline of Italy. It’s part of the SkyTeam alliance, also cooperates and codeshares with other carriers outside the alliance. Rome Fiumicino (IATA: FCO) is the main hub, while Milano Malpensa (IATA: MXP) has been relegated to a lesser role.

Ryanair (IATA: FR), ☎ 899 55 25 89. Ten bases plus eleven more destinations in Italy.

easyjet (IATA: U2), ☎ 199 201 840. Two bases and many destinations in Italy.

Wizz Air (IATA: W6), ☎ 899 018 874. Links some italian airports with Eastern Europe.

Blu Express (IATA: BV), ☎ 06 98956677.Mainly focused on domestic routes, links Rome Fiumicino with some international destinations.

Meridiana Fly (IATA: IG), ☎ 89 29 28. Mostly active in Sardinia, offers seasonal filghts to New York, London, Moscow, Tel Aviv and some other international locations. By train From Austria via Vienna, Innsbruck and Villach. From France via Nice, Lyon, and Paris. From Germany via Munich.From Spain via Barcelona. From Switzerland via Basel, Geneva and Zürich. From Slovenia via Ljubljana to Opicina, a small village above Trieste or via Nova Gorica and a short walk to Gorizia, Italy.

If travelling to or from France on the Thello sleeper train, spend a few minutes before your journey buying sandwiches or other food.

By car

Italy borders on France, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia. All borders are open (without passport/customs checks), but cars can be stopped behind the border for random checks. Switzerland is now part of the Schengen zone, and ended systematic identity checks for travellers on land borders from December 2008.

By bus

With Eurolines. There are regular buses between Ljubljana, Slovenian coastal towns and Istria (Croatia) and Trieste (Italy). These services are cheap and from Trieste onward connections with the rest of Italy are plentiful. There are also a bus that goes from Malmö, Sweden via Denmark, Germany and Switzerland and then goes through the country and then back to Sweden.

By boat

See also Ferries in the Mediterranean. There are several ferries departing from Greece, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia. Most of them arrive at Venice, Ancona, Bari and Brindisi.

Some regular ferry services connect the island of Corsica in France to Genoa, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Naples and North of Sardinia. Barcelona is connected to Civitavecchia and to Genoa.

Some regular ferry services connect Sicily and Naples to some North African harbours.
There is a hydrofoil service running from Pozzallo on the south-eastern coast of Sicily to Malta.
There is a year-round service between Trieste and Albania and summer services between Trieste and Piran (Slovenia) and Porec and Rovinj in Croatian Istria. The service between Trieste and Rovinj takes less than 2 hours which is quicker than the bus service.

Written by The Travel Valet

Photo courtesy of Fototeca ENIT

By Judy Karwacki, Jubilee Travel about Italy

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