Italy Consular Information Sheet - Tips

Consular Information Sheet Italy, Holy See (Vatican City) and San Marino August 13, 2007 COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Italy is a developed democracy with a modern economy. The Holy See is a sovereign entity that serves as the ecclesiastical, governmental and administrative capital of the Roman Catholic Church, physically located within the State of the Vatican City inside Rome, with a unique, non-traditional economy. San Marino is a developed, constitutional democratic republic, also independent of Italy, with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available. Read theDepartment of State Background Notes on Italy,the Holy See, and San Marinofor additional information. ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport is required. Italian authorities may deny entry to travelers who attempt to enter without a valid passport. Visas are not required for U.S. citizens for tourist visits of up to 90 days. That period begins when you enter any of the Schengen group of countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. However, for all other purposes, such as work, study, etc., a visa is required and must be obtained from the Italian Embassy or Consulates before entering Italy. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Italy and other countries. For further information concerning visas and entry requirements for Italy, travelers may contact the Embassy of Italy at 3000 Whitehaven St NW, Washington, DC 20008, via telephone at (202) 612-4400 or via the internet:, or Italian Consulates General in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, or San Francisco, accessible through the above Internet site. Under Italian law, tourists who plan to stay more than eight business days are required to obtain a permesso di soggiorno (permit of stay) within eight business days of their arrival. As of December 11, 2006, tourists may request an application "kit" for the permesso di soggiorno from one of 14,000 national post offices (Poste Italiane). The kit must then be returned to one of 5,332 designated Post Office acceptance locations. Tourists will have to complete a form, provide a complete photocopy of their passport, present sufficient proof of their means of financial support, submit photographs, a photocopy of their insurance policy, photocopy proof of their return to the United States, and pay a fee. It is important that applicants keep a copy of the receipt issued by the Post Office. Failure to obtain the permit of stay within eight days is punishable by fine. Additional information may be obtained from an Italian immigration website via Internet at: See Entry and Exit Requirements for more information pertaining to dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction. Please refer to our Customs Information to learn more about customs regulations. SAFETY AND SECURITY: There have been occasional episodes of politically motivated violence in Italy, most often connected to Italian internal developments or social issues. At various times, Italian authorities have found bombs outside public buildings, have received bomb threats and were subjects of letter bombs. Firebombs or Molotov cocktails have been thrown at buildings or offices in the middle of the night. These incidents have all been attributed to organized crime or anarchist movements. Americans were not targeted or injured in these instances. Demonstrations may have an anti-American character. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful have the potential to turn into confrontational situations and possibly escalate into violence. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Italy should take common sense precautions and follow news reports carefully in order to avoid demonstrations and to be aware of heightened security and potential delays when they occur. Italy remains largely free of terrorist incidents. However, like other countries in the Schengen area, Italy ’s open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country with anonymity. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site at where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad. CRIME: Italy has a moderate rate of violent crime, some of which is directed towards tourists, principally for motives of theft. Some travelers have been victims of rape and beatings. There have also been incidents of drinks laced with drugs being used by criminals to rob, and in some cases, assault tourists. Many of these incidents have occurred in the vicinity of Rome ’s Termini train station and at major tourist centers such as Campo de Fiori and Piazza Navona, as well as in Florence and Naples. Criminals using this tactic “befriend” a traveler at a train station, bus stop, restaurant, café or bar in tourist areas, then eventually offer a drink laced with a sleeping drug. When the tourist falls asleep, criminals steal the traveler’s valuables. There have also been instances where the victim was assaulted, either physically or sexually. Americans are urged to exercise caution at train stations and airports, and when frequenting nightclubs, bars and outdoor cafes, particularly at night, because criminals may make initial contact with potential victims in such settings. Individuals under the effect of alcohol may become victims of crime, including robbery, physical and sexual assault, due to their impaired ability to judge situations and make decisions. This is particularly a problem for younger Americans visiting Italy, where the age limit on the sale of alcoholic beverages is lower than in most U.S. states. If you are a victim of such a crime, please file a police report and contact the U.S. Embassy or nearest Consulate. There are also in-country organizations, which provide counseling, medical, and legal assistance to certain crime victims. Petty crimes such as pick pocketing, theft from parked cars, and purse snatching are serious problems, especially in large cities. Pickpockets sometimes dress like businessmen so tourists should not be lulled into a false sense of security by believing that well-dressed individuals are not potential pickpockets or thieves. Most reported thefts occur at crowded tourist sites, on public buses or trains, or at the major railway stations: Rome's Termini; Milan's Centrale; Florence's Santa Maria Novella; and Naples' Centrale and Piazza Garibaldi. Travelers should also be alert to theft in Milan’s Malpensa Airport, particularly at car rental agencies. Clients of Internet cafes in major cities have been targeted. Tourists who have tried to resist petty thieves on motor scooters have suffered broken arms and collarbones. Thieves in Italy often work in groups or pairs. Pairs of accomplices or groups of street urchins are known to divert tourists' attention so that another can pickpocket them. In one particular routine, one thief throws trash, waste or ketchup at the victim; a second thief assists the victim in cleaning up the mess; and the third discreetly takes the victim's belongings. Criminals on crowded public transportation slit the bottoms of purses or bags with a razor blade or sharp knife, then remove the contents. Theft of small items such as radios, luggage, cameras, briefcases, and even cigarettes from parked cars is a major problem. Carjackings and thefts have also been reported from occupied vehicles waiting in traffic or stopped at traffic lights. Vehicles parked near beaches during the summer have been broken into and items stolen. Robbers take items from cars at gas stations often by smashing car windows. In a scam practiced on the highways, one thief signals a flat tire to the driver of another car and encourages the driver to pull over. Often, the tire has been punctured by an accomplice, while in other instances, there may, in fact, be nothing wrong with the vehicle. When the driver stops, one thief helps change the tire, while the other takes the driver's belongings. Use particular caution driving at night on highways, when there may be a greater incidence of robbery attempts. There have been occasional reports of break-ins of rental cars driven by Americans when the precautions mentioned above were not followed during stops at highway service areas. On trains, a commonly reported trick involves one or more persons who pretend to befriend a traveler and offer drugged food or drink. Also, thieves have been known to impersonate police officers to gain the confidence of tourists. The thief shows the prospective victim a circular plastic sign with the words "police" or “international police." If this happens, the tourist should insist on seeing the officer's identification card (documento), as impersonators tend not to carry forged documents. Tourists should immediately report thefts or other crimes to the local police. The U.S. Secret Service in Rome has been advised of, and is assisting Italian Law Enforcement authorities in investigating, an increase in the appearance of ATM skimming devices. These devices are attached to legitimate bank ATMs, usually located in tourist areas, and capture the account information stored electronically on the card’s magnetic strip. The devices consist of a card reader installed over the legitimate reader and a pin-hole video camera mounted above the keypad that records the customer’s PIN. ATMs with skimming devices installed may also allow normal transactions to occur. The victim’s information is sold, traded on-line or encoded on another card such as a hotel key card to access the compromised account. Here are some helpful hints to protect yourself and to identify skimming devices: 1) Use ATMs located in well-lit public areas, or secured inside the bank/business 2) Cover the keypad with one hand as you enter your PIN 3) Look for gaps, tampered appearance, or other irregularities between the metal faceplate of the ATM and the card reader 4) Avoid card readers that are not flush with the face of the ATM 5) Monitor your account statements for unauthorized transactions Organized criminal groups operate throughout Italy, but are more prevalent in the south. They have occasionally resorted to violence to intimidate or to settle disputes. Though the activities of such groups are not generally targeted at tourists, visitors should be aware that innocent by-standers could be injured. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. More information on this serious problem is available at . According to Italian Law (Law 80 of May 14, 2005), anyone caught buying counterfeit goods (for example, DVDs, CDs, watches, purses, bags, belts, sunglasses, etc.) is subject to a fine of no less than EUR 1,000. Police in major Italian cities enforce this law to varying degrees. Travelers are advised to purchase products only from stores and other licensed retailers to avoid unknowingly buying counterfeit and illegal merchandise. INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Lost or stolen credit cards present risk of identity theft and should be cancelled immediately. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. See our information on Victims of Crime. MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical facilities are available, but may be limited outside urban areas. Public hospitals, though generally free of charge for emergency services, sometimes do not maintain the same standards as hospitals in the United States, so travelers are encouraged to obtain insurance that would cover a stay in a private Italian hospital or clinic. It is almost impossible to obtain an itemized hospital bill from public hospitals, as required by many U.S. insurance companies, because the Italian National Health Service charges one inclusive rate (care services, bed and board). Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site at For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at Further health information for travelers is available at MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas. TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Italy is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance. Streets in historic city centers are often narrow, winding and congested. Motor scooters are very popular and drivers often see themselves as exempt from conventions that apply to automobiles. Travelers who rent scooters should be particularly cautious. Pedestrians and drivers should be constantly alert to the possibility of scooters’ sudden presence. Throughout Italy, pedestrian deaths are increasing, with a total of 1,188 deaths in 2002, the last year for which statistics are currently available. There were also more than 17,000 pedestrian injuries in 2002. Most of these deaths and injuries involve pedestrians or cyclists who are involved in collisions with scooters or other vehicles. U.S. citizens should remain vigilant and alert while walking or cycling near traffic. Pedestrians should be careful, as sidewalks, especially in major cities, can be extremely congested and uneven, and drivers of bicycles, motorcycles and other vehicles routinely ignore traffic signals and traffic flows, routinely park and even drive on sidewalks. For safety, pedestrians should look carefully in both directions before crossing streets, even when using a marked crosswalk with a green “avanti” ("walk") light illuminated. Traffic lights are limited, often disobeyed, and a different convention of right-of-way is observed. Italy has over 5,600 kilometers (3,480 mi.) of “Autostrada," or superhighways. Commercial and individual vehicles travel and pass on these well-maintained roads at very high speeds. Accidents occur in which contributing factors include excessive speed, alcohol/drug use and/or sleepiness of long-distance drivers. Italy has one of the highest rates of car accident deaths in the European Union. In rural areas, a wide range of speed on highways makes for hazardous driving. Roads are generally narrow and often have no guardrails. Travelers in northern Italy, especially in winter, should be aware of fog and poor visibility, responsible for multiple-car accidents each year. Most Italian automobiles are equipped with special fog lights. Roadside assistance in Italy is excellent on the well-maintained toll roads, but limited on secondary roads. Use of safety belts and child restraining devices is mandatory and headlights should be on at all times outside of urban areas. For specific information concerning Italian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Italian Government Tourist Board (ENIT) offices via the Internet at:, tel: 212-245-4822 or the A.C.I. (Automobile Club Italiano) at Via Magenta 5, 00185 Rome, tel: 39-06-4477. For information on obtaining international drivers licenses, contact AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance. Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of the country’s national tourist office at and national authority responsible for road safety at AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Italy’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Italy's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s website at SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Strikes and other work stoppages occur frequently in the transportation sector (national airlines, airports, trains, and bus lines). Most are announced in advance and are of short duration. Information on strikes may be found at Reconfirmation of domestic and international flight reservations is highly recommended. In Naples and the region of Campania, a perennial problem exists due to periodic garbage collection strikes and inadequate dump facilities. Residents often resort to burning the garbage which can give off toxic substances that can aggravate respiratory problems. Summer temperatures aggravate this problem. Please see our Customs Information. DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Several major earthquake fault lines cross Italy. Principal Italian cities, with the exception of Naples, do not lie near these faults, but smaller tourist towns, like Assisi, do and have suffered earthquakes. General information about disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Management Agency (FEMA) at Detailed information on Italy's earthquake fault lines is available from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at Italy also has several active volcanoes generating geothermal events. Mt. Etna, on the eastern tip of the island of Sicily, has been erupting intermittently since 2000. Mt. Vesuvius, located near Naples, is currently capped and not active. Activity at Mt. Vesuvius is monitored by an active seismic network and sensor system, and no recent seismic activity has been recorded. Two of Italy's smaller islands, Stromboli and Vulcano in the Aeolian Island chain north of Sicily, also have active volcanoes with lava flows. Detailed information on volcano activity in Italy is available from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations. They may differ significantly from those of the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Italian law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs in Italy are severe and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Please see our information on Criminal Penalties. CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoptionand international parental child abduction.
REGISTRATION / EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans living or traveling in Italy are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website,, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Italy. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Via V. Veneto 119/A, tel: 39-06-46741 and fax: 39-06-4674-2217; Internet address: The U.S. Consulates are located in: Florence: Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci 38, tel: 39-055-266-951, consular fax: 399-055-215-550;
Milan: Via Principe Amedeo 2/10, tel: 39-02-290-351, and fax: 39-02-290-35-273;
Naples: Piazza della Repubblica, tel: 39-081-583-8111, and consular fax: 39-081-583-8275.
There are U.S. Consular Agents located in: Consular Information Sheet Italy, Holy See (Vatican City) and San Marino


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