Information Sheet Italy, Holy See (Vatican
City) and San
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.
theDepartment of State Background Notes on Italy,the Holy See, and San Marinofor additional
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: http://www.ambwashingtondc.esteri.it/ambasciata_washington,
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.
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: http://www.portaleimmigrazione.it/
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.
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
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.
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.
latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor
the Department’s Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the
current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide
Caution Public Announcement, can be found.
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).
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
your account statements for unauthorized transactions
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
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 http://www.cybercrime.gov/18usc2320.htm
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.
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.
information on Victims of Crime.
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
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 http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For
information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World
Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further
health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
information concerning Italian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and
mandatory insurance, contact the Italian Government Tourist Board (ENIT) offices
via the Internet at: http://www.enit.it, 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.
to our Road Safety page
for more information. Visit the website of the country’s national tourist
office at http://www.italiantourism.com and
national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.infrastrutturetrasporti.it.
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 http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.
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 http://www.infrastrutturetrasporti.it.
Reconfirmation of domestic and international flight reservations is highly
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.
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 http://www.fema.gov. Detailed
information on Italy's earthquake fault lines is
available from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at http://www.usgs.gov.
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 http://www.usgs.gov.
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
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
ISSUES: For information see our Office of Children’s Issues
web pages on intercountry
adoptionand international parental child
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
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: http://italy.usembassy.gov.
Consulates are located in:
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.
U.S. Consular Agents located in:
Information Sheet Italy, Holy
See (Vatican City) and San