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Italy - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Italy.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs, particularly:
- at tourist sites
- on public transportation
- at major airports and railway stations
Thieves target foreigners. Pay attention to your surroundings. Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash on you.
Never leave belongings unattended in public places. Theft of unattended belongings occurs frequently:
- at beaches
- in restaurants and bars
- in hotel lobbies
- from parked cars
The number of lost and stolen passports increases during the summer months. To prevent loss or theft, exercise caution and carry a photocopy of your passport, rather than the original.
Ensure that your personal belongings, including passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Never travel with your passport and proof of Canadian citizenship (birth certificate or Canadian citizenship certificate) in the same bag or pouch. Keep a photocopy of your passport in case of loss.
Beware of scams, particularly on the highway and in public transportation terminals.
Be cautious when accepting assistance from or offering assistance to strangers as you could end up being the victim.
Be careful of offers to help with flat tires or if someone spills food or a beverage on you. These are common ploys used by groups of thieves.
On the road
Theft of items from vehicles is common, even in very busy areas. Rental cars are particularly targeted. It can occur:
- at gas stations
- at service areas along the highway
- in parking lots in cit centres, tourist attractions and beaches
Be particularly careful if you’re renting a car at an airport. Always drive directly to your accommodations to unload the car before engaging in other activities. Thieves target cars rented at the airport and sometimes follow them to steal belongings left unattended (for example, if the travellers stop to have lunch or for sightseeing before heading to their hotel).
Be vigilant when you stop at traffic lights, as thieves travelling on scooters or on foot often snatch bags from passenger seats.
- Keep your windows closed, bags and handbags out of reach, and car doors locked at all times
- Never leave personal belongings unattended in a vehicle, and use secure parking facilities, especially overnight
If possible, avoid carrying handbags. Motorcyclists frequently grab bags and other personal belongings from pedestrians, often resulting in injury to the robbery victim.
On public transportation
Train passengers have been robbed while distracted or sleeping. There have been thefts on the train connecting Fiumicino airport to central Rome and on trains connecting Rome to the Port of Civitavecchia. Thefts, however, can occur anywhere at any time.
Thefts on public transit (buses, subway and trams, particularly those servicing major tourist sites such as the Vatican, the Coliseum and Termini train station) are common. Thieves often hassle or crowd their victims. Keep your valuables secure and out of sight.
Thieves often work in pairs or groups and will attempt to distract the victim while their accomplices rob them.
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may have drugged the item to put you at risk of assault and robbery. Incidents of this sort have occurred even in small towns known to be frequented by tourists.
Rail passengers have received drugged food or drink and were then robbed or assaulted while sleeping. Keep your compartment door securely locked.
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorists have carried out attacks in several European cities and further attacks are likely.
Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Be particularly vigilant if attending sporting events and during religious holidays and other public celebrations, as terrorists have used such occasions to mount attacks.
Because of the ongoing threat in Europe, Italy has set its terrorism threat level at 2 out of 3 levels. Expect increased security and more police and armed forces, particularly at airports, large events and major landmarks. Such security measures are further increased during religious holidays.
Demonstrations and strikes
Demonstrations and protests occur regularly, particularly in larger cities and often with little notice. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
Transportation strikes are also common and affect travel by air, rail and public transportation services. Plan on having to make alternate travel arrangements and regularly check with transportation providers for any schedule changes.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
- More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
- Information on planned strike action - Italy's Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (in Italian only)
Fraudulent electronic readout devices are sometimes used at ATMs in Italy. These devices are designed to capture the account information stored on the card’s magnetic strip through a card reader fixed over the legitimate reader. The customer’s PIN is recorded with a small video camera installed above the keypad. The victim’s banking information is then sold or traded online.
Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
Road conditions and road safety can vary greatly throughout the country. City streets are often narrow, winding and congested. In mountainous areas, roads are often winding and narrow and weather conditions can make driving conditions dangerous. Avalanches or landslides can occur and block access routes to small isolated towns.
Drivers do not always obey road rules and may use excessive speed and reckless manoeuvering. In cities, signage, traffic lights and road markings may be non-existent, unclear or ignored.
Pay close attention to road conditions and refrain from driving during or immediately after severe storms. Monitor local news and follow the advice and warnings issued by local authorities.
In northern Italy, be aware of the potential for ground fog and poor visibility, especially in winter.
Be cautious when using pedestrian crossings as drivers do not always stop even though they are required to by law.
Only use officially licensed taxis equipped with roof lights and meters. If you call a radio taxi, be aware that the meter starts to run as soon as the cab leaves to pick you up.
Bus, metro and tram tickets are purchased in advance (sold at kiosks in stations or at tobacco shops) and must be validated by machines located either on board or in the station. Failure to validate tickets may result in on-the-spot fines requiring immediate payment.
Rail service is widely available. Ferry services are available to Greece, North Africa and local islands (for example, Capri, Elba, Ischia, Sardinia and Sicily).
If you intend to do mountaineering or skiing:
- never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- ensure that You’re properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp
- know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails or slopes
Avalanche risk - Italy's national snow and avalanche forecast service
Migrants and refugees
There has been a significant increase in the number of migrants and refugees entering Europe. Some countries have already experienced disruptions to transportation services, including at ferry ports and railway stations, and have seen major delays at border crossings. The situation also heightens the potential for demonstrations that could turn violent without warning, particularly at railway stations and other transportation hubs. If you are travelling in the region, monitor local news and follow the advice of local authorities, and contact your transport carrier to determine whether the situation could disrupt your travel.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Italian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Italy is a Schengen area country. Canadian citizens do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area. However, visa-free travel only applies to stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country.
If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for a longer period of time, you will need a visa. You must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa(s) prior to travel.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you expect to leave the Schengen area.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days
Business visa: Not required for stays up 90 days
Work visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Other entry requirements
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return ticket, proof of the purpose of your visit to Italy and/or proof of sufficient funds for your stay. Having more than one source of funds (for example, cash, traveller’s cheques, credit card, bank card) is recommended.
General information for foreign nationals - Polizia di Stato (Italy’s national police)
Declaration of presence
Canadians arriving from a Schengen area country, staying less than 90 days and not staying in commercial accommodations, must file a declaration of presence (dichiarazione di presenza) with the local police office (questura) within eight days of arrival.
Commercial accommodations will generally file the declaration of presence on behalf of travellers; however, the traveller is responsible to ensure that it is done.
Obtain a copy of the registration form from the hotel. Failure to comply with this regulation could result in expulsion from Italy.
If arriving from a non-Schengen country, ensure that border officials place an entry stamp in your passport, as this is the equivalent to a declaration of presence.
More information about entering Italy - Polizia di Stato (Italy’s national police)
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Outbreaks of measles are ongoing.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious complications for some people.
You are at increased risk of measles infection if you have not had the illness or if you are not up to date on your vaccinations.
- Tick-borne encephalitis is present in some areas of this country.
- It is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
- It is spread to humans by the bite of infected ticks or when you consume unpasteurized milk products.
- Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks during outdoor activities.
- A vaccine against TBE does exist but is only available in countries where the disease is present.
- Learn more on what you can do to prevent tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)?
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Southern Europe, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southern Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Southern Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Good medical care is widely available in Italy, but services may be limited in rural areas. Doctors and nurses may not be able to communicate in English (or French) and not all hospitals have translation services available. Medical treatment for life-threatening emergencies and in an emergency room is free of charge. Hospitals charge up front for any convalescence or follow-up care.
Decompression chambers are available in major hospitals throughout the country.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
The air in large cities can be heavily polluted.
Local authorities of Naples and the surrounding areas have been dealing with a garbage disposal problem, which in the past has resulted in tons of waste piling up in the streets. The situation has improved, but some areas may still be affected.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Canada and Italy are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Italy to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Italian authorities.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Italy.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Italy, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
You may be required to present identification at any time.
Keep a photocopy of your passport in case of loss or seizure.
Hotels and other commercial accommodation providers must provide the Italian authorities with personal details on their guests. For this reason, foreign visitors are often required to present a passport upon check-in. Do not leave your passport with reception; rather, you should wait until they have taken the details or made a copy.
Illegal or restricted activities
Buying counterfeit merchandise, such as sunglasses or purses, is illegal. Local authorities may impose heavy fines on tourists caught buying counterfeit merchandise.
It is illegal to photograph government buildings and military installations. Ask permission from local authorities before taking photographs of these locations.
Observe public notices about conduct, which are found in and around tourist areas in major cities. Visitors may be issued tickets and fines for dropping litter or for sitting, eating or drinking on steps and courtyards around the main churches and public buildings in Florence and Rome.
Recreational and commercial flying of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones is regulated. Failure to comply with regulations may lead to confiscation of equipment and heavy fines. Consult the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) (in Italian) for more information.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences or heavy fines.
You may drive for up to one year with a valid Canadian driver's license and an International Driving Permit or an official translation by a recognized translator (known in Italian as traduttore giurato) of the driver’s license. An international car insurance plan is mandatory. An adhesive sticker indicating country of origin must be displayed on the back of foreign cars.
Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are strict. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05 percent. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines, your driver’s licence may be confiscated immediately and you could face imprisonment.
Turning right at red lights is not allowed.
The use of a cellular telephone while driving is prohibited, unless it is fitted with a hands-free device.
The use of headlights on highways and major roads during the day is mandatory.
Fines for minor traffic violations may be required to be paid immediately in cash.
Vehicles must be equipped with safety equipment (including a warning triangle and reflective jacket) and snow chains must be carried on board and affixed to tires in the event of snow (the use of snow tires are a legal alternative). Rules differ regionally and road signage across the country will indicate where and when snow tires or snow chains are mandatory. Pay particularly close attention to these requirements when driving in mountainous regions or other parts of the country prone to snow. Fines can be issued for non-compliance.
A special permit—issued only to residents and members of public organizations—is necessary to have access to Rome’s city centre by car. Similar restrictions are in place in most city centres across Italy. Take note of street signage and abide by the limited traffic zone (zona a traffico limitato or ZTL). Travellers who enter these zones without a permit may be issued a fine on the spot, or cameras may be used to record the licence plate of vehicles that violate these restrictions. If you rent a vehicle, the rental agency may receive the fine and may provide contact details of the client to authorities. Travellers have received traffic tickets by mail several months after their return to Canada. Sometimes, municipalities use the services of a private company in order to collect the fees abroad.
In the summer, only residents are allowed to take their cars to the islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida.
More about driving in Italy - European Commission
The currency of Italy is the euro (EUR, €). Payment in cash is restricted to transactions under €1000.
Credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs, known as “Bancomat” in Italy, are widely available.
If you are carrying more than €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies, you must make a declaration to customs upon your entry or exit to the European Union. The sum can be in cash, cheque, money order, traveller’s cheque or any other convertible asset. This does not apply if you are travelling within the European Union or in transit to a non-EU country.
More information about cash controls - European Commission
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Forest fires occur often in the summer months, including on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily. In case of a major fire, stay away from affected areas, follow the advice of local emergency services personnel and monitor local media for up-to-date information. The air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke and affect travellers with respiratory ailments.
In the fall, strong rainfall and winds often cause significant damage to roads and generate localized landslides in coastal regions (including popular tourist areas) such as Calabria, Campania (Amalfi coast), Liguria (Cinque Terre), Sicily and Tuscany. Pay close attention to road conditions and refrain from driving during or immediately after severe storms. The city of Venice is prone to flooding, particularly during periods of high water (acqua alta). Some streets and squares become impassable during these periods. Rome is subject to flash floods during periods of heavy rainfall. Monitor local news and follow the advice and warnings issued by local authorities.
In winter, avalanches and heavy snow pose a risk. They can make roads impassable and can cause power disruptions. These conditions can affect access to isolated areas, including to some tourist resorts. The conditions can also limit the ability of responders to reach these areas in case of emergency. Consult Meteomont for information on avalanche risk.
Italy is located in an active seismic zone. Between August 2016 and January 2017, the country was hit by 5 powerful earthquakes of magnitudes between 5.0 and 6.5. The earthquakes have caused deaths and damage to infrastructure, homes and property throughout the affected areas. On August 21, 2017, a 4.0-magnitude earthquake struck the island of Ischia, in the region of Campania in southern Italy. The earthquake caused deaths and injuries, and damage to infrastructure. Further seismic activity may occur and can trigger landslides and avalanches, as well as further damage.
Consult Protezione Civile (Italy’s civil protection department website) for information on seismic activity in the country and on crises preparedness and ongoing response to recent earthquakes.
Mount Etna, on the island of Sicily, is Europe’s most active volcano. If you are travelling to the area, closely monitor activity levels through local media, be aware of any risks and follow the advice of local authorities. On March 10, 2017, people were injured in an explosion of hot rock that occurred on Mount Etna.
Mount Stromboli, on the Island of Stromboli which is one of the Aeolian Islands is also active with regular minor eruptions and lava flow.
Mount Vesuvius, near Naples, is the only active volcano on the European mainland, though it has not erupted since 1944, and is continually monitored by the local authorities. There are several other dormant volcanoes throughout the country that could erupt with little warning. Volcanic eruptions could result in airport closures. Consult the Italian national institute of Geophysics and Volcanology for information on active volcanoes.
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
Rome - Embassy of Canada
Milan - Consulate of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Rome and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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