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Italy - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Italy. Exercise normal security precautions.
Safety and security
Safety and security
A constitutional referendum is scheduled to take place on December 4, 2016. Demonstrations are likely to occur in the period leading up to and following the referendum. Remain vigilant at all times and avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, as they have the potential to suddenly turn violent.
The level of street crime in Italy is comparable to that of other European countries, particularly in large urban centres. Petty crime such as pickpocketing and purse snatching occur at tourist sites, on public transportation and at major airports and railway stations. Foreigners are targeted. If possible, avoid carrying handbags. Motorcyclists frequently grab bags and other personal belongings from pedestrians, often resulting in injury to the robbery victim. There have also been reports of thefts of unattended belongings at beaches.
Exercise caution and be alert while travelling by road and rail; foreigners are often targeted by criminals. Theft of items from vehicles is common, and can occur at gas stations and service areas along the highway, as well as in parking lots. Be especially vigilant when stopped at traffic lights, as bags are often snatched from passenger seats by thieves travelling on scooters or on foot. 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. Train passengers have been robbed while distracted or sleeping, and there have been reports of thefts on the train connecting Fiumicino airport to central Rome. Thefts on public transit (buses, subway and trams, particularly those servicing major tourist sites) are common, with thieves often hassling or crowding 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. Be particularly 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. 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.
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.
Jubilee of Mercy (Holy Year)
The Catholic church announced that a holy year—the Jubilee of Mercy—will take place from December 8, 2015, to November 20, 2016, and is expected to attract a large influx of international visitors, tourists and pilgrims to Rome. Information on large-scale events and activities associated with the jubilee can be found on the Jubilee of Mercy website. Related events are likely to draw large crowds, which may cause traffic and pedestrian congestion and could result in transportation delays. Crowding at key sites may attract pickpockets and bag snatchers, and may pose additional safety risks. Expect enhanced security, be aware of your surroundings and do not leave belongings unattended.
On November 21, 2016, the U.S. Department of State issued a Travel Alert for Europe, alerting U.S. citizens to the “heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe, particularly during the holiday season” and advising them to “exercise vigilance when attending large holiday events, visiting tourist sites, using public transportation, and frequenting places of worship, restaurants, hotels, etc.”
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time and could target areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers, such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels, schools, places of worship and airports and other transportation hubs. Exercise caution if attending sporting events, religious holiday celebrations and other public festivities. Remain vigilant at all times, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.
Following the November 13, 2015, attacks in Paris, the Government of Italy raised the national terror alert level to two. Expect enhanced security measures as well as an increase in police and armed forces presence, particularly at airports, large events and major landmarks.
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. See the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (in Italian, only) for information on planned strike action.
Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, as they have the potential to suddenly turn violent. Monitor local news and follow the advice of local authorities.
Fraudulent electronic readout devices are sometimes used at automated banking machines (ABMs) 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. To avoid being a victim of this fraud, use ABMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business, avoid card readers with an irregular aspect, cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN and check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements.
See Overseas fraud for more information on scams abroad.
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. 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).
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
If you intend to do mountaineering or skiing:
- never practice these activities alone;
- 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 are properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard;
- advise 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;
- sign up for the Registration of Canadians abroad service; and
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails or slopes.
General safety information
Pay attention to your surroundings. Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash on you.
Ensure that your personal belongings and 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.
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.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Italian authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Italian Republic or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
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.
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. See the Italian Foreign Ministry for details.
See Polizia di Stato (Italy’s national police) for additional information on entry and exit requirements.
Italy is a Schengen area country. Upon arrival, Canadians are required to present a passport that must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of expected departure from the Schengen area. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
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
* The 90-day period begins upon initial entry into any country of the Schengen area. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country within any 180-day period.
Canadians do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any country within the Schengen area. If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for longer than the 90 days in any 180-day period, you must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa prior to travel. For more information, see Schengen area.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
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Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
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.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks (e.g., those participating in outdoor activities in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
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.
|* 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.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
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.
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 are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Canada and Italy are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (Council of Europe). 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. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you an Italian citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present an Italian passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
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.
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 strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences or heavy fines.
An International Driving Permit is strongly recommended, and 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.
Additional information regarding road safety can be found on the European Commission’s Mobility and Transport.
The currency of Italy is the euro (EUR, €). Payment in cash is restricted to transactions under €1000.
Credit cards are widely accepted. Traveller’s cheques must be cashed at a bank or American Express counter and are subject to cashing fees. Automated Banking Machines, known as “Bancomat” in Italy, are widely available.
When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the European Commission’s website on cash controls.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
In the fall, strong rainfall and winds often cause significant damage to roads and generate localized landslides in coastal regions such as Calabria, Campania, Liguria, 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.
Central and southern Italy is located in an active seismic zone. On October 30, 2016, a 6.5 earthquake struck the central Apennine region, close to the towns of Castelsantangelo sul Nera, Norcia and Arquata del Tronto. Tremors were felt throughout central Italy. On October 26, 2016, two earthquakes of magnitude 5.5 and 6.1 struck the same region. These earthquakes occurred two months after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck Accumoli, near Rieti, causing close to 300 deaths. There is infrastructure and road damage throughout the affected area, as well as an increased risk of landslides. Expect disruptions in power supplies, communication systems and transportation services. Aftershocks may occur. See Protezione Civile (Italy’s civil protection department) for the latest information on seismic activity in Italy.
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. Active volcanoes with lava flows are also located on the islands of Stromboli and Vulcano in the Aeolian Islands, north of Sicily. Although Mount Vesuvius near Naples is currently inactive, authorities continue to monitor this volcano.
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.
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
Rome - Embassy of Canada
Udine - Consulate 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. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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