Before you leave

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GO! Before you leave
GO! Passports and visas
GO! Theft and safety precautions
GO! Health care issues
GO! Travelers with special needs
GO! Taking Italian goods home
GO! Bringing your pet
GO! Electrical appliances
GO! Using credit cards

Before you leave

A trip to another country is always an adventure, full of surprises. A little advance planning will improve the chances that all the surprises are pleasant ones. To make your trip to Italy go smoothly, certain things should be done before departure. Some tasks, such as obtaining passports or visas, may take considerable time, so begin preparations well before your travel date.

Passports and visas

In order to enter and travel in Italy you must carry acceptable identification. For nationals of the European Union (EU) a national identity card is sufficient. Travelers from all other countries must carry a valid national passport and one other form of identification. Visas are not required for visitors staying less than 90 days who are U.S. citizens, EU nationals, or from Canada or New Zealand.

To obtain the requirements for your locality, call your local Italian embassy or consulate, leaving sufficient time for processing and issuing documents. Minors traveling alone are required to carry a written authorization to exit their country, signed by their parents.

As a precaution you should make two copies of your traveling documents. Leave one copy at home and take one with you, storing it separately from the originals. Then, if an original document is lost or stolen, obtaining a replacement will be easier.

For more information click here.

Theft and safety precautions

Write the numbers of all credit cards, driving permits, insurance cards, etc., on a separate paper to use in case of loss or theft. Also record the customer service telephone number for each credit card. Store this information separately from the cards. This small effort can turn the tragedy of a lost wallet or purse into the simple matter of a few telephone calls. Write down and carry on your person your hotel telephone number and address as an identification aid in case of accident or injury.

Health care issues

Visitors to Italy do not need to obtain any inoculations. Citizens of the EU should request an International Social Security Form E111 from their local processing center. This will allow reimbursement for any medical and pharmaceutical expenses incurred while in Italy. Nationals of other countries are advised to contact their health insurance provider to verify that they are covered for illness or accident during their visit.

If you will soon be due (or are overdue) for a regular checkup at your doctor or dentist, do it before you leave. If you wear eyeglasses or contacts, bring an extra pair of glasses and your prescription. Persons taking prescription medications should make sure they have an adequate supply for the trip, and/or bring their prescription, making sure it includes the medication trade name, manufacturer's name, generic name, and dosage. Prepare a simple medical kit of over-the-counter medications (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, antihistamine, antiseptic, diarrhea medication), bandaids, thermometer, sunscreen, insect repellent, and lip balm.

For more information click here.

Travelers with special needs

Special services and facilities are available for travelers who require them, including children traveling alone, persons in wheelchairs or with other mobility restrictions, persons who are sight- or hearing-impaired, or others needing special assistance.

Taking Italian goods home

EU nationals traveling within the EU have no limitation on purchases of goods for personal use, except for new vehicles and purchases by mail. There is, however, a recommended limit for cigarettes and alcohol: 800 cigarettes, 10 liters of spirits, 90 liters of wine. Citizens of countries outside the EU may be subject to duties when bringing goods back to their home country. Check your local customs regulations before leaving. The U.S. Customs Service has online information for U.S. citizens returning from abroad.

Some goods are forbidden or strictly regulated, including narcotics, illegal drugs, forgeries, weapons, live plants, ivory, etc. Cash or cash equivalents of 10,000 € or more must be declared to customs at entry and exit.

Italy has a national sales tax, or Value Added Tax (VAT ), which ranges from 4% to 20%. Travelers from non-EU countries may obtain a refund of this tax for single-store purchases in excess of 155 €.

Bringing your pet

Dogs, cats, and ferrets may be brought into Italy if they are more than three months old and are accompanied by their owner. The regulations depend on the animal's home country.

Animals from EU countries must be identified by a microchip or a clearly visible tattoo, and must be in possession of a valid EU passport certifying that they have been vaccinated against rabies. Passports are issued by veterinary health services of the country of origin. These rules also apply to animals from Andorra, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, and Vatican City, provided that those states apply health regulations equivalent to those of the European Union.

Animals from certain non-EU countries may enter Italy if they possess a certificate of origin and declaration of health issued by a foreign public health authority recognised by Italy. The document provides information about the animal and the owner, certifies that the animal is in good health, and that it has received a rabies vaccination between 20 days and 11 months before entry. A list of eligible countries is available on the EU website. Animals from other countries may be allowed to enter if they have received certain laboratory tests. Contact the nearest Italian consulate for more information.

You should also contact your airline to find out the requirements for transporting your pet.

Electrical appliances

The electrical service in Italy differs from that in the U.S., so you will need either dual-voltage personal-care appliances (shavers, hair dryers, curlers, etc.) or one or more voltage converters, plus plug adapters. For more information see Electricity.

Using credit cards

If your coming trip will be the first time you have tried to use your credit card outside your home country, we recommend that you call your credit card company several weeks before you leave to verify two things.

First, make sure that transactions are enabled for all destination countries. Some credit card companies set up new accounts with international transactions disabled to help reduce credit card fraud. Unless you call them and ask to have this feature enabled, you may find that your card is not accepted outside your home country.

Second, if you plan to use your credit card to obtain foreign currency from automatic teller machines (ATMs), you will need to have a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to confirm your identity. If you do not have a PIN, call your credit card company and request one. Some European ATM machines will not accept PINs longer than four digits, so ask for a four-digit PIN. Credit card companies need time to process your request, and will normally send PINs by first-class mail only, so be sure to call several weeks before leaving.

Commit your PIN to memory if you can. If you must write it down, do not write it on your credit card. Record it in a separate place. Don't label it "PIN", and don't write the credit card name on the same note.

Purchases can be made with the most common credit cards. Italian shops will usually display logos of accepted credit cards on the outside. If you pay by credit card you will be asked to show identification. Travelers cheques in USD or Euros can be cashed in Italian banks.

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