Caution: when you book a private tour in Tuscany is very important to know the following informations, please click here to read this Tripadvisor’s article.
A visa is not required for US or Canadian citizens holding a valid passport unless they expect to stay in Italy for more than 90 days or are entering the country for study or employment reasons. Anyone who decides to stay over 90 days once they have entered the country should make an application once only to any police station (questura) for an additional 90-day extension. Proof will be required to ascertain that the person is a bona fide tourist with adequate means of support and that the extension is not for study or employment purposes. Generally, permission is granted immediately. Non-American citizens should check current visa requirements with the nearest Italian Consulate before departure.
Registration for Tourists
The paperwork related to registering with the police within 3 days of arrival in Italy is dealt with by the hotels the tourist is staying in. If staying with friends or in a private home, tourists must register in person at the nearest police station within three days of arrival. In Rome there is a special police information office to assist tourists. (Interpreters are available) telephone: 06.461-950 or 06.486-609
A traveller entering Italy with a dog or cat must have a veterinary certificate stating that the animal is in good health and has been vaccinated against rabies between 20 days and 11 months prior to entry into Italy. The certificate must also state the breed, age, sex and color of the pet, as well as the owner’s name and address. The certificate is valid for 30 days. Forms are obtainable at all Italian diplomatic and consular representatives and from the Italian Government Travel Office. A dog must be on a leash or muzzled when in public. Customs officials may require a health examination of any pet if they suspect that it is ill or has come directly from tropical regions.
Healthcare and Medical Assistance
Tourists requiring urgent medical care should go to the nearest hospital emergency ward (airports and many train stations also have medical teams and first aid facilities). Those with serious illnesses or allergies should always carry a special note from their physicians giving detailed information on the treatments they are following or that may be necessary. Pharmacies (Farmacia), generally follow shop opening times (approx. from 8.30am to 12.30pm and from 3 to 7pm, Monday to Saturday, but in large cities many are open throughout the day. Night time service is provided on a shift basis. Business hours and night shifts are displayed outside each pharmacy and are published in local papers. It is advisable to procure a document certifying coverage by the national health care service before departure.
Health Services and Insurance Policy
Italy has no medical program covering citizens from the US and Canada. US and Canadian tourists are therefore advised to take out an insurance policy before traveling. First Aid Service (Pronto Soccorso) with a doctor on hand is found at airports, ports, railway stations and in all hospitals. Medicines, be they prescription or over the counter, can be obtained only in pharmacies.
Italy is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the USA and Canada. Daylight saving time in Italy goes into effect each year usually from the end of March to the middle of October.
Banks are generally open Monday through Friday from 8.35am to 1.35pm and from 3 – 4pm; in many tourist areas they are open non-stop from 8.30am. to 4pm and closed all day on Saturday and Sunday and on national holidays. Some banks also open in the afternoon.
The new monetary currency is the Euro which is divided as follows: bills of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500; coins of 1, 2, 5, 10 Euros, 20 and 50 cents.
All the Post Offices are open 8am-6.30pm Monday-Friday and 8am-12.30pm Saturday.
If you want stamps, you can buy them in tabacchi too, they will often also weigh your letter.
Shops opening times
Although shops are normally open from 9am to 1pm and from 3.30/4pm to 7.30/8pm, in some tourist areas they tend to stay open uninterruptedly from 9.30am to 7.30pm, allowing for slight variations from town to town. Large department stores like La Rinascente, Coin or Upim are open throughout the country from 9.30am to 7.30pm.
IVA tax refunds
Like most other European countries, Italy imposes a value added tax (VAT) on most goods and services purchased in the country. This tax is known as the Imposta sul Valore Aggiunto, or IVA. It is normally included in the price of most goods and services. Generally the rate stands at 20% of the sale price.
Residents outside of the European Union visiting Italy may obtain a VAT refund on purchases of new goods. VAT refunds may be claimed for purchases of merchandise (not for services such as hotels, car rentals, entertainment, meals or transportation) in excess of € 155.
Here is an outline of the procedures that should be followed for claiming VAT refunds on goods purchased in Italy:
Tax Free Italy Stores
If a “Euro Tax Free” sign is displayed in a shop window, the store in question adheres to the “Tax Free Italy” programme. Show your passport at the cash desk when purchasing goods in these stores and ask the store clerk to issue a “Tax Free Shopping Cheque” along with a receipt for the goods. The store will charge you tax at the time of sale. The Tax Free Shopping Cheque will indicate the amount of VAT refund you will be eligible to claim later. You must present the merchandise, Tax Free Shopping Cheque and store receipt to the Customs Office at the airport upon your departure from Italy. The customs official will examine the merchandise to check that it matches the description on the receipt and cheque and will stamp the Tax Free Shopping Cheque. To obtain an immediate tax refund once your Tax Free Shopping Cheque has been stamped, simply present it at any “Tax-Free Cash Refund” booth at the airport.
If you are purchasing goods in a store that does not adhere to the “Tax-Free Italy” programme, ask the store to issue you a special invoice known as a fattura, which should be made out to you and include the phrase “Esente IVA ai sensi della legge 38 quarter”. The fattura should also indicate the amount of VAT included in the purchase price. The fattura and the goods should be presented at the Customs Office on your departure from Italy to be stamped. You must then mail the stamped fattura back to the store (either from Italy or your home country) within 90 days of the purchase date. The store will then send you the VAT refund by return mail to whatever address you specify. This can take quite some time.
If you require merchandise to be shipped directly to your home address, your purchase is exempt of VAT. The store will charge you no tax at the time of purchase and will issue you with a “Tax-Free Receipt”, rather than a “Tax Free Shopping Cheque”.
Luggage is inspected on entering and leaving Italy. Free entry is allowed for personal effects: clothing (new and used), books, camping and household equipment, fishing tackle, 1 pair of skis, 2 tennis racquets, portable typewriter, record player with 10 records, tape recorder or dictaphone, pram, 2 still cameras with 10 rolls of film for each camera, 1 movie camera with 10 rolls of film, binoculars, personal jewelry, portable radio set (subject to a small license fee), 400 cigarettes and a quantity of cigars or pipe tobacco not exceeding 500 grams (1.1 lb).
All items mentioned above may be imported duty free only on condition that they are for personal use and are not be sold, given away or traded. A maximum of two bottles of wine and one bottle of spirits per person may be brought duty free. The bottles must be opened. A maximum of 4.4 lbs of coffee, 6.6 lbs of sugar and 2.2 lbs of cocoa are allowed duty free.
Overseas tourists arriving in Italy after visiting other countries are allowed to bring souvenirs purchased in other countries for a total value of $500. Only a verbal declaration is required for these goods. Purchases may include up to a half litre of perfume.
Exports from Italy
There are no restrictions on gifts purchased in Italy except for antiques and works of art. These require the authorization of the Culture Ministry.
Churches are generally open in the morning from 7.30am-noon and in the afternoon from 4-6.30pm. Most churches and cathedrals that are popular with visiting tourists remain open until 1pm. Sightseeing is not permitted during services. Some churches operate a very strict dress code – strappy sundresses, tank tops, shorts and miniskirts are not considered respectable clothing. The solution for women is simple – carry a large but lightweight wrap to put round your shoulders. Men will either have to wear long trousers and suffer the heat, or do their church visiting (in long trousers) in the relative cool of the morning and change clothes after visiting.
Sites of interest
Monuments and archeological sites are usually closed on Sunday afternoons – Museums are closed on Monday.