Yes, Americans Need a “Visa” to Travel to Italy in 2024 – How to get it

Updated 18 October 2023.

Starting in 2024, US citizens will need a (kind of) visa to visit Italy.

Before anyone freaks out, the new rule is actually more of a visa waiver program than a visa requirement and will be known as European Travel Information and Authorization System, or ETIAS.

I am American and I have always had a visa to live in Italy, but you currently do not need a visa to visit Italy for less than 90 days within a 180 day period if you have an American passport. 

Once the travel restrictions are eased, Americans can still book their return flights and show up in Italy without a visa and without worrying about obtaining the official waiver through the end of 2023. And it is not just Americans – currently there are 1.4 billion people living in the 60 countries with visa free entry, and all will now have to register with ETIAS for pre-authorization to enter. 

Initially, the program was slated to start in 2021. That has now been pushed back because of delays with Europe’s travel tracking program (and likely because of the travel interruptions caused by the global health crisis). In 2020 it was announced that US citizens will still need to have a visa waiver in the future to visit European countries which are a part of the Schengen – an area made up of 26 European countries that currently allow passport-free travel between their borders. 

The new ETIAS system is very similar to what most non-Americans need to enter the U.S.: ESTA – Electronic System for Travel Authorization. And that is what US citizens will need to travel to Italy in 2024 – an authorization, not a visa.

Visas are hard to get and involve a great deal of documentation and scrutiny. The new system will likely be an online application that will take a few minutes to complete. Most people will pay a small fee (likely less than €20) and be approved instantly. A few others will need to provide additional documentation, and a very select few will be denied. 

Once you have applied and been approved, your ETIAS should be valid for four years, so you don’t need to apply every time you want to visit Italy or other Schengen countries in Europe. You simply need to keep track of your application number and be ready to share it when you speak with the border control.

I am familiar with the ETSA process because my husband is an EU citizen, so he always has to ensure that his authorization to travel is valid if we are visiting the US.

In a way, it makes perfect sense to institute the equivalent back to Americans. Visas work on reciprocity – so if your government holds foreign nationals to one standard, then you should expect the same treatment from the foreign government. European officials also see this as an anti-terrorism measure.

When it goes into effect in 2024, if you don’t have the ETIAS visa waiver as an American, you might not be able to board your flight. However, the exact date when ETIAS will launch has not been announced. To be honest, while it is still slated to launch in 2024, the fact that no dates have been announced means that it will likely be delayed again. However, even if it all comes online quickly, since it is not intended to deter tourism, there is very likely to be a grace period… but eventually you will apply here

“Before boarding, air carriers and sea carriers will need to check whether third country nationals subject to the travel authorisation requirement are in possession of a valid travel authorisation.”

However, for now, there is nothing to worry about or change in your immediate travel plans.

In the next few years, all you will have to do is one more step at least a few days before you fly. Annoying perhaps, but certainly worth it for security. 

Ready to fly? Here is what to wear on the plane, and how to get from Fiumicino airport to Rome.

29 thoughts on “Yes, Americans Need a “Visa” to Travel to Italy in 2024 – How to get it

  1. Teresa says:

    I love your posts! I’m getting ready to move to Italy (Roma) this June from NYC. The visa process is a tough one! I’m using your blog as my bible for go to information 🙂 I’m so excited to start a new chapter in Italy!

      • Bruce says:

        The visa process will give you a taste of the bureaucratic challenges that will affect most of your daily life in Italy. A big stumbling block for our residenza elettiva visas was the requirement of having proof of a place to live (with an official lease or deed -not a hotel) in Italy prior to submitting the application for the visa. However, the visa can only be applied for and issued in the US. In other words, you can’t come to Italy as a tourist, find a place to live and apply for the visa in Italy. We were very fortunate to have good friends here in Italy who could provide us with a place to stay, including a lease. However, the lease must be registered and have the appropriate marca di bollo attached. In order to have a proper lease, it will have to recite your Italian codice fiscale. If you plan to be in Italy before applying for a visa, obtain a codice fiscale while you are here. If you will be working, I think your prospective employer can help with this. We hired a relocation assistant who was able , with much difficulty to obtain ourswhile we were still in the US. Once you arrive here, you will need to apply for the infamous permesso di soggiorno within 8 days of arrival. Go to any Poste Italiane office and ask for “il kit per il permesso di soggiorno”. Don’t even think about trying to fill out the forms on your own. Even our Italian friends did not understand how to fill out the forms. Instead, go to an Italian labor sindicato such as CGIL, where we went. Make an appointment for assistance with the permesso and tell them that you must have it by the deadline date There is a CGIL office in virtually every city, and for about 20 Euro, they will fill it out for you in your presence. (The best 20 Euro I have spent here). After the form is filled out at the CGIl office, get to the Poste Italiane office (they close for the day a little after 1PM) and submit the form and be prepared to pay the appropriate fees. Some, but not all, credit cards are accepted. I can’t remember if you also need a marca di bollo, but if you do, remember that you can’t buy it at the post office, but you can at most any tabaccheria. The post office will give you a receipt and a document showing the date of your appointment with the Questura for the interview for the permesso. BE SURE TO KEEP YOUR RECEIPT, which is your temporary provisional permesso until you receive the actual card. I think there is an additional paper document that you get at the time of the questura interview. In Modena, there is about a three month wait for the interview and another month or two to receive a SMS message that you can go to the questura at a certain time to pick up your card. They will ask for the previously-mentioned receipt when you pick up the card. After you receive your temporary permesso, you can apply for a carta d’identita in the commune in which you live. You will need this carta for all kinds of things such as opening a bank account, buying a car, applying for the health system, etc.

        Study the expat sites carefully regarding driving a car. Your US license will allow you to drive for one year. After that you must have an Italian “patente” (driver’s license). No American can conceive how frustrating, difficult, time consuming , and expensive this process is. The one year grace period is not too much time to allot to this process, unless you want to make it a more of less full time job, in which case, it will take 3 – 4 MONTHS. . You will run into bureacratic difficulties regarding the health system, your utility contracts, your telephone and many other interfaces in your daily life, because many private companies are themselves bureaucratic. Most Italians do not like it either, but they just shrug and say “this is Italy”. You will also learn to shrug and say, “this is Italy”. Despite all that, this is a wonderful place to live, absolutely beautiful and full of generous friendly people.

      • Hugo A OSORIO says:

        Hi Natalie. Me and wife are US citizens. We live in Davie, FL. and are receiving SS retirement benefit. How do I find out if those benefits are taxable in Italy? Thank you

        • cassandra says:

          Hi Natalie. I want to apply for my Italian Citizenship in Italy doing Jure sanginis which i qualify through my father. Can you tell me if i have all my documents and which ones need to be translated or need an apostille- #1-My american birth certificate #2- My fathers & mothers birth cert from Italy #3- My parents marriage license from Italy. ok so i have my fathers Naturilazation letter ( the original) can i just copy it beause I cannot give his original away. Do any of these need an apostille or translation into Italian? What am I missing?? Thank you!!

          • Natalie says:

            Sorry! I have never gone through that process so I don’t know for sure but I would guess that all non Italian docs need apostille and translations

        • Francesca says:

          Your pension or other benefits will not be taxable in Italy IF you apply for an exemption. There is a law signed by both countries whereby they agree to not double tax their citizens and residents if those residents are already taxed in their home countries.
          There is detailed information about it on the Italian Consulate of Philadelphia web site and I suppose also on the Italian consulate web site of other US cities. The web site is both in Italian and English , but you have to dig through it for that information.
          Alternatively you can just type the question on the search bar of any search engine and start looking for the info there.
          So, yes, there is a law that would allow you to be taxed only in the States, which I suggest you, choose because Italian taxes are way higher! Good luck.

  2. Deborah Clark says:

    Thank you so much for the heads up. My husband and I are planning at least 2 more trips to Italy (our first was in 2016) in 2020 and 2023 and this was something I deck I felt hadn’t heard of. Love your articles. Keep them coming!

    • Natalie says:

      My pleasure! They are still working on the details but it will be an online form to complete ahead of departure. Nothing serious, but an extra step that people should know about.

  3. Jean says:

    I am still confused after reading so much!!! I have read that I would need anywhere from $31,000 to $200,000 in my bank account, besides owning a house and having a pension to get a visa. Can you help me understand? If I sell my American house, I can buy a house there and I have a small pension that will allow me to live there because the daily cost of living is less than where I currently live.
    Thank yo.

  4. Mike Parks says:

    One thing about the ETIAS that concerns me is the “Member state of intended first entry” requirement where you have to declare your entry point into the Schengen. So while the ETIAS may be valid for three years this means for each of those years your flight from the USA to Europe would have to end in the same country. For example if you fly into Paris year one and begin your itinerary there you would have to also fly into Paris in year two and three. We go to Europe every year to completely different areas and so instead of flying into whichever city makes sense we’ll now have to fly into the same city each time?

    • Natalie says:

      That is only for the first entry. Once it is valid, you can continue to enter on new trips during the validity. This is how the ETSA works for my husband.

  5. Robi says:

    Hi Natalie,
    You are a deep well of valuable info.
    My spouse and I are planning on relocation to Itlay for our retirement years. I lived in Milano many years ago and things have changed dramatically. Hubby is duel citizen, S. Amer./ US
    We intend on purchasing, but want a fixer upper. We eventually want our family to relocate as well. Our daughter, a duel citizen, is now married to a French citizen, and in the process of getting EU papers.
    Are there any ex pats or specialist who can make this transition fail proof? We don’t understand even the simple aspects of looking for, securing, and renovating in italia.
    Ive looked online, but english translations and new policies have me quite confused.
    If you know of any services, feel free to email me. I’m really desperate!

  6. Joyce Lissandrello says:

    Do you need a AAA international license to drive in Italy when visiting? The information about moving there is very daunting.

    • Natalie says:

      Hello! If you move to Italy, you can use your national license for one year and then you need to apply for an Italian license. If you are just visiting, you can use your national license, however many rental car companies prefer that you have the international driver’s license which you can get through AAA.

  7. Sabrina says:

    If one wants to move to Italy full-time, is it difficult to obtain residence there? And can you work there or do you have to have an outside source of income? Thanks!! Great article!

    • Natalie says:

      You have to have a right to live and work in the EU (citizenship or married to a citizen). One visa called Elective Residency might be possible, but you do need outside income for that because you are not permitted to work in Italy on that visa. Most people who apply for it are retired.

  8. elisa varagnolo says:

    I am an Italian citizen and I should go to Los Angeles, does anyone know how to do it? because with all these visas I don’t understand much. In the summer it must be written where I stay?
    what does it take to get there?
    Thanks for the reply

  9. Alberto says:

    I am Professional artist I live in Italy from 74 to 84 and I have diploma from the Academy of fine arts in Florence now I am American citizen I love to go back to live in Italy for good what I should do I speak Italian and my English and German thanks

  10. Giovanna says:

    Hi my husband and I will be traveling to Italy Sept 22 staying in Rome for 3 nights.
    We are planning on going to Florence and Cinque Terre. Can you please advise me on the proper way to book the fast train from Rome to Florence.
    Also can you advice me where to go in Rome for some good local food?
    Thank You
    Giovanna

  11. Robert Klein says:

    What a thorough, easy, simple report about ETIAS. In reality there are fewer questions to answer than to obtain or to renew a U.S. PASSPORT. A great needed report for all your travelers and for all your readers. You are the BEST.

  12. Robert Klein says:

    Anxiously awaiting your follow up to this great article. Again the ETIAS requirement has been postponed from January 2024 to January 2025.

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