Travelling Between Italy and China: New Rules for the COVID-19 Emergency
Since January 2020, the health emergency arising due to COVID-19 has persisted throughout the world and for this reason, so as to limit infection, governments from all countries have provided different specific restrictive measures to limit movement.
Such measures are exceptional and, for their nature and considering the evolution of pandemics and their strains, they can vary. Therefore, we highly recommend contacting the competent diplomatic or consular authority in the territory, before departure, in order to be aware of any updates.
Flows from Italy to China
In order to fight the crisis, China has reviewed its entrance policy in its own territory for Chinese and foreign citizens, providing a special regime for the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
As early as November 5th 2020 the Chinese authorities stated, in relation to people in Italy, the inefficacy of all visas and residence permits released before the 3rd of November 2020.
According to the latest provisions of the authorities, the entrance to China for people in Italy is allowed in compliance with the following measures:
- Release of a specific visa and /or other equivalent authorization. In order to obtain the former, an advance issuance of a “PU Letter” is necessary, which is a document released by the competent authorities that pre-authorizes the visa release;
- QR health certificate that confirms vaccination. Release would be made in respect to specific conditions according to the typology of the vaccine.
As for the specific visa, according to a release – still in force – of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Italy on March 15th 2021, the authorities would provide in observance of the following points:
- For those who need a visa for a necessary resumption of work and production in China, a visa would be released for them and for their family members according to pre-Covid visa policies.
- Visas will be issued with preference to applicants with emergency humanitarian needs, as family members of Chinese citizens or foreigners with Chinese permanent residence.
- For those who have a valid APEC Business Travel Card, they can apply for an “M visa with the card and Invitation Letter from their inviter in China.
As for a QR health certificate, it would be released to a person that has made an online request to the website https://hrhk.cs.mfa.gov.cn/H5/, after (at least) 14 days from the completion of the vaccination course. In particular:
- Those who have been vaccinated with inactivated vaccines (such as Sinopharm or Sinovac etc.) shall upload: vaccination certificates, “double test” results (tests from molecular and serological buffer) and a specific declaration for the vaccination, according to the sample form to be found on the website of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China;
- Those who have been vaccinated with non-inactivated vaccines (as Pfizer, Moderna, Astrazeneca, Johnson & Johnson etc.), shall upload not only the molecular buffer test, but also the negativity test for IGM antibody. In case of positivity to the IGM antibody, citizens shall make, 48 hours prior to boarding, a further test for anti-nucleocapsid IGM antibodies (tests for IGM antibodies anti N Protein).
In cases of direct flights between Italy and China, visas would only be released to passengers boarded on such flights, if a passenger books a flight with one or more stops, a visa shall not be released.
Contrarily, if there are no direct flights between Italy and China, visas have been released to passengers who have booked a flight with just one stop. In this case, in order to receive a QR health certificate, double buffer tests will be necessary: one in Italy before departure, and another in the stopover country, the results from both shall be uploaded on the aforementioned website.
In the press release of the Chinese Embassy, it specified that the QR code would not be released in cases of more than one stopover and should direct flights from Italy to China emerge, the QR code for stopover flights will no longer be released.
Finally, we must illustrate that, once landed in the Chinese territory, all passengers shall quarantine (which varies from city to city, for a minimum of 14 days until a variable time according to the provisions of the relevant authorities.
Flows from China to Italy
Entrance to Italy, during the health emergency period, is ruled by specific emergency laws (Prime Minister’s decree dated March 2nd 2021, ordinances dated July 29th 2021 and August 28th 2021), that provide different requirements for access to Italy, varying from the country of departure.
China falls under “Group E”, which includes all countries, for which there are no specific measures to facilitate the movement of people (as for instance, Schengen countries).
According to the ordonnance dated August 28th 2021, those who have been to or transited through one of the “Group E” countries, within 14 days prior to their entrance in Italy, may only enter Italy for the following reasons:
- a) Work;
- b) Urgency;
- c) Health reasons;
- d) Study reasons;
- e) Return home;
However, entrance for EU/Italian/Schengen citizens and their family members shall always be permitted, as well as for those who have acquired long-term residence status (Directive 2004/38/CE).
In addition to the documents traditionally required for foreigners’ entrance into Italy, as provided in the international conventions, all entrants shall:
– Fill in an online form for localization, also named digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF), available at the link https://euplf.eu/it/eudplf-it/index.html, to be shown to the transporter and to any security authority. Furthermore, it is worth preparing further documentation to provide evidence if required.
– Providing a certificate showing the negativity to the molecular buffer test to the transporter upon boarding, and to security authorities, made within 72 (seventy-two) hours prior to entrance in Italy.
– Mandatory self-quarantine and health monitoring (by informing the competent Local Health Authority “ASL” to) for a period of at least 10 (ten) days, at the address indicated in the dPLF.
After ten (10) days of mandatory self-quarantine, the person shall do a further molecular buffer test, to confirm negativity.
Generally speaking, travelling between Italy and China during COVID-19 pandemic is regulated by strict laws, that broadly and briefly provide:
– A visa release only to specific individuals;
– A health certification that gives evidence of the absence of the virus;
– Mandatory quarantine once arrived in the destination country.
At any rate, we strongly recommend, due to rapid changes throughout the health crisis and, therefore, of the corresponding emergency laws, to contact the official channels for updates: for Italy, the travelers’ website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs http://www.viaggiaresicuri.it/, as well as the website of diplomatic and consular representations in China would be of assistance and for China, the website of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China http://it.china-embassy.org/ would be most relevant.
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