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Passports

Anyone traveling to Italy from outside the Schengen Agreement countries will need a passport to enter. The Schengen Area comprises Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and all of the E.U. except the U.K., Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania. You technically do not need a passport to travel within the Schengen Area (typically there are no customs checks at land borders, and flights within the area are treated as domestic), although you are required to present one to authorities upon request, as they are commonly looking for fugitives from justice or illegal immigrants. You are required to present a passport at hotel desks in Italy for the same reason. Note also that some checks between the French and Italian borders were re-instated in 2011 due to illegal immigration fears.

E.U. nationals (including U.K. and Irish passport holders) have the right to both live and work in Italy; however, after 90 days, they must obtain a residence certificate (certificato di residenza) at the anagrafe of the local town hall, by providing some proof of employment or financial resources. Citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are allowed to stay in Italy for 90 days visa-free; after that period, they are required to apply for a visa or obtain a permesso di soggiorno (permit of stay).

Australia -- Australian Passport Information Service (tel. 131-232, or visit www.passports.gov.au).

Canada -- Passport Office, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G3 (tel. 800/567-6868; www.ppt.gc.ca).

Ireland -- Passport Office, Setanta Centre, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 (tel. 01/671-1633; www.foreignaffairs.gov.ie).

New Zealand -- Passports Office, Department of Internal Affairs, 47 Boulcott Street, Wellington, 6011 (tel. 0800/225-050 in New Zealand or 04/474-8100; www.passports.govt.nz).

United Kingdom -- Visit your nearest passport office, major post office, or travel agency or contact the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), 89 Eccleston Square, London, SW1V 1PN (tel. 0300/222-0000; www.homeoffice.gov.uk/agencies-public-bodies/ips).

United States -- To find your regional passport office, check the U.S. State Department website (http://travel.state.gov/passport) or call the National Passport Information Center (tel. 877/487-2778) for automated information.

Visas

Travelers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S. can visit Italy for up to 90 days without a visa, and can enter Italy with a valid passport. Visits of more than 90 days may require a visa, but the requirements vary depending on the purpose of your visit. U.S., Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand citizens with a valid passport don't need a visa to enter Italy if they don't expect to stay more than 90 days and don't expect to work there. If, after entering Italy, you find you want to stay more than 90 days, you can apply for a permit for an extra 90 days, which, as a rule, is granted immediately. Go to the nearest questura (police headquarters) or your home country's consulate.

EU nationals (including UK and Irish passport holders) have the right to both live and work in Italy, so long as they have a valid passport; however, after 90 days, they must obtain a residence certificate (certificato di residenza). For more information on visas to visit or stay in Italy, go to the Foreign Ministry's English-language page at www.esteri.it/visti/index_eng.asp.

Customs

What You Can Bring into Italy -- Foreign visitors can bring along most items for personal use duty-free, including merchandise up to $800, such as fishing tackle, a pair of skis, two tennis rackets, a baby carriage, two hand cameras with 10 rolls of film or a digital camera, computer, CD player with 10 CDs, tape recorder, binoculars, personal jewelry, portable radio set (subject to a small license fee), and 400 cigarettes and a quantity of cigars or pipe tobacco not exceeding 500 grams (1 lb.). A maximum of two bottles of wine and one bottle of hard liquor per person may be brought in duty-free.

What You Can Take Home from Italy -- Each U.S. tourist may bring back to the U.S. $400 worth of goods duty-free. Only 1 liter of alcohol (less than 2 bottles of wine) is allowed duty-free, though many tourists successfully ignore this rule and "smuggle" more booze back in their luggage. Bear in mind that if you are unlucky enough to get searched, U.S. Customs may not only confiscate the goods, but also slap you with a hefty fine. The good news is that duty is usually not that high: generally 3% of value (keep your receipts!), plus IRS excise tax of between 21-31 cents per 750ml bottle of wine. There are no federal limits on the total amount of alcohol you can bring back (these are set by states, but are usually quite high). Brits and other E.U. citizens can bring as much alcohol and tobacco home as they can carry duty-free, as long as it's not obviously for re-sale. For detailed information on what you're allowed to bring home, contact one of the following agencies:

U.S. Citizens: U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20229 (tel. 877/287-8667; www.cbp.gov).

Canadian Citizens: Canada Border Services Agency (tel. 800/461-9999 in Canada, or 204/983-3500; www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca).

U.K. Citizens: HM Customs & Excise at tel. 0845/010-9000 (from outside the U.K., 020/8929-0152), or consult their website at www.hmrc.gov.uk.

Australian Citizens: Australian Customs Service at tel. 1300/363-263, or log on to www.customs.gov.au.

New Zealand Citizens: New Zealand Customs, The Customhouse, 17-21 Whitmore St., Box 2218, Wellington (tel. 04/473-6099 or 0800/428-786; www.customs.govt.nz).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.