Italy joined the United States of America’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP) in October 1989. The program was created by the U.S. so that they could focus more on consular resources on addressing higher risks, while at the same time making it easier for Italian citizens to visit the USA. To further improve the Visa Waiver Program, the U.S. launched the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) in 2009. The ESTA made it so that Italian passport holders could go online and apply for an authorization to visit the U.S.
The ESTA can only be applied for online, and grants admittance to the United States for up to 90 days if the purpose of the visit is business, tourism (including medical purposes), and to participate in non-credit study programs. An ESTA is not the same as a visa, and if you need to visit the U.S. for other purposes than those mentioned here, you will have to apply for a regular tourist visa. Be sure to find out if you need an ESTA or a visa as early as possible, as getting a visa means you will have to queue up at the nearest U.S. Embassy.
U.S. Immigration statistics for Italian visitors (2017):
- The total amount of visitors from Italy: 1 384 255
- Approved ESTA applications: 1 248 156
- Students and exchange visitors: 30 922
- Temporary workers and family-related applications: 54 110
- Diplomats and other official representatives: 10 143
- Other types of visitor categories: 5 808
Traveling to the U.S. from Rome, Italy
From Rome, Rome–Fiumicino International Airport "Leonardo da Vinci," you can reach the following cities in the U.S. with a nonstop flight:
- Rome - New York City (9-10 hours), carriers: Alitalia, Delta, and Norwegian
- Rome - Detroit (10.30 hours), carriers: Delta
- Rome - Atlanta (11.17 hours), carriers: Delta
- Rome - Miami (11.10 hours), carriers: Alitalia
Getting to the airport from Rome by car, bus or scooter:
The airport is located 32km from Rome and can be reached by driving on the Grande Raccordo Anulare (GRA) and then the A91 Rome - Fiumicino highway. If you are coming from Civitavecchia, then take the highway towards Rome, and follow the signs to the airport after you drive through the tollbooth. Here is a full overview of the parking: adr.it/parking.
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If you are planning your trip down to the very last minute, or you are organizing a trip for a group, then consider checking the traffic towards the airport here: infoblu.it/traffic.
Taking the train:
You can travel to the airport by train from many places in Italy:
- Leonardo Express is a non-stop service solely for airport passengers to/from Rome Termini railway station leaving every 15 minutes* with a journey time of 32 minutes
- Regional FL1 trains to/from other stations in Rome which includes Rome Tiburtina (departures every 15 min on weekdays and every 30 min on weekends and holidays)
You can read more here to get a full overview from the airport’s website: adr.it.
Traveling to the U.S. from Milan, Italy
From Milan Malpensa airport, you can also fly to the U.S. with nonstop flights. Here is the list:
- Milan - New York City (9-10 hours), carriers: Air Italy, Delta, and American
- Milan – Miami (11.05 hours), carriers: American
Getting to Malpensa airport by driving:
Malpensa airport is located 49 km (30 mi) northwest of central Milan right next to the Ticino river. It has two terminals and two runways as well as a dedicated cargo terminal. U.S. bound aircrafts all fly from Terminal 1.
Getting to the airport by car is convenient when driving from Milan or localities north or east of the airport on the A8 highway. You are advised to drive on the highway to the BUSTO ARSIZIO – MALPENSA exit and proceed from there on to the State Highway SS336 in the GALLARATE – MALPENSA stretch.
If you are coming from the West or South, then take the A4 highway. You are advised to drive on the highway to the MARCALLO MESERO exit, proceed in the MARCALLO – MESERO – MALPENSA direction, and then take the SS336DIR in the MALPENSA- A8 – MILAN – VARESE direction.
Find information about parking here. For any direct requests, you may call these numbers:
CCISS Viaggiare Informati: 1518 toll-free number
Società Autostrade: (+39) 06 43632121
By train or bus:
Options by train are plentiful. Get the full overview here: Malpensa by train
You can easily reach the airport with bus from Milan Central Station or Fiera Milano City/Fiera Rho Pero and Milan Linate Airport. Malpensa airport is also connected with Lombardy, Piedmont, Liguria, and in the Canton of Ticino. Get the full overview here: Malpensa by bus.
When should Italians apply for the ESTA?
In 2018, it became compulsory for all ESTA-travelers to apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before boarding the aircraft. Italian citizens are recommended to apply weeks or months in advance to make sure that their travel authorization (ESTA) is approved. Getting denied means that applicants must apply for a tourist visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy, which can take a long time to complete. If you have plans to visit the United States soon, then apply as soon as you can. Read more about the ESTA application here.
Italian travelers with an approved ESTA can check its status or make updates. Visit this page for more information: verify/update ESTA.
Italian citizens can apply for ESTA online
The ESTA is valid for 2 years for visitors from Italy
Italians can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days with an approved ESTA
Italy’s overstay rate is only: 1.23%