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Passports and equivalent travel documents

For entry into, stay or transit in the Schengen Area, foreign nationals shall be in possession of a passport or other travel document recognised by all Schengen States.

For entry, stay or transit in Italy, foreign nationals shall be in possession of a passport or another travel document recognised by the Italian government.

Annex No. 10 of the Practical Handbook established by European Commission’s Decision No. 395 of January 28, 2020 (“Inventory of travel documents which entitle the holder to cross the external borders and which may be endorsed with a visa”) – available on the European Council’s website – contains the list of foreign travel documents recognised by Italy and the other Member States.

Travel documents are considered valid if “besides fulfilling the terms and conditions set out in Articles 13 and 14 of the Convention Implementing the Schengen Agreement, they duly attest to the holder’s identity and nationality or citizenship”.

Having a valid travel document is essential for submitting a visa application.


In particular, please note that:

  •  no visa may be affixed to a travel document that has expired;
  • the residual period of validity of the travel document shall be at least three months after the intended date of departure from the territory of the Schengen States;
  • the travel document shall have been issued within the previous ten years;
  • the travel document shall have at least two free pages.

A foreigner holding a travel document that is not recognised by Italy may possibly be issued a “laissez-passer” by our diplomatic-consular Representation, valid only for Italy, which will not allow transit through the territory of the other Schengen States.

The following travel documents are deemed valid for the purposes of issuing entry visas and for crossing borders:

  • Passport. Internationally recognised document entitling the holder to travel from one country to another. It may be:

–         diplomatic, service (official, special, or for public affairs) or ordinary;

–         individual (with the possible registration of the spouse and minor children) or collective (for groups of no less than 5 and no more than 50 people, all travelling together and for the same purposes – usually tourism – all having the same nationality, and all entering into, staying in, and leaving the Schengen area together: each member shall be in possession of an individual identity document, accompanied by a photograph).

Other travel documents, equivalent to a passport, are the following:

  • travel document for stateless persons issued in accordance with the Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons signed in New York on September 28, 1954. Stateless persons are subject to a visa requirement for Italy, unless they hold a residence permit issued by one of the Schengen States;
  • refugee travel document issued in accordance with the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees signed in Geneva on July 28, 1951. Refugees are subject to a visa requirement for Italy, unless they hold a residence permit issued by one of the Schengen States or a travel document issued by one of the countries that signed the Strasbourg Agreement of April 20, 1959;
  • foreigner travel document, issued to those who cannot obtain a valid travel document from the authorities of the country of which they are nationals. It follows the visa regime in force for the country of which the person concerned is a citizen;
  • seafarer’s book, a professional document issued to seafarers for performing their activity. It is recognised as a valid document for entering the Schengen Area only in relation to the seafarer’s professional needs, and not for other reasons. Italy recognises the seafarer’s books issued by the EU Member States, the countries of the European Economic Area, the States that adhere to the International Labour Convention No. 108 (Geneva, May 13, 1958), and those with which it has stipulated specific bilateral agreements;
  • air navigation document, issued to pilots and cabin crew of civil airlines for performing their activities, in accordance with the Civil Aviation Convention signed in Chicago on December 7, 1944: Pilot Licence, Crew Member Certificate. These are travel documents that are recognised by the signatory countries as not requiring a visa – by way of reciprocity – provided that entry is motivated by reasons relating to professional activity;
  • United Nations laissez-passer, issued by the Secretary General of the United Nations to UN staff and staff of its specialized Agencies and organisations under the Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations adopted by the UN General Assembly in New York on November 21, 1947. Holders of this document are exempt from the requirement of short-stay visas (for stays not exceeding 90 days);
  • document issued by NATO Headquarters to personnel – military, civilian staff and their dependants (spouse and children) – posted to a State of the Atlantic Alliance, in accordance with the Convention between the signatory States to the North Atlantic Treaty signed in London on June 19, 1951 and ratified by Italy with Law No. 1335 of November 30, 1955. The members of a NATO force (but not the accompanying civilian staff or dependants) are exempt from visa requirements;
  • identity card for citizens of the EU Member States, also valid for expatriation for work purposes. It is exempt from visa requirements;
  • identity card (and other documents) for nationals of the States adhering to the European Agreement on the Abolition of Passports (Paris, December 13, 1957), valid for travelling to the territory of one of the signatory States for tourist purposes, for journeys not exceeding 3 months. It is exempt from visa requirements;
  • list of participants in school trips within the European Union, issued to foreign students residing in the EU Member States, in accordance with the Council decision of November 30, 1994 on a joint action adopted by the Council of the European Union. Holders are exempt from visa requirements;
  • laissez-passer, issued in lieu of a passport to foreigners who have no travel document valid for all the Schengen States, or only for Italy. It follows the visa regime in force for the country of which the person concerned is a citizen;
  • border laissez-passer – or border card – granted to nationals living in border areas, for crossing the border itself and travelling to the corresponding areas of neighbouring States, without a visa.