To enter, sojourn in or transit throughout the Schengen area, aliens must be in possession of a passport or other travel document recognized as valid for the purposes of crossing all Schengen States borders.
To enter, sojourn in or transit through Italy, aliens must be in possession of a passport or another travel document recognised as valid by the Italian government.
Travel documents are considered valid when, "in addition to meeting the conditions stated in articles 13 and 14 of the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement, they duly certified the identity of the holder and the holder's nationality or citizenship".
In the event that a visa is required, article 13 of the Convention provides that:
- No visa can be issued upon presentation of an expired travel document.
- The period of validity of a travel document must be at least 3 months longer than that of the visa.
- The travel document on which the visa sticker will be affixed shall have been issued within the previous 10 years (article 12 of Regulation 810/2009).
A foreign national holding a travel document which is not recognised by Italy may be issued with a laissez-passer by an Italian diplomatic mission or consulate, which will be valid for Italy only, and not permit transit through the rest of the Schengen area.
The following travel documents are considered valid to cross the borders and for the issuance of a visa:
- Passport. This is the internationally recognized document entitling its holder to travel from one country to another. It may be:
- diplomatic passport, a service (or official, special or public affairs) passport, or an ordinary passport;
- a personal passport (which may also include the spouse and/or children) or group passport (for groups of no less than five and no more than 50 people, all having the same nationality, and all travelling together for the same purpose, normally as tourists; all entering, staying in and leaving the Schengen Area together; each member of the group must also hold a personal identity document, complete with photograph).
Other travel documents equivalent to a passport are:
- a travel document for stateless persons, governed by the "Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons" signed in New York on 28 September1954. Stateless persons must obtain a visa for Italy unless they already hold a residence permit to sojourn in one of the Schengen countries;
- a travel document for refugees, governed by the "Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees", signed in Geneva on 28 July1951. Refugees must obtain a visa unless they already hold a sojourn permit in one of the Schengen countries or a travel document issued by one of the signatory States of the Strasbourg Agreement of 20 April1959);
- a travel document for aliens unable to obtain a valid travel document from the authorities of the country of which they are nationals; these documents are subject to the same visa requirements which apply to nationals of their home country;
- the Seafarer's Identity Document issued to seafarers to exercise their profession, recognised as a valid travel document to enter the Schengen Area only in relation to the seafarer's professional requirements, and for no any other reason. Italy recognises the Seafarer's Identity Documents issued by EU countries and the EEA countries signatories to the International Labour Convention No 108 (Geneva, 13 May1958) and by those with which Italy has concluded specific bilateral agreements;
- the General Declaration, issued to pilots and crew of Civil Aviation companies for flight duty, in conformity with the "Convention on Civil Aviation" signed in Montreal on 7 December 1944. This document is exempt from visa requirements in the signatory countries of the Chicago Convention of 2 March1949 or under reciprocity agreements, provided that the entry is work-related;
- a United Nations laissez-passer, issued by the United Nations Secretariat to United Nations personnel and that of its related agencies, in conformity with the "Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies" adopted by the UN General Assembly in New York on 21 November1947. Persons holding this document are exempt from the visa requirement for short stays (no more than 90 days).
- an individual or collective movement order issued by NATO Headquarters to military or civilian personnel and their dependents (spouse and children) serving in a NATO member country, in conformity with the "Agreement between the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty" signed in London on 19 June 51 and ratified by Italy with Law no. 1335/1955. The members of a NATO force (but not accompanying civilians or dependent family members) are exempt from the visa requirement;
- an identity card in the case of nationals of EU Member States which is valid for foreign travel for work purposes, and exempt from the visa requirement;
- an identity card (and other documents) identifying citizens of the signatory States of the "European Agreement on the Abolition of Passports" (signed in Paris on 13 December1957), valid for the purposes of tourism in any one of the States for a period of not more than three months. It is exempt from the visa requirement;
- a list of participants in school trips within the EU, issued to students from third countries resident in an EU state in conformity with the "Joint Action" of the Council adopted by the European Union on 30 November1994. This document is exempt from visa requirements.
- a pass, replacing a passport issued to a person who does not hold a regular travel document, authorising the holder to travel throughout the Schengen area, or only within Italy. This document is subject to the visa requirements to which the person’s country of origin is subject;
- clearance papers or border permits granted to citizens residing in border areas, for transit across the border itself and circulation in the corresponding areas of neighbouring States. This document is exempt from visa requirements.