Coronavirus law information
The Italian government introduced specific rules for consumer contracts on occasion of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to prevent and contain the spread of the pandemic, which had significant consequences on consumer contracts in various sectors. Here you will find answers to the most common questions that the European Consumer Centre Italy is called to answer.
Update on Covid-19 vouchers in Italy:To understand the information provided below, it is important to remember that the situation is constantly evolving and the information is updated as of 26th May 2021.
These FAQs concern only those vouchers which were issued in accordance with the Italian emergency legislation (Law no. 27 of 24/04/2020 with amendments of Law no. 77 of 17/07/2020 and Law no. 69 from 21/05/2021), i . e. vouchers issued regarding contracts with execution between 11th March and 30th September 2020, whose termination due to Covid-19 (cancellation or waiver) took place before 31st July 2020.
Law no. 69 of 21st May 2021, in force since 22nd May 2021, significantly affected the validity of the Covid-19 vouchers issued in accordance with the emergency legislation, extending it:
• from 18 to 24 months in case of vouchers issued regarding transport contracts, accommodation bookings, package holidays, school trips, and educational trips;
• from 18 to 36 months in case of vouchers issued regarding events, live performances, museums, and other cultural places.
Please note that only Covid-19 vouchers issued following the cancellation/waiver of transport services due to Covid-19 have to be refunded, upon request of the consumer, 12 months after the date of issue of the voucher. Covid-19 vouchers issued regarding package holidays, accommodation bookings, school trips, and educational trips that have not been redeemed within the validity period of 24 months have to be paid out. Please keep in mind that vouchers issued by traders as a courtesy or as commercial gesture are not subject to these rules!
Traders are no longer allowed to issue new vouchers regarding cancelled package holidays, accommodation bookings, and transport services, unless the consumer explicitly agrees to be refunded through a voucher. However, vouchers for live events can still be issued if an impossibility due to Covid-19 arises within 31st July 2021: a voucher for a live event can be issued only if the event is postponed to a specific date within 31st December 2023, though. Otherwise the consumer is entitled to a cash refund.
For more specific information and support please contact the European Consumer Centre (ECC) in your country of residence.
You will find a list of the ECCs here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/consumer-rights-and-complaints/resolve-your-consumer-complaint/european-consumer-centres-network-ecc-net_en
Package travel:If the consumer was prevented from travelling because of Government measures (i. e. travel restrictions/bans imposed by the country of residence or the country of destination, imposed quarantine, positive Covid-19 test result) or if the tour operator was prevented from providing the service due to Covid-19, the tour operator could offer the consumer a substitute package of equivalent, higher or lower quality (with possible refund of the price difference), provide the cash refund or issue a voucher (with a validity period of 24 months from the date of issue) in the amount of the refund due. The tour operator could choose between an alternative package holiday, the refund, or a voucher. This applied to contracts from 11th March 2020 to 30th 2020 September cancelled by the consumer or the trader within 31st July 2020.
Travelling by air, railway, sea, inland waterway or land transportIf the passenger was prevented from travelling because of Government measures (i. e. travel restrictions/bans imposed by the country of residence or the country of destination, imposed quarantine, positive Covid-19 test result) and thus not allowed to use the service, they were entitled to a cash refund or a voucher (with a validity period of 24 months from the date of issue) equal to the amount paid for the ticket.
Limited to vouchers issued in relation to air, rail, sea, inland waterway or land transport contracts, the refund of the vouchers can be requested 12 months after the date of issue and has to be paid within 14 days of the request.
Under the Italian Covid-19 laws (Law no. 27 of 24/04/2020 with amendments of Law no. 77 of 17/07/2020 and Law no. 69 from 21/05/2021) from March, 11th until September, 30th 2020 traders were allowed to provide the reimbursement of cancelled transport services by means of voucher, if the service was cancelled due to Covid-19. However, under EU law carriers have to offer the refund of the ticket or re-routing to passengers whose service has been cancelled. Thus, by the principle of supremacy of EU law, carriers are obliged to refund passengers under the EU passenger regulations.
You will find more information regarding the EU passenger rights and "Interpretative Guidelines on EU passenger rights regulations in the context of the developing situation with Covid-19" published by the European Commission here: https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/
Hotels and accommodation:If a business was prevented from providing a service or the consumer from receiving it, due to an explicit Covid-19 related measure of the authorities, they could withdraw from the contract: The accommodation service provider could issue the cash refund or voucher for the same amount (which can be redeemed within 24 months of issue). The choice was left to the accommodation service provider. This applied to contracts from 11th March 2020 to 30th September 2020, cancelled by the consumer or the trader within 31st July 2020.
Event Tickets:Law no. 69 of 21 May 2021, in force since 22 May 2021, amended the rules on vouchers, extending their validity by 18 months retroactively (now 36 months instead of 18).
In addition, unlike package travels, accommodations and transport services, vouchers can still be issued if an impossibility due to Covid-19 occurs within 31st July 2021.
A voucher for a live event can be issued only if the event is postponed to a specific date within 31st December 2023, otherwise the consumer is entitled to a cash refund.
Additional information regarding Vouchers:Vouchers issued under the Italian Covid-19 emergency laws can be used within 24 months.
Law no. 69 of 21st May 2021, in force since 22nd May 2021, amended the rules on vouchers, extending their validity by 6 months retroactively (now 24 months instead of 18).
It means that a voucher, previously issued according to the temporary emergency laws (i. e. related to contracts from 11th March 2020 to 30th September 2020, cancelled by the consumer or the trader within July, 31st 2020) can now be used within 24 months from the date of issue and the refund can be asked only after the expiration.
The Law No 77 of 17 July 2020 provided the allocation of 5 million euros for 2020 and 1 million euros for 2021 to establish a fund at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism that will compensate consumers holding unused vouchers by the deadline if they are not reimbursed by the trader because they are in a state of insolvency or bankruptcy. The modalities and criteria of implementation, as well as the measure of compensation, will be governed in detail by a subsequent regulation, to be adopted within 180 days of the entry into force of the Law No 77 of 17 July 2020.
Information for travellers:For a precise understanding of the restrictive measures adopted by individual countries it is essential to check only official sources, constantly updated, such as the website of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (https://www.esteri.it/mae/en/) if you plan to travel to Italy. On this website (https://infocovid.viaggiaresicuri.it/index_en.html) you can fill in a short online questionnaire in order to receive information applicable to your situation.
You will also find information for travellers on the following website of the Italian Health Ministry: https://www.salute.gov.it/portale/nuovocoronavirus/dettaglioContenutiNuovoCoronavirus.jsp?lingua=english&id=5412&area=nuovoCoronavirus&menu=vuoto
The official FAQs of the Italian Government are available here in Italian.
In addition, you can check Re-open EU (https://reopen.europa.eu/en/) a tool provided by the European Commission which provides information, available in 24 languages, on the various measures in place, the EU Digital COVID certificate, and mobile coronavirus contact tracing and warning apps. The information is updated frequently.
Please appreciate that if you plan to travel abroad, it is important to check and respect the Covid-19 measures adopted by the respective countries, for instance the obligation to wear masks or protective devices, curfew rules, and social distancing.
Situation as of 26/05/2021