Guiding in Italy is a regulated profession and EU nationals who intend to provide guiding services in Italy on a ‘temporary and occasional basis’ must submit a prior declaration before entering the country. Different rules apply if individuals are established in Italy or wish to move to Italy and provide guiding services.
In 2019 a few incidents of fines being imposed on members’ guides have been reported. This includes a guide being fined €83 in April in Venice for not wearing a visible ID card. In July a guide was fined €3000 for accompanying a group from the coach to the entrance to the city centre in Amalfi. We have also had reports on tour guides being checked at Cinque Terre. Incidents of harassment from local guides in various places in Italy (e.g. Matera) have also been reported.
ETOA is working closely with its Italian lawyer to monitor the situation. There is a clear difference between the information available on the EU database, the national requirements/legislation and local authorities’ interpretation of these, and related enforcement practice.
Italy regulates both guida turistica and accompagnatore turistico and defines them in such a way that their activities are mutually exclusive, despite that being contrary to actual practice and business requirements.
Individuals established in Italy may risk a fine if they do not hold a patentino for one of the above professions.
According to the EU database of regulated professions, those holding a patentino as an accompagnatore may provide “significant news and information concerning transit zones which are interesting from touristic point of view and do not belong to the scope of competence of the tourist guide.”
The description of a guida turistica in the EU database, which refers to a 1983 Italian framework law on tourism that has since been repealed, states: “A tourist guide is a professional who accompanies individuals or groups of people visiting museums, galleries, archaeological sites and illustrates historical sites, artworks, monuments or any other cultural or natural heritage. Tourist guides’ activities include organizing itineraries and welcoming tourists, with the purpose of guiding them through visits of the cultural and natural heritage sites of a certain area.”
Italy is the most problematic country in this respect due to legal uncertainty and the gulf between practice and policy.
Despite the national legislation being clear – only EU nationals providing services as guida turistica should send a prior declaration before providing their services on a temporary and occasional basis – some local authorities are starting to require the declaration for EU nationals providing services as an accompagnatore.
We therefore highly recommends all tour guides, regardless of their guiding role, to submit this prior declaration ‘dichiarazione preventiva’.
This section is applicable for EU citizens not established in Italy
All Tour Guides (guida turistica), according to EU law, who intend to provide their professional services, on a temporary and occasional basis, must have sent, before entering Italy, a form – duly filled – Dichiarazione Preventiva, enabling the ‘Ministero delle politiche agricole alimentari, forestali e del turismo’ to assess if the Tour Guide meets the professional standards required by the law. More information about the ‘dichiarazione preventiva’ can be found on their website.
Despite that the ‘dichiarazione preventiva’ is officially only mandatory to send if the guide is intending to provide services as a guida turistica, it has been reported that local authorities are also requesting this for EU nationals providing services as an accompagnatore.
To minimise risks for fines and tour interference, we therefore recommend all tour guides established in another EU country to send the ‘dichiarazione preventiva’ before entering the country.
The ‘dichiarazione preventiva’ must be sent 30 days before the first access in the country, either via post or email and should include the documents required in the same form. The declaration must be renewed as necessary on a yearly basis.
Timely submission of the Dichiarazione Preventiva should provide a strong defensive argument in case of a fine imposed upon the Tour Guide on the assumption that he/she has provided guiding without a licence.
The document must be filled out completely and posted to:
Ministero delle politiche agricole alimentari, forestali e del turismo
Dipartimento del Turismo
Via XX Settembre, 20
00187 Roma, ITALY
Or emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the event of controls by the local law enforcement authorities, the EU Tour Guide must be able, in order to avoid a fine, to provide documentary evidence that the Dichiarazione Preventiva has been sent within the said time frame.
IMPORTANT REMARK: September, 2019: Following the recent change in government, the tourism ministry no longer falls under the Ministero delle politiche agricole alimentari e forestali but is back under the Ministero dei beni Culturali e del Turismo. We have been in contact to understand if there will be any changes to the Dichiarazione Preventiva. It has been confirmed that until further notice the procedure remains the same. We will monitor the situation.
It is recommended that all Tour Guides not established in Italy should always travel with below documents when leading groups in Italy:
A full copy of the ‘dichiarazione preventiva’, duly signed
including all the documents attached to it
including a receipt proving that the declaration was sent in time by registered mail or evidence that the email had been received and read by the Italian administration
ETOA ID card or company membership ID card (if issued)
A document, signed by a legal representative of the Tour Operator, stating:
The commercial name of the Tour Operator
The name of the Managing Director of the company
The country of establishment of the Tour Operator
The full personal details of the Tourist Guide/Tour Manager
The nature of the work relationship between the parties (for example self-employed)
The details of the liability insurer for the company
The itinerary of the tour
The number of tourists participating
The local law enforcement authorities (Polizia, Guardia di Finanza, Carabinieri, Polizia Municipale, Polizia Provinciale) may approach and check if Tour Guides have the correct documentation to lead groups.
To avoid a fine the EU Tour Guide must be able to provide documentary evidence that the Dichiarazione Preventiva has been sent within the said timeframe.
In case the Tour Guide receives a fine despite having sent the Dichiarazione Preventiva, the Tour Guide can oppose it within 30 days (counting from the day the fine has been inflicted/notified). The fine can only be opposed if it has not been paid.
If the Tour Guide receives a fine, the below steps should be followed:
The law enforcement authorities must release a copy of the fine to the Tour Guide, otherwise it will be impossible to oppose it.
The Tour Guide must immediately send their Tour Operator a readable copy of the fine along with a short report, which should include whether the Tour Guide did send the Dichiarazione Preventiva or not.
Within 48 hours following the fine, the Tour Operator should send a legible copy of the document received by the Italian authorities to ETOA. This will enable ETOA and our local Italian legal partners to assist in opposing the fine. Please, use the e-mail address email@example.com.
Note that this is only possible for ETOA members, not individual guides. In practice, ETOA may connect operator directly with a local lawyer.
Be aware that, in a number of regions (e.g. Sicily, Veneto) the local/regional laws expressly forbid the simultaneous provision of services as a guida turistca and accompagnatore. Therefore, the guide should avoid any suggestion that they are carrying our both jobs at the same time.
Members have reported that contracted guides providing pre-booked guided tours of the Colosseum are being approached outside the Colosseum by the local police to check that they have not sold the tickets on the street, which is now illegal. The police may request a list of participants for proof. We recommend members to carry necessary paperwork with them to avoid unnecessary disruption of the tour.
List of prohibitions:
Jumping into water fountains
Walking around bare-chested
Attaching ‘love padlocks’
Messy eating around historic monuments
Touching the metal spout of public water fountains when drinking from them
Illegal street-trading and ticket-touting outside tourist sites
Organised pub crawls
Advertising “skip-the-line” tours outside historic monuments
Take prams and suitcases up or down historic steps (such as the Spanish steps)
Venice has over the years been well-known for frequent checks of tour guides. This is still the case and in 2019 we have continued to receive reports of members’ tour guides being approached by the local police to check if they have the correct documentation.