I never imagined that I would be writing all these posts about how to travel in Europe during a global pandemic, but here we are. Recently, I found myself in Rome, Italy and I needed to get a PCR test in Rome to board my return flight to Canada. Fortunately, I found a quick and easy way to get a PCR test in Rome, and I’m going to walk you through all the steps from booking to getting your results.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the companies that I’m recommending in this post, and I don’t make any money or get any other kind of benefit if you use them. At the same time, I’m not a medical or legal professional and I can only share how I got a PCR test in Rome. This post is not legal or medical advice.
Step One: Download the uFirst App
I’m going to tell you the best way to do this, and that starts with downloading the uFirst app from the Google Store or the App Store. Basically, uFirst is a free app that lots of Italian companies use to manage their virtual queues. Instead of standing in a line at the post office or bank, you join the virtual queue through the app and it lets you know when it’s your turn. The app is free to download and use, but you will still have to pay for your PCR test at your appointment (details below).
Step Two: Search uFirst for DataMedica
To find my recommended COVID testing center in Rome, you’ll need to set your location in uFirst to Roma and then search for DataMedica. You should get two options:
- DataMedica – Test Molecolare and
- DataMedica – Test Antigenico
The Test Molecolare is the PCR test that you need to fly back to Canada. Make sure to book this “molecular” test if you’re flying from Rome to Canada!
The Test Antigenico is what is more commonly known as a rapid test. An antigen test is not valid for flights to Canada at the time I’m writing this (read more about that here) but it may be valid for other destinations.
Step Three: Book Your PRC Test Appointment in Rome
Now, you just need to select your preferred testing time. As I’m writing this, Canada requires the PCR test to be completed within 72 hours of the scheduled departure of your flight into Canada. If you have a transfer (like I did, it in Amsterdam) it has to be 72 hours from the scheduled departure of the specific flight that actually goes into Canada.
DataMedica promises that if you get your test on a weekday before 16:00, the results will arrive within seven hours. If you get tested after 16:00, your results will be available before noon on the next weekday (so, if you get tested on Friday evening, your results won’t be ready until Monday morning – take that into consideration!).
I had to get two PCR tests because my flight was rescheduled and my first set of results would have been from before the 72-hour deadline. For my first PCR test in Rome I was tested around 13:00 and my results were back by 17:30. For my second PCR test, I was tested at 15:30 and my results were back at 20:30.
I didn’t need an antigen test so I don’t have information about timelines for those, unfortunately.
Step Four: Get Your PRC Test in Central Rome
DataMedica is located in central Rome. The photo above shows their front door at the time of my visit.
Their clinic is just across the river from Piazza del Popolo, at Via Ennio Quirino Visconti 4. This is within easy walking distance of Castel Sant’Angelo and even Piazza Navona and Vatican City. If you’re following Google Maps over the bridge from Piazza del Popolo, trust the directions in the app (from the street, it looks like there should be a shorter route but it’s actually a vehicle underpass).
You’ll want to arrive about ten minutes early for your appointment. Upon arrival, if there is a greeter at the door you can just show them your reservation on your phone and they will direct you inside, upstairs, to the payment area. If there isn’t a greeter at the door, just show yourself upstairs. The uFirst app will send you a notification when it’s your turn, but you should give yourself time to pay before your test.
At the time of my visit, and at the time of publication, the cost of a PCR test at DataMedica is €60. There is no surcharge or extra fee associated with booking a Data Medica test through the uFirst app.
When you pay, tell the receptionist that you need your results in English for international travel. They will give you a receipt that includes an access code you can later use to access your English-language results online.
In order to access your results you will need to know your Italian codice fiscale. This number is not a secret and can’t be used for identity theft, and it is standardized according to a formula established by the Italian government. Because it’s a standardized formula the DataMedica staff will just generate it for you; don’t worry or stress about this!
After paying, they may send you back downstairs to the secondary testing area (if it’s busy) or you may do your test upstairs. In Europe, a standard PCR test first swabs your throat, and then uses the same swab in your nostrils. This may be different than in your home country, so be prepared!
Step Five: Access Your PCR Test Results Online
Both tests that I had at Data Medica had results available online (at this site) within the promised time frame. Because I had an Italian SIM card in my phone I received a text message informing me that my results were back, but if you don’t have a local SIM card you can just check the provided website (using the access code on your receipt – don’t lose it!) every few hours.
To log in and view your results, you will need your codice fiscale, plus the two codes provided on your receipt. Again, keep these safe!
Your results will clearly show the date and time you took the test, along with the type of test (PCR!). Hopefully they will also show that your results were negative!
Personally, I printed my results and carried paper copies with me to the airport when it was time to fly home from Italy. You may be able to show the results on your phone, but I think it’s an unnecessary risk (you might run out of data or your phone might die, for example). The results were sufficient for me to board my flights and return to Canada without any hassles at customs or immigration.
Final Thoughts & A Repeat Disclaimer
Since I’m not a medical professional I can only share my own experience here. Overall, I found getting a PCR test in Rome to be quite simple and affordable, especially compared to the costs and hassles I’d experienced earlier in Canada and Spain. It’s really important that you research the tests, timing and other requirements of your own itinerary, and seek out the most up-to-date information from official sources. This article is for entertainment purposes only and is not legal or medical advice!
If you do follow these guidelines, please let me know how it works out for you!
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