What to do in Rome in an emergency

Hopefully, like millions before you, your trip to Rome will pass off without incident. In the unfortunate event of an emergency, however, here are some contacts that may prove vital.

If you’re in a rush, for ALL emergencies anywhere in Italy and the rest of the European Union, call:


You can call this number for free from any phone, foreign or local cellphones, and even a cellphone without a SIM card in it. Operators should speak English. It’s the equivalent of 911 in the US (or 999 in the UK).

Hopefully, like millions before you, your trip to Rome will pass off without incident. In the unfortunate event of an emergency, however, here are some contacts that may prove vital.

In a typically labyrinthine approach to things, there’s actually no unified number for emergencies in Italy. When you call the universal European emergency number 112 you are in fact calling the Carabinieri, Italy’s military police force, and their operators will redirect your call to the appropriate number. Below are the specific numbers.

List of emergency numbers in Rome

Ambulance – emergency health issues118
Coast Guard (Guardia costiera)1530
Covid-19 hotline1500 (in Italy)
+39-02-3200 8345 (outside Italy)
or +39-02-8390 5385
Fire service (Vigili del Fuoco)115
General emergency and/or police (Carabinieri)112
Police (Polizia)113
Urgent but non-emergency medical advice (Guardia Medica)General line:
+39-06 570 600
English speaking:
+39-06 7730 6650
+39-06 7730 6112
+39-06 77306113

For all of these numbers apart from 112 and the Guardia Medica, an English-speaking operator is not always guaranteed. All numbers are free to call apart from the Guardia Medica.

Which police service should you call in Rome?

While the Carabinieri tends to deal with serious crimes, public order duties, and general road checks, the Polizia deals with petty crime, crime prevention, and the Polizia Stradale deals with traffic issues – but there is in fact a lot of crossover between them in terms of reporting and investigation. There are also local police too (Vigili) which tend to deal with public order, issuing parking tickets, etc.
It’s confusing, and many Romans themselves cannot say definitively which branch of the police you should call in various scenarios, so in the unfortunate event that you do have to call the police while in Rome, as a foreigner you are advised just to call 112 and the operator will select the relevant service.
While violent crime is rare in Rome, it does occasionally happen and the police will take it extremely seriously. As a tourist, however, you’re much more likely to be the victim of petty crime.
From experience, the likelihood of being reunited with stolen items is very slim, but you may still require a police report to claim on your insurance. In this case you are advised to appear in person at your nearest polizia or caribinieri station (consult Google Maps). Italian for “report” is denuncia, a word you will hear often if you’re in this unfortunate position.

Of course, the best insurance policy is not to get pickpocketed in the first place. Unfortunately reporting scammers is probably a waste of time.

If you have medical problems in Rome

Please see our specific guide to what to do to get medical assistance in Rome >


What should you do if your passport gets stolen or lost in Rome?

If you are in Rome only for a short time and should happen to have your passport stolen, it is in our opinion best to call and then go immediately to the consular section of your embassy and order a replacement immediately, before spending time consulting or reporting to with the police, which may take hours. Unless of course a denuncia is required by your particular consulate.

It’s a legal requirement in Italy to carry an identity document with you at all times, and by this they mean your passport if you’re a non-resident – but to avoid having your passport in a vulnerable position in the first place, we recommend you carry a clear photocopy of the relevant part of your passport with you instead, and leave the actual document locked in your hotel safe. This isn’t 100% what the law requires but if you get stopped for a document check (usually by the Carabinieri) and they really, really need to see the original document, they will come with you while you retrieve it.

What to do if you have legal problems in Rome

First point of call should always be the consular section of your embassy, particularly for criminal matters. If you need an English-speaking lawyer, there is a list of lawyers in Rome published by the US embassy [pdf], one for Lazio published by the British embassy, and one for Italy by the Australian embassy.

When should I call the fire brigade?

Obviously call 115 (or 112 to guarantee an English-speaker) if there is a dangerous fire, but they are also the people to go to if you smell gas, if you find yourself locked out of your apartment, in cases of search and rescue, natural disasters (water, wind or snow), infrastructure collapse or natural danger, if you hear someone or something stuck somewhere – and of course if you find a cat stuck up a tree!

Now make sure you don’t miss out: plan your visit in advance:

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Photo credit: AFP

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