Is getting Italian citizenship your goal? You could already legally be an Italian and apply for an Italian passport and not know it. In order to help clarify some of the key areas, we have organised below some useful information about how you can get Italian citizenship.
It is just general information so if you are facing some legal difficulties related to your Italian citizenship be aware that each individual case has its own peculiarities, depending on different circumstances, and that you might need some professional help. If this is your case, feel free to contact us as we are able to assist you with anything relate to it, both in and out of Court.
Not only you receive bespoke legal advice and step-by-step full assistance in every aspect of the process for receiving you Italian passport, you can also have help if your Italian citizenship application was illegitimately denied or if you have been waiting for a longer time than expected. This is because we are able to defend and represent you in front of the Italian courts, both Civil and Administrative (Tribunale and TAR – Tribunale Amministrativo Regionale).
Furthermore, we deal with Italian Authorities, including the Italian consulates spread all over the world and the Italian town halls (Comuni).
Why Do I Need an Italian Lawyer?
Only an Italian lawyer (“Avvocato”, which is the Italian equivalent of “Attorney”, “Solicitor” and “Barrister”) is allowed to practice Italian law.
Therefore, if you need help with your Italian citizenship application, it is best to consult with someone who is licensed to give you professional legal advice and assistance.
Italian citizenship by descent is also known as Italian citizenship jure sanguinis, which is a Latin expression that means “by right of blood”. In other words, it is determined by having at least one direct ancestor (i.e. parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.) who is a citizen of Italy themselves, regardless of where you were born.
So, if you are a direct descendant of an Italian citizen, you could already be Italian yourself and you just need the Italian State to recognise your Italian citizenship.
Furthermore, you can go back without any limit of generations, as long as you refer back to the ancestor who was born in Italy and then emigrated. Therefore, Italian citizenship is recognised if you are able to prove that you have “Italian blood” by transmission from one of your ancestor.
As a result, you are able to receive your Italian passport with all the consequential benefits it gives, also considering that it is a European passport.
Am I Eligible?
Each situation is different and needs to be properly analysed. However, according to general principles, we can say that you qualify:
Through a Male Ancestor
If your Italian ancestor was still alive on or after March 17th, 1861 (that is when Italy was unified; there were no Italian citizens before that date). If your ancestor emigrated before March 17th, 1861, you might be not entitled to Italian citizenship through descent if the territory from which your ancestor came from did not become part of the Kingdom of Italy.
Through a Female Ancestor
If you were born after January 1st, 1948 (that is when the Italian Constitution came into force). Before that date, according to the Italian Ministry of Interior’s point of view, Italian women were just allowed to hold Italian citizenship, not to pass it on to their children. Nevertheless, even if you were born before January 1st, 1948 you may still qualify for Italian citizenship by ancestry. Have a look at our video interview to know more about the so-called “1948 rule”.
The Transmission Chain – Dates to Check
It is essential to give evidence of your Italian ancestry by providing the competent authorities with the documents which prove the transmission chain, such as birth and marriage certificates. Also,it is very important to prove that the bloodline has not been interrupted. From this viewpoint, the naturalisation of the ancestor in another country is a fundamental aspect to consider.
If your Italian ancestor naturalized:
Before July 1st, 1912,
They did not transmit the Italian citizenship to their children (unless they were already 21 years old at the moment of the naturalisation), regardless of the fact that the naturalisation was before or after their birth;
Between July 1st, 1912 and August 15th, 1992
If their children were born before the naturalisation, Italian citizenship was transmitted and therefore the newborn was Italian jure sanguinis. If their children were born after their naturalisation, the Italian citizenship transmission chain was broken and so the newborn was not Italian jure sanguinis;
After August 16th, 1992
Regardless of whether their children were born before or after their naturalization, Italian citizenship is transmitted by blood.
In light of the above, if you wish to get an Italian passport, you need to check, amongst other facts, if and when your ancestor naturalised.
How Do I Apply?
The application for Italian citizenship must be submitted in person either at the competent Italian consulate or town hall (Comune) in Italy, depending on where you reside at the moment of the submission.
As for the documents that must be collected, the path to dual citizenship is not clear-cut. In general, the relevant documentation includes, as we mentioned above, proof of naturalization (or lack of it) for your emigrating Italian ancestor andall vital records for each generation between you and your Italian ancestor. However, your consulate or town hall, depending on where you currently reside, and therefore where you apply for your Italian citizenship jure sanguinis, may ask for additional documents (the Census record, for instance), so before starting the process we recommend that you get in contact with the relevant Italian public authority.
If you qualify for Italian citizenship and you do not want to lose the citizenship of the State of which you are already a citizen, you should check if the legislation of that State recognizes dual citizenship.
The current Italian legislation recognises the right to hold more than one citizenship simultaneously unless otherwise provided for by international agreements. There are exceptions to this. One of the expection has to do with some parts of Italy that do not belong to the Italian State today, meaning immigrants from there cannot obtain Italian citizenship in some circumstances.
I Have Children. Will They Be Considered Italians as Well Once My Italian Citizenship Is Formally Recognised?
It depends on whether they are minors or not.
If they are under 18 years old, they will be recognised citizens of Italy upon their parents’ positively determined Italian citizenship jure sanguinis application. If, on the contrary, they are 18 years old or over, they will have to submit their own application.
The distinction between underage children and children in their legal age is also made in other cases related to Italian citizenship:
Acquisition or re-acquisition of Italian citizenship Children under 18 years old whose parents have acquired or re-acquired Italian citizenship are granted it themselves automatically, while children in their legal age are required to reside in Italy at least 5 years without interruption.
Italian citizenship by adoption Children under 18 years old who are adopted by Italians are recognised Italians themselves, while children in their legal age are required to reside in Italy at least 5 years without interruption.
Italian citizenship by recognition or judicial statement of descent Children who are recognised in their underage acquire Italian citizenship automatically and retroactively from the date of their birth, while children who are recognised after they turn 18 years old are given the chance to opt for Italian citizenship within 1 year from the recognition or the judicial statement.
What If My Italian Ancestor Lost or Renounced Their Italian Citizenship Prior to My Birth?
In the event your Italian ancestor lost or renounced their Italian citizenship before the birth of their children, you would not be entitled to the recognition of Italian citizenship by descent. Nevertheless, you may still be able to become a citizen of Italy, provided that specific requirements are met.
In particular, if your parent or grandparent was a former Italian citizen, you may be granted Italian citizenship if:
you serve the Italian State in the military and preventively declare that you want to acquire Italian citizenship;
if you serve the Italian State with a public office, also abroad, and you declare that you want to acquire Italian citizenship;
if when you are the legal age (i.e. 18 years old) you have resided in Italy for at least 2 years and you declare that you want to acquire Italian citizenship within 1 year from your legal age;
Is Italian Citizenship Always Based on the “Right of Blood”?
No. There are exceptional cases in which Italian citizenship is passed on jure soli – from the Latin, “by right of soil” and you are Italian in all respects, even if none of your ancestors were citizens of Italy.
In particular, you are an Italian citizen based on the jure soli principle, if you were born in Italy:
from stateless parents;
from unknown parents;
from parents who cannot transmit their nationality to their children according to the laws of the State of which they are citizens;
from foreign parents and you have resided in Italy from your birth until you are 18 years old if you declare that you want to acquire Italian citizenship within 1 year from your legal age.
Can Other Family Members Apply Using the Same Set of Original Documents?
Usually, yes. People belonging to the same family and consequently sharing the same lineage can apply for the recognition of Italian citizenship jure sanguinis by using the same set of original documents. For this to be possible, however, all the applicants must apply to the same Italian Consulate or to the same Italian Town Hall, depending on where they reside at the time of the submission of the application (if abroad or in Italy).
Still, there are some exceptions. Indeed, some Consulates or Town Halls require that each applicant uses their own set of original documents, regardless of whether they belong to the same family or not. So, we suggest that you contact the authority relevant for your case before proceeding.
Appointment With the Consulate
How Do I Book an Appointment at the Consulate?
Some of the appointments at the consulate can only be booked through the “Prenota Online” system, which can be found in each consulate’s website. This is the case for example of Italian citizenship iure sanguinis (but not through marriage where the appointment is given to you by the consulate directly).
Please note that if this is the only way to book an appointment, no request of appointments via email or phone will be, in any circumstance, accepted by the consulate. So, contacting consulates directly will give you no result in this regard because it is an automatic system on which they have no control.
Beware of any persons, agencies and websites that offer to book an appointment on your behalf under a fee.
The majority of our clients faces difficulties in scheduling an appointment since, as they log in all dates are already booked and therefore not available.
Just as a reminder, the dates in the system are written in the Italian format day/month/year.
The system works in a way that automatically releases new dates. It is advisable to check whether on the relevant consulate’s website there is the information about when new dates are released.
If, for example, the system releases new appointments at 6 pm sharp, it means that you have to be connected a few minutes before this time. Next, closer to 6 pm keep refreshing the page until you see the following date becoming green which means available (or orange if someone else was quicker and so the availability is getting less). You click on the green date, then it asks you to choose the time slot, you click on it and then it asks you to put the verification code shown.
The code is a CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell the Computers and Humans Apart). Sometimes the code to insert might be tricky and in case you cannot fully understand the characters you have the possibility to change it. Be aware that the characters have to be exactly as in the image, so you should mind if they are capital letters or not. Fill it as quickly as possible and then confirm.
A few seconds after 6 pm all dates are red again and therefore there is no more availability for that day.
A suggestion we could make, which was successful for the majority of our clients, is to book the appointment with two people on a desktop computer or laptop (therefore not with a tablet or with a phone): one in charge of refreshing the page and the other one in charge of clicking the booking.
Sometimes availability happens out of the hours of new releases and this is when dates are freed as a result of cancellations.
When you are able to book the appointment you receive an email with the confirmation and then within 10 days (but no later than 3 days), before the day of the appointment, you need to log in again with your login details and confirm it. It is not automatically confirmed so if you do not confirm it this will result in a cancellation of the booking. Remember this step by writing a reminder on your calendar.
Whilst all of this seems an impossible task, it can be done with some perseverance (and two people).
How Long Do I Have to Wait Before the Date of the Appointment If I Apply Abroad?
Since Italy had been for many years a place of emigration, Italian consulates, especially in the US and South America, face a significant workload with regards to citizenship by descent and therefore it might take months, in some cases, even years before the date of the appointment.
Please note that if you would like to apply for citizenship through marriage you cannot and do not need to book an appointment. It will be the consulate directly to book it for you after having reviewed your application.
What Do I Have to Do on the Day of the Appointment?
On the day of the appointment, along with the required documentation, you have to bring with you the confirmation letter from the consulate. Be aware that some consulate will not allow you to enter their offices without the printed letter. You will also be asked to pay a fee of € 300. It is advisable to check on the consulate website the methods of payment.
In Case of No Recognition of the Italian Citizenship, Will the € 300 Be Returned Me?
Unfortunately, it will not. The fee is just to apply so it is not refundable.
Residence Permit While Waiting for the Recognition of Italian Citizenship Jure Sanguinis
You have applied for the recognition of Italian citizenship jure sanguinis in Italy. If you come from a country which is outside the EU, you need to obtain a resident permit to stay in here in Italy while your citizenship application is being processed. Indeed, according to Italian immigration law, non-european citizens are allowed to stay in Italy only up to 90 days without owning a resident permit; once this time expires, they shall request for a valid permit should they wish to keep staying in Italy.
What Type of Resident Permit Shall I Apply For?
If you have submitted an application for the recognition of Italian citizenship jure sanguinis in Italy then you are eligible for the “awaiting citizenship” permit (i.e. permesso di soggiorno per attesa cittadinanza), which allows you to stay in Italy for as long as it takes for your application to be determined.
What Documentation Do I Have to Provide?
The documentation you must provide in order to apply for the awaiting citizenship permit is:
the application form (i.e. “Modulo 1”) duly filled in and signed;
a copy of your valid passport;
a copy of the documentation that certifies that the process for the recognition of the Italian citizenship started.
Where Must the Application Be Submitted?
The application has to be submitted at the local Post Office.
Please note that on the day of the submission the Post Office will give you a convocation letter with the date, time and office for the appointment at the relevant central police station (i.e. “Questura”).
Is There Any Fee I Have to Pay?
The fees to be payed are:
€ 30,46 for the issuance of the residency permit;
€ 30,00 at the Postal office for the application;
You need also to get a € 16,00 tax stamp.
Once I Submit My Request, How Can I Check the Status of My Application?
Please note that you will receive the instructions for the collection of your residency permit from the Questura.
How Long Does the Residency Permit Last?
It lasts the required timing for the purposes of its issue.
Is It Possible to Work With This Residency Permit?
No, it is not.
(1948 cases) Am I Still Eligible for the Recognition of Italian Citizenship Jure Sanguinis If My Italian Ancestor Was a Woman?
Yes you are, but the process may not be straightforward.
Indeed, if your direct ancestor was a woman or if a woman is involved in your bloodline, then you may have to invoke the so-called “1948 ruling” before a judge in order to claim your right to Italian citizenship.
(1948 cases) What Is the “1948 Ruling” About?
Whilst today men and women are equally allowed to transmit Italian citizenship by descent, in the past only the former could do it, whereas the latter were able to hold it but not to pass it on to their descendants.
Things changed when the Italian Constitution came into force, on January 1st, 1948, and the utmost principle of equality between men and women was laid down. For the first time in the history of Italy, gender discrimination was abolished with the result that women were granted the legal right to transmit Italian citizenship to their offspring. Then, in 1983, the Italian Constitutional Court delivered its judgement on the matter and upheld that not allowing women to pass on their Italian citizenship to their descendants was unlawful. The same year, a second judgement, delivered by the Council of State, clarified the temporal validity of the Italian Constitutional Court’s decision, which would take effect from January 1st, 1948.
As a result, those who were born to an Italian woman on or after January 1st, 1948 are entitled to apply for the recognition of Italian citizenship jure sanguinis through the administrative procedure (i.e. by submitting the application to the competent Italian Consulate/Town Hall).
Given the limited temporal validity of the Italian Constitutional Court’s judgement, however, those who were born to an Italian woman prior to that date were prevented from applying for Italian citizenship by descent since the bloodline was considered interrupted. This unequal treatment had significant consequences on families as it was not unusual that siblings had a different citizenship status on the basis of their year of birth.
It has been possible to overcome this hurdle thanks to the Italian Supreme Court which in 2009 stated that the descendant of an Italian woman is citizen of Italy even if born before January 1st, 1948.
Even though the aforementioned decision is legally acknowledged, the Italian Parliament has not amended the law yet and the Italian Ministry of Interior does not adhere to that line of thought. As a consequence, those who were born to an Italian woman before January 1st, 1948 cannot apply for the recognition of Italian citizenship by descent via the administrative route, conversely they must go through the Italian legal system and file a petition against the Italian Ministry of Interior before the Court in Rome. Luckily, the latter is consistently upholding the “1948 ruling” based on the Italian Supreme Court’s decision, which means that there are very high chances of being recognised as an Italian citizen in such cases.
It must be pointed out that even those who were born after January 1st, 1948 might be prevented from applying via the administrative route and have to go through the Court for the recognition of Italian citizenship iure sanguinis if they descend from an Italian woman who had lost her Italian citizenship upon marrying a foreigner or a naturalised citizen. Have a look at the next section to know more on this.
(1948 cases) What If My Female Ancestor Lost Her Italian Citizenship Upon Marriage?
If your Italian ancestor was a woman, you should be aware that Italian women would have followed the spouse’s citizenship, unless the husband was stateless or his citizenship could not be passed upon marriage.
This means that:
if the Italian woman got married with a foreigner, she would have lost her Italian citizenship and acquired the spouse’s one;
if the Italian spouse’s naturalized, the Italian woman would have consequently naturalized as well.
In these cases, in order to verify if the husband’s citizenship could be transmissible to the wife, it is important to consider the foreign law in force at the time of your ancestor’s marriage or naturalization (e.g. the Cable Act 1922 in the US).
The Italian law on this matter (art. 10 paragraph 3, Law 555/1912) was declared unconstitutional by the Italian Constitutional Court in 1975. In particular, it was upheld that the automatic loss of Italian citizenship upon marriage did not comply with the principle of gender equality stated by the Italian Constitution and, for this reason, was unlawful. As a consequence, Italian citizenship has been granted to women who had lost it because of marriage after January 1st, 1948, and to their descendants.
Then, the judgement delivered by the Italian Supreme Court in 2009 made possible even for women who had lost her Italian citizenship upon marriage before January 1st, 1948 and their descendants to claim their right to be considered Italian citizens in all respect. These, however, cannot apply administratevely but have to appeal against the Italian Ministry of Interior before the Court in Rome.
Continue reading below to find out more about the 1948 lawsuit.
(1948 cases) The Lawsuit: What You Need to Know
In both the cases above mentioned, in order to file a lawsuit you need the assistance of a qualified lawyer registered to any Italian Bar Association. The trial takes place before the Court in Rome, the sole competent in matters related to the Italian citizenship jure sanguinis, and it normally consists of one, sometimes, two hearings. Contrary to what you might think, its duration is about two years and a half/three years. This is strictly related to the fact that the Court faces everyday a significant workload.
Once the petition has been filed, a Protocol Number (i.e. numero di ruolo generale) is assigned. Then the Judge is designated and the first hearing scheduled. The final decision might be delivered a few months later after the hearing (or hearings, if more than one is necessary).
It is important to provide the Court with the relevant documentation (i.e. birth/marriage/naturalization certificates related to all the people involved in the line, starting from the first Italian ancestor) that gives evidence of your Italian ancestry. It is also important to explain and prove the reason why you are prevented from following the administrative procedure. In this respect, please bear in mind that the administrative procedure is the rule and the trial the exception, which means that in case you have the possibility to follow both the male and the female line, you cannot file a lawsuit.
It is not necessary for you to be present during the hearing as you give your lawyer the power to represent you during the entire proceeding by signing the Power of Attorney. In any case, if you wish, you have the possibility and the right to attend the hearing personally. Please be aware that the hearing will be in Italian and that you will not be asked for any explanation by the Judge as the citizenship proof is documental. This is the main reason why it is so important that all the documents are consistent with each other.
As for the number of plaintiffs, there is no limit as soon as the documentation provided is applicable for all of them. Nevertheless, it is important that all the people joining the lawsuit confer the power to be represented to their lawyer, again through the Power of Attorney.
If you are from the USA, continue reading below to learn a brief history about your ancestors!
During the second half of the 1800s until the early 1900s, Italians emigrated to many other parts of the world, with United States of America, Brazil and Argentina the most popular destinations.
Between 1860 and 1885 more than 10 million Italians left Italy.
If you consider that the first census, that was made just a few months after the Unification of Italy, which was on 17 March 1861, registered about 23 million Italians, you soon realize that about half of the Italian population emigrated in this short timeframe.
It was an exodus that first involved regions in the North of Italy (about 47% belonged to the regions of Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Piemonte) and afterwards those from further South.
The main reason for such large scale emigration was the difficult economic situation: Italians were looking for a better quality of life.
A Brief History of Italian Immigration Into the United States
The United States is a nation of immigrants. From the first settlers arriving in the seventeenth century, to the modern age, people from all across the globe travel to America to make a new life for themselves and their families. The peak period of immigration into the United States occurred roughly from 1860-1920. For over half a century, people from the Balkans, China, Eastern Europe, Ireland and more poured into the country to make a new life in the New World.
The Italians were one such group. Italy became a unified nation in 1861, though regional differences still abounded. The more northern, metropolitan peoples of Venice and Milan looked down upon the farmers and laborers of Naples and Sicily, where many of the early immigrants once called home. Southern Italians found themselves largely left out of their homeland’s politics and national efforts, and the southerners themselves faced impoverished conditions and a 70 percent illiteracy rate.
One historian explained the plight of these early future immigrants, stating how:
The Italian government was dominated by northerners, and southerners were hurt by high taxes and high protective tariffs on northern industrial goods. Southerners also suffered from a scarcity of cultivatable land, soil erosion and deforestation, and a lack of coal and iron ore needed by industry. Unlike the Irish Catholics, southern Italians suffered from exploitation by people of the same nationality and religion. Rather than leading to group solidarity, this situation led to a reliance on family, kin, and village ties. Life in the South revolved around la famiglia (the family) and l’ordine della famiglia (the rules of family behavior and responsibility).
Of the thousands of immigrants who traveled to the United States in the nineteenth century, many of them only stayed briefly, usually for no more than five years. With their newfound fortune from hard work, or unable to earn much more than what it took to return home, these Italians, most of them men, returned home to restart their lives in the Old Country. For those who arrived with their families or intended to stay, they often found themselves crammed into slums with the other ethnic groups reaching America.
Slowly, through hard work and industrial growth, many Italians managed to make their way in the New World. They never forgot their strong family ties, either to those who came with them, or those left behind in Italy. It is now easier than even for such familial groups to remain connected. It is not just because of advances in communication and lack of bigotry, but also thanks to changes in regulations allowing families and citizens to reconnect and establish long severed links. For a people as focused on family as Italians, this means a chance to reform bonds once severed by time and distance.
Those arriving from Italy were often considered by most Americans as “New Immigration”, as opposed to the Old Immigration of earlier decades (Alexandra Molnar, “History of Italian Immigration”). Earlier waves of immigrants consisted largely of Irish, Germans, and Scandinavians. These groups had extensive experience in agriculture and skilled labor. While the Irish might have been looked down upon for their Catholic faith, their labor potential could not be ignored, especially with many arriving in the northern states during the American Civil War to provide additional manpower for the war effort.
The New Immigrants were largely rural Jews from Tsarist Russia and Eastern European Slavs as well as Italians –though in California the largest influx were Chinese men. These groups were largely poorly educated, rural, and, in the case of the Slavs, leaned toward Socialist thinking most Americans considered politically questionable. The Italians, being Catholic, faced their fare share of discrimination upon arrival to the New World. The Italians stood out from other immigrant groups in another aspect, to the vexation of the burgeoning American immigrant offices.
Italians, in this early stage of immigration, did not often remain in the United States. The statistics vary depending on the time, but anywhere from 11 to 73 percent of Italian immigrants stayed less than five years before returning to America. Rather than seek farmland like Germans or work the mines like the Slavs, Italians often sought work in the cities, where they would toil away in America’s burgeoning industry as the agricultural republic slowly formed into an industrial power. These Italians, mostly single men, arrived in America, spent years working hard, and returned to Italy with their earnings to make a new life in the Old World (Digital History, “Italian Immigration”).
Familial links remained an important aspect for Italians, especially the southern residents. Even those who stayed permanently in the United States would maintain contact with their relatives in Italy. They also sent whatever money they could back to the Old Country. As one historian noted,
In 1896, a government commission on Italian immigration estimated that Italian immigrants sent or took home between $4 million and $30 million each year, and that “the marked increase in the wealth of certain sections of Italy can be traced directly to the money earned in the United States.
Like many new immigrants arriving into the United States, Italians arriving, either alone or with their families, did so at Ellis Island. The New York location served as a symbol for those seeking a new life in a New World. It also provided an easy way to quarantine potential epidemics. Very few of the poor, southern Italians could even read or write, much less know English, and the hustle and bustle of the immigration process often proved more bemusing than productive. As one historian remarked:
When the first group of immigrants disembarked on Ellis Island in 1892, they found themselves in the grip of a bewildering, though still orderly, regime of bureaucratic procedures. Newcomers were numbered, sorted, and sent through a series of inspections, where they were checked for physical and mental fitness and for their ability to find work in the U.S. The consequences of failing an eye exam, or of seeming too frail for manual labor, could be devastating; one member of a family could be sent back to Italy, perhaps never to see his or her loved ones again, because of a hint of trachoma or a careless inspector. Although less than 2 percent of Italians were turned away, fear of such a separation led some immigrants to rename Ellis Island L’Isola dell Lagrime—the Island of Tears.
For some, the tears did not end after leaving the island. Those who chose to stay did so at the expense of their Italian citizenship. It was not an uncommon practice in the nineteenth century for emigrants to renounce citizenship if they relocated, as many lacked the means to return to their homeland or could not return for political reasons. Still, such was the fluidity of citizenship at the time that many people could travel back to their homeland if the need arose. This was not the case for Italians. Those who stayed became United States citizens and renounced their Italian citizenship as per the Italian law of that time. This would make returning impossible, and also made connecting with family members remaining in Italy more difficult.
Fortunately, there now exists a legal option that allows anyone who is eligible to be reconnected with Italy and officially become an Italian citizen with a brand new European passport!
I Am Married to an Italian Citizen. Can I Get Italian Citizenship?
Yes, you are eligible to apply for the acquisition of Italian citizenship through marriage.
According to the law, the requirements change depending on where you reside. You can get Italian citizenship through marriage
When you reside in Italy If you have been married to an Italian citizen for at least 2 years;
When you do not reside in Italy If you have been married to an Italian citizen for at least 3 years.
The timeframe is halved if you have children, regardless if they are minors or not, biological or adopted.
In more detail:
IF YOU RESIDE IN ITALY, you must have had two years of uninterrupted legal residence after the wedding. Note that the continuity of your residence must result by the certificate of residence (“Certificato di residenza”), issued by the “Ufficio Anagrafe” of the town halls (Comuni) where you lived in Italy. Of course, you could have lived in more than one Comune, but you must make sure that your residence was always regularly registered.
IF YOU DO NOT RESIDE IN ITALY, the Italian spouse must be registered at the AIRE (Anagrafe Italiani Residenti all’Estero) with the Italian consulate that has jurisdiction for their residence. Whether the marriage took place in Italy or abroad, it must be registered in Italy. Check our FAQs to find out how to make the registration at AIRE.
In both procedures, the marriage needs to be valid, therefore if you are separating or divorcing, you cannot apply.
The documentation you have to provide the Italian authorities with includes your birth certificate and your marriage certificate, which must be registered in Italy. You also need to collect a certificate of “criminal records” or “no records” in each Country where you resided since you were 14 years old. This certificate cannot have a date that is more than 6 months before the Italian citizenship application.
Bear in mind that all documents that are not in Italian must be legalised and then translated in Italian. Legalisation could be through an “Apostille” if the issuing Country is part of the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961. Click here to know more about Legalisation, Apostille and translation.
After obtaining Italian citizenship through marriage, you can apply for your Italian passport.
Finally, grounds for a possible refusal are:
– for reasons relating to the security of the Republic; – for definitive conviction of the applicant, pronounced in Italy or abroad, for particularly serious crimes.
What Has “Decreto Salvini” Changed?
On December 4th, 2018 the Italian Parliament entered into force Law No. 132/2018, also known as “Decreto Sicurezza” or “Decreto Salvini”, which has introduced new rules governing the acquisition of Italian citizenship by marriage and by residence.
Thereupon, the Italian Ministry of Interior published an internal note (i.e. “Circolare Ministeriale No. 666/2019″) providing the competent administrative authorities with guidelines to implement the recent regulations.
The new piece of legislation lays down updated requirements and time limits to obtain Italian citizenship by marriage and by residence:
The administrative procedure intended to the acquisition of Italian citizenship by marriage or by residence takes up to 48 months to be formally concluded. Not only does the new provision apply to the new applications but also to those which were submitted before the Law came into force, even regardless of whether the 24 months period, as previously prescribed, had been already expired.
The applicant shall be charged a €250 application fee to be paid before the submission of the application.
ITALIAN LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS
The applicant shall give evidence of their language skills. Indeed, an adequate level of Italian language (at least B1 according to the CEFR – the Common European Framework of Reference for languages) shall be proved by means of a certificate issued by an institute officially recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education and by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These are:
– Your parents are foreigners and you resided in Italy from your birth until you are adult (i.e. 18 years old), on condition that you declare, within 1 year from when you are 18, that you want to acquire the Italian citizenship;
– You are an non-EU, after 10 years of residence in Italy;
– You are a EU citizen, after 4 years of residence in Italy;
– One of your parents or grandparents is Italian at birth, but they lost their citizenship:
A) after 3 years of residence in Italy or B) when you are the legal age (i.e. 18 years old) you have resided in Italy for at least 2 years, and you declare, within 1 year from your legal age, that you want to acquire Italian citizenship;
– You are stateless, after 5 years of residence in Italy;
– You are an adult (i.e. more than 18 years old) and you have been adopted by an Italian citizen, after 5 years of residence in Italy. This period starts from the date of your adoption;
– You have worked for the Italian State, also abroad, for at least 5 years.
Italian citizenship by a former territory is provided for by law for those who were already Italian citizens but lost their Italian citizenship because the territory where they lived was no longer Italian.
– Istria, Rijeka and Dalmatia
To those who were already Italian citizens living from the 1940 to the 1947 in Istria, Rijeka and Dalmatia, who lost their Italian citizenship when those territories were ceded to the Republic of Yugoslavia, and to their descendants.
To those who were already Italian citizens living until 1977 in Zone B of the former “Territorio Libero di Trieste”, who lost their Italian citizenship when that territory was ceded to the Republic of Yugoslavia, and to their descendants.
– Former Austro-Hungarian Empire
People born and already resident in the territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and their descents could had asked for the Italian citizenship before the 20th December 2010.
Law No. 124/2006: Italians Becoming Italians
On March 8th, 2006 the Italian Parliament approved Law No. 124 which introduced new features to Law No. 91/1992 (i.e. Italian Nationality Law) concerning the re-acquisition of Italian citizenship by those who lost it due to the surrender of former Italian territories to Yugoslavia, and their descendants.
But what is the historical context on which Law No. 124/2006 is based?
On February 10th, 1947, just after the end of World War II, the victorious Allied Powers and the defeated Axis Powers signed the Treaty of Paris, which established, among other things, the surrender of territories formerly belonging to Italy. In particular, the provinces of Fiume and Zara as well as most of Gorizia and Pola were ceded to Yugoslavia while the province of Trieste and part of Istria formed a new sovereign State, the Free Territory of Trieste, which was divided into two administrative zones, both under the responsibility of the United Nations. Formally, the so called “Zone A” was subject to the Italian military administration whereas the so called “Zone B” was subject to the Yugoslavian military administration. Such division was never respected effectively by either State and the diatribe was ended only on November 11th, 1975 when the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Yugoslavian one signed the Treaty of Osimo.
In virtue of the Treaty of Paris, the Italian citizens who had been residing in the surrendered territories since June 10th, 1940 (that is when Italy waged war) lost their Italian citizenship. Nevertheless, they were given the chance to opt for retaining it within one year from when the Treaty itself had come into force. Had the choice not been made, the residents would have become citizens of Yugoslavia in all respects.
With regard to the Free Territory of Trieste, a distinction must be made between people being residents in Zone A, who were considered Italians, and people being residents in Zone B, who were considered Yugoslavians. According to the Treaty of Osimo, the latter could opt for Italian citizenship instead, provided that they would move their residency elsewhere, otherwise they would have been prevented from keeping it.
Law No. 124/2006 has added articles 17bis and 17ter to Law No. 91/1992 and, as mentioned before, aims at the re-acquisition of Italian citizenship by former citizens of Italy should they meet the requirements. In particular, it is addressed to:
− The Italian nationals living in Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia from June 10th, 1940 to September 15th, 1947 (that is when the Treaty of Paris came into force), who lost Italian citizenship when those territories were assigned to Yugoslavia and did not opt for it when they were given the chance, as well as their descendants;
− The Italian nationals living in the so-called “Zone B” of the former Free Territory of Trieste until April 3rd, 1977 (that is when the Treaty of Osimo came into force), who lost Italian citizenship when said territory was assigned to Yugoslavia and did not opt for it when they were given the chance, as well as their descendants.
The right to the re-aquisition of Italian citizenship shall be exercised by applying to the competent Authority – that is either the relevant Italian town hall or Italian consulate, depending on where the applicant resides at the time of the submission (if in Italy or abroad).
It should be pointed out that this is not a recognition iure sanguinis (i.e. by way of blood) but a re-acquisition.
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If you are a former Italian citizen, you shall give evidence of:
– Holding a foreign citizenship;
– Having resided in the surrendered territories from 1940 to 1947 or from 1940 to 1977, depending on whether they were addressees of the Treaty of Paris or the Treaty of Osimo;
– Having been a citizen of Italy at that time;
– Yourknowledge of Italian language and culture.
If you are a direct descendant of a former Italian citizen, then you shall prove:
– Your Italian ancestry;
– That the Italian ancestor resided in the surrendered territories from 1940 to 1947 or from 1940 to 1977, depending on whether they were addressees of the Treaty of Paris or the Treaty of Osimo;
– That the Italian ancestor was a citizen of Italy at that time;
– That the Italian ancestor had knowledge of Italian language and culture;
– That you hold a foreign citizenship;
– Yourknowledge of Italian language and culture.
Thus, the relevant documentation includes, in addition to the certificates relating to your/ your ancestor’s residence and citizenship, any documents issued by Circles, Associations and Communities of Italians based where you/your ancestor reside/resided, which show your/your ancestor’s actual registration, school reports, attendance certificates of Italian language schools and any other useful documentation which prove the your/your ancestor’s knowledge of Italian language and culture.
Foreign certificates must be legalised and translated into Italian in order to be acceptable to the competent Italian authority.
Thus, if the application is positively determined, the applicant will be considered a citizen of Italy from the day following the submission of the application, not from their birth.
The assistance of an Italian lawyer is certainly advisable. Indeed, while preparing the application, issues relating to the documentation or the procedure itself may arise and require advice from someone who has a profound knowledge of the Italian law and can deal with them. We are able to provide you with a bespoke and step-by-step assistance during this process. Contact us.
The term citizenship indicates the relationship between an individual and the State, and is, in particular, a status, called “civitatis”, to which the legal system reconnects the fullness of civil and political rights. In Italy, the modern concept of citizenship arises at the time of the constitution of the unitary state and is currently governed by the law of 5 February 1992, n. 91.
Furthermore, every citizen of a member country of the EU, in addition to the citizenship of the country of origin, enjoys European citizenship. According to the text of the Treaty of Maastricht (TEU), anyone who has the citizenship of a Member State is a citizen of the Union.
So, when you an European passport you have a series of well-defined rules and rights, which can be grouped into four categories:
– freedom of movement and residence throughout the territory of the Union;
– the right to vote and be elected in municipal and European Parliament elections in the Member State of residence;
– the protection by the diplomatic and consular authorities of any Member State in a third country in which the State of which the person in question has citizenship is not represented;
– the right to petition the European Parliament and appeal to the European Ombudsman.
The place of application for the recognition of your Italian citizenship is related to the place of your residency. If you reside in Italy, you have to apply at the relevant Italian town hall (Comune). Otherwise, if you reside abroad, you have to apply at the Italian consulate that has jurisdiction over your residency.
Your documents are registered by the relevant Registrar. If you apply in Italy, your full documentation is registered by the Registrar of application, and if you apply abroad, the relevant Registrar is the one of the place where your ancestor was born in Italy.
The documents will not be returned to you;
You have the possibility to apply for your Italian passport;
You have to register with AIRE (“Anagrafe degli Italiani Residenti all’Estero”), which is the register of Italian citizens residing abroad. AIRE registration is a duty of all Italian citizens residing abroad.
once your Italian citizenship is recognized, you could ask the Italian Consulate that has jurisdiction over your residency to register your child’s birth certificate.
Pursuant to the Italian law (Act. 91/1992) minors whose parents obtain or regain the Italian citizenship, if they live together, obtain Italian citizenship, but, once adult, can renounce it if in presence of another citizenship.
If the discrepancy is a mere error (i.e. a name misspelling), it can be directly amended by the Registrar of the Comune that issued the certificate. In case, for example, your ancestor’s name appears differently on their birth and marriage certificates, there is the possibility to ask the Registrar for an official declaration stating that despite the discrepancy, it is the same person.
It is always best to first contact the Registrar that issued the certificate in order to verify whether they could proceed with the amendments themselves. If this is not possible, generally speaking, in the US there are two possible ways to amend a certificate:
a notarized affidavit;
the “One and the Same” Court Order.
Since each State has its own laws, it is advisable to contact for assistance of a local attorney. It is important for you to know that the relevant State is the one that issued the certificate.
As first step, it is best to contact the Registrar that issued the certificate in order to verify if they could amend it. If this is not possible, which might happen with the oldest certificates or handwritten, it is advisable to contact a local attorney for assistance.
“The right information”, as we could define it, is the one stated on the birth certificate. This means that all the successive documents should be consistent with the data on the birth certificate. If not, you are in presence of a discrepancy that, if not amended, might affect your eligibility.
The information in the certificates have to be consistent with each other and for this reason it is advisable to do a word-by-word check. In fact, it might happen that in the certificates you collected there are discrepancies of any kind, even if the ones related to names are the most frequent. This is because it was not unusual that once emigrated, your ancestor changed their name into an easier way or that their name was mistaken due to the fact that they could not write or read, or the Registrar did not know how to write their name.
Many Italians emigrated, for example, to English speaking countries tended to “anglicized” their names, so that Giovanni became John, Andrea Andrew, Marta Martha, Giovanna Jennie, and so on…
Since the certificates have to be consistent, discrepancies should be amended.
It depends on when your ancestor naturalized, if prior or after the birth of his / her child. Please note that only in this second case your ancestor was able to pass the Italian citizenship to their child and therefore you are eligible for the recognition of Italian citizenship.
On the contrary, if your ancestor naturalized before the birth of their her child, they interrupted the bloodline and, unfortunately, as a consequence, you are not eligible for the recognition of Italian citizenship.
A no existence record is a document that states that your last ancestor born in Italy never naturalized and therefore never renounced their Italian citizenship. This means that the bloodline was not interrupted and that you might be eligible for the recognition of your Italian citizenship.
The no existence record can be requested to the relevant Authority of the country where your ancestor emigrated by providing their name, date and place of birth. It is advisable to ask the Authority to verify each name under whom your ancestor used to be known as in order to make sure that they did not naturalized under any of those names.
It might happen that the registers of a Comune went destroyed due to war or environmental events and therefore the Registrar replies to your request with a statement of “no record”.
In this case, if available, it might be possible to provide the Consulate / the Registrar with records issued by the Catholic Church (i.e. Baptism and marriage certificate) along with the aforementioned statement from the Registrar.
On the contrary, if such records cannot be found and you have accurate information about the event, there might be the possibility to file a lawsuit for the reconstruction of the destroyed vital record.
Italian certificates can be requested to the Ufficio di Stato Civile (Vital records office) of the relevant Comune (town hall), the one of the place where your ancestor was born, got married or died, and the waiting time of the issuance is strictly related to the workload the Registrar is facing.
However, pursuant to Law 132 / 2018, the Registrar must issue vital records within 6 months if asked for the purposes of the recognition of the Italian citizenship iure sanguinis.
The documents to be provided (birth and marriage certificates, along with the naturalization / no existence record of the last ancestor born in Italy) are stated by the law, but consulates and registrars have the right to ask for additional documents that might allow to better prove the ancestry.
In many places, for example, death certificates are among the required documentation.
In order to make sure what documents are requested it is best to check with the relevant consulates / registrars before applying.
Long-form, full form or book form certificates are copies of the original documents, which include all legal information: date, time and place of birth, signatures, names of the parents along with their nationality, birth date and place.
Thanks to the information they provide it is possible to reconstruct the bloodline.
The Italian ancestry proof is documental and it is possible through vital records.
In order to prove your bloodline, pursuant to the law, on the day of the appointment, you have to provide the consulate / registrar, depending on your place of application, with birth and marriage certificates of all the ancestors involved, along with the naturalization / no existence record of the last born in Italy.
Please note that the law requires all the certificate to be long-form, full form or book form.
No, if the original document was submitted on multilingual form pursuant to international conventions. However, since sometimes a translation is required even in this very case, we highly suggest that you check with the competent receiving authority first on whether such document is acceptable to them or not.
The “legalisation” is the process of authenticating documents, such as Vital Records (i.e. birth/marriage/death certificates), Criminal Records, Court Orders, Affidavits and any other certificates issued by a Public Authority, in order to make them legally effective in a foreign country.
The easiest and quickest way to get a document legalised is by means of the Apostille.
Whatever may be the mode of authentication, foreign documents must also be translated. Once performed, the translation must be legalised in turn. There are different options in this respect, depending on what the competent receiving authority expressly requires. Let’s see them:
– Sworn translation: the “sworn translation” is the one performed by a sworn translator, that is, a translator who takes an oath before a Judge in respect of the accuracy of the translation in comparison with the original version. With regard to Italian documents, this can be done only in front of an Italian court.
– Certified translation: instead of retaining the services of a sworn translator, you may want to get your translation certified by the competent Consulate of Italy (i.e. the one based in the country where the original document was issued). Please note that most consulates provide also for a non-compulsory list of translators.
– Notarised translation: the final option available requires the translator visiting a Notary Public, who will certify that the translation is consistent with the original version. Then the signature of the Notary Public will have to be authenticated by way of Apostille.
“Apostille” is a French word meaning “certification”. It is a government seal which is attached to the original document and validates the signature(s) on it as legitimate and authentic, so that it will be accepted for legal purposes by a foreign country.
The Apostille as a form of authentication was established in 1961 by the Hague Convention (also known as Apostille Convention), whose main aim was to abolish the requirement of legalisation for foreign public documents. Today, 118 countries have signed it.
In order to obtain the Apostille you will need to make a formal request, either online or in person, to the relevant Authority. Each State has its own guidelines in this respect so we highly recommend contacting them in order to get the right department to request your Apostille.
The time frame depends on the workload each competent office has to deal with; on average, it should take up to 15 days. In any case, we suggest that you give yourself some flexibility as you may not be able to get your documentation apostilled immediately.
Please be aware that the Apostille can be affixed ONLY on original copies.
The Hague Convention applies only to signatory Parties. If the country where you intend to use your document is not a Member of the Treaty, then you will need to take a different route, namely, the legalisation by the competent embassy/consulate. That is a two steps – procedure:
1. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the issuing country checks and certifies that the document has been signed by the competent authority (e.g. a Notary Public, Judge, Registrar);
2. the embassy/consulate of the receiving country double-checks the document and authenticates it by means of an official seal.
The AIRE (Anagrafe Italiani Residenti all’Estero) is the Registry of all Italian citizens residing abroad. It is managed by the Comune (town hall) on the basis of the information provided by the Italian consulates.
The AIRE registration is a right-duty of every Italian citizen residing abroad for more than twelve months. Once registered, you will be able to exercise, for example, the right to vote or to request the issue of your passport or any relevant documents or certificates.
Yes, as soon as you change residency, you need to inform the consulate that has jurisdiction over your new residency about it. It is important that you notify the consulate your correct and complete address in order to allow possible communications.
A fiscal code (codice fiscale) is the Italian Tax ID number. It is an alphanumeric code of 17 characters. The first six letters refer to the name (three to the given name and three to the family name), the last two numbers of the year of birth, the number of the day of birth (in case of woman is necessary to add 40), a letter, three numbers related to the place of birth, and, at the end, a letter as a control character.
This is issued by the “Agenzia delle Entrate“, the Italian Tax Agency so if you just generate it online through a website this is not valid.
If you reside in Italy, it can be requested to the Italian Tax office (Agenzia delle Entrate), or, if you reside abroad, to the Consulate that has jurisdiction over your residency.
In order to obtain a fiscal code, you will be asked to fill in a form, to provide your ID card, and a copy of your birth certificate. It might happen that some Consulates require to specify the reasons for the request.
Please note that women have to enter their maiden names since, according to the Italian law, women do not change their last names after marriage.