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Italian citizenship

The Italian citizenship is ruled by Law n. 91/1992 as implemented by DPR 572 of 12/10/93 and DPR 362 of 4/18/94. In general, Italian citizenship will be granted for: :

  1. Birth
    the Italian citizenship is granted by birth through the paternal line (with no limit on the number of generations) or through the maternal line (for individuals born after January 1, 1948).
  2. Marriage
    • A foreign woman who married an Italian citizen prior to April 27, 1983, has automatically acquired Italian citizenship;
    • The foreign husband or wife of an Italian citizen can apply for citizenship through the Prefect if he or she has established residence in Italy for six months. Foreign nationals residing abroad may apply for Italian citizenship by virtue of marriage to an Italian citizen so long as they have been married for at least three years.
  3. Reinstatement of Italian citizenship
    • Italian citizens who were naturalized prior to August 15, 1992, implicitly renouncing to their Italian citizenship, can reinstate it by returning to Italy and residing there for at least one year.
    • Italian citizens who were naturalized after August 15, 1992, retain their original Italian citizenship unless they expressly renounced it. They are required to personally inform the Italian Consulate in their area within 90 days of becoming foreign citizens or when they reach their 18th birthday.
    • Citizens who are direct descendants of an Italian citizen can apply for citizenship after a period of residence in Italy of at least three years to the Italian municipalities where residence has been established.

More specifically, Italian citizenship can be acquired in one of the following ways:

a. Automatic acquisition

1. CITIZENSHIP AS A RESULT OF ITALIAN PARENTS/ANCESTORS (“ius sanguinis”)
Citizenship is passed on from parent to child without limitation of generation, on the condition that none of the ancestors has ever renounced their citizenship. Transmission of citizenship through maternal lineage is possible only for persons born after January 1st 1948. A minor child living with a parent at the moment in which that parent becomes an Italian citizen also acquires Italian citizenship. Contrary to past legislation, current legislation recognises the right to hold more than one citizenship simultaneously.

Ascertainment of citizenship.

When a person claims to be of Italian parentage or ancestry but no proof of the fact can be found in Italian registers, it is necessary to provide proof that all ancestors have maintained, and thereby passed on, their Italian citizenship. The authority legally valid to ascertain these facts depends on the person’s place of residence: for foreign residents, the diplomatic-consular mission in the country of residence; for residents in Italy the official statistics office (Anagrafe) office of the city of residence.


2. CITIZENSHIP GRANTED TO PERSONS BORN ON ITALIAN SOIL (“ius soli”)
Italian citizenship is granted to persons born on Italian soil:
- whose parents are unknown, Stateless or cannot pass on their citizenship to their child according to the laws of the State of which they are citizens;
- of unknown parentage found on Italian soil and whose natural citizenship is impossible to ascertain.


3. CITIZENSHIP THROUGH JUDICIARY RULING ON NATURAL PATERNITY / MATERNITY
A child recognized or declared while a minor to be of Italian parentage. Persons of legal age recognised or declared as such must elect to become citizens within one year of that recognition. The following documentation must be annexed to the declaration:

    • Birth certificate;

    • Act of recognition or authenticated copy of the ruling on paternity/maternity, or of an authenticated copy of a ruling that declares a foreign ruling binding in Italy, or an authenticated copy of a ruling acknowledging the right to child support or alimony; 

    • Certification of parent(s)’ citizenship.

4. CITIZENSHIP BY ADOPTION

The right to citizenship is extended to any minor child adopted by an Italian citizen by means of the provisions of the Italian Judiciary Authorities, or in the case of adoption abroad and rendered valid in Italy through an order issued by the Juvenile Court for enrolment in an official Italian statistics office (Anagrafe). Adoptees of legal age can acquire citizenship after 5 years of legal residence in Italy after the adoption

 

b. Acquisition by claim

1. FOREIGN DESCENDENTS OF ITALIANS UP TO THE SECOND DEGREE, OR BORN IN ITALY
Foreign or Stateless descendents (up to the second degree) of Italian citizens can claim citizenship.
Requirements include one or more of the following:

    • service in the Italian armed forces;

    • employment by the Italian government, even abroad;

    • residence in Italy for at least 2 years before reaching the legal age of 18.

Claims must be accompanied by the following documentation:
    • birth certificate;

    • certificate of Italian citizenship of mother or father or a direct ancestor up to the second degree;

    • certificate of residence, where requested.

Foreigners, even those not of Italian descent, born on Italian soil can claim Italian citizenship after continuous legal residence in Italy up to legal age, and upon declaration of their desire to do so.
That declaration, to be presented within one year of reaching the age of 18, must be accompanied by the following documentation:
    • birth certificate;

    • certificate of residence.

N.B. If you were born in the United States, you may be eligible for Italian citizenship if any of the following situations pertains to you:

A. Your father was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth and you have never renounced your Italian citizenship. The following documentation is required:
1. your father's birth certificate
2. your parents' marriage certificate
3. your father's current Italian passport and alien registration card
4. your father's naturalization certificate or a letter from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service evidencing that he was naturalized AFTER your birth.
If your father was naturalized before your birth, you are not entitled to Italian citizenship.

B. You were born after January 1, 1948, you have never renounced your Italian citizenship, and your mother was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth. The following documentation is required:
1. your mother's birth certificate;
2. your parent's marriage certificate;
3. your mother's current Italian passport and alien registration card;
4. your mother's naturalization certificate or a letter from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service evidencing that she was naturalized AFTER your birth.
If your mother was naturalized before your birth, you are not entitled to Italian citizenship

C. Your father was born in the U.S. and your paternal grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of your father's birth and neither you nor your father ever renounced Italian citizenship.
The following documentation is required:
1. birth certificates of your paternal grandfather and your father;
2. marriage certificates of your grandparents and your parents;
3. your paternal grandfather's naturalization certificate or a letter from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service evidencing that he was naturalized AFTER your father's birth.
If your paternal grandfather was naturalized before your father's birth, you and your father are not entitled to Italian citizenship

D. Your were born after January 1, 1948, your mother was born in the U.S. and your maternal grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of your mother's birth and neither you nor your mother ever renounced Italian citizenship.
The following documentation is required:
1. birth certificates of your maternal grandfather and your mother;
2. marriage certificates of your grandparents and of your parents
3. your maternal grandfather's naturalization certificate or a letter from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service evidencing that he was naturalized AFTER your mother's birth.

Also consider that:

  • If your maternal grandfather was naturalized before your mother's birth, you and your mother are not entitled to Italian citizenship

  • U.S.-issued vital records (birth, marriage, and death certificates) that are to be recorded in Italy must be in long form and bear the registrar's raised, embossed, impressed or multicolored seal and the date the certificate was filed with the registrar's office.

  • Each document must also have affixed an Apostille in compliance with the 5 October 1961 Hague Convention.


2. CITIZENSHIP BY MARRIAGE TO AN ITALIAN CITIZEN
The foreign spouse of an Italian citizen can claim Italian citizenship in the presence of the following requirements:

a) in Italy: two years legal residence (permit to stay and enrolment in an official statistics office (Anagrafe)) after the wedding; abroad: three years after the wedding; the timeframes are reduced by half in the presence of children born or adopted by the spouses;
b) valid marriage certificate and permanence of marriage bond up until the issuance of citizenship;
c) absence of convictions for crimes leading to a maximum penalty of 3 years in prison or convictions by a foreign judiciary authority of more than one year for non-political crimes;
d) absence of convictions for any of the crimes listed in Book 2, Title I, items, I,II and III of the criminal code (crimes against government personnel);
e) absence of obstacles related to the security of the Republic.
Claims to Italian citizenship, addressed to the Ministry of the Interior, must be submitted to the Prefecture of the Province of residence, if in Italy; if residence is abroad, to the diplomatic-consular mission. Claims must include the reasons for claiming the right to Italian citizenship accompanied by the following documentation, duly legalized and translated:
    • birth certificate containing all pertinent data or, in the case of the documented impossibility of producing that, an affidavit issued by the diplomatic-consular authorities of the country of origin stating all exact personal data (name, surname, date and place of birth), as well as those of the father and mother of the applicant;

    • criminal record (or certified lack thereof) from country of origin and eventual third countries of residence;

    • certificate of history of legal residence in Italy (with affixed tax stamp);

    • marriage certificate issued the Italian city where the related marriage act was registered (non-certified or copy of marriage certificate);

    • legal certificate of citizenship of Italian spouse (with affixed tax stamp);

    • certificate of criminal record (or lack thereof) in Italy (with affixed tax stamp);

    • certificate of charges pending in Italy (or certified lack thereof) issued by the State Prosecutor’s Office at the court authorised for the area of residence of the applicant (with affixed tax stamp);

    • authenticated copy of residence permit (with affixed tax stamp);

    • copy of passport (with attached official translation in Italian, where the document does not contain data, in addition to the original language, also in English or French), authenticated by the diplomatic-consular mission of the State that issued it;

    • certificate of family status (with affixed tax stamp);
      Pursuant to Ministry of the Interior Directive of 7 March 2012, as from June 2012 authority to issue citizenship decrees is assigned to:
      a. the Prefect for applications submitted by foreigners legally residing in Italy;
      b. Head of the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration in the case of a foreign spouse residing abroad;
      c. the Minister for the Interior in the case of reasons pertaining to the security of the Republic.


3. NATURALISATION

Required legal residence in Italy for:
    • 3 years for descendents of former Italian citizens up to the second degree and for foreigners born on Italian soil;

    • 4 years for citizens of a European Union country;

    • 5 years for Stateless persons and refugees, as well as for adult foreigners over the age of 18 adopted by Italian citizens;

    • 7 years for children adopted by Italian citizens before the entry into effect of Law no. 184/1983;

    • 10 years for non-EU citizens.

No period of legal residence is required for foreigners who have been employed in the service of the Italian Republic for a period of at least 5 years, also abroad. Citizenship applications, addressed to the President of the Republic, must be submitted to the Prefecture of the Province of residence, accompanied by the following documentation:
    • birth certificate containing all pertinent data or, in the case of the documented impossibility of producing that, an affidavit (duly legalized and translated) issued by the diplomatic-consular authorities of the country of origin stating all exact personal data (first name, second name, surname, date and place of birth), as well as those of the father and mother of the applicant;

    • certificate of history of legal residence in Italy for 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 years as required (with affixed tax stamp); ;

    • certificate of family status (with affixed tax stamp);

    • criminal record (or certified lack thereof) from country of origin and eventual third countries of residence, duly translated and legalised;

    • certificate of criminal record (or certified lack thereof) in Italy (with affixed tax stamp);

    • certificate of charges pending in Italy (or certified lack thereof) issued by the State Prosecutor’s Office at the court authorised for the area of residence of the applicant (with affixed tax stamp);

    • official declaration of income for tax purposes for the preceding three years (Forms 730, Unico, etc.)

    • declaration renouncing the protection of the Italian diplomatic-consular authorities from the authorities of the country of origin, using the preprinted form available from the prefecture;

    • waiver in the sole case in which the original citizenship is not automatically lost with the voluntary acquisition of a foreign one (to be presented only upon formal request by the Ministry of the Interior);

    • copy of passport (with attached official translation in Italian, where the document does not contain data, in addition to the original language, also in English or French), authenticated by the diplomatic-consular mission of the State that issued it;

    • certificate of family status (with affixed tax stamp);

    • declaration authorising the competent authorities of the country of origin to release all information regarding the applicant requested by the Italian diplomatic-consular authorities in the country of origin, using the preprinted form available from the prefecture.

Where applications for Italian citizenship cite the more favourable dispositions described in letters a), b) e) of paragraph 1 of Article 9 of Law no. 91/1993 (3 or 5 years of legal residence), they must be accompanied by the following documentation:
    • certificate of Italian citizenship by virtue of the Italian citizenship of one or both parents or grandparents (for applicants requesting application of art. 9 par. 1, letter a));

    • authenticated copy of ruling declares a ruling by a foreign judiciary authority valid in Italy (for applicants requesting application of art. 9 par. 1, letter b));

    • authenticated copy of Italian judiciary ruling recognising Statelessness, or a copy of the ministerial provision declaring Statelessness (for applicants requesting application of Art. 9 par. 1, letter e));

    • certificate of refugee status issued by the National Commission for the Right to Asylum (former Central Commission for the Recognition of Refugee Status pursuant to Art. 2, par. 1 of DPR no. 136 of 15 May 1990) (for applicants requesting the combined application of article 9, par. 1, letter e), and article16, par. 2, of the law)

sono impossibilitati a produrre i medesimi certificati possono presentare un atto di notorietà in sostituzione di quello di nascita e una dichiarazione sostituzione del certificato penale.

GRANTING OF ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP PURSUANT TO SPECIAL LAWS

A. Law n. 379 of 14 December 2000, provides for recognition of Italian citizenship to persons born and formerly resident in the territories of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and their descendents in possession of the following requirements:
    • birth and residence of an ancestor in the territories formerly belonging to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and annexed to Italy at the end of the First World War in the Treaty of San Germano;

    • emigration abroad of an ancestor between 25 December 1867 and 16 July 1920.

Claims for recognition of Italian citizenship had to be submitted by 20 December 2010 to the Italian diplomatic-consular authorities if the applicant was living abroad, or to the official statistics office (Anagrafe) of the city of residence if living in Italy. 
Claims submitted by the deadline are examined by an inter-ministerial commission set up in the Ministry of the Interior, which rules in function of satisfaction of the prescribed legal requirements. If the ruling is favourable the Ministry of the Interior issues clearance for recognition.

B. Law no. 124 of 8 March 2006, provides for recognition of Italian citizenship for Italian nationals resident in Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia from 1940 to 1947, whose property was confiscated and ceded to the Yugoslav Republic by the Treaties of Paris of 10 February 1947 and Osimo of 10 November 1975, and their descendents.
Claims must be submitted to the Italian diplomatic-consular authorities if the claimant resides abroad, or to the municipal authorities of their Italian city of residence, along with the following
documentation.
Persons subject to article19 of the Paris Peace Treaty, so as to prove the existence of the requirements stated in art. 17 bis, par. 1, lett. a) of Law no. 91/92, must attach the following documentation to their claims:
a) birth certificate, international if possible;
b) certificate verifying foreign citizenship;
c) certificate verifying current residence;
d) ccertificate or other documentation proving residence before 10 June 1940 in the territories ceded to the former Yugoslav Socialist Federal Republic;
e) proof that the claimant was an Italian citizen on 15 September 1947- the date the Paris Peace Treaty took effect - or other equally valid documentation such as certificate of military service, passport, etc.;
f) written confirmation from any Italian clubs, associations or communities located in the foreign country of residence proving claimant’s membership, usual language used and any other element proving his/her knowledge of the Italian language;
g) any other documentation proving the claimant’s knowledge of the Italian language (e.g. copy of certificate of attendance of Italian-speaking schools, report cards, etc. ).
Children or direct descendents of persons subject to art. 19 of the Paris Peace Treaty, intending to avail themselves of art.17-bis, par. 1, lett. b), must attach the following documentation to their claims for recognition of Italian citizenship:
    • certification or other documentation from which it results that claimant’s parent(s) or direct ancestor(s) were in possession of the requirements stated in points d-e-f-g above;;

    • certificate of birth confirming the claimant’s relationship with parent(s) or direct ancestor(s);

    • certificate proving claimant’s foreign citizenship;

    • written confirmation from any Italian association or community in the claimant’s foreign country of residence proving the claimant’s knowledge of the Italia language and culture;

    • any other documentation proving the claimant’s knowledge of the Italian language and culture.

Persons subject to the provisions of art. 3 of the Treaty of Osimo, former residents of Area
B of the former Free Territory of Trieste, intending to avail themselves of art.17-bis, par. 1 lett. a), must attach the following documentation to the claims for recognition of Italian citizenship:
a) birth certificate, international if possible;
b) certificate verifying foreign citizenship;
c) certificate verifying current residence;
d) proof that the claimant was an Italian citizen on 3 April 1977- the date the Osimo Peace Treaty took effect;
e) written confirmation from any Italian clubs, associations or communities located in the foreign country of residence proving claimant’s membership, usual language used and any other element proving his/her knowledge of the Italian language;
f) any documentation proving that the claimant belonged to an ethnic Italian group as specified in art. 3.
Children or direct descendents of persons subject to art.3 of the Osimo Treaty intending to avail themselves of art.17-bis, par. 1, lett. b), must attach the following documentation to their claims for recognition of Italian citizenship:
    • certification or other documentation from which it results that claimant’s parent(s) or direct ancestor(s) were in possession of the requirements stated in points d-e-f- above;

    • certificate of birth confirming the claimant’s relationship with parent(s) or direct ancestor(s);

    • certificate proving foreign citizenship;

    • written confirmation from eventual Italian associations or communities in the claimant’s foreign country of residence proving the claimant’s knowledge of the Italian language and culture;

    • any other documentation proving the claimant’s knowledge of the Italian language and culture.

An inter-ministerial commission set up at the Ministry of the Interior decides whether to issue clearance for recognition of citizenship.

FEES and other information

  • As from 8 August 2009 applications or declarations regarding the election, acquisition, reacquisition, renunciation or granting of Italian citizenship are subject to a fee of 200 euro. As from 8 July 2014 applications by legal-age adults for recognition of Italian citizenship are subject to a fee of 300 euro.

  • Non-Italian documents must be translated officially by an Italian consular officer or authorized agent. Within the European Community, however, it is usually possible to obtain multi-lingual certificates. A simple family tree clearly indicating the line of descent and acts for which supporting documents are provided should accompany these items.

  • More information can be obtained from the Italian consulate having jurisdiction in your locality, or to an Italian attorney qualified to represent a client in these matters. Under normal conditions, legal consultation will not be necessary, although the services of a professional genealogist may be required for document searches in Italy.

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