Italian Citizenship Requirements

Italian Citizenship Requirements

There are different ways to qualify for Italian citizenship, even if you were not born in Italy or have never set a foot there. Due to special agreements with the U.S. and other countries, it is possible to have dual citizenship (USA and Italy) without this affecting either.

1 Types

The simplest way to gain Italian citizenship is through your paternal ancestors. If any of them was born in Italy and if none of his descendants ever renounced the Italian citizenship, you are entitled to apply for it yourself. There is no limit on the number of generations when you're applying on the paternal side of your family.

2 Rules

If your mother is the one with Italian heritage, rules are slightly different. For you to be able to claim Italian citizenship, you need to have been born after January 1, 1948. All other rules, including not having renounced your right to the citizenship, do apply.

3 Considerations

If your parents (rather than your grandparents) are Italian citizens, you are entitled to citizenship yourself through the jus sanguinis principle. This is an automatic adjudication of citizenship and requires little paperwork. On the other hand, citizenship is not automatic for children born in Italy, unless both their parents are Italian. Children of foreign-born people who don't have the Italian citizenship themselves can only be granted citizenship after three years of residency in the country.

4 Benefits

Those who marry an Italian citizen can obtain Italian citizenship after two years of legal residency in Italy (up until July 2008, the residency requirement was just six months) or three years of living together in a foreign country. Before 1983, the adjudication of citizenship was automatic following marriage, but due to the number of fake marriages, the requirements are now much more strict.

5 Options

For people with no family connection to Italy, the only other way to obtain citizenship is through naturalization. This can only be done after 10 years of residency in the country, as well as proof of financial means and a clean criminal record.

6 Requirements

Anybody applying for Italian citizenship will need to present birth certificates of parents and grandparents, as well as their own. Marriage and death certificates are also required. All documents will need to be translated into Italian and require an Apostille. If any of the people in the line of descendants became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. or other country, records showing that they never renounced Italian citizenship will need to be presented as well.

Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.