Get Italian Citizenship

How to Get Italian Dual Citizenship

Everything you need to know about obtaining Italian citizenship by descent

Italian Citizenship by Descent: Are You Eligible?

Today, there are over 16,000,000 people with Italian roots in the United States alone. According to Italian law, many of them are eligible for Italian citizenship by descent. If you're eligible, an Italian passport could be your ticket to la dolce vita.

There are millions of people around the world who have Italian heritage. Whether first generation or fifth, they understandably wear that ancestry with pride. But not everyone knows that their heritage might entitle them to Italian citizenship by descent, a tangible benefit of being the child, grandchild, great-grandchild (or beyond) of an Italian ancestor.

Since each family story is personal, the process of applying for Italian citizenship by descent can be highly variable. Some applicants have relatively easy cases while others require more digging for documents and information. When in doubt, it's helpful to seek out an Italian citizenship expert to make sure you're on the right path.

Italy is one of the easier countries in Europe in which to seek citizenship

Italian citizenship laws are extremely generous to those of Italian descent. Its law of “jure sanguinis” (Latin for “by right of blood”) means that anybody who can prove their qualifying Italian heritage has a right to dual citizenship. Specifically, any child born to an Italian parent automatically becomes an Italian citizen at birth. This citizenship is valid even if it is never formally recognized. What's more, this right is passed down from parent to child forever. Consequently, even if you only have one Italian ancestor from a very long time ago, you could easily be entitled to Italian dual citizenship according to the principle of “jure sanguinis” as long as you meet other key criteria.

This makes the process a lot more straightforward than in many other countries of Europe. Today, 18% of all new EU citizenships are granted in Italy, more than the United Kingdom, Germany or France. This principle means the chances of success in this process are extremely high as long as you have the right documentation. The best thing of all is that a successful application for Italian citizenship has no effect on your existing status, so you get to have all the benefits of both worlds and can keep your current citizenship.

Who is eligible for Italian citizenship by descent?

It's helpful to think of Italian citizenship like a chain that can go on forever if intact, even if never actually formally recognized. This is the main principle of Italian citizenship law: once a child is born to an Italian parent, the child is an Italian citizen by birth via the law of jure sanguinis and can in turn pass citizenship on forever regardless of generations.

However, there are other rules to qualifying too:

  • Your Italian-born ancestor must have been alive on or after March 17, 1861.
  • If your Italian-born became a citizen of another country before July 1, 1912, his or her child must have been 21 at the time that occurred in order to have been born with Italian dual citizenship and pass it on to you.
  • If your Italian-born ancestor became a citizen of another country after July 1, 1912, his or her child must have been born at any time before that happened (does not need to be age 21 to receive Italian citizenship and pass it on to you).
  • If your Italian-born ancestor never became a citizen of another country, you are automatically eligible if your ancestor was alive after March 17, 1861.
  • If your Italian-born ancestor became a citizen of another country after August 15, 1992, you are automatically eligible.

Note there are special laws concerning Italian women. Prior to January 1, 1948, Italian women could not pass on citizenship to their children. If you have a woman in your family whose child was born before that date but you meet all the above criteria, you are eligible but must apply for recognition of Italian citizenship with the assistance of an Italian attorney on your behalf in the Court of Rome. You do not need to physically go to Rome; your attorney can represent you.

The benefits of Italian citizenship by descent

Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world, famous for its history, climate, natural beauty, and enviable lifestyle. As well as being able to live in one of the most attractive places in the world, Italian citizenship provides many other significant benefits. First, as an Italian citizen you can live, work, and study anywhere in Europe (as well as Italy itself) through Italy's membership in the EU. Second, you can enjoy world class, affordable healthcare at a fraction of the cost of equivalent services in the United States. Third, you can go to college or send your children to college without costly student loans. Other reasons to obtain Italian citizenship include being doubly employable as European employers will not need to sponsor you for work visas, the ability to access investment vehicles only available to European citizens, being able to switch lanes and save time in the airport and being able to seek help from two consulates (US and Italy) if you are in trouble abroad.

There are very few downsides, if any, to Italian citizenship. Furthermore, Italy does not tax its citizens based on citizenship.

Where to apply and how

Most people obtain an appointment at their local Italian consulate in the US. Some file directly in Italy, and other file in the Court of Rome. To do so, you will need to recreate your family tree using vital records to show your claim to Italian citizenship. Each consulate requires its own list of documents, but all applicants are required to obtain certified copies of birth, marriage, and death records for all people in your direct line of citizenship. Be prepared to obtain naturalization records and divorce, adoption, and name change records if those are applicable, too.

If you're not eligible, what next?

It is also worth remembering that Italian heritage is not the only route through to Italian citizenship. Applications are also made on the basis of marriage and residency. From its foundation fifteen years ago, our company has grown into one of the leading consultancies in its field, providing expert help and guidance in successful applications for Italian dual citizenship. Our team of 8 international experts are totally at your service to provide whatever assistance you require to "Get Italian Citizenship."

How we can help you

We can help you with your application in a variety of ways. You may be halfway there and simply require some assistance with some of the more complex issues. Alternatively, you may be at the start of the process and, although you are determined to pursue your dream, you do not have the time or experience to see it through. In such cases we can provide a total service from beginning to end. A process that starts with you providing us with your name and ends with us providing you with your Italian passport!

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