Frequently Asked Questions

The general framework governing Italian citizenship is Law 91 of 5 February 1992; particularly Article 1 of Law n.91/1992, reaffirms the principle of "jure sanguinis" (continuity of blood), by which any children born of an Italian father/mother instantly inherit the Italian citizenship. However, the inheritance of the Italian citizenship through the maternal line is only possible for those born after January 1, 1948.

Determination and recognition of Italian citizenship is subject to the demonstration by the applicant that his or her direct ascendants uninterruptedly maintained their Italian citizenship. The power to make this determination is the Authority with jurisdiction over the place of residence of the applicant: outside Italy it is the Consular Authority for that jurisdiction; in Italy, it is the Ufficiale di Stato Civile of the Town Hall (Comune).

How do I get a Certificate of Naturalization?

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If your Italian ancestor is deceased, check with relatives to see if any of them have it. Becoming a naturalized citizen was probably a major event in your ancestor's life, and his or her certificate of naturalization was likely passed on to another member of the family.

Otherwise, contact your country's department of immigration and naturalization or the court of the town in which he or she lived. If you are a U.S. Citizen, send a request to the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). You can research it, by visiting the USCIS webpage at: www.uscis.gov/genealogy. Click: Order Online Now. You will start with an INDEX Search. If the USCIS comes back with a positive reply, you will have to request a File by Number (instructions will be provided in the letter you receive).  If the USCIS comes back with a negative reply, you will have to request an official “STATEMENT OF NO RECORD” (instructions will be provided in the letter you receive).

REMEMBER: in addition to the official “Statement of No Record” the Italian Consulate requires more documentation such as:

  1. A full search at the National Archives under your Ancestor’s name and nicknames, possible dates of birth which he or she may have declared, for a certified copy of his or her "first" and/or "final papers", that is, the "declaration of intention" and "petition for naturalization". If he or she was naturalized the "final papers" will also show the date and number of his or her naturalization.
  2. If the record is still negative, a search at the National Archives for a certified copy of the census report dating after your Ancestor’s son or daughter’s birth has to take place as well. Census records list naturalization information.  
  3. A certified death record with Apostille showing citizenship being other than the US may also be another accepted form of no naturalization.

All of this can take place at www.archives.gov

What if my Italian Ancestor was a minor?

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If you Italian-born Ancestor was a minor when he or she left Italy, you cannot use him or her as your proof of eligibility.

Until 1976, the age of majority in Italy was 21. Minors who emigrated would naturalize concurrently with their parents. If your ancestor was a still a minor when his or her parent naturalized, it is likely that he/she also was naturalized at the same time.  You will need to provide proof/appropriate documentation if this individual was naturalized at a later date. FOLLOW THIS LINK to learn how to determine if your ancestor became a naturalized citizen.

If your Italian Ancestor was naturalized along with his or her parent as a minor, he or she effectively renounced his or her right to Italian citizenship. This means that your Ancestor was unable to pass Italian citizenship by Ancestry (jure sanguinis) to his or her children as an adult. No exceptions are made in these cases. 

What if my Italian Ancestor was naturalized before June 14, 1912?

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If you Italian Ancestor naturalized before June 14 1912, you do not qualify for Italian citizenship even if his or her child was born before this individual naturalized.

How many generations can I go back to qualify?

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There is really no limit of the number of generations, provided your ancestor was born in Italy and emigrated after the beginning of the Kingdom of Italy, March 17th, 1861 and did not naturalize before June 14, 1912.

FOLLOW THIS LINK to see if you meet the criteria. If you are unsure or if you have questions, you can ORDER A TELEPHONE CONSULTATION with our immigration lawyer. 

What if my Italian Ancestor was born prior to 1861?

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We suggest you contact the Italian Consulate that has jurisdiction over the State where you reside, for accurate information if your ancestor was born before March 17th, 1861 (when Italy became a unified country).

Does the Italian Consulate charge any fees?

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As of July 8th, 2014 all applications for the recognition of the Italian citizenship Jure Sanguinis (by descent) and Jure Matrimonii (in case of foreign national whose husband is an Italian citizen married prior to April 27, 1983) are subject to the PAYMENT OF A € 300 FEE (Law n. 66 April 24th, 2014 and modifications Law n. 89 June 23rd, 2014 art. 5-bis, comma 1). The application fee is NON REFUNDABLE, regardless of the outcome of the petition.

How long does this process take?

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It is not uncommon to take upwards of one year+ to complete the application process and receive your Italian Citizenship.  Some of the key processing times are estimated as follows:

1. Obtaining your ancestor's birth, marriage or death certificates from Italy using our services at My Italian Family can take up to 8 weeks. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON OUR FEES AND TIMELINES.   

2. Obtaining your birth, marriage and death certificates in your native state or province varies, but it take as long as 2 or 3 months.  Each state or provinces offices of vital statistics may have expediting services. CLICK HERE FOR U.S. ADDRESSES AND LOCATIONS.  

3. Once you receive your state or province documents, you will need to obtain an APOSTILLE or legalizations for each document.  This is usually obtained through the appropriate department in your state or province offices.  Again, time varies. Always presenting your documents in person results in a quicker turnaround.

4. All of your native country’s certificates have to be TRANSLATED TO ITALIAN.  This may also be done while you are waiting for the APOSTILLES or legalizations. You can complete the actual application for citizenship and get it notarized in a very short time. 

5. You will to make an appointment with the Italian Consulate of the State where you reside; some Italian Consulates have a wait time of a year of longer.  This will give you time to gather all documentation prior to your official meeting.  

Is there a way to expedite this application process?

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Not really.  However, you can simultaneously be ordering your Italian documents from My Italian Family while you are gathering your Native/Current Country family documents and Apostilles or legalizations.  You must call the Italian Consulate that has jurisdiction over the State where you reside for an appointment, and this may be months in the future.  This will give you time to gather all documentation prior to your official meeting.  The more prepared you are at the application meeting, the less likely you will incur delays.

How much this will cost?

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The cost varies based on how many generations exist between you and your Italian ancestor who emigrated to your country.  For instance, these are the costs that you will likely incur:

1. Ordering your Italian ancestor’s birth, marriage and death certificates, as applicable through our service, My Italian Family. Click for procedures and fees.

2. You will need a certified copy of your Italian Ancestor's Naturalization papers or, in case he or she was never naturalized, you will need to perform some additional research in the Census Records and with the National Archives.

3. You will need new official copies of birth, marriage divorce and death records of all your ancestors in your lineage from your native/current country, including your own.  These are usually ordered from your State or Province vital statistic offices.

4. You will need to have your State or Province provide you with an International Apostille or legalizations for each document. 

5. These non-Italian documents will need to be translated to Italian.

6. The Italian Consulate where you will officially apply for citizenship will charge you an application fee. As of July 8th, 2014, all applications for the recognition of the Italian citizenship Jure Sanguinis (by descent) and Jure Matrimonii (for foreign national whose husband is an Italian citizen married prior to April 27, 1983) are subject to the PAYMENT OF A € 300 FEE   Anyone over the age of 18, asking to be recognized as an Italian citizen, is subject to pay the consular fee. The fee is subject to change depending on the exchange rate. The application fee is NON REFUNDABLE, regardless of the outcome of the petition.

7. Eventually, when you receive your citizenship, you will incur fees to order your Italian Passport, which is approximately $145 for five years. 

How can I find out which Italian authority covers my area?

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If you are an American and you're not sure which consulate covers your state, FOLLOW THIS LINK to find which consular office has jurisdiction over the State where you reside.

Can I apply for citizenship in Italy or through another Consulate?

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Normally, no.  You must apply at the Italian Consulate/authority that has jurisdiction over where you live outside of Italy.  You can only apply for citizenship in Italy if you are a permanent legal resident of Italy.

Can I use other family members'application?

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If you one of your family members has already received his or her Italian Citizenship, you cannot use his or her documents. You will need to obtain brand new certified documents (both U.S. and Italian) as part of "your" application. The exception is minor children.  If you are applying and you include your minor children, only their birth certificate is required as an additional document (translated to Italian and with an international Apostille or other legalization). 

Can I apply with other family members at the same time?

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Yes. All living ancestors in the direct line between you and your ancestor from Italy will be recognized as Italian citizens in you reside in the same Consular jurisdiction. Applying with other family members, such as siblings or first cousins is possible but each will have to present a separate application. 

If I do not qualify, are there other ways to come a citizen?

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Yes.  If you are living now, or plan on living in Italy (through work visa’s, etc.) you may qualify in the following ways:  

• Live one year in Italy, if you are formerly an Italian citizenship

• Live three years in Italy, if you are a foreigner with native-born Italian parents or grandparents

• Live four years in Italy, if you are a citizen of another EU country

• Live ten years in Italy, if you are a citizen of a non-EU country

I was born in Italy, but I am not an Italian Citizen. Can I qualify?

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1. Contact your nearest Italian embassy or consulate for details. (CLICK HERE FOR LOCATIONS)

2. Italian citizens who were naturalized in their adopted country prior to August 15, 1992, implicitly renouncing their right to Italian citizenship, can reinstate it by returning to Italy and residing for at least one year.

3. Italian citizens who became naturalized citizens of their adopted country after August 15, 1992, retained their Italian citizenship unless they expressly renounced it. They are required to personally inform the Italian consulate of becoming citizens within ninety days, or when they reach their 18th birthday, otherwise they risk a fine.

Is my spouse eligible to become an Italian citizen?

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Normally, yes, after you acquire Italian citizenship, your spouse is eligible, but you must first register your marriage in Italy, prior to applying.   Spouses of Italian citizens can apply for citizenship after six months of marriage if a couple is living in Italy and after three years of marriage if they are living abroad. When applying, if these time periods have already been met the process is immediately started. Foreign women who married Italian men prior to 27 April 1983 automatically acquired Italian citizenship, and thus are entitled to apply simultaneously with their husband.   This is a request and not a right.

For more information, FOLLOW THIS LINK

Are my children eligible to become Italian citizens?

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Yes, if your children are under the age of eighteen they can apply with you. If they are eighteen or older and qualify, they will need to apply separately.

My Italian Ancestor was native to a town which is no longer part of Italy, can I qualify?

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Due to the many changes in the boundaries between Italy and other nations over the course of history and the ever changing laws of citizenship, the complexity requires you ask your closest Italian Consulate if you qualify. But sure to explain to the consulate official where and when your ancestor was born and when your ancestor emigrated from Italy or another country.

If you have questions, you can SCHEDULE A TELEPHONE CONSULTATION with our Immigration Lawyer.

I was adopted by Italian citizens. Can I become an Italian citizen?

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Yes. If you were adopted as a minor you will need certified copy of your adoption decree (translated to Italian with an Apostille).  If adopted as an adult, you must reside in Italy for five years before applying. 

I adopted non-Italian children. If I am recognized as a citizen, are my adopted children also recognized as citizens?

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Yes. Frequently, a parent must be recognized as a citizen before he or she can request citizenship for an adopted minor child (unlike biological minor children, who are automatically citizens). The adoptions of minor children go to the Tribunale dei Minori (Children’s Court) for judicial review before they can be passed onto the municipality and the child recognized as an Italian citizen.

If Town Hall records in Italy are not available, can I use Church records?

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The Italian consulate will only accept church records such as baptismal certificates or religious marriage certificates if the civil authorities provide a statement that they have no record of a birth or marriage.  In addition, the local diocese has to certify that the church document is authentic.

I cannot find my Italian-born ancestor’s birth certificate. What can I do?

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You will need a letter from the Town Hall (Comune) stating that no birth record exists, If no church document is available either, sometimes the Consulate will accept a certified copy of the Italian military draft document (for males) issued by the State Archive of the main Italian province, as evidence.  The Italian military record would need to show parents’ names and the ancestor’s place and date of birth. Always check with the Italian Consulate that has jurisdiction over the State where you reside before applying.

Can My Italian Family assist me in finding a document?

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Yes. FOLLOW THIS LINK for ordering individual documents from Italy.  

If you have questions, you can SCHEDULE A TELEPHONE CONSULTATION with our Immigration Lawyer.  

Additionally, in difficult situations, we can send onsite one of our Italian researchers to locate your Italian documents. Call us at 1-888-472-0171 (Option #3) for more information or visit our RESEARCH SECTION.

 

Am I required to register all my marriages, divorces and minor children?

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Yes. Because citizenship when granted is retroactive; Italy requires that these documents be recorded in Italy. You can’t hide the existence of marriages, divorces, or minor children.

What is the correct format for my U.S. Documents to be issued?

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You must request a "certified copy" issued in a "long form" or a "full form"; (not "certification" or "abstract) of non-Italian documents.  This format contains the names of the parents of the individual who relates to the document itself.   It is the form required of all birth, marriage and death records.They are normally acquired from your State or Province offices that provide vital statistics.  FOLLOW THIS LINK for information on office locations and addresses.

What if my U.S. documents have misspellings or oddities in dates and/or names?

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You will likely have to amend major differences with an official "affidavit to amend a record".  For assistance and to learn more, you can request a TELEPHONE CONSULTATION.

Will the Italian Consulate return my documents that I include in my application?

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No, they will not return any documents to you.  When ordering Italian documents from My Italian Family, order multiple copies as needed for your own record keeping and to use them if you need to amend U.S. records. 

What documents must be translated into Italian?

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All birth, marriage divorce and death certificates requiring an Apostille must also be translated into Italian. Apostilles do not need to be translated into Italian.

Does my divorce decree need to be translated to Italian?

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Yes, most divorces include a marital settlement agreement (the division of assets and child custody plan). If the marital settlement agreement is incorporated in the divorce, then the entire divorce document needs to be translated. CLICK HERE to learn more about our translation services.

What is an Apostille?

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APOSTILLE is the legalization that the document is true and correct and is  provided by the Office of the Secretary of State of the State where the document/certificate is issued.

NOTE: The Apostille is not a stamp on the certificate. It is a legalization, i.e. a document stapled to the birth/marriage/death certificate by the Secretary of State

U.S. Birth/Marriage/Death records related to the "Italian side" must bear an APOSTILLE (according to Hague Convention of Dec. 5, 1961) of the Secretary of State of the State in which the document was issued, (except for the Certificate of Naturalization and/or similar documentation).

How do I know if my country is a member of the Hague Convention?

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Visit:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostille_Convention for a list of Hague Convention countries.

Where can I get an Apostille in my State?

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FOLLOW THIS LINK for list of offices and addresses. 

What if my country is NOT a member of the Hague Convention?

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Contact the nearest Italian Consulate to find out what legalizations are required for birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates in your country.

How do I know which documents require an Apostille?

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All birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates for all relatives in a direct line between you and your Italian ancestor must have Apostilles or legalizations.

NOTE: Check with your Italian Consulate if they also require births and deaths of “spouses” to be apostilled as well. 

I officially changed my name as different from my birth certificate. Will this cause a problem?

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The Italian government usually permits name changes in only two situations:

(1) your life is in danger

(2) your birth name is obscene.

If you changed your name prior to applying for citizenship, you must amend your birth certificate. To do so, you generally need to request a change of name decree from your local court, then contact the department of vital records of the U.S. state in which you were born and ask them to amend your birth certificate, presenting the decree as supporting evidence. 

Will Italian Citizenship by Ancestry affect my current citizenship?

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In Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom, being recognized as an Italian citizen by Ancestry (jure sanguinis) will not affect your current citizenship. If you are a citizen of any other country, you should verify your status with the nearest Italian Consulate.

Can I vote in Italy without losing my native citizenship?

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Yes

Does Italy allow for "Dual Citizenship"?

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Yes, since 1992. On February 5, 1992, the Italian government passed a law (no. 91, art. 11) stating that any Italian citizen who acquired or reacquired a foreign citizenship after August 15, 1992 would not lose his or her Italian citizenship. 

What are the benefits for having Italian Citizenship?

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1.Italian Citizenship allows you to be eligible to work, live and study in Italy and in the other EU countries without the need for a Visa. 

Other benefits that you will accrue by having your Italian Citizenship include:

2.Buying property in Italy is easier.

3.Transferring citizenship to all children under 18 years old.

4.Having easier access to public health care and public education available to all EU citizens.

5.You can vote for your regional Italian Parliament representative.

If I am an Italian citizen, can I live and work in other European countries?

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Yes. Having an Italian passport allows you to live and work anywhere in the EU. Under the terms of Article 17 (ex Article 8) of the Treaty on European Union, "any person holding the nationality of a member state is a citizen of the Union." "EU citizenship, which supplements national citizenship without replacing it, grants citizens the right to move freely and to reside on the territory of the member states" (Article 18).

What taxes will I have to pay as an Italian citizen?

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We suggest you contact a tax attorney or an immigration lawyer.

Is there a residency requirement to become an Italian citizen?

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No

Do I have to learn Italian to become an Italian citizen?

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No

Is there a military obligation when I become an Italian citizen?

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On May 8, 2001, the Italian government passed a law (Art. 7 del D. Lgs. 8 maggio 2001 n. 215) making military service completely voluntary as of January 1, 2007.

How will I know when I have obtained Italian citizenship?

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You will be contacted by the Italian authority through which you submitted your application for citizenship. Though this may vary from country to country, you will probably receive an email or a letter stating that you have been recognized an Italian citizen and what is the procedure in order to receive an Italian passport.  You will be registered  in the Registry of Italians Resident Abroad (A.I.R.E.). 

A.I.R.E. was established by Law no. 470/1988 and keeps track of the changes in citizenship status, address, marriage, birth and death of Italian citizens. A.I.R.E. enrolment is obligatory for Italian citizens living abroad for more than 12 months and for Italian citizens residing abroad either as a result of being born there or having obtained Italian citizenship through Ancestry (jure sanguinis), marriage or other.