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?

More Information

As a general rule, Naturalization was a two-step process that took a minimum of 5 years.

1. After residing in the United States for 2 years, an alien could file a "Declaration of Intention" (so-called "First Papers") to become a citizen.

2. After 3 additional years, the alien could "Petition for Naturalization." After the petition was granted, a Certificate of Citizenship was issued to the alien.

These two steps did not have to take place in the same court. A copy of the Petition was kept at the court, and a copy of the Petition and Certificate was sent to the Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services, which is now USCIS.  After 1952, the Declaration of Intention was no longer required. These records include the alien's month and year (or possibly the exact date) of immigration into the United States, the date and place of birth, the occupation as well as the spouse’s name and place of birth, when they were married and their children’s dates and places of birth.

NOTE: wives and minor children were automatically naturalized with their husbands and fathers.

If your Italian ancestor is deceased, check with relatives to see if any of them have an old copy. 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.

The Italian Consulate requires certified copies of the Naturalization record. You can order them HERE

If you believe he or she was never naturalized, the Italian Consulate requires the "Certificate of Non-Existence" issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). We can research the Certificate of Non-Existence and all related documents for you, including First Papers and corresponding certified Census Records. To order CLICK HERE

What if my Italian Ancestor was a minor?

More Information

If your 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 July 1, 1912?

More Information

If your Italian Ancestor naturalized before July 1, 1912, you do not qualify for Italian citizenship even if his or her child was born before this individual naturalized. Prior to that date, when a native-born Italian naturalized in another country, he gave up not only his own Italian citizenship but also that of all of his minor children, regardless of where they were born. Ancestors who naturalized before July 1, 1912 cannot pass on Italian citizenship under Italian Law No. 555 of July 23, 1912.

Naturalization Documents for Living Individuals

More Information

There may be a situation where an applicant knows that he or she qualifies for Italian Dual Citizenship but their living ancestor does not have a copy of their Naturalization Certificate or they are unsure as to the details of their naturalization. If you are faced with this challenge you need to be aware that only the living ancestor can request a replacement of their naturalization record.

The form to use for this request is found at the Department of Homeland Security webpage and the form to use is N-565.  Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) the information is available only to living individuals and not to others.  The instructions for completing the request are very specific and most be followed exactly.

Certainly anyone can assist an individual with making a request but only he or she can formally do it and receive the document.  The information is not available to anyone other than the person named on the record.  If the individual has no recollection of the date and or place of their naturalization, they can conduct a Genealogical Index Search by using Homeland Security Form 1041 and follow the results of this search with a Genealogical Records Request (Form 1041A) or better still with a Replacement of the Record (Form N-565).

Again the living individual must do this even if assistance with making the request is required.  As part of the process, it is advised to retain all correspondence including the envelopes that are received from Homeland Security.

Another option for obtaining naturalization records for living ancestors, but not the best one, is to request a copy of the individual’s naturalization record from the National Archives or the Court where he or she became United States citizen.   These are public records but the Italian Consulate may still require something official from Homeland Security since the ancestor is alive.

Missing naturalization documents for living individuals can be challenging but not insurmountable.

How many generations can I go back to qualify?

More Information

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 July 1, 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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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. Acquiring a certified copy of your Italian Ancestor's US (or other Country) 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.  You may incur research costs, as well as, the cost of obtaining the copies. CLICK HERE TO ORDER NATURALIZATION RECORDS.

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.  

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?

More Information

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.

Learn more about our START-TO-FINISH Program.

How much will this cost?

More Information

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 here 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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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 citizen

• 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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information


FOLLOW THIS LINK for ordering individual documents from Italy.  

You can order certified copies of your Ancestor's Naturalization Records; further, if no papers can be found, we will gather the necessary “No Record” letters and corresponding certified US Census records for you.

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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.  

What if my US documents have misspellings or oddities in dates and/or names?

More Information

You will likely have to amend major differences with an official "affidavit to amend a record".

While gathering the required family records, it is not uncommon to discover inconsistencies in these documents.  There may be name, date or place differences or spelling errors in birth, marriage and death documents.  Examples might be the misspelling of first or last names, Americanization of Italian names, nicknames instead of formal names or different birth dates on different documents.

Italian Consulates require that documents be correct and consistent with the names and dates listed in the Italian family documents.  We recommend if you discover an inconsistency that you address it and make an effort to correct the record before your consular appointment.

Be aware that most states do not allow a descendant to correct a birth record for someone who is deceased.  They may allow corrections with required supporting evidence for marriage and death records.  Not all states allow all descendants to correct documents so it is our advice that you check with the appropriate vital records office to ascertain who can correct and what documentation is required.
Depending on the circumstances some states may require a court order to get a correction.  Also be aware that US Naturalization records cannot be corrected for someone who is deceased.
We advise that you carefully review all of your required documents for consistency and address what needs to be corrected prior to your appointment.  Once corrections are made, obtain the appropriate Apostille, have the document translated to Italian and submit it with your application.

If you find that you are not able to obtain a correction, the Italian Consulate may advise you what your options are, if any, in order for you to be successful with your Italian dual citizenship application.

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?

More Information

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. 

We suggest you also order multiple certified copies of your Ancestor's Naturalization Records.

What documents must be translated into Italian?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

Visit: for a list of Hague Convention countries.

Where can I get an Apostille in my State?

More Information

FOLLOW THIS LINK for list of offices and addresses. 

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

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information


Does Italy allow for "Dual Citizenship"?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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?

More Information

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

Is there a residency requirement to become an Italian citizen?

More Information


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

More Information


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

More Information

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?

More Information

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.

What is A.I.R.E.?

More Information

AIRE (Anagrafe Italiani Residenti all’Estero) is the registry of Italians residing abroad.
For people of Italian descent pursuing Italian Dual Citizenship jure sanguinis, AIRE’s enrolment is a right and a duty. It provides access to consular services abroad and allows the exercise of some important rights, such as the right to vote and the right to renew IDs and travel documents. Enrolment is free of charge.
NOTE: More and more Italian Consulates require that applicants for Italian Dual Citizenship fill out the AIRE Registration Form and have it ready the day of their appointment.
You can download the enrolment form by visiting the Italian Consulate that has jurisdiction of the State where you reside. More at: