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Italian citizenship is based upon the principle of jure sanguinis (blood right), meaning the child born of an Italian father or mother is also an Italian citizen.

People whose ancestors were Italian may be able to acquire citizenship, depending on a number of factors such as the date and place of birth of their parents, grandparents, and even of their great-grandparents.
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. When a person claims to be of Italian parentage or ancestry but no proof of the fact can be found in Italian registers (i.e. citizenship claimed by great-grandparents), it is necessary to provide proof that all ancestors have maintained, and thereby passed on, their Italian citizenship. The acquisition of Italian citizenship does not bring any tax obligations, which are instead linked to maintaining residency in Italy.

If any one of the below scenario applies, a foreign citizen may be entitled to Italian citizenship (exceptions may apply depending on various factors):

  • The applicant’s father was born in Italy and
    • was an Italian citizen at the time of the applicant’s birth, and
    • the applicant never renounced his/her right to Italian citizenship

Italian ancestor, Michele, was born in Naples on May 16th 1936. He moves to London in 1954. His son, Emiliano, was born in London on November 28th, 1960. Emiliano is born an Italian citizen as his father never renounced his Italian citizenship

    • The applicant’s mother was born in Italy and
      • was an Italian citizen at the time of the applicant’s birth
      • the applicant was born after January 1st, 1948 and
      • the applicant never renounced his/her right to Italian citizenship.

Italian ancestor, Gloria, was born in Milan on February 11th, 1930 and she became a naturalized Canadian citizen in 1971. Her son, Andrew, was born in Canada in 1952. Andrew is able to apply for Italian citizenship, as his mother was an Italian citizen at the time of his birth, and Andrew never renounced his right to Italian citizenship.

**Children born to an Italian mother before 1948**
Prior to January 1, 1948, it was not possible for an Italian mother to transfer Italian citizenship to her child. Italian citizenship at that time could be transferred to a child only through his father. After 1948, these restrictions were lifted pursuant to the Italian Constitution, so that both mothers and fathers could transfer citizenship to their children. The Italian Supreme Court recently held that this provision is contrary to Constitutional principles. Thus, also children that are born before January 1, 1948 to an Italian mother are entitled to citizenship. Consulates continue however to reject applications because they request the law to be amended. Accordingly, applicants need to file a Court action in order to obtain citizenship. A Court action can be filed even without waiting for the Consulate’s rejection and will take 1 to 2 years to have a decision.

Italian ancestor, Francesca, was born in Venice on February 11th, 1910 and she became a naturalized Canadian citizen in 1946. Her son, Thomas, was born in Canada in 1936. Thomas may file a motion to appeal against the “1948 rule” and obtain the Italian citizenship. This is, however, only possible through a lawsuit as the inclination of Italian Consulates abroad and Italian Town Halls is still to reject applications of this type.

  • The applicant’s father was born in a foreign Country, his/her paternal grandfather or grandmother was born in Italy and

was an Italian citizen at the time of the applicant’s father’s birth

neither the applicant nor the applicant’s father ever renounced the right to Italian citizenship
Italian ancestor, Pietro, was born in Florence on September 9th 1880, he emigrated to Argentina in 1910 and became a naturalized Argentinian citizen in 1940. His son, Raffaele, was born in Argentina in 1921. His grandchild, Tarcisio, was born in Argentina in 1952. Tarcisio is eligible to apply for Italian citizenship, proving that Raffaele and Tarcisio have never renounced Italian citizenship. If Tarcisio legally resides in Italy, he can apply for Italian citizenship at the relevant Town Hall where he has established his residency. If Tarcisio resides abroad, he can apply for Italian citizenship at the relevant Italian Consulate abroad.

  • The applicant’s mother was born in a foreign Country, his/her maternal grandfather or grandmother was born in Italy and
    • was an Italian citizen at the time of the applicant’s mother’s birth
    • the applicant was born after January 1, 1948 and
    • neither the applicant nor the applicant’s mother ever renounced the right to Italian citizenship

  • The applicant’s paternal or maternal grandfather was born in a foreign Country, his/her paternal or maternal great grandfather was born in Italy and
    • was an Italian citizen at the time of the applicant’s paternal or maternal grandfather’s birth
    • neither the applicant nor the applicant’s father/mother or grandfather/grandmother ever renounced the right to Italian citizenship.

Ancestry applications must be supported by vital records certificates (birth, marriage, death certificates) proving the relationship between the applicant and the Italian ancestors.

The eligibility assessment is also grounded on the consistency of information contained in those certificates, where discrepancies within names, dates and places of birth may be an issue for the Italian authorities.

Ancestry applications can either be filed at the Italian Consulate of your jurisdiction or directly in Italy with a fast-track process, provided that the applicant takes Legal residency in Italy.

Fast track procedure

The application process at many Italian Consulates is likely to takes several years (in the US it is necessary to wait up to 2 years just for an appointment in addition to the 1-2 years citizenship application processing time. In other countries it is even difficult to have an appointment after 5 years!).

Citizenship applications based upon iure sanguinis can be expedited by establishing residency in Italy and applying directly from there.

To take residency, however, not only the applicant must have have an accommodation in Italy (it can be a rented apartment/room) but he/she must have gathered all the documentation for citizenship application beforehand. In fact, the registration will be accepted only if the application package is complete.

Residency is granted further to a number of background checks and to a visit from the city council officers to the applicant’s accommodation to check his/her physical presence there. Accordingly, it is advisable to stay in Italy until registration is approved (45 – 60 days or more).

Upon confirmation of residency the applicant will be eligible to file for citizenship and to obtain a residence permit “pending citizenship application”. The permit will allow the individual to stay in Italy until citizenship is granted, however at this stage the applicant is not required to stay in Italy uninterruptedly but can travel for business/tourism, returning to the country at least 2-3 times in order to complete the residence permit process (filing application, fingerprinting and collection of the card). The fast track process takes about 2 to 8 months overall, but processing time can vary depending on the response time of the Consulate from which a security clearance must be obtained.

 

Do you think you may qualify for Italian citizenship through ancestry?  Please complete the following questionnaire with the correct information on your lineage or download/complete the assessment form and send it via email to citizenship@mazzeschi.it

 

 

eligible

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