ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP - General Information
Italian citizenship is currently regulated by Law no. 91/1992 which, in contrast with the previous citizenship laws, considers as fundamental the individual intention in the acquisition or loss of Italian citizenship and recognizes the right to have dual citizenship or multiple citizenships.

ACQUISITION OF ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP JURE SANGUINIS (BY DESCENT)

Children born to Italian parents (mother or father) automatically acquire Italian citizenship ius sanguinis (by the right of blood). Citizenship is passed onto children with no generational limitation, on the condition that none of the ascendants have ever formally renounced Italian citizenship. 

Transmission of citizenship through maternal lineage is possible but has limitations.

Under the Italian Law, a woman of Italian descent born before January 1, 1948 could only transmit Italian citizenship onto her children born after January 1, 1948. 


Ascertainment of citizenship. When a person claims to be of Italian parentage or ancestry it is necessary to start a process aimed to the recognition of the uninterrupted transfer of citizenship from the Italian ascendant to the applicant.

The authorities legally appointed to ascertain these facts are the diplomatic-consular missions in the country of residence when the applicant resides abroad and the officials at the Vital Statistics office (“Anagrafe”) of the city of residence when the applicant resides in Italy. 

CITIZENSHIP GRANTED TO PERSONS BORN ON ITALIAN TERRITORY (IURE SOLI)

Italian citizenship is granted to persons born on Italian soil:
- when parents are unknown, stateless or cannot transfer their citizenship onto their children according to the laws of their home country;
- when parents are unknown and children are found on Italian soil and their natural citizenship is impossible to ascertain.

CITIZENSHIP THROUGH JUDICIARY RULING ON NATURAL PATERNITY OR MATERNITY

A child recognized or declared, while a minor, to be of Italian parentage is, according to the Italian law, an Italian citizen (art. 2, law no. 91/92).

People who are over 18 and are recognized to be of Italian parentage must declare their intention to become Italian citizens within one year from the judiciary ruling.

The following documents must be annexed to the declaration:

    1. Birth certificate;
    2. Act of recognition or authenticated copy of the ruling on paternity/maternity, or of an authenticated copy of a ruling that declares a foreign ruling binding in Italy, or an authenticated copy of a ruling acknowledging the right to child support or alimony; 
    3. Certification of parent(s)’ citizenship.
CITIZENSHIP BY ADOPTION

The right to citizenship is extended to any minor children adopted by an Italian citizen by means of the provisions of an Italian Judiciary Authorities, or in the case of adoption abroad and rendered valid in Italy through an order issued by the Family Court for enrolment in an official Italian statistics office (“Anagrafe”).

Adoptees of legal age can acquire citizenship after 5 years of legal residence in Italy after the adoption.

CITIZENSHIP BY MARRIAGE TO AN ITALIAN CITIZEN 

The foreign spouse of an Italian citizen can claim Italian citizenship in the presence of the following requirements:

  1. in Italy: two (2) years of legal residence in Italy after the marriage. When the couple is residing abroad the spouse of the Italian citizen can apply after three (3) years of marriage. The above terms are reduced by half in the presence of minor children.
  2. a valid marriage certificate, properly registered with the Italian authorities
  3. permanence of the marriage bond while citizenship is processed and in the moment when citizenship is granted.
  4. Absence of convictions for crimes leading to a maximum penalty of three (3) years in prison or convictions by a foreign judiciary authority of more than one year for non-political crimes; absence of convictions for any of the crimes listed in Book 2, Title I, Chapter, I, II and III of the Italian penal code (crimes against the Italian government or state); absence of obstacles related to the security of the Republic.

Applications for Italian citizenship by marriage, are processed by the Italian Ministry of the Interior and are submitted through the Italian “Prefettura” in the Province of residence.

If the couple couple is residing abroad, the application is submitted through the local consulate.

Applications must include the reasons for claiming the right to Italian citizenship accompanied by the following documentation, duly legalized and translated into Italian:

    • birth certificate containing all pertinent data or, in the case of the documented impossibility of producing that, an affidavit issued by the diplomatic-consular authorities of the country of origin stating all exact personal data (name, surname, date and place of birth), as well as those of the parents of the applicant;
    • criminal background checks (also known as certificates of good condict) from country of origin and eventual third countries of residence since the age of 14;
    • certificate of history of legal residence in Italy (with affixed tax stamp) when the couple is residing in Italy;  
    • marriage abstract issued by the Italian municipality where the foreign marriage certificate was registered;
    • legal certificate of citizenship of Italian spouse (with affixed tax stamp) or italian passport; 
    • certificate of criminal record (or lack thereof) in Italy (with affixed tax stamp) if the couple has resided in Italy;  
    • authenticated copy of residence permit (with affixed tax stamp) if the copule is residing in Italy; 
    • copy of passport (with attached official translation in Italian, where the document does not contain data, in addition to the original language, also in English or French), authenticated by the diplomatic-consular mission of the State that issued it;
    • certificate of family status (with affixed tax stamp); 


Pursuant to Ministry of the Interior Directive of 7 March 2012, as from June 2012 authority to issue citizenship decrees is assigned to:
a. the “Prefetto” for applications submitted by foreigners legally residing in Italy;
b. Head of the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration in the case of a foreign spouse residing abroad;
c. the Minister for the Interior in the case of reasons pertaining to the security of the Republic.

CITIZENSHIP BY RESIDENCY IN ITALY (NATURALIZATION)

Italian citizenship can be acquired by residence if the applicant has legally resided in Italy for:

    • 3 years (only for descendants of former Italian citizens up to the second degree and for foreigners born on Italian soil);
    • 4 years for EU citizens;
    • 5 years for Stateless persons and refugees, as well as for adult foreigners over the age of 18 adopted by Italian citizens;
    • 7 years for children adopted by Italian citizens before the entry into effect of Law no. 184/1983; 
    • 10 years for non-EU citizens.

No period of legal residence is required for foreigners who have been employed in the service of the Italian Republic for a period of at least 5 years, also abroad.

Citizenship applications must be addressed to the President of the Italian Republic and must be submitted through the local “prefettura” office in the Province of residence, accompanied by the following documentation:

    • birth certificate containing all pertinent information or, in the case of the documented impossibility of producing that, an affidavit (duly legalized and translated) issued by the diplomatic-consular authorities of the country of origin stating all exact personal data (first name, second name, surname, date and place of birth), as well as those of the father and mother of the applicant; 
    • certificate of history of legal residence in Italy for 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 years (with affixed tax stamp); 
    • certificate of family status (with affixed tax stamp); 
    • certificate of good conduct (or criminal background check) from country of origin and third countries of residence, duly translated and legalized; 
    • certificate of good conduct (or criminal background check) from Italy (with affixed tax stamp);
    • certificate of charges pending in Italy (or certified lack thereof) issued by the State Prosecutor’s Office at the court authorized for the area of residence of the applicant (with affixed tax stamp); 
    • official declaration of income for tax purposes for the preceding three years (“730” Form, “Modello Unico”, etc.)
    • declaration renouncing the protection of the Italian diplomatic-consular authorities from the authorities of the country of origin, using the preprinted form available from the “Prfettura” office; 
    • waiver in the sole case in which the original citizenship is not automatically lost with the voluntary acquisition of a foreign one (to be presented only upon formal request by the Ministry of the Interior);  
    • copy of passport (with attached official translation in Italian, where the document does not contain information, in addition to the original language, also in English or French), authenticated by the diplomatic-consular mission of the State that issued it;
    •  certificate of family status (with affixed tax stamp);  
    • declaration authorizing the competent authorities of the country of origin to release all information regarding the applicant requested by the Italian diplomatic-consular authorities in the country of origin, using the preprinted form available from the prefecture.

Where applications for Italian citizenship use the more favorable dispositions described in letters a), b) e) of paragraph 1 of Article 9 of Law no. 91/1993 (3 or 5 years of legal residence), they must be accompanied by the following documentation:

    • certificate of Italian citizenship by virtue of the Italian citizenship of one or both parents or grandparents (for applicants requesting application of art. 9 par. 1, letter a)); 
    • authenticated copy of ruling declares a ruling by a foreign judiciary authority valid in Italy (for applicants requesting application of art. 9 par. 1, letter b)); 
    • authenticated copy of Italian judiciary ruling recognizing Statelessness, or a copy of the ministerial provision declaring Statelessness (for applicants requesting application of Art. 9 par. 1, letter e)); 
    • certificate of refugee status issued by the National Commission for the Right to Asylum (former Central Commission for the Recognition of Refugee Status pursuant to Art. 2, par. 1 of DPR no. 136 of 15 May 1990) (for applicants requesting the combined application of article 9, par. 1, letter e), and article16, par. 2, of the law).