HOW DO I LOOK FOR OLD FAMILY FILES IN ITALY?

To retrieve the vital records certificates of your ancestors, you should contact the Italian Municipality (Comune) in which they were born or lived. If they came from a small suburb (frazione), you should contact the Municipality of which it is part.

Italian Municipalities keep birth, marriage, and death records in their archives. It is also possible to obtain copies of a document describing the composition of the family, the so called “certificato di stato di famiglia” issued since 1869. This kind of document can be obtained from the “Ufficio Anagrafe” of the Municipalities. They contain the names, the place, and the date of birth of the family members who were alive at the time of their issuance.

Other sources of information are: a) the Italian State Archives; b) Parish Registries (Registri Parrocchiali) where, prior to the unification of Italy in 1861, certificates of baptism, confirmation, marriage, and death were filed. Many of these Registries have been subsequently transferred to the local Dioceses or the Archives of the closest major City.

AM I REQUIRED TO PAY A FEE FOR THE APPLICATION?

Yes. Italian Law 89/2014 has established a fee of 300 Euros for applications. The fee is subject to changes every three (3) months and it is not refundable.

CAN I INHERIT CITIZENSHIP FROM A FEMALE ANCESTOR?

Under the Italian Law, a woman of Italian descent born before January 1, 1948 (the date Of the Italian Constitution) can only transmit Italian citizenship to her children born after January 1, 1948. This law is strictly enforced by all Italian Consulates in the USA. 

As a consequence, if for example your paternal grandmother was born in 1920 & your father was born in 1942, you would not be eligible to apply through your grandmother.

However, recently there was an important development regarding this law. A trial case challenged the law as discriminatory of Italian women by denying them the right to pass citizenship to their children. The High Court of Rome decided that this discrimination should cease, and granted the Italian citizenship to the woman’s descendant.

CAN I APPLY FOR ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT WITHOUT REGISTERING IMPORTANT EVENTS OCCURRED IN MY LIFE, SUCH AS BIRTHS OF CHILDREN, MARRIAGES OR DIVORCES?

No. Since Italian citizenship is granted retroactively, when applying for citizenship by descent registering marriages, divorces and birth of children is mandatory. Hiding their existence is illegal.

HOW DO I FIND OUT WHAT ITALIAN CONSULATE HAS JURISDICTION OVER MY PLACE OF RESIDENCE?

You can consult the web page of the Italian Embassy in Washington DC which lists in detail what US states fall under the jurisdiction of a specific Italian consulate in the US.

http://www.ambwashingtondc.esteri.it/ambasciata_washington/it/informazioni_e_servizi/la_rete_consolare/la%20rete%20consolare.html

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKES TO FORMALLY BE GRANTED ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP?

There is no standard answer as waiting time to get an appointment and processing time vary depending on the consulate/s involved. There is a huge interest in applying for Italian citizenship. The average waiting time to obtain an appointment is generally 8-10 months, while the standard processing time is 3-6 months.

IS MY SPOUSE ENTITLED TO ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP TOO?

Yes. However, in most cases the spouse must apply after the couple’s marriage has been registered in Italy. Foreign women who married Italian men prior to 27 April 1983, however, automatically acquired Italian citizenship, and therefore are entitled to apply simultaneously for recognition. Consult our citizenship by marriage service for more details.

ANOTHER FAMILY MEMBER SHARING THE SAME ANCESTOR APPLIED FOR CITIZENSHIP AT MY LOCAL CONSULATE. WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO PRESENT?

If a family member already applied for citizenship by descent at your local consulate you are allowed to use all documents pertaining to the common ascendants on file at the consulate. There is no need to re-present the same documents. However, you are required to present all documents that where not in common with the previous applicant.

ANOTHER FAMILY MEMBER APPLIED FOR CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT AT A DIFFERENT CONSULATE. DO I NEED TO RE-FILE ALL DOCUMENTS AT MY LOCAL CONSULATE OR CAN THE OTHER CONSULATE TRANSFER ALL DOCUMENTS TO MY LOCAL CONSULATE?

As of 2012 Italian consulates will no longer be sharing documentation with each other. If your family member was granted citizenship by another Consulate, you will need to provide either new originals, or copies coming from the Consulate through which your family member was recognized.

I DO NOT LIKE MY LOCAL CONSULATE. CAN I APPLY FOR CITIZENSHIP THROUGH A DIFFERENT CONSULATE?

No. Unfortunately you are legally required to apply for citizenship through the local italian consulate that has jurisdiction over your place of residence. Consult our Consulates page, or the website of the Italian Embassy in Washington DC, to find out what italian consulate that has jurisdiction over your place of residence.

WILL I OR MY CHILDREN HAVE TO PERFORM MILITARY SERVICE FOR THE REPUBLIC OF ITALY?

No. The draft has been abolished. On May 8, 2001, the Italian government passed a law (Art. 7 del D. Lgs. 8 May 2001 n. 215) making military service completely voluntary as of January 1, 2007. Please contact the Bureau of Military Services (LEVA) of the area in Italy in which you are planning to live for more information.

ONCE I AM GRANTED CITIZENSHIP AM I REQUIRED TO PAY TAXES TO THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT?

Although the United States taxes its citizens even when they live abroad, you can qualify for tax exclusion for all income earned in Italy or elsewhere in the European Union up to $70,000 USD per year. In order to qualify you must establish a tax home outside the U.S. and pass one of the following two tests:
1) Physical-presence test: you need to be at least 330 days outside of the U.S. over a consecutive 12-month period.
2) Foreign-residence test: you become a bona fide resident of Italy or of any other EU country for an entire taxable year. If you live in Italy or in Europe and have an Italian passport, you should pass this test.
Remember that even if you don’t qualify for this exclusion, Italy and the United States have tax treaties to protect their citizens from dual taxation. Generally, you don’t pay U.S. tax on foreign-earned income if the foreign tax rate is higher than the U.S. rate. If the foreign rate is lower, you will have to pay US taxes on the difference between these rates.
We reccomend you contact a tax attorney for more information.

MY ITALIAN ANCESTOR s BIRTH WAS NEVER REGISTERED. CAN THE CONSULATE ACCEPT A CERTIFICATE OF BAPTISM?

Technically church records are accepted only when the birth occurred prior to the creation of the civil registries. However, some Italian consulates seem to accept baptismal records in place of the Italian ancestor's birth certificate even if civil registries did exist already at the time of his/her birth. Contact us for more information.

I WAS ADOPTED BY ITALIAN CITIZENS. DO I QUALIFY? 

Yes. The adoption papers must be presented (in certified copy, with Apostille and translation) along with the applicant’s other documents. If you were adopted as a minor, and are applying as an adult, there are generally no other requirements. If you were adopted as an adult, you must reside in Italy for 5 years before applying.

I HAVE ADOPTED MY CHILDREN. I WANT TO APPLY FOR ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT. DO MY CHILDREN QUALIFY AS WELL?

Yes. Under the Italian law adopted children are to be treated exactly as natural children.

IF I AM AN ITALIAN CITIZEN CAN I REALLY LIVE AND WORK IN OTHER EU COUNTRIES?

Yes. This is one of the greatest benefits of being an Italian citizen. Having an Italian passport is like having a passport to any EU country, allowing you to live and work anywhere within the European Union. Pursuant to 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 within the territory of any member states (Article 18).

WILL OBTAINING ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP AFFECT MY CURRENT U.S. NATIONALITY?

No. Acquiring Italian citizenship by descent will not affect your current U.S. citizenship. Please note, however, that certain jobs requiring hiring security clearance do not permit an employee to hold two citizenships.