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How to get Italian Citizenship – Guide

According to the Italian regulations presently in force, different cases apply through which the Italian citizenship is acquired; some of them are automatic, whereas other ones depend on the occurrence of specific conditions, on the expression of intent and on a decision by the Authorities.

In particular, the Italian citizenship is obtained on the basis of the following:

  • Automatic granting (i.e. birth, adoption, recognition or judicial statement of descent, etc.);
  • Privileges and obligations granted by the law (descent, birth and continued residence, etc.);
  • Naturalization.

The acquisition of the Italian citizenship is not prejudicial for the maintenance of the citizenship of the Country of origin, unless the laws in force in such country prohibit dual nationality.

In our system, citizenship is regulated under law no 91 of 5th February 1992 and implementing regulations no 572/93 and no 362/94.

 

CASES IN WHICH THE ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP 

IS AUTOMATICALLY ACQUIRE

The acquisition of citizenship occurs automatically in the following cases:

By birth (IURE SANGUINIS): the sons of mothers or fathers owning the Italian citizenship (including the sons born abroad from Italian citizens) are considered as Italian nationals.

There is no limit to the number of descendants who can claim Italian heritage under their paternal or maternal line.

If you or your ancestors were born to a mother of Italian origin before January 1, 1948, the process may not be so straightforward. Indeed, under the 1912 Citizenship law only men were able to transfer their Italian lineage to children, while women could hold but not pass citizenship to their descendants.

The principles of gender equality were laid down only on January 1, 1948 when the Italian Constitution entered into force. Unfortunately, the new legislation was not retroactive and so children born to an Italian mother before 1948 are not automatically Italian.

In 2009, the Italian Supreme Court established that it is unconstitutional to discriminate between women and men even in citizenship matters (judgment no. 4466/2009). That means that all descendants born anytime from an Italian parent, father or mother, are Italian citizens by birth right. 

Unfortunately, this judgement did not have any consequences on the Consular behaviour and if you fall into the “1948 cases” and submit a request of recognition of Italian citizenship Jure Sanguinis , Consulates will strictly apply the Italian nationality law and will reject your application.

Consequently, you can only proceed through a legal proceeding at the Italian Court in Rome.

The acquisition of citizenship by birth in the Italian territory from non-Italian nationals is envisaged in two cases only:

  • if both parents are either unknown or stateless;
  • if the son does not have the same citizenship as his/her parents according to the law of the State of which they are nationals.

By recognition or judicial statement of descent: if the son of Italian citizens, recognised subsequently to his/her birth, is a minor, the acquisition of citizenship is automatic and retroacts to the moment of birth. If, conversely, the recognition or the judicial statement occurs with an adult son, he/she maintains one’s nationality but is allowed (within one year as from the recognition, the judicial statement or the acknowledgement of efficacy of the foreign measure) to chose the Italian citizenship.

By adoption: any foreign minor adopted by Italian nationals acquires the citizenship by right; if, conversely, the child adopted is an adult, the acquisition of the Italian citizenship is possible only upon application by the interested party, after five years of legal residence in Italy.

By acquisition or reacquisition on parents’ side: minor children of parents who acquire or reacquire the Italian citizenship directly acquire it provided that they steadily and effectively live with them.

CASES IN WHICH THE ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP 

IS ACQUIRED FOLLOWING AN EXPRESSION OF INTENT 

The acquisition of citizenship occurs on the basis of the so-called naturalisation in the following cases:

By descent: either foreigners or stateless persons, wherever born, whose mothers and fathers (or one of their grandparents) were Italian citizens by birth and subsequently lost the Italian nationality, acquire the Italian citizenship if owning one of the following requirements:

  • effectively do the military service in the Italian Armed Forces and preventively state they intend to acquire the Italian citizenship;
  • perform a public employment, also abroad, for the Italian State;
  • when turning 18, have been legally resident in Italy, with no interruptions whatsoever, for at least two years.

By birth and residence in Italy (IUS SOLI): foreigners born and resident in Italy without any interruptions until the age of eighteen, stating within the day in which they turn nineteen that they intent to become Italian nationals, may acquire the Italian citizenship.

This is a “conditional” form of ius soli, subject to enforcement only if three of the requirements above apply: 1) birth in Italy, 2) uninterrupted residence until turning eighteen, and 3) statement of intent within one year as from the day of reaching one’s majority.

CASES IN WHICH THE ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP IS ACQUIRED BY NATURALISATION

The acquisition of nationality occurs by naturalisation in the following cases:

Marriage with an Italian citizen: foreign or stateless spouses of Italian citizens may become Italian nationals after two years of legal residence in Italy or, if resident abroad, after three years as from the day of marriage, unless dissolution, annulment or separation occur, and if no legal separation intervenes. The terms and conditions above are halved in case of children born from or adopted by the spouses.

The acquisition of nationality by marriage is not possible if foreigners were imposed criminal convictions either in Italy or abroad. Rehabilitation ceases the preclusive effects of the conviction.

RESIDENCE PERMIT PENDING THE ACQUISITION OF NATIONALITY

According to the regulation implementing the Consolidated Law on Immigration (Presidential Decree 394/99 as subsequently amended), whenever the Italian citizenship application is pending, foreigners may obtain a residence permit authorising them to reside in Italy until the end of such procedure.

An entry visa for pending citizenship cannot be obtained from abroad. Foreign nationals residing abroad and owning the necessary requirements to obtain the Italian nationality may file the statement to obtain the citizenship directly to the Italian Consulates abroad.

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