These guides will assist you through the basics of Italian Citizenship by descent (jure sanguinis).
OVERVIEW OF ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT (JURE SANGUINIS)
DETERMINE YOUR CONSULATE AND SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT
In order to establish your claim of citizenship, you’ll need documents (vital records) supporting the descent of each person in your line from the previous person. You’ll also need documents establishing whether and when your LIRA naturalized, which will show that he or she did not lose Italian citizenship before the next person in your line was born. In addition, all recognized Italian citizens are required to keep their home comune up-to-date with any changes in their status, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of their children.
While jure sanguinis means “right of blood”, DNA is not acceptable proof to the consulate and they don’t want to see it.
Each consulate (or comune) establishes a list of the documents that they will require to support your application. Some, but not all, consulates list these documents on their websites, but these lists are not always accurate and they are subject to change. In the Facebook group, we have may posts detailing what documents were required during appointment at various consulates – the posts are tagged under the CONSULATE APPOINTMENT RECAPS topic.
DISCREPANCIES: Most applicants find discrepancies and errors in names and dates in the documents collected. See our discrepancies page to determine if and how to deal with these.
IMPORTANT: Be organized, but be smart about it. NEVER hole-punch your documents to put them in a binder – it invalidates the certificate. If you want to organize documents in a binder, buy the pre hole-punched clear sleeves you can place documents in.
ATTEND YOUR CONSULAR APPOINTMENT
Q3 CONSULAR FEES (1 July – 30 September)
- 🇺🇸 : $336.90 USD
- 🇨🇦 : 452.00 CAD
- 🇺🇸 : $130.30 USD
- 🇨🇦 : 175.00 CAD
- Addresses for each consulate
- Things to take with you:
- All your documents, organized from original ancestor in order down to yourself.
- US Passport (plus a color photocopy)
- Driver’s License (plus a color photocopy)
- Money Order in US Dollars (USD) for Application Fee (300 EUR)
- The exchange rate to USD changes every quarter (current fees below).
- Copy of current utility bill showing address in the consular jurisdiction.
IMPORTANT ITALIAN DATES AFFECTING CITIZENSHIP AND ELIGIBILITY
- 1861 – Italian Unification
- 1912 – Law on Citizenship
- 1920 – Annexation of Northern Italian Territories
- 1922 – The Cable Act (US)
- 1948 – The Italian Republic and Women’s Rights to Pass Citizenship
- 1975 – Italian Age of Majority
- 1983 – Automatic Citizenship for Foreign Women by Marriage
- 1992 – Italy Allows Dual Citizenship
- 2000 – Granting of Citizenship to former Austro-Hungarian Empire
- 2006 – Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia
- 2018 – Security Decree (Decreto di Sicurezza)
ALTERNATIVE PATHS TO CITIZENSHIP
If all other options fail, Italy allows citizenship through residency, also known as naturalization. This is covered in general on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (section 6): “As a general rule, for non-EU foreigners, legal residence on the territory of the Italian State for at least 10 years is required (1992 law, Article 9, subparagraph f), but there are many cases for which the period of residence required is lower:
- 3 years of legal residence: for a foreigner whose father, mother or grandparents (any of the ascendants in a direct line descent up to the second degree) were Italian citizens by birth or for a foreigner born in Italy and residing there;
- 4 years for a citizen of an EU Member State;
- 5 years of legal residence following the adoption of a foreigner of legal age (someone adopted as an adult), or following the formal declaration of a person as having the status of a stateless person or of a political refugee.”
You must first meet the residency terms above before you can apply for naturalization. Formal residency means permanently living in Italy with suitable lodging such as owning a property or having a lease in your name that qualifies you to establish residency with the comune (a vacation rental cannot get you residency status). Once you apply, it typically takes 2-4 years more before citizenship is granted. In addition to proof of continuous residency, you will have to provide a B1 fluency certification and proof of Italian tax filing as part of your application. Naturalization is governed by the Interior Ministry for each territory, so there may be additional specific requirements, depending on where in Italy you reside.
In order to legally stay in Italy beyond the 90 days that a US passport allows, a visa is required BEFORE you move. If you have no other way of acquiring a long-term visa (like employer-sponsored), you would need to get an elective residency visa. It requires that you have significant financial resources (over $100,000K/year). Understand that you cannot work there with this visa type, so your financial resources must be from savings or other available accounts, like a retirement or pension fund. You will also need proof of private health insurance. Elective residency visas are granted for up to 5 years at a time, at the consulate’s discretion.
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