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Italian Citizenship by Descent: Eight Essential Steps to Apply
Obtaining Italian dual citizenship can be a long, arduous process. It takes patience and determination, but it’s well worth it in the long run.
There are so many Italian citizenship benefits. With dual citizenship, you’ll be able to live and work in Italy and other countries in the European Union without a visa, and you’ll have access to health care and public education across the EU. Your children under age 18 will automatically become Italian citizens, and you’ll have easier access to buying property in Italy.
Here are some things people who didn’t get help from a dual citizenship consultant say they wish they had known when they started their citizenship journey:
Find Out as Many Details as Possible
Before you apply for dual citizenship you need to find out as many details about your Italian ancestors as possible, going back to your last known Italian-born ancestor, whether it’s a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent.
If you’re applying for citizenship through jure sanguinis (blood right), you must be able to prove that (1) the ancestor you are applying through did not become a U.S. citizen before the next person in your line of descendants was born or (2) that they never became a U.S. citizen at all. Note that if you’re obtaining Italian citizenship through marriage the requirements are different.
Book Your Appointment Early
You should make an appointment with your local Italian consulate office before you even start gathering documents. Why? The wait time for an appointment at your regional consulate office can be from one to six years; this means you’ll have plenty of time to start gathering the necessary documents to prove your eligibility for dual citizenship.
Check with your local consulate website to find out which documents you’ll need to obtain dual nationality; at a minimum, you’ll need birth, marriage, naturalization and death certificates for everyone in your line and their spouses (usually); you’ll also need divorce records, if applicable.
Order Multiple Copies of Documents
Always order more than one copy of a document in case one is lost or damaged; it can take a long time to get a replacement, which will only delay the process. Also, if other family members decide to follow your lead and pursue dual citizenship, you’ll have extra copies to give them.
Get the Long-Form Document
Always ask for the “long-form” version of any document you’re requesting; also make sure to specify that your documents are for dual citizenship use.
Don’t Throw Away the Envelopes
Save the envelopes your documents arrive in. You might need them later to prove where the documents came from, and if any doubt is ever cast over your citizenship, you’ll be glad to have them.
Make Digital Copies of Important Documents
Scan every document as it arrives and keep track of hard copies in a filing system. While digital copies often won’t be accepted, it means you have information to refer back to.
Keep a spreadsheet of which documents you’ve ordered and when, and which documents you’ve received and when. Update it regularly. That way, if you ever lose one, you can refer back.
Other Things to Know About Italian Citizenship for Foreigners
- The process of getting dual citizenship can test your patience. Consider joining an online dual citizenship group where you can interact with others going through the same process and share tips and information.
- Italian law changes frequently, so check your local consulate’s website for updates.
- If you’re an American citizen living in Italy, know that you can also apply for citizenship there—you don’t have to come back to the States to apply to be an Italian citizen.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Get Italian Citizenship Through Descent?
Italy recognizes jure sanguinis (right of blood) so as long as your male or female ancestor was born in Italy or had the right to claim citizenship when they were born, you can apply for Italian citizenship. If your ancestor naturalized, it can be a little more complicated.
How Long Does It Take to Apply for Italian Citizenship by Descent?
Obtaining Italian citizenship can take at least a year if you consider the time it takes to gather all the needed documents and the application processing time.
What Documents Are Needed for Italian Citizenship by Descent?
The documents needed as part of the Italian dual citizenship process can vary based on the person, but you will need to prove your Italian ancestor’s place of birth and that they are connected to you. This may include things like:
- Genealogy reports
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Death certificates
- Other Italian and non-Italian records
To apply for citizenship by descent, these documents will also need to be translated to Apostille standards, which we can help with.
Do You Need to Speak Italian to Get Citizenship by Descent?
You do not need to speak the language to qualify for Italian citizenship, but it helps if you plan on becoming a permanent resident of Italy! Many Italians speak English, but dual citizens might struggle in some areas.
Do I Qualify for Italian Dual Citizenship?
To find out if you quality for Italian citizenship, you will need to do a lot of research and get expert help. You may need services to find documents for you, translate, and more. The path to multiple citizenship is never easy, but experts can make it relatively stress-free.
If you have any more questions, check out our FAQ.
Get Expert Help
The process of obtaining dual citizenship is time-consuming and can be frustrating. This is where professional assistance can be invaluable.
The Italian American Citizenship Assistance Program is staffed by experts who will help you through the process from beginning to end, including guiding you through the steps for obtaining necessary Italian citizenship documents, finding out where and how to make an Italian consulate appointment, and providing translations when needed.
Our Italian citizenship program has helped hundreds of people discover their Italian heritage and become Italian dual citizens! Contact us today to learn more.