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What Makes You Eligible for an Italian Passport
There are many reasons you might want to apply for an Italian passport. You may wish to live or work in Italy because of the lifestyle, culture, and world-famous food. You might want to travel the EU freely or have an alternative to your United States passport. If you are wondering how to get an Italian passport as an American, there are a few ways you can qualify.
The essential requirement is to obtain Italian citizenship by marriage, by descent, or by residency. You will need to have an Italy-born ancestor, marry a citizen, or legally live in Italy until you are eligible to apply for citizenship through Italian naturalization.
Dual Citizenship by Descent
In 1992, Italy declared dual citizenship to be legal, allowing Italian citizenship for foreigners. This was an important event because it meant that it was possible to inherit the right to citizenship “jure sanguinis” and obtain an Italian passport by descent. You will need to demonstrate that your Italian ancestor retained their citizenship by submitting the Italian vital records and documents required by the consulate.
To gain Italian citizenship by descent, you must apply at the consulate with jurisdiction over your state of residence. You will need to submit Italian and US vital records and have an interview with the consulate. You must complete your application and be approved for citizenship before you can apply for a passport.
You will need to prepare these vital documents translated and certified by an apostille:
- Birth certificate and naturalization records for your ancestor
- Marriage certificates, civil union records, and divorce certificates
- Death certificates and other documents required by the Italian consulate
Once you obtain this information and document important events in your ancestor’s life you will need to see whether you meet other criteria to be eligible for Italian citizenship, such as having at least one Italy-born ancestor who was a citizen of Italy and alive after 1861.
Obtaining Italian Citizenship by Marriage
If your spouse is an Italian citizen, this is another route to obtaining an Italian passport. Earning your dual citizenship “jure matrimonii,” or by marriage, is allowed under residency and naturalization laws. The documents required are similar but some waiting periods apply.
You will need to wait until two years after marrying a citizen to claim eligibility. If you have children, you will only need to wait one year to apply. If you live outside of Italy, you will have to wait three years to submit your application, or one year and a half if you have children.
You will apply for citizenship first at the appropriate embassy or consulate. While you are waiting you will need to have a valid immigrant visa and residency permit. When you’ve completed your interview appointment with the government agency responsible, and been approved for citizenship, you can find out how to get an Italian passport in Italy or your country of residence.
Italian Naturalization by Residency
If the above criteria don’t apply to you, you may be eligible depending on your length of residency in Italy under their immigration process. If you are a citizen of the USA or outside of Europe, you will have to have lived in Italy for a period of at least ten years in order to be eligible for citizenship. A four-year residency in Italy is required for those who are EU citizens.1
Am I Eligible for an Italian Passport?
You can find out if you qualify for citizenship by descent with guidance from the Italian American Citizenship Assistance Program (ITAMCAP), and get help with getting an identification card, EU passport, and all the benefits of dual citizenship.
Once you have your citizenship, it takes approximately 2-3 months to receive your new passport. The Italian passport application cost will vary depending on the path you take. Translation services and apostille certification are available through our assistance program to help you locate the vital documents you need and submit a complete application the first time.
Fees will also vary based on the conversion rate between US dollars and the euro, and must be submitted in the form of a money order or certified check to the consulate or government office.
Resources and Assistance Getting an Italian Passport
The complex process of obtaining dual citizenship can be frustrating and overwhelming. If you’re interested in researching naturalization records or getting an Italian passport, ITAMCAP can help. Our comprehensive consultation identifies your exact needs, and you’ll receive a full report that includes cost analysis, timelines, and more. Begin your journey today with a free 30-minute consultation by calling (877) 456-1660.