What Are Italian Vital Records?
Vital records are the collection of official documents which are kept by local, territorial, or state government offices, which are often needed to apply for Italian citizenship or other official changes of status. Italian birth records, marriage certificates, death certificates, divorce papers, and other public records are all examples of vital records.
In Italy, the registration of these vital records, including Italian birth certificates, is the responsibility of the municipalities or the consular offices if abroad. The Italian Vital Records Office of an embassy or Italian consulate and/or municipality handles the registration, updating, and maintenance of the civil records. The Italian embassies and consulates receive vital records certificates issued by foreign authorities and send them to the correct civil status officer (ufficio dello stato civile) for registration.
Over time, the office responsible for maintaining these naturalization records and Italian birth records may have changed. Vital records from the United States or another country may be needed to locate necessary birth certificates or naturalization documents, or reveal the complete history of your Italian ancestor. You may need to search church records, Italian civil status documents, records of marriages and deaths, or other sources to complete an application for citizenship.
Who Can Request Naturalization Documents?
There are some fine points that determine who can request what type of naturalization records and when. If you are wondering how to request birth certificates from Italy or search naturalization records of your ancestry, much depends on whether your Italian ancestor is still living.
If your living ancestor was born in Italy but cannot find their naturalization certificate or are unsure of their status, they must be the one to request replacement documentation or send a letter to request an Italian birth certificate. Most often this is done through the Department of Homeland Security using a standard form, or with documents translated with Apostille to the Italian Consulate.
They can find their naturalization number or find their Italian birth certificate through official requests to the correct agencies. While you may assist your living ancestor in completing forms and navigating the process, they must sign the request and the ancestry and naturalization records will be sent directly to them.
If your Italian ancestor was a naturalized citizen of the United States and has since passed away, you may need to request a copy of their certificate from the National Archives, state archives, or the specific US Court which granted their United States citizenship. These civil registration records are considered public but are only considered valid substitutes for the official certificate if your ancestor is no longer alive to request one.
What If the Needed Documentation Is Not Found?
Prior to 1906, it was possible to be granted US citizenship in any “court of record,” which included municipal, county, state, and federal court systems. This led to certificates being stored in many different vital records offices, and the National Archives typically does not have civil registry records which originated in county, local, or state court systems.
It may be necessary to travel to the city or county which processed the naturalization certificate, or pay to have history research done through microfilm or paper records. Sometimes these records have even been moved to state or county historical societies. The more information you can gather about your Italian ancestor the easier it will be to locate copies of their immigration or naturalization records.
After 1906, the responsibility for naturalization became federal, making it much easier to locate the records in the National Archives. All Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) records are now maintained by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which maintains duplicate copies of certificates of citizenship after 1906.
Locating Other Required Information for Dual Citizenship
There are other steps you can take if you are unable to obtain these records easily. You may need to obtain a Certification of Non-Existence of a Naturalization Record from the USCIS, documentation of a search, or census reports proving whether or not your ancestor was naturalized in the US.
An Italian ancestry search or genealogy research will help you establish the line of descent that may support a claim to Italian citizenship. Records in Italy that outline your family history must be requested from the municipality where the birth or marriage was registered. The civil records collection includes death records and other documents that may be needed to complete a dual citizenship application.
We are experienced in navigating this process and helping individuals and families reconnect with their ancestry while enjoying the many benefits of dual citizenship. We can help with Italian birth records, ancestry tracing, and how to find Italian birth certificates. With the Italian American Citizenship Assistance Program, you can take advantage of that expertise and our network of resources to complete your application. Contact us today for more information and guidance in completing this process.
Start Your Citizenship Process
Free of Charge
Please provide the information below so we can assist you as quickly as possible.