Italian Vital Records Search
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. Birth records, marriage certificates, death certificates, divorce papers, and other public records are all examples of vital records.
In Italy, the registration of these certificates is the responsibility of the municipalities or of 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 vital records. The Italian embassies and consulates receive vital records certificates issued by foreign authorities and send them to Italian City Halls for registration.
Over time, the office responsible for maintaining these naturalization records may have changed, or vital records from the United States or another country may be needed to locate necessary naturalization documents or reveal the complete history of your Italian ancestor.
Who Can Request Naturalization Documents?
There are some fine points that determine who can request what type of naturalization records and when. Much depends on whether your Italian ancestor is still living.
Living Ancestors. 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. Most often this is done through the Department of Homeland Security using a standard form. While you may assist your living ancestor in completing forms and navigating the process, they must sign the request and the certificate of naturalization will be sent directly to them.
Deceased Ancestors. 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 or the specific US Court which granted their United States citizenship. These 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 those 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 researchers look 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.
We are experienced in navigating this process and helping individuals and families reconnect with their ancestry while enjoying the many benefits of dual citizenship. 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.
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