Steps on How to Qualify for Italian Citizenship

Share via

A lot of things make Italy a great country for anyone looking to settle down in for any reason. The cost of living in Europe is highly variable, with cities like London costing almost twice as much to live in compared to Rome. Living in Rome is also considerably pricier than living in a different part of Italy because tourist hotspots and cosmopolitan cities are known to be the most expensive locations to live in a country. Even with that in mind, Italy is still considerably cheaper than in many other countries in Europe. But deciding to live in a country shouldn’t be based on the cost of living alone. Italy is known for its perfect climate thanks to the Mediterranean climate that shrouds most of the country. The coast and southern regions have the mildest and most balanced weather, not freezing in winter nor boiling in summer.

The Italian culture has no shortage of artistic, familial, and many other great elements that shape the community. No matter how modern Italians get, their bond with their traditional roots seems to be unwavering. Try visiting any town in Italy and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a historic center that isn’t highly authentic and true to its roots. The closely-knit bond of Italian society can be seen easily if you look at how they don’t permit the establishment of foreign restaurants and shops except on the outskirts of a town. Explaining why Italy is a great place to live in can go on for a while, but what’s truly important is how can one qualify for Italian citizenship to achieve that dream? To help you wrap your head around the whole procedure, we’ve compiled a brief yet informative guide on the steps you should take.

The Perks of Having a Dual Citizenship

Since Italy allows its citizens to have another citizenship, those who apply for the dual Italian citizenship get to enjoy the best of both worlds. Dual citizens get to benefit from the social, medical, and political privileges offered by both countries at the same time. They can also work without needing a work permit or visa in either country, in addition to getting an education at the local or citizen rate. As a citizen with both citizenships, you get to use any of the two passports at the time of your choosing. No one questions you about the purpose of your visit to give you a long-term visa, which can facilitate visits to your family, professional affairs, and studying in either country.

Aside from the immediate perks you achieve with dual citizenship, the cultural impact of being immersed in the cultures of both countries is too good to be missed out. A lot of countries see dual citizenship as a way to increase the popularity of a country with tourists and immigrants. If there is a single best way to learn about a certain culture, language, and a whole different style of life.

The Disadvantages of a Dual Citizenship

One of the downsides of having dual citizenship is that you’re bound to carry the burden of both citizenships’ obligations. The laws of both countries can apply to you, and you’re expected to adhere to them both if you want to stay out of trouble. The most problematic situations usually involve serving as an officer in the military of a country that is not on good terms with the other country you have citizenship of. In general, positions of high-sensitivity in governments are usually restricted, making the security clearance you need for such positions almost impossible to obtain in most cases.

The Ancestry Path to Italian Citizenship

Having Italian ancestors is considered the easiest way to obtain Italian citizenship. There are a few conditions where you can acquire Italian citizenship automatically.

  • Being born to Italian parents, regardless of whether inside or outside Italy.
  • Being adopted by an Italian citizen, as long as you were a minor.
  • Being born in Italy to stateless or unknown parents.

These are the most straightforward conditions for automatic citizenship, but they are not the only ones. Italy is one of the countries that allow its citizens to pass down their citizenship, which means that citizens of other nationalities who have Italian ancestors can secure a claim to Italian citizenship through the law of “right of the bloodline”. This is known to be like gaining Italian citizenship by descent, whether the ancestor is a grandparent, great-grandparent, or another. It still has to be proven through official documentation. As long as none of the nationals along the line of ancestors didn’t renounce their Italian citizenship, it’s possible to claim citizenship.

Those who don’t live in Italy need to visit the Italian consulate or registry office in their country of residence. It doesn’t matter where you apply from as long as you meet the legal requirements described above, but you should expect some variance in waiting time and admission procedures. The standard certificates you should provide are full birth, marriage, and death documents for any ancestral relative that’s included in your claim. Along with the standard documents, you need to provide proof that those relatives didn’t renounce their Italian citizenship, at least until their children were born. Just like with standard consulate procedures, the documents have to be translated to the Italian language and checked by an apostille for legalization.

The Marriage Route

While marrying an Italian national automatically grants you the right to a citizenship claim, there are still some conditions that have to be met. The periods that you have to wait before applying for the claim are variable. After your marriage, you need to either stay married for two years while being in Italy or 3 years if you’re outside Italy. The latest law also requires the spouse claiming citizenship to speak Italian at an intermediate level (B1), which is measured using a testing program that grants a certificate after successfully passing it. The marriage has to stay viable for the duration of stay before you apply for the claim; the divorce or passing away of the spouse during the 2 or 3 years would halt the process indefinitely. It’s important to note that those who are convicted of serious crimes, whether in Italy or another country, are denied from gaining citizenship through this claim, in addition to people deemed as a threat to national security, such as individuals linked to terrorist activities.

Before you apply to the citizenship claim, make sure that your marriage is officially registered in Italy. If it took place in Italy, it should be automatically registered with minimal effort. But marriages done outside Italy require the official documentation, which is composed of a marriage certificate, signed declaration, all translated and legalized then sent to the right authorities. After ensuring that you have the required documents, you can apply to the local prefecture if you reside in Italy or through the consulate if you’re in another country. Some countries allow you to make the application online without the need to physically visit the consulate. Make sure that you have the marriage and birth certificates of yourself and your parents, in addition to your criminal record and your Italian spouse’s proof of citizenship.

Citizenship Through Naturalization

This is often the most complex method to get a claim on Italian citizenship because its requirements have a long-term nature. If you’re not from a European country, you may need to establish permanent residency for more than 10 years in Italy before you apply for citizenship. If you happen to be from an EU country, you are only required to have 4 years of legal residency before applying. If you had an Italian ancestor who renounced their citizenship, you’re still allowed to claim citizenship after 3 years of legal residency in Italy. The major upside to this method is that all it needs is a viable visa and time, which can be obtained easily in many cases. The disadvantage is that you’ll have to spend 10 years, or less in some cases, living in Italy before you can apply for a citizenship claim. You should also note that there are still no guarantees that the application won’t be rejected if you are considered a security threat by the Italian government at any point in time. You’ll need to bring tax returns and proof of residency for the required years, in addition to the birth certificates of yourself and your parents.

Rundown of the Process

The first thing you need to do after you’ve gathered and legalized all the documents you need for your claim is to go to Italy. If you’re not already inside, the law permits entry as a tourist for those looking to apply for Italian citizenship, in addition to establishing residency. You don’t need any special arrangements or phone calls to apply to a dual citizenship office since you can simply walk in and start the application process.

Non-European visitors coming directly to Italy from the airport will have their passports stamped upon their arrival. Depending on the first EU country you arrive in, the passport will be stamped in that country. In the case of not having the passport stamped in Italy, you need to submit a “declaration of presence” as an alternative to let the Italian office know of your arrival. Don’t wait more than 8 days to submit the statement to the immigration office or it will be rejected. You may need to apply for a tax code through the Italian tax office, and it doesn’t mean that you’ll be taxed, but it is still an official procedure.

Image Source:

As a tourist still looking for a place of residency, you’re allowed to choose any Italian town to formally establish the residency. Keep in mind that the place you choose can’t be a hotel or an Airbnb because they do not provide the official documentation needed. You will need a place of residence that provides you with a lease agreement, letter of hospitality, or a deed.

Just like any Italian national do when they change residency, the police need to verify the place of your residency to ensure that you’re actually living at the property you claimed as your residence. The police can have up to a month and a half to check the location, but it’s usually a 5-minute check.

Once you’re a resident of an Italian town, with the official documents that prove it, it’s time to pay a visit to the city hall to submit the supporting documents of your citizenship application and wait for the clerk to confirm the application after some time. The office will start working with the consulates abroad, check whether you or any of your ancestors renounced the citizenship before or not.

After the application is applied, you need to be quick to apply for a specific residency permit. The problem is that non-European citizens’ visas do not allow the citizen to stay more than 90 days because it’s a tourist visa. The residency permit will ensure that you have more than 90 days in Italy.

Choosing an Immigration Lawyer

Since you’ll be applying to the citizenship claim in a foreign country or Italy, the claim can be submitted from anywhere as long as it’s listed officially. This process takes a lot of time because you’ll be collecting a lot of documents, in addition to translating and legalizing them. The immigration lawyer you choose should speak both Italian and English if you want to avoid any unnecessary mishaps that can set you back for a long time. Any errors in the paperwork can easily lead to the rejection of your application. The rejection of the application can waste a lot of time because you’ll be right back at the end of the queue.

While the road to citizenship can either be a bit complicated or very straightforward, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to pull it off. Gaining Italian citizenship will open up a whole new world of opportunities, especially if you gain dual citizenship. Take the time to research the necessary steps all the way to the end to avoid making a mistake mid-way.

Share via
Samantha Acuna is a writer based in San Francisco, CA. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post,, and Yahoo Small Business.