Italian dual citizenship: what’s the difference between applying in Italy and at a consulate?
So, you want to apply for Italian dual citizenship. Great!
Did you know that you can either apply at your local Italian consulate in the U.S. or go directly to Italy and apply there? Each has its own pros and cons. I’ll explain here.
The Application Process aka “Where You Live Is Where You Apply”
Before we can delve into the differences of consulate vs. directly in Italy, you should know that where you end up applying should be where you live. If you choose to apply for Italian dual citizenship at an Italian consulate in the U.S., for example, they will not allow you to make an appointment unless you can demonstrate that you live in that particular consulate’s jurisdiction.
Likewise, you cannot apply in Italy unless you are a resident of Italy. Getting even more specific, you can only apply in the comune where you live. If you live in a suburb of Milan and want to apply in Milan proper, no can do! You can only apply in the exact comune which has processed your residency application.
All this is to say that it’s a fairly simple rule: wherever you live is where you apply.
What does this mean for your application?
Simply put, if you reside in a consulate’s jurisdiction you apply there. If you reside in Italy, you apply at your comune of residence. Easy enough!
Applying in Italy
Once you have decided to make the leap and apply for Italian dual citizenship in Italy, you need to either obtain a passport stamp upon entry into Italy or if are traveling (or stopping over) in another Schengen country, you will want to file a dichiarazione di presenza (declaration of presence) within 8 days of your arrival. This is the absolute first step towards becoming a bona fide resident of Italy.
Then, you’ll want to first make sure to start the process for residency within the comune where you intend to hand in your paperwork. This means you will need a valid rental contract (popular Italian contract types are 3+2 or 4+4 or 6+2 or any combination thereof; it means that your initial contract is for x years while the second number, y, is the number of years it can be extended. But don’t worry–it doesn’t mean you have to be a resident of Italy for that number of years! You can always give notice to rescind your contract). This rental contract must be signed by both landlord and tenant and deposited with the Agenzia delle entrate. Depending on the type of contract, there may be a small fee for depositing it.
Alternatively, you can apply in Italy if you have a friend or family member file a dichiarazione di ospitalità (declaration of hospitality) for you. This means that in the eyes of the Italian law, you become the guest and the responsibility of the person who is hosting you.
Once you have obtained the requisite contract or declaration you must go to the anagrafe to hand in your residency request. There are various Italian laws such as circolare k.28 del 1991 and circolare 32 del 13 giugno 2007 which spell out the various rights you have to obtain residency as someone qualified for Italian dual citizenship. After handing in your residency paperwork (you’ll need to show a copy of your contract/declaration and your passport), the comune may send a vigile (officer) to your home to check and make sure you are living there. You should know that your residency goes officially on the books 2 days from your application, but it is not confirmed until the vigile is sent. The comune has up to 45 days by law to send the vigile, but if he does not appear at all by the 45th day you are considered a resident automatically.
After the vigile’s visit you can immediately return and hand in your citizenship paperwork. Some comuni have dedicated citizenship offices (some even have dedicated dual citizenship offices!), while some will have the anagrafe and the ufficio di stato civile–which is the office you want, if they don’t have a citizenship office–in the same location. There, you will hand in your citizenship paperwork. The comune will give you a receipt and you can officially wait it out! If your stay will extend past 90 days, you must then obtain a permesso di soggiorno in attesa di cittadinanza, but I will expand more on that in another post.
The comune will make copies of your paperwork and send them to the consulates back home under whose jurisdiction your entire family has lived. The consulate will be asked to check its own internal records to make sure nobody in your family renounced his or her right to Italian dual citizenship. Once you get the all clear from each consulate, your application will officially be approved and signed into effect by the mayor of the comune where you applied.
Then, your documents will be transcribed into Italian and your birth and marriage record will be officially on record in your new Italian hometown. You can then get a passport, a carta d’identità, and enjoy all the benefits of being an Italian citizen!
Benefits: Why You Should Apply for Italian Dual Citizenship in Italy
Applying in Italy is:
- 9 times out of 10, quicker than applying at a consulate
- Easier because fewer documents are required
- A much more informal process
- Fun because you get to do it in Italy!
- Less of a hassle because most Italian comuni go easier on discrepancies than the consulate
- As a con, it’s more expensive than applying at a consulate
- Difficult if you don’t speak some Italian or have someone to help you