Can I get Italian citizenship through grandparents?
Grandparents are a source of love and joy for many. But did you know that if you are of Italian descent, your grandparents may have passed down much more than just their favorite sauce recipe?
One of the questions I hear most from potential clients is “Can I get Italian citizenship through grandparents?”
For some reason, many people think:
- They can only get Italian citizenship through their parents,
- Women (i.e. their grandmothers) cannot pass on Italian citizenship
I’m happy to say that the above two assumptions are totally wrong and that yes, you can get Italian citizenship through grandparents!
Requirements to Qualification Through Grandparents
In order to qualify for Italian citizenship through grandparents, you’ll need to meet the following qualifications:
Your father or mother were born in the US or a country other than Italy which gave them citizenship at birth, his or her parent (your grandparent) was born in Italy and was an Italian citizen at the time of your parent’s birth, and neither you nor your parent ever renounced your right to have Italian dual citizenship.
Passing Italian Citizenship from Women to Children
There is one extra requirement you must meet if you want to qualify through a female ancestor.
Any women in your family must have had their children on or after January 1, 1948. This is the date that Italy adopted its modern constitution, finally allowing women to pass on citizenship to their children. Prior to this date, only fathers could pass on citizenship in the eyes of Italian law.
What Happens If My Female Ancestor Had A Child before January 1, 1948?
Don’t panic if you don’t meet the date cut-off.
As long as your female ancestor was still an Italian citizen at the time her child was born, you can still qualify even if the birth occurred before January 1, 1948.
These are special situations we refer to as “1948 cases.” Since a landmark legal decision in 2009, people descended from pre-1948 births to Italian women can now try their cases in Court in Rome. Though you will not be able to apply directly in Italy or at your consulate, you can still obtain your citizenship.
There are many firms that can help you with a 1948 case, and we’re one of them. To file a 1948 case you would collect your documents as normal but instead of filing your own application you hand it off to an Italian attorney who tries your case in Rome. You do not need to be present to file your case and you can add on other family members at the same time.
Documents You’ll Need to Qualify Through Grandparents
If eligible, you must obtain the following documents. They must be newly issued, certified, apostilled, and translated if not already in Italian:
For your grandparents:
- Grandfather’s birth certificate from Italy
- Grandmother’s birth certificate from Italy
- Grandparents’ marriage record
- The applicable grandparent’s naturalization record OR proof of non-naturalization (see here to find out what this means)
- Grandfather’s death certificate
- Grandmother’s death certificate
For your parents:
- Father’s birth certificate
- Mother’s birth certificate
- Parents’ marriage certificate
- Father’s death certificate
- Mother’s death certificate
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificate of your minor children, if applicable
- Any applicable divorce records
- Additional marriage certificates for you/your parents/your grandparents
Notes on Documents
This is probably your first foray into Italian bureaucracy, so it’s a good time to say that nothing is as straightforward as it seems with Italy!
Unfortunately, each Italian consulate has its own preferences regarding documentation. Some like New York will require all records for both parents and both grandparents, regardless of whether one is in the direct line or not.
Other consulates will be more reasonable and only require documents relating to your direct line of descent.
For example: if you are going through your paternal grandfather, some consulates will require documents for your grandfather, grandmother, mother, and father even though your mother and grandmother are not in your “direct” line. Others will require only direct line documents, i.e. for your grandfather, father, and you.
Check with your consulate before your application to determine what specific documents they require.
Discrepancies on Documents
Consulates want to make sure you have a viable claim to Italian dual citizenship. To do this, they reconstruct your family tree. When they’re not sure about a person’s identity, this may pose a problem.
With name or date discrepancies it is usually a good idea to fix them before your appointment. This may be done at the local, county, or state level depending on where your original documents or from.
Consulates tend to be most lenient on first name discrepancies which are direct translations. So, if your ancestor was born “Francesco” in Italy but became “Frank” in the US they may overlook this without an amendment. It is obvious that Frank and Francesco are the same person. But if that same Francesco decided to be Steve in the US, you may have to amend this!
Forms to Fill Out
At the consulate you must provide a copy of your passport, driver’s license and one utility bill to confirm you reside in their jurisdiction.
Additionally, you will have to fill out up to four application forms, stating that neither you nor your ascendants renounced the right to have Italian citizenship before any Italian authority, listing all the places you’ve lived.