As a rule, the goal of your application is to recreate your family tree. You do this by gathering birth, marriage, naturalization, and death records to show that you have a valid claim. Therefore, your entire application hinges on your ability to show that you descend from a qualifying ancestor and the documents for Italian dual citizenship you can actually obtain.
Many people e-mail our firm to ask questions about proving a claim to citizenship by DNA, family stories, or a biological parent who is not named on a birth certificate. The unfortunate truth is that Italy is not interested in DNA, family lore, or similar.
The rule for dual citizenship is this: if you can’t document it, it doesn’t count.
Therefore, it is imperative that you be able to show your claim in black and white through documentation. You must show up to your consular appointment with all the records you need. Additionally, those same records must be in the proper format (more on this below) otherwise they will not be accepted and you’ll have to come back at a later date.
The above list is the bare minimum set of documents for Italian dual citizenship you will need per Italian law. So, don’t take it as gospel. Instead, use it as a starting point to research the exact documents your specific consulate will need.
This is because Italian law gives consulates a lot of leeway in terms of required documentation for Italian dual citizenship.
This means that each single consulate can require more or less documentation as they see fit. I cannot stress this enough: if you have any doubts, consult with your single consulate’s website to be sure of which documents they require. Some consulates like New York even have a very handy checklist for you to use in accordance with how many generations you go back for your Italian dual citizenship.
Many people have difficulty finding naturalization records for their Italian ancestor. This is because in the United States, there are 3 sources of naturalization records. They are:
Remember to always request certified copies! NARA certified copies have a red ribbon, and county clerk-certified copies will have an original signature, a stamp, a seal, or similar. USCIS does not certify copies, so keep the envelope your USCIS records come in.
An apostille is a separate sheet of paper that the Secretary of State attaches to your original vital record. Each state has their own format but they all follow this general template.
The apostille’s purpose is to certify the signature and seal on your original document, and to recognize it as valid for use in Italy. Without an apostille, the Italian government will not recognize your U.S. documents as valid.
You can obtain an apostille from the Secretary of State’s office of each separate state. Each state will only apostille documents from that state. So, if you have a document from New Jersey you can only get an apostille from New Jersey, etc.
To obtain apostilles, simply google “Apostille + the name of the state.” Ignore any professional services for apostilles (too expensive!) and go right to your state’s website. Hint: you’ll recognize it by the .gov extension.
On each state’s website there is a specific apostille order form. Simply fill it out, drop it into an envelope with your original document along with a check for the required fee, and send it off. The state will send back your document with the apostille attached on top.
Obtaining translations can seem deceptively easy. The Italian government allows anyone who speaks Italian to translate your records for you. This means if you speak Italian, you can even translate them yourself. But here are a few things to keep in mind:
Beyond the naturalization records, these are the most important documents for Italian dual citizenship. There are three ways to obtain your Italian ancestor’s records. They are:
In the United States, the federal government does not distribute documents, indices, or identifying information for obtaining vital records. Here is an excellent resource with information on obtaining birth, marriage, death, and other records from each state.
Very few people can apply for Italian dual citizenship and have no discrepancies on their documents. Being that many of us are two, three or more generations removed from their last Italian-born ancestors, there are bound to be some mistakes along your paper trail.
So how do you resolve them?
There are a number of ways to do this. How you resolve your discrepancies will depend on a number of factors. This includes how bad the mistakes are, what documents they are on, what ways your state handles amendments, and what the consular officer wants from you.
One thing to keep in mind is that the consular officer is not trying to make your life hard. She or he simply wants to be sure that you are correctly representing your family line. If the consulate can track your paperwork, they can overlook minor discrepancies.
If your consular officer asks that you fix your discrepancies, be sure to discuss options and come to an agreement in writing as to what needs to be done. Officers deal with hundreds of cases at any given time, so this not only helps them keep track, it also gives you a handy paper trail. Here are some of the most common ways to fix discrepancies on your documents.
Many foreigners actually changed their names on their naturalization records. On the oath document (completed when your ancestor actually naturalized), you might see something like “the person known as ABC is from here forward known as XYZ.”
These are documents that the consulate doesn’t necessarily require but that you can use to your advantage to connect name changes across documents and to confirm events and dates. These don’t need translations and apostilles because they won’t be registered in Italy. Nor do they need to be certified copies, but your officer can ask you to get a certified copy and send it in later. When in doubt, bring everything you think might be helpful, including but not limited to:
This process calls for changes at the state or county level without a court order. This occurs when you can prove a good enough reason for the amendments and have supporting documentation. In these cases, no legal intervention is necessary. Laws vary from state to state and county to county.
Additionally, there are different ways of amending documents. Sometimes, they’ll strike through the original information on the record and add in the new info. Other times, an entirely new record will be created. Others will add an “aka” to the document. All of these are valid methods.
There are two types of court-ordered corrections.
You can obtain corrections, amendments, and certifications to cure discrepancies from Italy too. These are as follows:
Before going to your consular appointment, do you have…