General Questions

What are the benefits of being an Italian citizen?

We have written a whole post on this topic here.

On a basic level, being an Italian citizen means you are a European citizen. This allows you to live, work, and study anywhere in the EU without restriction. It also entitles you to free or low-cost education and free or low-cost healthcare.

Additionally, being a dual Italian citizen will make you attractive to employers who no longer need to sponsor you in order to hire you.

As an Italian citizen you can also travel to countries which may be hostile to holders of your native passport. When abroad, you may seek help from two consulates. Finally, certain business opportunities and/or investment products are only available to EU citizens and it may be easier to set up business in the EU and purchase property.

Are there generational limits?

Absolutely not.

Unlike many other citizenship-by-heritage programs, Italian dual citizenship poses no generational limits. You may go back as far as needed–as long as you don’t skip generations to qualify–if you meet the criteria.

What is Italian dual citizenship?

Italian citizenship jure sanguinis (aka Italian dual citizenship) is the ability to have been passed down Italian citizenship from birth.

According to Italian law, any child born to an Italian parent automatically becomes an Italian citizen at birth. This citizenship is valid even if it is never formally recognized. When this child has a child of his/her own, that same Italian citizenship gets passed down as well.

Therefore, if you are of Italian descent and have just one qualifying ancestor (no matter how far back), you might be entitled to Italian dual citizenship according to the principle of jure sanguinis. Click here to see if you qualify.

Getting Italian dual citizenship

What happens if I can’t get an appointment?

Italian dual citizenship is very popular, with some consulates such as Buenos Aires handling 8,000 applications yearly alone. For that reason, it may be hard to get an appointment even after repeated attempts.

If you are unable to obtain an Italian dual citizenship appointment, you may be able to file a claim in court to seek recognition alternatively. Click here for more information.

How much does it cost?

There is a 300 euro application fee for each person over 18 seeking Italian dual citizenship, regardless of the outcome of the application.

How long does it take to become an Italian citizen?

Timeframes vary according to how complicated your case is and the consulate in which you apply (some are busier than others). Application times may also vary if you apply in Italy, which is usually quicker.

The Italian government has 24 months to process your application once it is handed in.

How can you help me apply for Italian dual citizenship?

We can procure all documents required for your citizenship application. Each state has different policies on who can access vital records. Some are “public information” states while others restrict access to close relatives. For this reason, we may need your cooperation to retrieve some records; normally, this requires signatures and occasional mail forwarding.

Once we gather all the documents, we’ll cross-reference them and address potential discrepancies with you. At this point, if you decide to move forward with any document corrections or court orders to ensure consistency we will start working on those.

After all documents have been procured in the correct format and there are no discrepancies, we will apostille (certify) them and officially translate them into Italian.

Then, you’ll receive a citizenship packet with everything you need to present at the Italian consulate. We’ll include all the required forms, notes relating to your case, and a family tree. During the process of gathering your records, we will keep you updated on the progress by using project management software.

What happens at a consular appointment?

We have a whole page here dedicated to recapping what happens at a consular appointment

How do I book an appointment?

On your local Italian consulate’s website, there should be an option called “PrenotaOnline.” This is an online appointment booking system.

You must sign up using an e-mail address you check often and provide basic demographic information such as name, date of birth, place of birth, and the number on your ID (passport or similar).

Then, you will be taken to a screen displaying a calendar where you can pick an available date.

There is no centralized system for making appointments; each consulate operates its own calendar of availability. Dates of availability may fluctuate at different times of the year and between consulates themselves. Some are more busy than others, depending on their location.

When I apply, must I show proof of residence?


When you apply at your consulate, you must show proof that you live within their jurisdiction. This can be in the form of a utility bill, a bank statement, or a rental agreement. You must also provide ID showing your address at the moment you apply. Other forms of proof may be accepted on a case-by-case basis.

If applying in Italy, you must first appear on the local registry of people residing in the town (APR – anagrafe popolazione residente).

Where do I apply?

If you live outside Italy, you must apply at the Italian consulate with jurisdiction over your place of residence.

If you live in Italy, you must apply at the comune (town or municipality) where you are living.

Should you wish to do so, you can establish residency in Italy for the sole purpose of obtaining Italian dual citizenship. We have a handy guide here related to all things applying in Italy.


What if my ancestor never naturalized?

This means you automatically qualify. You must submit the following additional documents when filing your application:

  • Statement of non-existence of Naturalization record for the Italian ancestor issued by the USCIS Genealogy Program;
  • Statement of non-existence of Naturalization record for the Italian ancestor issued by the National Archives or the county clerk competent for the area where the ancestor used to live;
  • Certified copy of the first available census record immediately after and immediately before the birth in the US of the direct descent.

I was adopted into an Italian family. Can I become an Italian citizen?

Yes. You must submit a certified copy of your adoption paperwork along with your other documents. If you were adopted as a minor and are applying as an adult there are generally no other requirements.

If you were adopted over the age of 18 you must live in Italy for five years before applying for recognition of Italian dual citizenship.

How do I find out if my ancestor naturalized?

There are three sources you should check to determine naturalization.

  1. NARA. You can run a search online for your ancestor’s naturalization records. Make sure to request certified copies when filing your search.
  2. USCIS. Same as above; you can use the “genealogy” program to run a search online.
  3. The County Clerk’s office (or similar) of a local court where your ancestor lived during his or her life in the United States. As above, make sure to request certified copies.

My Italian ancestor emigrated to another country first before coming to the US. Does this change my situation?

The first thing you should do is double-check your eligibility. When an Italian ancestor emigrates to another country (let’s use Canada) and has Canadian children who then later move to the United States, this may affect your claim. If your intermediate Canadian ancestors ever became American citizens before having children in the U.S., this would cut off your claim for Italian dual citizenship.

Second, your consulate will ask you to provide naturalization records from the country to which your Italian ancestor originally emigrated. Contact the Italian consulate in that country for information on what to provide.

My Italian ancestor was from a town that is no longer part of Italy (or was not part of Italy when s/he emigrated). What can I do?

Italy’s territory has sometimes exchanged hands throughout history, resulting in a patchwork of citizenship laws. Therefore, your situation is likely to be too complex to be covered here. If your ancestor was from a town that is no longer part of Italy, we recommend contacting the citizenship office of your local consulate. Be sure to specify your ancestor’s place and date of birth as well as the date of emigration.

I don’t qualify because my Italian ancestor naturalized before his/her child was born. What can I do?

If you are the child or grandchild of an ex-citizen, you can obtain Italian citizenship after living in Italy for three years. Great-grandchildren (and beyond) are treated no differently than people of purely non-Italian ancestry, and can only acquire citizenship by living in Italy for a period of ten years. People who do not qualify for citizenship by descent can still acquire citizenship though other means such as by marriage or by service to the government.

Can my children have Italian dual citizenship?

Yes! If you qualify, then your children automatically qualify for Italian citizenship as well.

If they are under 18 they will be recognized along with you the moment you receive Italian dual citizenship. They do not need to be present at your application for this.

If they are over 18, they must file their own application at the Italian consulate for Italian dual citizenship. If you have been previously recognized, they only need to go back one generation (to you) to seek citizenship.

If I qualify, can my spouse have Italian citizenship?

Yes. However, there are different rules for those seeking Italian citizenship via marriage. You must be married for at least 3 years if living outside Italy (2 if living in Italy) and you must be recognized first before your spouse can apply. If you have children under 18, these wait times are halved. Additionally, your spouse must take and pass an Italian language exam at the B1 level and there is a 48-month wait for processing of your spouse’s citizenship.

If you are a Italian citizenship-qualifying man married to a woman before April 27, 1983, your spouse is exempt from the above and will become an Italian citizen at the exact same moment you do. There is no language exam in this case.

Do I have to live in Italy?

Not unless you want to! If you are living outside Italy, you must apply for citizenship at the Italian consulate which services your jurisdiction.

However, you may elect residency in Italy and apply directly in the comune (town) of your choice.

Documentation and Translations

What if I can’t find my Italian ancestor’s birth certificate?

If you can’t find this birth certificate, you have a few options:

  • Get a letter from the comune stating there is no birth record on file. Along with this letter, obtain a baptismal record for your ancestor from the diocese.
  • If your ancestor is male, you may be able to use his military draft records in lieu of a birth certificate.

When in doubt, contact your consulate and see what they will accept. As with everything else, there is a high level of discretion given to consular officers making decisions on dual citizenship. Without proof of your ancestor’s birth, you cannot apply for Italian dual citizenship.

Do consulates accept church records?

Yes, but only when “civil” documents cannot be found. For example, if you cannot find your ancestor’s birth record from the state/city that issued it, but you do have a baptismal certificate, the consulate will accept the baptismal record. However, make sure to always do a search of civil records first and bring in the letter proving that you did the search and there is nothing on file to your appointment as well.

What is an apostille?

Prior to 1961, every country in the world has its own distinct way of legalizing/certifying documents for use outside its borders. This lead to confusion and a lack of coherence among them. In 1961, the Hague “Apostille” Convention sought to change that. After this convention, it was decided that the participating countries would use one unified way of legalizing documents that could be easily recognized by all others.

This form of legalization is the apostille. It is a separate sheet of paper containing a seal and information about the original document whose purpose is to certify the authenticity of your document, the body that issued it, and the official who signed it. It then gets attached to your original document.

If your documents come from the United States, you must apostille them before handing them in to the Italian consulate. Apostilles can be obtained from the Secretary of State in the state which issued each document.

What do I do if there are discrepancies on my documents?

Discrepancies usually fall into separate categories depending on their “severity.”

Anglicizations of names like Giuseppe to Joseph or Maria to Mary are likely to be accepted by the consulate without issue. The same goes for misspellings such as “Palemro” instead of Palermo.

However, sometimes discrepancies can lead to doubts about the identity of the person referenced in the document. This happens with a complete name change, date or place discrepancies. In these cases, you may be able to amend your documents to reflect the correct information. The way you amend your records depends on where they are from, how old they are, and your relation to the person referenced therein.

Furthermore, acceptance (or non-acceptance) of documents with discrepancies is entirely up to the consular officer. One might let a certain discrepancy slide while another may not.

When in doubt, correct what you can before going to your appointment unless it is something like an Anglicization of a name.

What if I can’t get all of my paperwork in time for my appointment?

Our advice is to go to your appointment anyway.

The consular officer will still look over your application and give you time to obtain anything that is missing. If you have the bulk of your records available at the time of your appointment, they will most likely allow you to mail the missing documents to them.

Does the consulate give me back my documents?

The consulate will keep all of your records and make their own file for you. There is one exception: your ancestor’s original naturalization certificate, which they will return to you.

If you want to keep your records make sure to order extra copies when compiling your paperwork.

Can my documents expire?

Yes and no.

If your document has been legalized by an apostille, it does not expire and you can bring it to your appointment.

If your document has not yet been legalized by an apostille, it is not that the document itself will expire, but more so that it will be too “old” to be apostilled (and an apostille is necessary for your appointment). The purpose of the apostille is to certify the signature of the official who signed your record at the time it was issued. If the document is old enough, it is possible that this person’s signature is no longer on file/able to be verified with the appropriate government bodies, and thus the document cannot be apostilled.

Usually, if your document is 5 years old or more we recommend obtaining a new copy.

What is a “certificate of non-appeal”?

This is required when an applicant presents a divorce certificate. It is requested along with the actual divorce decree.

It is a certified document proving that no appeal has been filed and therefore the divorce is final. A notice of appeal is served on all respondents within 30 days of receipt of written notice of a divorce judgment. Therefore, the certificate of no appeal could be a document stating that the court clerk wouldn’t find any appeals and, possibly, that the statutory time allowed for an appeal has elapsed. Alternatively, it may also be a case summary showing no legal actions were taken regarding that divorce after the final judgment of divorce was entered.

My documents got rejected at my appointment. Why?

There are a number of reasons why the consulate may have rejected your documents. They are:

  • It is in short form (so it doesn’t display all of the required information that the consulate needs);
  • It does not show the exact place (city, town, village) of the event (birth/death/marriage);
  • It is not legalized with an apostille or other applicable procedure;
  • It is not translated into Italian.

Other questions

What if my application is rejected?

Italian law on citizenship by descent is quite brief. Therefore, consular officers are given great latitude in processing your applications. This means they can ask applicants to add any documents they believe will be useful to evaluate your citizenship by descent request.

On the one hand, this means that consular officers may ask for documents that are not strictly required by law (such as non-direct line records pertaining to other family members such as non-Italian spouses). On the other, this allows you as an applicant to submit any other additional documents you feel will help establish your claim.

If your consular officer rejects your application based on the fact that you did not sufficiently prove your right to Italian citizenship, you can appeal the decision before the Administrative Court in Italy. Please contact us for assistance.

What if I can’t find all documents?

There is a high level of discretion given to consular officers when processing your application for Italian dual citizenship.

  • Missing death records usually do not pose a problem. They are not strictly relevant for your application and serve only to prove that your ascendants are deceased and to paint the overall picture of your family tree. According to Italian law, they are not required but are asked for by consulates.
  • The same is true for civil records which cannot be found but are “cured” by obtaining church records. An example of this could be a birth certificate that does not exist from a civil government body, but a baptismal record which does exist.

The more serious documents are as follows:

  • Naturalization records (or proof of non-naturalization). These serve to prove eligibility. Therefore, these records are highly important and you cannot apply without them.
  • Marriage records, if applying through male ancestors. Italian law (Circolare 29 of 2002) states that applicants must present at least birth and marriage certificates from the Italian ancestor leading back to the applicant. Marriage records establish paternity according to Italian law in a way that birth certificates don’t. Under Italian law, it is presumed that father of the child is the person married to the mother. In Italian law, the fact that a man is named on a birth certificate does not sufficiently establish paternity. The only way around the lack of a marriage record is through an acknowledgement of paternity.

My family member already applied for citizenship. Can we share documents?

If you and your family member live within the jurisdiction of two separate consulates, you cannot share documents. Since 2012, consulates no longer share documents with each other. Thus, each of you needs to have a separate and complete set of documents.

If you and your family member live within the jurisdiction of the same consulate, you may be able to share documents. Contact your consulate directly for guidance.

Can I move after I’ve filed for citizenship?

Yes. However, you must notify your previous consulate of the move as well as your new consulate.

Other questions

How long does it take?

From start to finish, it may take 12-40 months.

Can other family members join my court case?


An unlimited number of family members can seek recognition of Italian citizenship by descent with you at the same time, provided they all descend from the same single ancestor.

Do I need to go to Italy for a 1948 case?

No. Our attorneys can handle everything for you from start to finish. You do not need to be present in Italy in order to file a claim to citizenship.

What is a 1948 case?

According to Italian law, women were not given the right to pass down citizenship to their children before January 1, 1948. There were few exceptions to this rule.

Because of this, those who descend from an Italian women (with children born before the above date) are not allowed to apply for recognition of Italian citizenship by descent at their local consulates.

However, because this rule has been declared unconstitutional by the Italian courts, applicants may file a court case to seek recognition of citizenship. Therefore, while they are not able to apply through the normal administrative path, those who meet all requirements of qualifying for Italian citizenship save for the above after-1948 birth rule, can apply for citizenship in the courts. We can help.

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