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.
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.
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.
Obligations of Italian citizens
If you live outside Italy for more than 12 months you must enroll in AIRE (Anagrafe degli italiani residenti all’estero), which means “Registry of Italians Residing Abroad.”
This information is held jointly by your local Italian consulate and the municipality where you last lived in Italy (or the municipality where your Italian ancestor was born). You must register in order to access key consular services such as the issuance of passports and the registration in Italy of vital records issued in other countries.
You must also enroll in AIRE in order to vote in Italian elections.
Unlike the United States, Italy does not tax its citizens residing abroad. If you live in the United States, you owe no tax obligations to Italy.
However, if you are living and working in Italy, you will be taxed locally. Italy and the United States have established a treaty and participate in the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion to avoid double taxation.
When in doubt, ask your tax professional.
No. The mandatory draft was suspended on May 8, 2001 with the passing of Article 7 of Legislative Decree no. 215 of May 2001. Nobody is required to serve except in cases of extreme emergency. Therefore, the mandatory draft will only be reinstated in case of extraordinary circumstances like active conflict involving Italy, and only if resources available through voluntary enlistment are not considered sufficient.
Qualifying for Italian Dual Citizenship
I'm not sure I qualify. How can I find out?
Read our comprehensive post on qualifying for Italian dual citizenship here.
Do I need to speak Italian?
No. If you qualify for Italian dual citizenship, you have been an Italian citizen since birth. Therefore, there is no language exam for those seeking Italian dual citizenship by descent.
Must I be 100% Italian?
No. You only need one qualifying Italian ancestor to be eligible.
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.
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.
Can my children have Italian citizenship?
If your children are under 18, they automatically become Italian when you do.
If they are over 18, they must file their own separate applications.
Applying for Italian Dual Citizenship
How do I apply?
There are generally two ways to apply. You can either apply at your Italian consulate (if you live outside Italy), or in the comune (town) of your choice if you live in Italy.
If you apply at your consulate, you must first obtain an appointment. You have to apply in person.
Do I need to speak Italian at my appointment?
No. However, don’t be afraid to use Italian at your citizenship appointment if you can! Many consular clerks appreciate the effort.
Is there a fee?
Yes. Each applicant above the age of 18 must pay a fee of 300 euros, payable to the Italian government.
This fee is non-refundable no matter the outcome of your application.
How long does it take?
Consular applications are extremely popular, so appointments get snatched up fast. Budget for a wait of 1-3 years for an appointment, with up to 24 months for processing time thereafter.
What is a 1948 case?
Read our comprehensive page on 1948 cases here for more information.
Do I need an attorney?
You may file your application on your own behalf. The only time you need an attorney would be during a 1948 case. For all other cases, you can hire a service provider such as us to obtain your documentation.
Becoming an Italian Citizen
Would I be entitled to free health care?
Yes. Italian citizens are entitled to free healthcare. If you are a resident of Italy you may also obtain a tessera sanitaria (healthcare card).
Is school affordable?
Yes. School in Italy is extremely affordable and is actually billed on a sliding income scale basis.
Furthermore, as an EU citizen you are entitled to study in any other EU country with local tuition rates. Many countries in the EU have free or extremely affordable healthcare.
Will I be drafted?
No. Italy no longer has a draft.