apply for dual citizenship in Italy

Italian Dual Citizenship: Applying in Italy vs. At the Consulate

Acquiring Italian dual citizenship can seem a daunting process. However, it doesn’t have to be, especially if you hire an Italian citizenship service provider such as Get Italian Citizenship. Since 2005, we’ve helped hundreds of people reconnect with their Italian heritage. 

In this blog post, we’ll help you understand how to become an Italian dual citizen. Here, we’ll explain why you should consider applying for Italian dual citizenship in Italy.

Now more than ever, Italian dual citizenship applicants contend with long consular wait times for appointments. In Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, or Rio De Janeiro, you may wait more than 10 years just to apply. Then, you’ll still have to wait for processing.

apply in Italy for Italian dual citizenship
The Cathedral of Palermo in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. Erected in 1185 by the Anglo-Norman archbishop of Palermo.

The Little-known Italian Dual Citizenship Loophole (It’s Not so Little-Known Anymore!)

Assuming you meet all eligibility requirements, you can technically only apply at the consulate where you permanently reside.

However, you can establish residence in Italy in accordance with Italian law and avoid long delays at Italian consulates outside Italy. 

While in the US, consular appointments can be 3-10 years out, you can almost always apply immediately after you’ve established residency in Italy.

These applications in Italy can be appealing because you can cut wait times down and enjoy living in Italy at the same time.

But remember: while there are no wait times for appointments in Italy, you still have to gather your documentation prior to arriving in Italy.

Recognize that putting together your application with US and Italian vital records, translations, and apostilles, etc. may take a while. You cannot fast track this portion of your application. Thus, the process of gathering your documents takes more or less the same amount of time whether you apply in the US or Italy

Establishing Residency in the Comune

When applying in Italy, you must establish permanent residence in a town you choose. It is a common misconception that you must apply in your ancestral town. According to Italian law, you may apply anywhere as long as you obtain residency.

Protocol varies from town to town, but town officials will always ask to show proof of residency such as a lease for an apartment, a purchase of a home, proof you are living with a friend or relative, etc. 

If you are using a rental contract, it must be filed with the Agenzia delle Entrare prior to your residency application. The same goes for a dichiarazione di ospitalità (declaration of hospitality) from a friend or relative, or a comodato d’uso (no-fee rental contract).

How Long Do You Have to Stay in Italy?

You must remain in your town for the initial 45 days after you file for residency. According to Italian law, the town has up to 45 days to verify your status as a resident. Normally, they send an officer (vigile) to your home to check you are there.

Once they have sent the vigile or the 45 days have passed, you are an official resident. Then, you can proceed to hand in your vital records for your application.

Here’s Some Things to Keep in Mind When Applying in Italy:

  • You’ll have to establish permanent residency. Give yourself ample time for the first check (45 days), as well as ample time to hand in your citizenship documents thereafter. We recommend a stay of at least 90 days if you are DIYing it.
  • If you want to stay longer than 90 days in Italy, you must apply for a permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay). There is a special permit called a permesso di soggiorno in attesa di cittadinanza set aside for people who have applied for Italian citizenship in Italy.
  • The town may require you to notarize your translations at an Italian consulate in the US or to legalize them at a court in Italy.
  • To finalize your application, the Italian comunewill contact the Italian consulate(s) where your family resided in the US or other countries to confirm that neither you nor your ascendants ever renounced your right to have Italian dual citizenship.
  • Usually, Italian towns follow the law (Circolare k. 28 del 1991—read it here in Italian) closely when it comes to what documents you need. This means you may need fewer documents to apply in Italy than at your consulate. When in doubt, ask the comune!
how to apply for Italian citizenship in Italy

Consulate vs. Italy: Which Is Better for You?

To determine where you’ll apply, you might want to carefully weigh the following factors.

Consular applications:

  • may come with long wait times (though some consulates like Detroit and Houston can be quick);
  • may require court orders to amend discrepancies;
  • are more cost-effective than applying in Italy;
  • are not for people in a rush or who want to live in Italy ASAP;
  • may come with difficult-to-contact consular officers who will not answer questions prior to or after your application.

Italy applications:

  • are more expensive than applying in Italy (paying a service provider or paying for rent, tickets to Italy, time off from work, etc.);
  • are not for you if you can’t spend at least 60 days in Italy;
  • still require document procurement before you can file your application;
  • are excellent if you are a remote worker or want to live in Italy ASAP as you can kill two birds with one stone (move to Italy andapply for Italian citizenship at the same time).

Helpful Information for Residency

According to Italian law, residency is based on two fundamental elements.

  1. The first is your physical presence in Italy. It must be regular and continuous.
  2. The second element is subjective based on the individual’s intent to stay and live in Italy for the foreseeable future. 

Italian Dual Citizenship FAQs

Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions we get from clients. 

Can family members like spouses and children also apply for Italian dual citizenship?

Absolutely, but rules do apply. Spouses may only apply after you receive your citizenship. There is one exception to this rule: women marrying Italian men before April 27, 1983 automatically became Italian citizens. Minor children automatically become citizens when you do. Adult children can apply at any time.

What is an Apostille?

It’s a separate certification that is placed on top of your original document such as a vital record. It certifies the signature signing the original document and makes your original document valid for use in Italy.

Do You Have to Speak Italian to Apply for Italian Dual Citizenship in Italy?

No, but it certainly helps. Many comune clerks do not speak English, so you will have an easier time if you speak Italian or bring someone who does. 

Are There Generational Limits?

We’ve gone over this before and are happy to say there are no generational limits for applying. As long as you qualify, you may go as far back as necessary.

How Much Does It Cost?

Cost is determined by a multitude of factors such as: how many generations you go back, whether you want to DIY your paperwork or hand it off to a professional, etc. 

GET ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP has been helping Italian dual citizenship applicants for over 15 years. Whether you need just one document, assistance from start to finish, or wish to fast track your application in Italy, we can help! Contact us today to get started.