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Italian Citizenship Jure Sanguinis – Here’s Everything You Need to Know

When it comes to obtaining Italian citizenship, one of the most common ways to get it is by jure sanguinis – if you are eligible. 

But what exactly is Italian citizenship jure sanguinis? How can you tell if you’re eligible? And most importantly, how do you go about obtaining your Italian dual citizenship in this way?

All those are great questions. So let’s get to understanding Italian citizenship jure sanguinis, shall we?

Italian Citizenship Jure Sanguinis – What Does It Even Mean?

First things first – what does jure sanguinis even mean? Hint – it’s not a tasty sandwich.

Jure sanguinis is a Latin phrase that means “by right of blood.” So in essence, Italian citizenship jure sanguinis means obtaining citizenship by blood or by virtue of being a descendant of an Italian national. 

Sounds simple, right? Not so fast. There are some rules you need to keep in mind when figuring out Italian citizenship jure sanguinis.

Let’s delve into the nitty-gritty aspects involved in obtaining Italian dual citizenship by descent.

Italian Citizenship Jure Sanguinis – 4 Important Dates that Shaped Italy’s Citizenship Laws

So, you’ve got Italian ancestry and your grandma passed down a mean recipe for Sunday sauce. This means that getting Italian citizenship will be a breeze, right? Not quite. It’s not as straightforward as it seems (but it’s also not terribly difficult, either).


1861 is one of the most important dates in Italian history – it’s the year in which Italy became a nation; on March 17, 1861, to be precise! But what does that have to do with your getting Italian citizenship by descent?

Everything, actually. 

Prior to 1861, there was no such thing as an Italian citizen. The implication of this on your bid to apply for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis is that as long as your ancestry can be traced back to Italy any time after 1861, then you are eligible to get citizenship. However, if your ancestors left Italy before that date and became nationals of another country, they forfeited their Italian citizenship. Technically, they were not Italian and therefore can’t pass on Italian citizenship to you.

Put simply: your ancestor must have been both alive (no matter where in the world) and not yet a citizen of another country by March 17, 1861 in order to have been an Italian citizen. If your ancestor never was an Italian citizen himself, he couldn’t pass that citizenship on down to his children.

Note, however, that this mainly applies if you are tracing your Italian ancestry through the paternal side of your family.

So what happens if your Italian blood flows from the maternal side of your family?


This is one of the most important dates in Italian citizenship history. In 1912, Italy enacted its modern citizenship laws that we use to obtain Italian dual citizenship jure sanguinis today. This law, called Law no. 555 of 1912, went into effect on July 1, 1912 and sets forth the instructions governing Italian citizenship by descent.

The law is not applied retroactively. Therefore, if your Italian ancestor naturalized as a U.S. citizen it is important that he did so after this date. If a naturalization occurred before this date, it cuts off your line and renders you ineligible for Italian dual citizenship.


Another year in the history of Italy that has a great bearing on your eligibility to attain Italian dual citizenship by way of ancestry is the year 1948. 

1948 is a special year in the annals of Italian immigration laws as it signifies the year from which you can trace your Italian ancestry on your maternal side. In simple terms, this means that if you were born to an Italian mother and non-Italian father on or after the 1st of January 1948, then you are eligible to apply for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis. 

What of those born prior to this date?

If you were born prior to the 1st of January 1948 to an Italian mother and non-Italian father, getting Italian citizenship jure sanguinis becomes tricky. Don’t worry, it’s not impossible, just a bit harder than normal.

In these cases you cannot apply through the normal routes such as the consulate or directly in Italy. Instead, you will have to hire an Italian attorney to fight your case in court given the unconstitutionality of this law. Since 2009, thousands of people have successfully obtained their Italian citizenship in this way.


The last date we will focus on as we look at the important dates that affect your Italian citizenship bid by birthright is the year 1992.

Until August 15, 1992, any Italian naturalizing as a citizen of the United States immediately lost Italian citizenship. After this date, Italians naturalizing as U.S. citizens could still keep their original Italian citizenship.

According to Italian law, if you were born before August 15, 1992, your Italian parent must not have taken another citizenship by naturalization before your birth (because loss of Italian citizenship by your parent before your birth cuts off your eligibility).

While this is not a comprehensive timeline of all the dates that affect your Italian citizenship jure sanguinis, it’s a great start to understanding the options you have for applying for Italian dual citizenship.

Italian Citizenship Jure Sanguinis – The Next Steps

Now that you know how to bark up your family tree in order to get Italian citizenship, the next step is to gather all the necessary documentation you will need. Here’s a brief outline of the documentation you will need:

If One or Both of Your Parents was Italian

  • Your father’s/mother’s birth certificate. This must be obtained from the “Comune” from which your parent was born and registered. If one of your parents was born in another country other than Italy, you will need a certified copy of their birth certificate from their country of birth.
  • Your parents’ marriage certificate. Again this must be contained from the place they got married. If they got married in the U.S.A, you must get a certified copy of the license and certificate. You will also need to obtain an apostille from the Secretary of State of the State in which it was issued. ​
  • Certificate of naturalization. If your parent(s) naturalized, you will need to include the certificate of naturalization. Alternatively, you can use their Italian passport and permanent resident card.
  • Your own civil records. These include your birth certificate, marriage certificate, your children’s birth certificates, and any other applicable record. Make sure to have them certified, translated into Italian, and authenticated by an apostille.
  • Death certificates of parents if they are deceased.

If Applying Through a Grandparent or Great Grandparent

When applying for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis through your grandparents, you will have to obtain the same documents as you would if applying through your parents. Only this time, you are using your grandparent’s documents as well as your parent’s documents. When you apply, you cannot skip generations and must provide documents for each generation.

Where Should You Submit Your Application for Italian Citizenship Jure Sanguinis?

Depending on where you are located, you can either submit your application for Italian citizenship at a consulate near you (if outside Italy) or at a town hall (if applying in Italy). 

If you are applying at a consulate, you must apply at the one which has jurisdiction over where you live. If applying in Italy, you must be a resident of Italy first.

Get Your Italian Citizenship Jure Sanguinis 

Now that you know what Italian citizenship jure sanguinis is and have determined that you are eligible, it’s time to get the ball rolling. If it seems like a daunting task doing all the research and document collection, don’t let that deter you. We will help you get your Italian citizenship – hassle-free.

For more details and a tailor-made package, give us a shout and let’s talk.


  • Danny Schwartz

    July 22, 2019

    Dear Sir / Madam

    Our laws in Australia are very similar to the U.S. and allow dual citizenship.

    I would be keen to contract your services to document my Wife’s heritage to enable her to get Italian citizenship.

    But given your very informative website I see we may have an issue but with a loophole may have an argument.

    Uschi (my wife’s great great grandfather Bernardo Scarpiello was born in Forenza Basilacata in 1862. He travelled to London and had a son Bernardo Scarpiello born 1886. Bernardo senior naturalised after this date and Bernardo junior was never naturalised.

    Uschis father was born to Bernardo juniors daughter Ada in 1951.

    Because Bernardo junior was never naturalised and was born to an Italian citizen at the time do you think we have a chance for Uschis Italian Citizenship.

    I note we have bought a lovely villa on the island of Capri and citizenship would help us to be here for longer periods of time.


    Many thanks

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