If you’re anything like me, you love taking a short cut if it means you get the same results. And while there is no immediate way to get Italian dual citizenship, applying in Italy does count as a shortcut—and a fully legal one, at that. Skipping the consulate and flying straight to Italy means that you get to shave off (possibly) years of wait time for recognition.
But with almost 8,000 comuni (towns) in Italy, it’s hard to figure out where to apply. The choices are staggering: city vs. countryside, South vs. North, in your ancestor’s comune or elsewhere, etc. That’s where this post comes in.
With 10+ years of industry experience, hundreds of clients helped in Italy, and having applied in Italy myself, I am uniquely qualified to give you advice on this topic.
In this post, I’ll go over how to figure out where to go, what you need to do before arriving, and my number 1 top pick for the best place to apply in Italy for Italian dual citizenship.
So, let’s get started!
Budget Enough Time to Apply in Italy
Before you can do anything you need to clear your calendar. It used to be that people could hire service providers and apply in Italy during a two week vacation, but now the secret has gotten out. Many towns are understaffed, overworked, and fielding others’ applications before you arrive.
For that reason, I recommend carving out as much time as possible because two weeks just don’t cut it anymore. In my professional opinion, prepare to spend 90 days at the very least in Italy. Not only does your town have up to 45 days to carry out the first step of the process (verifying your residency), you might find yourself in the unenviable position of needing more documents, dealing with a sick comune worker who is out of office, or any number of other issues that may pop up at a moment’s notice. Giving yourself enough time is the best insurance against any possible roadblock.
Therefore, applying in Italy is best if you work online, have enough savings to cover you for a few months, know you want to live in Italy anyway, or are already living in Italy for some other reason.
Things work slowly in Italy, so be sure to give yourself enough time. When it comes to applying for Italian dual citizenship in Italy, my motto is always “the longer the stay, the better.”
If You Can, Find a Place to Stay Before You Arrive
Only people who reside in Italy can apply for Italian dual citizenship here. Therefore, it’s extremely important that you find a place to stay—and fast, given the limited time you have before you’ll need to legalize your status with a permesso di soggiorno in attesa di cittadinanza, or, permit to stay while awaiting citizenship (more on that below).
Because there are so many variables in this process, the name of the game is getting as many of your ducks in a row as possible. One way to save time is to find a place to stay even before you arrive in Italy. My favorite websites to use are:
- idealista.it (what I used to find my own apartment throughout my 5+ moves in Italy)
Be sure when contacting potential landlords and realtors that you specify you need residency in your apartment.
Contact Your Comune, Too
If you can, it helps to contact your comune. Some are very responsive and will look at your documents before you arrive. Others will refuse to do so. I personally would not be comfortable going to a comune that refused to help me at first glance, but the choice is up to you.
You may find you have a better result if you can contact them in Italian. For that reason, see if you can enlist an Italian-speaking friend to call on your behalf.
Pro tip #1: I always call before e-mailing. Italians still like the human touch, so a nice phone call will go a long way in making a good impression.
Pro tip #2: See if you can google your potential comune’s stance on Italian dual citizenship. Simply plug in name of comune + cittadinanza jure sanguinis in your search engine. If a dedicated page pops up with clear instructions, it’s safe to say they’ve helped people apply for Italian dual citizenship in Italy before.
Know the Laws
When it comes to applying in Italy, there are two laws you need to know very well. They are:
These are directives released by the Italian government which instruct the towns on how to take Italian dual citizenship applications.
Circolare K. 28 del 1991 explains all the documents you will need to file your application. According to this law, you will need:
- Birth records for you, your intermediate ancestors, and your last Italian-born ancestor
- Marriage records for you, your intermediate ancestors, and your last Italian-born ancestor
- Your last Italian-born ancestor’s naturalization certificate or proof of no naturalization
- Legalized translations of the above records
The law does not specify the need for death or divorce records, nor does it require non-direct line ancestors’ documents. However, in my experience some towns do require death and divorce records, so either obtain them anyway or inquire just to be sure.
Circolare 32 del 13 giugno 2007 explains how to obtain residency in Italy for the purposes of an Italian dual citizenship application.
If you are finding that your comune is not knowledgable about the process or is denying your residency, show them this circolare. It explains all you will need to know about obtaining residency to apply in Italy for Italian dual citizenship.
North vs South
The age old question: Northern Italy or Southern Italy?
The choice is really up to you, and there are pros and cons for each. Let’s examine them.
- May have more experience filing these types of applications
- Tends to rely more on pre-established and clear-cut rules
- If you’re staying a while, it has better transit links to other European countries
- Can tend to be crowded with requests, as many South Americans of Italian descent apply in the north
- Relying on clear-cut rules means they may be less likely to help
- If your ancestry comes from the south, uninformed comune workers might insist you go to the south to apply
- Cheaper rent
- Relies less on pre-established and clear-cut rules
- May be more willing to help due to the fewer applications they see
- Since they see fewer applications, they may not know how to process them
- Some applicants don’t like the less formal atmosphere and the lack of a sense of urgency
- Things move very slowly in southern Italy and it can be more disorganized
Ultimately, the choice of where to apply in Italy is yours. You must remember that you will be spending at the very least 90 days where you apply, so try and choose a place you’d be happiest.
Staying Legal While Waiting for Citizenship
As an American, you can only stay in Italy legally for 90 days before you need some sort of visa or permit to lengthen your stay—and remain legal.
However, Italy has made things relatively easy for applicants of Italian dual citizenship.
After you file your application, you should immediately file for a permesso di soggiorno in attesa di cittadinanza. This is a special permit Italy gives to those filing jure sanguinis applications. Simply go to your local post office and obtain the permesso di soggiorno kit. You will fill out the form (Modulo 1) and enclose your receipt of application, a copy of your passport, and pay the 16 euro marca da bollo fee.
Then, you will pay 30.46 euros for the permesso itself + a 40 fee for its yearly validity, 30 euros for the administrative fee, and mail everything out together. The post office will give you a receipt. With this receipt, you can sign up for healthcare.
After sending everything off, you’ll receive an appointment date at the questura (precinct). There, you will take fingerprints and hand in 4 photo ID-format pictures. Then, you’ll receive your permesso di soggiorno.
The Best Place to Apply in Italy for Italian Dual Citizenship
Now that you’ve learned what to do before you arrive, what to do after you apply, and some general tips on figuring out where to go, I’ll talk about what I consider to be the best place to apply.
In my professional opinion, Rome is one of the best places in Italy to apply for Italian dual citizenship. Not only do they not require death or divorce certificates (unlike Turin, for example, which does require death certificates), they can be lenient on discrepancies to a fault.
Additionally, Rome has its own citizenship office staffed with 8 or 9 workers just processing applications. They are extremely knowledgable and willing to help.
One tip, however, is to go with someone who speaks Italian, as Rome officers can be frustrated if you don’t. I have had clients come to me for help after going to Rome and not being able to speak Italian. Also, for Rome be sure that none of your documents are more than a year old by the time you apply.
Other towns which I have heard good things about or have had personal experience with:
- Turin: a large city in Northwestern Italy. Requires divorce records, but is otherwise reasonable. Lots of apartments available for residency and rent is surprisingly cheap for a large city. One tip is to get your residency appointment in advance (via e-mail) before arriving, as there is a wait of a few months and you don’t want to waste time.
- Reggio Emilia: Where I applied ten years ago (I was the first person from the US ever to apply there, and one of my clients was the second!). I loved applying in Reggio Emilia as it is a beautiful mid-sized town in Emilia Romagna, a region almost everyone loves. Like Turin they have gotten busy so try and obtain a residency appointment before you arrive.
Towns I don’t recommend include:
- Como, unless you can rectify all discrepancies on your documents beforehand
- Florence, as they too are very unreasonable about discrepancies
- Milan, the same as above unless you can rectify all of your discrepancies or have none