Road to Italian Citizenship, Part One: How do I know I Qualify?

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Wanna be a dual citizen?

Let’s be honest. Coveting dual citizenship is an appealing concept. Having more than one passport reminds me of grand espionage, James Bond or Jason Bourne style. But on a serious note it can look great on your CV, possibly landing you a career globally!

I speak from personal experience: I work abroad! I’m a dual citizen in the United Kingdom. As part of the EU, I can work/study/travel in different European countries without any visa worry. Italians work in Belgium. Germans work in France. You get the idea! [EDIT: because of the Brexit decision, we’re not sure how this will affect current/future Europeans working in the UK]

From my understanding, dual Italian citizenship is an “easier” dual citizenship to pursue. I put this in quotations for a reason. Firstly, obtaining citizenship through jure sanguinis (ie. the blood-line) is more than just proving your Italian heritage through connections, you’ll need to collect forms, forms and MORE forms. You really need to do homework! Plus, like any government establishment, it requires a good deal of patience. Like the army, you’ll experience a lot of hurry up and wait as you send away for appropriate documents.

Do I regret it? Not for a second. It’s ABSOLUTELY worth the process. It took me about eight months of work to go this and I’m really glad I did!

I’ve broken this into a few parts to help those who are looking into obtaining citizenship for themselves, and their families.

Country_Road_Tuscany_Italy
The road can be long, but it’s worth it!

How do I know if I qualify for dual citizenship?

Through jure sanguinis: “Italian citizenship is granted by birth through the paternal line (with no limit on the number of generations) or through the maternal line (for individuals born after January 1, 1948). If you were born in any country where citizenship is acquired by birth, and any one of the situations listed below pertains to you, you may be considered an Italian citizen.”

There are lots of different ways to qualify. Here are a few of the most typical:

  • Your father was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth and you never renounced your right to Italian citizenship.
  • Your mother was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth, you were born after January 1st, 1948 and you never renounced your right to Italian citizenship.
  • Your father was born in your native country, your paternal grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of your father’s birth, neither you nor your father ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship.
  • Your mother was born in your native country, your maternal grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of her birth, you were born after January 1, 1948 and neither you nor your mother ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship.
  • Your paternal or maternal grandfather was born in your native country, your paternal great-grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of his birth, neither you nor your father nor your grandfather ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship.
  • Your maternal grandmother was born in your native country, your maternal great grand-father was an Italian citizen at the time of her birth, your mother was born after January 1st, 1948, and neither you nor your mother nor your grandmother ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship. (This is the one I chose).

To find more, please look at this webpage:

I know all of that looks extremely daunting, but go over all of it slowly. The only way to actually RENOUNCE your citizenship rights is to declare at the embassy you no longer want to be an Italian citizen.

In my own example, I decided to go through my mother’s lineage (see above).

My great-grandfather was born in Montegrosso and moved to the States at a young age with my great-grandmother. My grandmother was born in Madera, California. And my mother was born in 1950 (not 1948). Although my great-grandfather became a naturalized citizen in the 1930s, he did not formally declare to the Italian government he wanted to renounce his citizenship. Because of that my grandmother, mother, and myself were all entitled to citizenship through his blood-line.

Why should I get this done?

In my own example, I chose dual citizenship to work abroad in Europe. I don’t speak Italian, but have always had the desire to learn other languages. Having dual citizenship allows me the freedom to be a full citizen. I will have an easier time purchasing property and can even vote! I’m also entitled to universal health care and retirement benefits, if I choose.

What about taxes?

If I decide to travel in/out of Italy, every couple of years I would have to pay a small tax. Currently I pay 50 EUR, however this will probably always change. As I don’t live or work in italy now, I’m exempt from this tax when I leave or travel out of the UK. This is ONLY when leaving Italy.

What about being in the army?

The Italian army is like the American army: strictly volunteer. Plus as a woman, I wouldn’t have to serve.

In my next post, I’ll talk more about the process of obtaining certificates and how to get those tricky documents in Italy!

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43 Replies to “Road to Italian Citizenship, Part One: How do I know I Qualify?”

  1. Hi i had a quick question for you!
    so i am currently trying to gain citizenship through my mothers mother. my mother was born here and her parents were born in italy. her mother didnt become a citizenship of the US until 1966, almost 10 years after my mothers birth. i know i qualify. however in the paper work (the form 2A) it asks for a declaration of my grandmother or me or whom ever renouncing that then never renounced their italian citizenship before any italian authority. i am so confused on how to obtain this or what to do. i have all the documents necessary except this. any thoughts?
    thanks so much.
    btw i am doing this through san Francisco because i live in utah. thanks so much!!!

    1. Hi Chris! First of all, congrats on pursuing dual Italian citizenship! It can be an incredibly stressful, but super rewarding endeavor. I now live and work in the UK with my British partner so it has literally made all the difference in the world for me.

      I went through a similar process. My great-grandparents, on my mother’s side, were born in North Italy. However, I claimed it through my great-grandfather, who did become an American citizen very late in life, in order to claim farming subsidies from the government.

      It is actually extremely difficult to ‘renounce’ your Italian citizenship. You needed to go to a consulate, sign a few documents, and hand in your passport and papers. Many people would not have done this. If at any time your grandmother did ‘renounce’ her Italian citizenship then your mother is not a citizen, and thus, YOU are also not entitled to citizenship. Most likely this did not happen though and your mother was born here (but through the ‘blood’ is a citizen) and thus you are too. Therefore, you wouldn’t have to show any paperwork regarding this unless you know for a fact that your grandmother or mother actually renounced their citizenship.

      You DO however need to show paperwork that your grandmother did become a US citizen. You’ll need to look that up through the Naturalization database for a case number then have them send you a photocopy of the paperwork. Make sure you KEEP THE ENVELOPE as proof that it is a real copy and not a forgery (seriously, they asked to see mine). You can also look it up through here: http://www.italiangen.org/records-search/naturalizations.php
      Either way, make sure you receive an official copy sent through the archives. Hopefully you got all that and you’re good to go!

      Do let me know if you have any other questions and congrats!!! You’re practically there!

      Kassie

  2. The only way to actually RENOUNCE your citizenship rights is to declare at the embassy you no longer want to be an Italian citizen.This is contrary to what I have been told. My understanding the fact of “USA Naturalization” alone is adequate to renounce. Any further information would be very helpful

    1. Hi Bob,

      My great-grandfather became a US citizen after my grandmother was born, which didn’t affect my rights as an Italian citizen. As I don’t exactly know your background, this is difficult for me to answer for sure. What I was told is that unless your ancestor officially renounced, in an Embassy, by signing a slip of paper, it will not affect you.

      I strongly advise you you to go over the FAQs at your local embassy if you have any concerns. Here is the link to the PDF at the SF Italian Consulate. Have a look specifically on pages 4-5. Cheers!

      Kassie

      1. The information I have been told is if you become a naturalized US citizen, that fact alone, cuts your Italian citizenship,and thus you can not pass citizenship down to your children born after you were naturalized. Comments

      2. Hi Bob,

        You are partially correct. Did you have a look at the PDF I included which gives examples? If my great-grandfather would have received citizenship BEFORE my grandmother was born then she wouldn’t have been entitled to Italian citizenship. Fortunately, he received citizenship after she was born, thus, she is still an Italian citizen and so am I. I hope that’s a bit more clear.

        Example:
        Mario’s grandfather Luigi emigrated to the States in 1900. His father, Pietro, was born in 1912, and Luigi naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1925. Pietro inherited citizenship because Luigi was a citizen at the moment of his birth, and Mario, born in 1950, inherited citizenship from Pietro unless Pietro renounced his right to Italian citizenship (for example, by acquiring a third citizenship prior to Mario’s birth or by a declaration before an Italian authority).

        Kassie

      3. Thanks. Now we are on the same page. That is, the fact of Naturalization alone, is renouncement. One does not have to go in front
        of an Italian official to renounce.
        Thanks

  3. Hi,

    Both my parents were born in Italy. They moved to Canada as children with my grandparents. During the 1970s (before my birth) my parents received their Canadian citizenship. As far as I know my parents had to give up their citizenship before I was born. Is there any way that I’d still be eligible for Italian citizenship?

    Thanks!

  4. Hi Kassie,

    I have several direct lines to Italy, the closest being my grandmother coming to the states in the 20s. She was naturalized prior to my fathers birth but made no formal declaration to the Italian government. The honorary consulate in Buffalo tells me the existence of the Naturalization Certificate constitutes as renunciation of her Italian citizenship. How did you get around this and what consulate did you use in the US?

    Thanks for your help, Dave

    1. Hi Dave. Unfortunately, they may be right if you are claiming through your grandmother. My great grandfather naturalised but only after my grandmother was born. The Italian consulate is also picky about dates if you are claiming through you maternal line, as opposed to your paternal lineage. I went through the Italian consulate in SF. They have several good PDF documents explaining all this fully on their website, I would check it out. Good luck!!

      1. Kassie,

        I guess the specific question I’m asking would be, how were you able to determine that your great grandfather did not formally renounce his Italian citizenship? My father’s grandfather came from Italy in 1920 and naturalized in 1927. Very similar to your situation. Was it the consulate that checked if he made a former declaration or were you able to make the determination prior to gathering all of the necessary documents?

        Thanks again, Dave

      2. The only way to formally ‘renounce’ citizenship is to declare to the Italian consulate you no longer wish to be an Italian citizen. It is pretty rare for that to actually happen. My great-grandfather only went through the naturalisation process because times were tough in California and the government was willing to provide subsidies for farmers; otherwise I’m willing to bet he wouldn’t have gone through the process 🙂 So, through jure sanguinis, my great grandparents came over, had my grandmother (italian citizen), then years later he became a naturalised citizen.

        Renouncing your citizenship is not the same as naturalisation, in fact, many immigrants did this. The consulate won’t do any of the checking for you, you’ll need to look at the website of US Citizenship and Immigration Services to request a certificate of naturalisation (when they send it, be sure to keep the envelope it came in!!) :http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/g-639.htm

        I’d take a look at this website, too: http://www.myitaliancitizenship.com/index.php?content=faq.html#47

        I used it a lot as a guide while going through the process. Let me know if you have any other questions. It can be a really lengthy process, but it can be done 🙂

  5. So if I want to gain citizenship from maternal grandmothers father that is possible? He was naturalized after her birth but I’m not sure she herself was actually an Italian citizen.

  6. Great blog post. I am non-EU citizen but my father has Italian citizenship, he has lived in Italy for last 20 years, Am I entitled for citizenship?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Max, thanks for reading. To answer your question: Absolutely! It’s actually fairly easy to pass citizenship from parent to child, from what I understand you fill out a form and pay the fee at your nearest Italian consulate. You may have to make an appointment tho, so I’m unsure of the wait time. I went through my great grandfather (on my mothers side) so it took a lot of time and research to locate all the appropriate certificates. You wouldn’t have to do any of that so you are well on your way!

      Dual citizenship has treated me very well. I’m living and working abroad. So far, in my experience, it’s been positive. Also, I love that my future kids will be entitled to dual citizenship as well and can study, live, or work in the EU or US.

      Good luck! 🙂

  7. BTW I am so happy you wrote this blog. I wanted to see if you could help answer my question. My husband is trying to figure out if he is capable of qualifying for jure sanguinis.

    His Father’s Great Grandmother was born in Paganica, Italy and came to the US through Ellis Island in 1920 (her name is Maria Rotellini). I believe that his Great Grandfather was also italian but it would be really difficult to track down his paperwork since we don’t know any other info than his name ( Antonio Calonico). Will he still be able to qualify through the Great Grandmother?

    I have no idea if this helps his case at all but my husband, Josh is the Grandson of Jerry Lewis the famous comedian. I am not saying that to name drop but merely because due to his Grandfather’s fame its very easy to trace him and his wife ( originally Pasqualina Ester Calonico also know as Patti Palmer). There was even a book written about them visiting her mothers home called ” Patti Palmer & Jerry Lewis :Due Stelle a Paganica by Raffaele Alloggia.
    Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated we really want to go after this!

    Below is a link with more info about his Italian roots
    http://www.abruzzo24ore.tv/news/La-Palmer-moglie-di-Jerry-Lewis-figlia-di-emigrati-di-Paganica/3960.htm

    1. What a fantastic and beautiful story! I love hearing from people pursuing this route, thanks for getting in touch. It sounds like you are looking into it and gathering documents (the hardest bit). And related to Jerry Lewis that’s amazing!!!!!

      Italian citizenship by descent is granted by birth through the paternal line (with no limit on the number of generations) or through the maternal line (for individuals born after January 1, 1948).

      However, that being said, because of the rule of 1948 I do not believe he would qualify through the great grandmother, you would need to go through the great grandfather (I had to do this too).

      You could also hire a lawyer and have it over turned based on gender discrimination. I have the name of a lawyer who can speak to you for free if you would like his help. He’s won all cases similar to your situation.

      Good luck, also, have a happy new year!!

  8. I cant seem to find any infornation on this.

    My great grandfather and great grand mother were born in Italy then moved to New Zealand, they had my grandmother and my mother then came me. My grand mother and my mother never applied to be italian citizens, can I still apply of they did not ?

    Regards

    Piri

    1. Hi Piri! You may be able to apply through your great grandfather (that’s what i did too). However, you may run into roadblocks if your mother was born before 1948 (called the rule of 1948). I didn’t have this issue.

      If so, you can hire an Italian lawyer who will take your case to court and get it overturned based on gender discrimination. Based on everything I’ve read, and speaking to a lawyer about this, it has a 99.9% chance of being overturned in court. They do all the work, but you still need to gather all the appropriate documentation. Or, alternative, you can hire people to do this but it’s dreadfully expensive I’ve found. You can definitely do all the work yourself, it may just take a bit longer to receive documents in the mail. Don’t give up though, you can do it!

      And yes, your children can claim citizenship through you once you are a citizen, they just fill out one form, pay the fee, and that’s it. Good luck!

  9. I’m confused by this: “The only way to actually RENOUNCE your citizenship rights is to declare at the embassy you no longer want to be an Italian citizen.

    In my own example, I decided to go through my mother’s lineage (see above).

    My great-grandfather was born in Montegrosso and moved to the States at a young age with my great-grandmother. My grandmother was born in Madera, California. And my mother was born in 1950 (not 1948). Although my great-grandfather became a naturalized citizen in the 1930s, he did not formally declare to the Italian government he wanted to renounce his citizenship. Because of that my grandmother, mother, and myself were all entitled to citizenship through his blood-line.”

    When was your grandmother born? From everything I’ve heard, naturalization can and will result in a loss of citizenship for those who are born after the naturalization occurred.

    My best guess is that your grandmother was born before your GGF naturalized, and that’s why you were able to obtain citizenship.

    Otherwise, the Italian government wouldn’t need naturalization paperwork from us.

    1. Yes, my grandmother was born before my GGF naturalised. My GGF only went through the naturalisation process to receive farming subsidies through the federal government during the depression, otherwise, I don’t think he would have went down that route at all!

  10. My brother and I are both looking into Italian citizenship but I’m having some trouble putting it all together. I’ve read that naturalization will renounce your citizenship in the process. My mother was born in Italy and moved to Canada with her parents in 1975. They were naturalized well before my birth (1994). So I’m having trouble figuring out if we actually qualify since they were all naturalized.

  11. Hi! I am trying to acquire citizenship through my mother>grandmother>great grandfather, is this what you did? Because I have been doing research and this option is not sited on my consulate’s website? Also, my grandparents were never officially married, do you know if this will be an issue?

    1. Hi Danielle! That’s exactly what I did. If your mom was born pre-1948 though you will need to hire a lawyer that specialises in the types of cases to get your application sign off. It’s called the Rule Of 1948.

      It may not be listed on the consulate website because of that rule, but you can definitely find the option for it if you do a Google search.

      Wow that’s an interesting question about your grandparents, I have no idea! Your best bet will be to contact the consulate and enquire with them. I would hate to say yes and have it be the wrong answer!

      Best of luck! If you need the name of the lawyer let me know. I did write a blog post about it too.

  12. I am in the process of acquiring my Italian Citizenship. Both my grandparents were born in Sicily. My Grandfather was a prisoner of war in South Africa and met and married my Grandmother in South Africa. My Mom was born in South Africa and acquired Italian Citizenship through her Father (my grandfather). My Grandmother naturalised in 1952 (sadly). I am told by the local Consulate I have all in order for my citizenship, but the only document missing is the Birth Certificate of my Grandfather which I would need to source. Unfortunately the Comune di Trapani cannot find it on their records. I might need to go to a Parish. I travel to Italy on business several times a year, so not a problem.

    My main question is, and I am awaiting a response from the Consulate. I have my Mom’s Italian passport in my possession (and my Dad’s through my Mom), so why do I have to source my Grandfather’s birth certificate? My Mom passed away many years ago and I have all the paperwork and documentation when she acquired her Italian citizenship. I have everything (including envelopes and receipts!), but no birth certificate for my Grandfather……she clearly could not source it herself, but was granted Italian Citizenship. I have a document stating my Grandfather did not naturalise.

    Anyone know if I will be able to acquire my Italian passport due to the fact I have my Mom’s Passport, taking into account she was born in South Africa. I am still hoping I will be able to source my Grandfather’s birth certificate.

    Thanks for any answers!

    1. Hi Susan. Just a quick question, you mentioned that you have a document stating that your grandfather did not naturalise in South Africa. Did you obtain this from Home Affairs?Would you be so kind to advise, as this is the only document that I still require to make my application for citizenship. Thanks, Barry

  13. My parents do a lot of genealogy in the family and thankfully they have done most of the leg work if I wanted to submit the paperwork become a dual citizen. I had a question about something I read on my ancestors Naturalization papers. There is a small form named Deceleration of Intention with a statement that reads : “I forever renounce my allegiance and fidelity to all foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty and particularly to…………. .” At the end of the sentence it lists” Victor Emmanuel III King of Italy” in a fill in the blank spot. There is also the same sentence on the larger Naturalization Page. Is this akin to renouncing your Italian citizenship, or is this a general statement that everyone signs when they are naturalized? I am not sure if it matters but the child that is my direct ancestor (Great Grandpa) was born (1906) while the person in question (Great-Great Grandpa) was still a citizen of Italy. He was later naturalized in 1918.

  14. You are definitely not going to reply to this, but my great-grandfather was born with a dual Italian-American citizenship, as his father held a dual citizenship. The only problem is that about 95% of all records were destroyed in a fire, so it’s almost impossible to know if he ever formally renounced his citizenship, and he died in 2003.
    So what would be a way to know if he did or not?

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