Journey to Italian Citizenship: Can I still claim dual citizenship if my mother is born before January 1, 1948?

One year ago, I wrote about my personal experience going through the dual citizenship process. I am surprised and thrilled that over 1000 people have read about my little adventure. A few reached out to ask questions, or advice. So, thank you! It warms my heart to see other people going through the same process. It was difficult, but now a fondly remembered adventure.

After studying abroad in 2008-09, I was bit by wanderlust (as they say) to keep exploring. As a citizen of Italy and part of the European Union, I could live and work anywhere within the EU without having to go through the expensive and time consuming visa process. Dual-citizenship opened doors and I haven’t looked back ever since. Have I mentioned I’m getting married, as well? 😉

This post answers MY TOP questions I get asked the most often, which are as follows:   

No. 1: Do I have to pay taxes to Italy and the United States?

marca da bollo
marca da bollo

When I first received my Italian passport I paid administration fees and the “marca da bollo” which means passport stamp. This stamp had to be purchased every year if you travelled out of Italy. For example, when I travelled around Europe (not Italy) no one cared about the expired marca da bollo.

However, GOOD NEWS EVERYONE!

On the 24 June 2014, the passport stamp was abolished! I wish I would have known when I travelled to Italy in July and spent another 42 EUR at the Florence airport. ::glares at Florence:: Ah well, live and learn! At least I know I never have to pay again. 

Other than the marca, I do not need pay taxes to Italy. I pay taxes living and working in the United Kingdom, of course. 

What about taxes in America?

This is not an easy answer, and I will refer you to the professionals on this one. Please see this website for any more information about paying taxes as an ex-pat.

I will note that my income in the UK is not super high which requires you to pay the US government, therefore, I do not have to pay double taxes in the US and UK. I fill out a form, and that’s that. 

No. 2: My mother was born before 1 January 1948, does that mean I can’t apply for Italian citizenship?

Italy loves its laws, and such, two important laws were passed for allow descendants to apply for DUAL citizenship. 

For example, the Law n. 555 of June 13, 1912 was passed partially to help protect minor children from losing their citizenship when their parents naturalized. Before this date, minors (considered less than 21 years of age at the time) lost their citizenship if their parent(s) naturalized in another country. If the ascendant that you are claiming citizenship through moved out of Italy before 1912 as a minor with their parent(s), confirm their parent(s) did not naturalize prior to this date or it could impact the consulate’s acceptance of your application.

The second, Rule 48 (or 1948) meant anyone born to an Italian mother and she was born BEFORE January 1, 1948, could not apply for citizenship. That meant, only fathers could pass the citizenship (called jure sanguinis, right of blood in English). This is gender discrimination against women. 

Now, if you asked me a few months ago, “Hey, my mom was born before January 1, 1948 … can I still go through the process?” I would have shook my head no and said, “I’m sorry. You’ll have to find another way, that’s just the law.” 

But apparently, there is another way. 

Lawyers are challenging this particular discrimination law and are winning. One lawyer in particular, Massimiliano Castellari, Founder and CEO of Castellari & Abogados Asociados, specializes in bringing gender discrimination cases to Italian courts.

I had the opportunity to speak to Massimiliano about his law practice. He is based in Bogota, South America and also operates at his satellite office in Italy. 

“The process itself can take anywhere from seven months to one year. My practice currently helps dual Italian citizens in almost 20 countries, and we’re growing. I help clients obtain documents needed, then facilitate getting them approved by the Italian courts,” Mr. Castellari explains, “The most important piece is obtaining all the correct documents. Without them to show an Italian judge, you cannot begin the lawsuit.”

I appreciate ambitious lawyers like Mr. Castellari. Those who are looking outside the box and helping people achieve their dreams. It’s a specialized field, as only a couple of law firms are challenging this patriarchal law. Although changing the law (at this time) would be unconstitutional, bringing these cases to Italian courts gives clients the approval needed to proceed with their dual italian citizenship endeavors.

I need help with this! Now what? 

If anyone is on the hunt with this discrimination law and have questions, do get in touch. I’m happy to help point you in the right direction and I’m curious to know how many individuals this has affected. You can have a look at Massimilano’s website, also he mentioned he would love to help any North American clients, too. 

Disclosure: I have not been paid for this blog post. All thoughts and opinions are of my own.