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. 

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

  1. Hello, thanks for this post! I’m hoping to take the route of citizenship through my great grandmother. However, I’ve heard that upon submitting all original documents, they will not be returned. How can this be? I’m not thrilled by the idea of handing over all of my family’s birth and marriage certificates if I won’t see them again. What if I need them? What did you do? Thanks!

    1. Hi Meredith! You are right, in that, they won’t be returned. This is because to prove your italian heritage, all the documents must be sent to Italy. For example, if I went to Montegrosso (where my great grandfather was born) my documents should be there.

      I would strongly recommend making copies, or order a second copy of everything. My mom wanted copies of everything from Italy, so she wrote to the Communes and everything we received is now in our collection. It’s a bummer, but think of the awesome benefit: you will be a dual italian! Good luck!!

  2. Thank you for the wonderful post, I have some questions about how you obtained certificates (birth, marriage, etc) from Italy and whether you have any advice. Your info about the discrimination law suits is really heartening as I’d need to go through a great grandmother for citizenship. Definitely going to check out Castellari’s website 🙂

    1. Thanks Julia! I must admit that obtaining birth and wedding certificates from Italy was probably the easiest part of this process, which I did not expect! I wrote about it in one of my other posts which you can find here (under part 3): https://kassandraperlongo.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/road-to-italian-citizenship-part-two-how-do-i-get-certified-documents/
      A quick summary is as follows: locate the comune of where your great grandparents were from (mine were from Montegrosso di Asti). I did a Google search to find it. Then write a short note explaining what you need. I would include some international stamps (they have it at the post office I believe). I did that, however, they sent them back to me! So I wasn’t sure if they were just really nice, or what, but it could be a good idea to send something over just in case.

      And yes, Massimiliano is great. I’m impressed with how professional he is with handling these cases. Their website isn’t in English quite yet, and Google translate is okay but not great, but we’ve spoken via Skype and email and his English is fantastic. http://www.castellari.co/index.php/cast/massimiliano-castellari

      Good luck with your search! Let me know how everything goes!

      1. Hi! Thanks so much for the info (and linking your post, I’ll be reading that), that’s really surprising it was so easy, quite a relief! It’s kind of tough getting documents in the US when everything is out-of-state. I’ll definitely keep you posted as things get going, I’m hoping to be ready to start the proceedings in mid-February once I’ve amassed all the family members who want to take part. Who knew that randomly doing an Ancestry.com free trial would start such an exciting journey!

  3. Hi! I am Australian and am wanting to apply through my grandmother who was born in 1940. I can only see her mother on our electroal role in 1943 onwards so I am guessing she didn’t naturalise until then. If I contact the lawyer when I am in italy (I am moving to the UK on a working holiday) would he be able to help me? How costly is the process, do you know? My grandfather was an italian cictizen but he came to Aus in the 50’s and naturalised then, with my mother being born in 1970 so I was hoping to challenge the rule with women before 1948.
    Thank you!

  4. Hi! Thanks for this great resource!

    How were you able to get documents for your grandparents who were born in the States? My grandparents are deceased, and the clerks I’m speaking with say I’m not eligible to request their records.

    Thanks!

  5. Hi Kassie, I have a few questions for you regarding your quest for dual citizenship if you don’t mind. Let me know and I can send you my email. Thanks! 🙂 aria

  6. Hello Kassie,
    Thanks for your blog, which is very interesting. I do have a question regarding the Itaian citizenship quest…I’m a male US citizen and my maternal grandparents were both from Italy. I think that they were naturalized before my mother’s birth in 1918, but I don’t know whether this involved renouncing the Italian citizenship. If they never did renounce their Italian citizenship, do you think I could get Italian citizenship based on my mother having it? I assume I’d have to challenge the 1948 rule, so this would involve the legal fees through one of the attorneys who specialize in this…I’m a retiree and my only reason to seek Italian citizenship would be to travel in Italy longer than 3 months per year. That and sentiment…
    Thanks for any comment you may have,
    Roy

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