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.


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.


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 said, “No, I’m sorry. You’ll have to find another way.”

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 endeavours.

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. 

Road to Italian Citizenship, Part Two: Obtaining Certified Documents

A few weeks ago I wrote about considering dual Italian citizenship. Hopefully, you’re not dissuaded by the initial hoops you have to jump through. In case you missed it, please click here for part one.

Hopefully now you’re thinking, “Yes, I qualify! Yes, I want to DO EEEIT!” Okay, awesome! But look, I’m not going to lie … now you’re starting the hard part: getting shit loads of certified documents and then having those aforementioned documents Apostilled.

APOSTILLE: additional authentication required for international acceptance of notarized documents. 

In the United States, an Apostille is a legalization issued by the Secretaries of the fifty states. It’s a separate page bearing the seal of the state and the signature of the Secretary of State, stapled to the document it legalizes.

Yeah, that’s right folks. After you receive certified documents you’ll need to send those to out to STATE for further authenticity.

Did I lose you yet? Before you grab that bottle of wine, keep going 🙂

As I wrote in blog one,  I claimed citizenship through my great-grandfather, Pasquale. I never met Pasquale, obviously, but as my ascendant I claimed Jure Sanguinis or law of the blood.

Before you even get STARTED, call or email the Italian Consulate and get an appointment. Trust me. It will most likely take almost a year for you to get in (maybe longer now). It will take almost that long just to gather all the documents.

I have to file what again?!

To help organise what you’ll need, I’ve broken the process into FOUR separate categories:

  1. Certified documents. These are the long form birth certificates, death, marriage, and divorce. They must be certified copies. You will need to get them from county records.
  2. Certification of Naturalisation: County or USCIS. If you cannot find the certificate of naturalisation through the County courthouse, you will need to request your ascendant’s naturalization record through USCIS’s Genealogy Program, or a Freedom of Information Act request. OR, USCIS will issue you a document saying naturalization could not be found.
  3. Your Italian-born ascendant’s birth certificate from a Comune in Italy (and marriage!). You will need to write to the Comune and ask for them to send a copy.
  4. Apostille documents which link YOU to your ascendant. The state government conducts all apostilles. You’ll need them translated into Italian. Do NOT use Google translate, get yourself a legitimate Italian translator (unless you already speak it yourself, fluently).

Yes. It is a SHIT load of work! However, you’ll find that once you get started it moves quickly. You may also find a treasure trove of forgotten family history. Apparently, my great grandmother had property in North Italy. I also found countless pictures, letters written in Italian and even their original passports from Italy to New York!



Depending on who you are claiming through, the list might be longer or shorter. To give you an example, here is a list of documents I needed:

  • Pasquale’s birth certificate (in Montegrosso, Italy!), marriage certificate to my great grandmother, Cristina (Calosso, Italy!) and his death certificate (Madera, CA).
  • Pasquale’s certificate of naturalisation (USCIS).
  • Cristina’s birth certificate (in Calosso, Italy).
  • Birth certificate for my grandmother, Adele (Madera). Her marriage certificate to Charlie, my grandfather (in Nevada — yes, they eloped!).
  • Charlie’s birth certificate. (Manteca, CA).
  • Birth certificate for my mother, Kathy (Madera). Marriage certificate to my dad, Tony (Madera).
  • Tony’s birth certificate (New York).
  • My birth certificate (Fresno, CA).

You may not believe it, but gathering certified documents is EASY. Just find the county, download/fill out the appropriate forms, send in a check and wait for it to arrive. For all my local documents, I just dropped by the county office to pick them up. Since none of my family members divorced that cut down on time and cost.

 Word of warning: New York takes a long time! 

This should come as no surprise, given the massive Italian population. For my dad’s birth certificate I ordered online, but it took over a month. In comparison, I received my other certified documents from California and Nevada in less than a week.


You might get lucky (I didn’t on this) and get all naturalisation paperwork from the local country courthouse. Until 1991, naturalized U.S. citizens were sworn in at a local or federal courthouse. As a result, many U.S. Counties’ courthouse records include naturalization records. Except when an applicant has his or her ascendant’s certificate of naturalization, a County record is always required. Remember that a County record must have the signature and seal of a County official.

If, like me, you cannot locate these at County, you’ll need to search at Federal. It takes more time, but it’s definitely doable. Take a look at the USCIS Genealogy website. You’ll need to request a FILE NUMBER. I pulled some documents through Madera County which had my great grandfather’s case file number, but the rest of the documents were illegible. If you DO NOT have the file number, conduct an Index search. This will cost about $20-30 dollars.

Anticipate federal taking two or three months, maybe longer. Email them every few weeks and call. Ask to speak with someone. WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. I hounded these people and they finally sent me what I needed. It’s not their fault, they have only a few staff members and too much demand. They will most likely not send you a certified copy, which is perfectly fine. Just remember to keep the envelope, as you’ll need that as proof for the Italian Consulate.



When I first started, I thought writing to Italy would take the longest. I’ve heard horror stories about the postal network and figured I’d have to write two or three times. Boy, was I totally wrong. I got them in few weeks! They even sent the postage back. Color me pleasantly surprised!

Hell, even locating where to send is easy. In my own example, I just googled “Comune di Montegrosso di Asti”. BOOM! 

Address: Via Re Umberto, 60, Montegrosso d’Asti, Province of Asti, Italy 

So, write to the “Comune” where your ascendant was born, request a birth certificate in “formato internazionale”, or in “estratto per riassunto” (showing his/her parents’ names), enclose three/four dollars for shipping and handling and a stamped, self-addressed envelope. When writing to the Comune, address your request to:

COMUNE DI ____________________
Ufficio Anagrafe – Stato Civile
(zip code) _______ (City) _____ (province of) ________

I had a friend write a little note in Italian explaining I needed information to process my Italian citizenship. Maybe that helped speed up the process, I’m not sure! Either way, it’s incredibly easy.



You’ve gotten everything above. AWESOME!! You’re really getting there. Now, only a few things remain:

  • Your birth certificate needs an Apostille and translated into Italian
  • All your marriage certificates, if any, with Apostilles and translations
  • All your divorce decrees, if any, with Apostilles and translations

For the Apostille, just look up the Secretary of State online, find the document needed, fill out and send with the appropriate check amount. You may need to provide a self-addressed stamped envelope (I know I did).

The Italian Consulate does not require you to go through a professional translator, which is great. So if you or a family member speaks fluently you can do this all yourself. By far, translations are the most expensive part of this process. I went through a family friend and had no problems. Please note, you do NOT have to get the Apostille translated, only the certified document. This is because they will send your birth certificate to the Comune in Italy. So for example, my birth certificate is now located in Montegrosso in their records which proves I’m an Italian citizen.

Now, this might have changed but when I applied for citizenship I needed to do a few extra steps:

  • Provide Adele’s (grandmother) birth certificate and marriage certificate with Apostille, and translation
  • Provide Kathy (mother) birth certificate and marriage certificate Apostille and translation

I needed to get those done to PROVE my blood line to Pasquale. Check with your Italian Consulate if this has changed. 

Once you have this all finished, you’re well on your way! BE PROUD! Celebrate with some wine and gelato!

In part three, I’ll discuss problems you might come across and solutions if they do happen. Grazie!

You’re so close, you can practically feel the Italian beaches!

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

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.

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!