The world is filled with beautiful countries and gorgeous scenery to explore, but few could ever compare to the beauty of Italy. It is one of the oldest countries in the world, and the civilizations that prospered there alone make it a fascinating place to explore. The art scene is exquisite, and you wouldn’t expect less from the birthplace of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. But it’s also a modern city with stunning architecture that brilliantly blends the old and the new. The food is great and the people are as nice as you could ever find. In short, Italy is a great country to live in. So, what should you do if you want to apply for Italian citizenship?
Well, you will need to do a lot. The process is long and complicated, and there are plenty of ins and outs that you will need to get acquainted with. You need to be 100% certain that you qualify for Italian citizenship, and if you are uncertain whether or not you do, there are entities out there that could help you find out. There are more ways than one through which you could become Italian, but if and when you do get lost going through the process, it might be a good idea to ask for help.
One of the easiest ways through which you can qualify for an Italian citizenship is through marriage. While it is definitely not recommended that you seek an Italian spouse just for the sole purpose of getting a nationality, if you should happen to be on a work visa there and met someone, or married an Italian back home, you could very well qualify for an Italian citizenship. Fortunately, this step is also a lot less complicated than with the ‘blood law,” which we’ll explain further down the article, and it entails less detail. If you married an Italian, and you lived together for two years within the borders of the country, then you get to apply for citizenship. What if you weren’t living in Italy during your marriage? Fear not, it is just as simple; you will need to be living together for three years. After those three years, you could easily apply to the Italian citizenship and get it.
Unfortunately, there is a minimum language perquisite if you are applying for citizenship through marriage to a national. You will need a B1 level of fluency in Italian to become eligible. While this might seem troubling, it is definitely much better than other countries where eligibility entails a lot of other factors that are much more complicated. Some countries require intimate knowledge of their history, like the United States. In Italy, though, things are a lot simpler as you can see.
The second and arguably the most complicated way to become an Italian citizen is through nationalization, which entails a lot of details and angles that you will need to properly cover. In simple words, you have to be already living in Italy to apply for citizenship through naturalization, and the problem is this needs to have happened for 10 years. So, you will need to regularly update your visa/residency for that very long duration before you could even consider applying for citizenship.
If you plan on applying for citizenship through naturalization, you should also display a certain fluency in the Italian language just like with marriage. It obviously shouldn’t be a problem considering the fact that you’ll have spent 10 years in the country, so you should be pretty good with the language by then. If, however, you have an EU long-term residence permit, you will be exempted from this requirement.
You will need to carefully go through your family history, because you might just get lucky. Italy has a law called Jure Sanguinis, which literally translates to ‘blood law.’ It allows people of Italian descent who were born in other countries to apply for citizenship, and it could make your life a lot easier. This law is tricky though, because it will be up to you to prove your lineage. If you want to get the Italian citizenship, you need to show your family origins and their connection to the land, which is not as easy as you might think. You will track your family members’ documentation on the land they originally came from, which will take some time and effort, not to mention expense. One problem, though, is if your family members got a different citizenship before you were born, you unfortunately cannot make use of Jure Sanguinis.
One more thing you need to make sure of is that your Italian ancestor must have been alive on or after March 17 of 1861, which is the date of the country’s unification. Anyone born in Italian territories was automatically granted citizenship then. Before this date, there basically was no Italy, so if your ancestor died before that, you have no claim. If you, however, meet the requirements, you are already an Italian citizen by default, and you’d just be asking the government to recognize a right that you already possess.
You need to understand that, regardless of what route you take, this is a very long road that takes quite a while. It is a complicated legal process, and you will need to present all the relevant paperwork if you want your citizenship application to go through. You have to be really careful with preparing those documents because the slightest error or discrepancy might destroy your chances. These are the essential documents that you will need.
You will need to issue a birth certificate from your home country, but more importantly for this to be legal with your citizenship application, it has to be approved by a court certified Italian translation. The legalization of the document will vary from one country to the other, depending on several international and local treaties and agreements. For instance, the UK has specific government offices for legalization of such documents, while the USA requires an Apostille from the Secretary of State where the birth certificate was issued. As for the translation, as mentioned earlier, the translator who does it need to be certified by a court –– though you could have someone else do it for you, a friend or acquaintance for a lower price, which will save you some money as you would just submit the translation for the court appointed translator to accept it.
Side note, if you are applying through the ‘blood law,’ you will need your Italian ancestor’s birth certificate as well as any relevant documents –– death and marriage certificates will also probably be needed at some point, so you might as well prepare them early on.
This will also be issued from your home country, and it has to be legalized and approved by a court approved Italian translation as well. There might be some particular requirements depending on the country of origin. For instance, US citizens are required to also submit an FBI criminal background check, which might be a bit tricky. What happens is you submit your fingerprint at any local police station, and then the US Department of State will handle the Apostille of the document since it is federal.
If you are applying for citizenship after marriage to an Italian citizen, you will also need to provide a marriage certificate issued in Italy by the relevant municipality. You can’t just use the one you’ve had in whatever country you got married in. It needs to be documented and legalized in Italy so you’d be eligible for the citizenship application.
You will also have to submit your current photo ID, whether that is a passport or an ID. If you are applying after years of residency, things might be a bit complicated because a lot of paperwork is entailed here. For starters, you will need to submit your income statement and any other relevant documents to your employment, for the previous three years. There might be a minimum income that you need to achieve if you want your citizenship application to get accepted, but it changes sometimes, so you would do well to research that number beforehand to make sure you are making enough money to apply for citizenship.
You will submit all residence permits through which you’ve worked in Italy for that long, and you have to make sure your documents are in order and that there are no problems because if they got the impression that you followed illegal routes to stay in the country, you will be facing a lot of trouble, not just with your citizenship application. Other documents you might need are naturalization records for your Italian ancestors and proof that they were not naturalized elsewhere. You might also need divorce records if they play into this whole situation.
Yes, they do. Your Italian citizenship application needs to be submitted no later than 6 months after your criminal record checks were issued. Any document that might change in the future –– like income statements –– has an expiry date, and you need to check that beforehand so as to prepare beforehand. It would be quite a waste of time if you had to redo several documents because you forgot that there is a specific timeframe in which you need to file the application.
Now this is where the bad news comes in. Applications for Italian citizenship take anything between 24 and 48 months, and they still might get rejected after all that time. So it’s definitely a possibility that you need to prepare for. The good news is the application time cannot go over 48 months, as that is the maximum allowed duration.
The application fees are 250 euros, and in any case you should check first because it might change for one reason or the other. Those fees are obviously non-refundable in case your application got rejected.
Fortunately, this is the easy part! You can submit your application online, and there is also a very cool option; you could register at any time –– even before preparing any documents –– to see what is required in the online application and what they need. While there isn’t exactly much that you could do at this point, you should still try and follow up with your applications status –– moderately, that is, so not every week or so. There are several ways through which you can do that, like phone –– which will probably only work on certain days, emails –– which they might not respond to, and even appointments, and those can be very hard to score. In other words, you need to be patient because this process does take a lot of time.
Yes, fortunately, the government of Italy has no problems with dual nationalities and you can keep your current one if you’d like. You should check if there are no problems on the other side, though, because some countries might have issues with dual nationalities.
- You will need to hand over hard copies of all the relevant documents at some point, so don’t just focus on the digital ones. Prepare hard copies of everything because you will drop them at the consulate sooner or later.
- You might want to consider enlisting some help with all this. There are entities that specialize in helping people acquire foreign citizenship, no matter where they are in the world. So, look those up and see if you can find one to help you on this very long and taxing journey. It will definitely make your life a lot easier.
- Spend some time researching everything pertaining to this process, because there are tons of details and intricacies that you need to cover. The information you find online might not be updated, so do yourself a favor and check multiple sources to get the accurate details.
This all might seem like a lot, and it can be overwhelming, but with some order and focus, you can get through this successfully. Having the Italian citizenship is definitely worth it and it will open a lot of new doors for you, because what can possibly be better than having the freedom to come and visit this beautiful country as you please? Whatever time and effort you put into this entire process, it will all be worth it when you successfully file your application, and hopefully not too long after getting approval and become an Italian citizen.