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How to get Italian Citizenship + 5 Ways to Qualify for Citizenship by Descent

Nisa is the founder & Head of content at Storygirl Media. She's bonkers over animals, Astrology nerd, and Travel enthusiast.


Are you craving to make such a drastic change that sees you living halfway across the world? Is Italy on your radar? This Schengen country is on many peoples' bucket list to travel but almost just as many would like to move there for good.

This post tells you how to get Italian citizenship, how you can claim Italian dual citizenship and the benefits of why you'd want an Italian passport.

Who is Eligible for Italian Citizenship?

Becoming an Italian national can be automatic through any of these ways:

  • You can get Italian citizenship through the law of jus sanguinis.
  • Being born in Italy to unknown parents, stateless parents, and to people who cannot transfer their nationality to their children.
  • Through the acknowledgment of an Italian parent.
  • Minor children without Italian nationality and even adopted by Italian citizens at the time of their adoption.
  • Through naturalization.

Benefits of Italian Dual Citizenship by Descent and do you Qualify?

If you can prove that you're from Italian lineage, you don't need to renounce your current citizenship. This only applies to some countries, though.

Some of the nationalities that qualify for dual citizenship:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • United States
  • United Kingdom

If you're a citizen of any other country, check with the nearest Italian authority whether you could claim the right to citizenship.

Benefits of Italian Dual Citizenship

Besides having 2 passports to choose from, having one of the most powerful passports in the world comes with more benefits.

You can:

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  • Work and live in Italy, including the other EU member states.
  • Experience an easier process to buy property in Italy.
  • Qualify for tax-free import of vehicles.
  • Have access to public medical care and quality public education.
  • Vote for the Italian Parliament in your region.
  • Automatically transfer your Italian nationality to children under 18 years old.

Here are 5 ways to qualify for Italian dual citizenship by descent:

If your father is an Italian nationalWhen your mother is an Italian citizenIf your father was born outside of ItalyIf your mother is born outside of ItalyIf your grandparents were not born in Italy

If your father never renounced his Italian citizenship at the time of your birth, you could qualify for citizenship.

If you were born after January 1, 1948, and your mother was an Italian national at the time.

In this category, your grandfather must've been an Italian citizen when your father was born.

If your grandfather was an Italian citizen at birth and you were born after January 1, 1948

If your grandparents (maternal & paternal) were born in a country other than Italy, you could qualify for citizenship through your paternal great-grandfather as long as he was an Italian citizen when he was born.

Other Criteria to get Italian Citizenship in Italy

  • If your parents were born outside Italy but at least one grandparent was an Italian national, you'd have to either have served in the Italian military or lived for 2 years as an adult.
  • Even if your parents were born in another country, but you lived in Italy from birth to adulthood, you can apply for Italian citizenship.
  • If the Consulates denied your application, you could also apply to become a citizen.
  • Your Italian citizen had to have been alive at the time of unification on March 17, 1861.
  • Your Italian ancestor did not receive other citizenship before June 14, 1912.
  • If your ancestor naturalized, it must have happened after the next person's birth in the ascendancy.
  • If you were born in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Veneto, or Trentino Alto-Adige regions, you need to prove they left after July 16th, 1920.

Claiming Nationality Through Marriage

It's not as easy as getting married and off to the immigration office to apply for Italian citizenship. These are the criteria to claim the right to citizenship through marriage.

  • Foreign women who married an Italian citizen before April 27, 1983, were automatically allowed citizenship.
  • People married to an Italian citizen but lived for 2 years in Italy or 3 years abroad also qualifies. Plus, if you have children together (even adopted), this timeframe is cut in half to apply through naturalization.
  • Your spouse needs to be proficient in the Italian language to at least level B1 of the EU Common Language Framework to qualify.

How Long Does it Take to get Italian Citizenship?

Each pathway to citizenship comes with its own set of criteria and timelines. This list gives you a broad idea of what you can expect.

  • If you've been a legal resident in Italy for at least 10 years without a criminal record and can afford to take care of yourself, then you can qualify.
  • If you're a descendant of an Italian grandparent and a foreigner born in Italy; you only have to wait 3 years.
  • If you're from an EU member nation, the waiting period is 4 years.
  • Refugees and stateless people wait 5 years.
  • If you're adopted as a child by an Italian citizen, the waiting period is 7 years.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Nisa Bardien

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