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Italy - Citizenship

In certain circumstances, Italian citizenship may be acquired automatically. This can happen in any of the following cases.

Jus sanguinis or citizenship as a result of Italian parents/ancestors
Jus sanguinis (Latin: right of blood) applies to individuals whose Italian parents are citizens of Italy. In this case, citizenship passes on from parent to child through the generations, as long as none of the ancestors renounced their citizenship. Minor children that are living with a parent when the parent acquires Italian citizenship also automatically become Italian citizens.

If an individual applies for automatic citizenship on grounds of Italian ancestry but no evidence of the same is found in Italian registers, then it is required to show evidence that all ancestors have maintained their citizenship and thereby passed it on to successive generations. The diplomatic-consular mission in the home country of a foreign resident is the authority that can legally evaluate and decide on these cases; and for residents in Italy who wish to obtain citizenship under this category, it is the official statistics office in the city of residence.

Citizenship to individuals born on Italian soil
This applies to individuals born in Italy whose parents are unknown, stateless or unable to pass on their citizenship due to laws of the country of which they are citizens, and also to individuals found on Italian territory whose natural citizenship cannot be determined.

Citizenship through judiciary ruling on natural paternity/maternity
Minors that are acknowledged to be of Italian parentage automatically acquire citizenship. Individuals of legal age that are recognized and declared to be of Italian parentage are required to obtain citizenship within a year.

Citizenship by adoption
Minor children adopted by Italian citizens through the provisions of the Italian Judiciary authorities are extended the right to citizenship. It also applied to adoptions that take place abroad by Italian citizens, which are declared valid by an order issued by the juvenile court for enrolment in an Anagrafe or official Italian statistics office. After five years of legal residence in the country following adoption, an adoptee of legal age can obtain citizenship.
Italian citizenship may also be acquired by claim in the following ways:

Foreign descendants of Italians up to the second degree, or born in Italy
Foreign or stateless descendants of Italians up to the second degree can claim citizenship if they fulfill certain requirements. They must be in service in the Italian armed forces, or employment in the Italian government in Italy or overseas, or they must be residing in Italy for a minimum of two years before turning 18 years.

Citizenship by marriage to an Italian citizen
A foreigner can acquire Italian citizenship if his or her spouse is an Italian national. In such cases certain requirements must be met, such as a minimum of two years legal residence in Italy. If abroad, there must be a passage of three years after the wedding. The time duration in both cases is reduced by half if there are children, born or adopted by the couple. To claim citizenship by marriage to an Italian citizen, an individual must also produce a valid marriage certificate and permanence of marriage bond valid until the issuance of citizenship.

In order to claim citizenship by naturalization, legal residence in Italy is required for three years for descendants of Italian citizens up to the second degree and foreigners born within Italian territory; four years for nationals of EU member states; 5 years for stateless individuals, refugees and foreigners of legal age adopted by Italian citizens; 7 years for children adopted by Italian nationals; and 10 years for non-EU citizens.

Acquiring Italian citizenship provides certain benefits. With Italian citizenship, a person can live, study or work in Italy as well as any of the other EU member states without having to acquire a visa. There are also certain employment opportunities that are first offered to nationals of EU countries. Citizenship also makes it easier to buy property in Italy, and facilitates access to public medical care and public education that is available to EU citizens. Having the right to vote for the Italian parliament is another benefit that all Italian citizens have. Once a person becomes an Italian citizen, he or she can also automatically transfer citizenship to their children under 18 years of age.

In case of Italian citizenship acquired through ancestry as well as naturalization through residence, Italian law does not require a person to renounce other citizenships.

Useful resources

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerio degli Affari Esteri)
Tel: (+39) 06.3691. 8899
Email: ministero.affariesteri@cert.esteri.it

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