Italian Citizenship: How To Apply In Italy

As the interest in Italian citizenship by descent continues to rise thus causing longer waiting times across Italian consulates, why not speed up the process by applying in Italy?

Do you have Italian ancestry? Have you always dreamt of living in Italy? Can you see yourself exploring the country’s picturesque landscapes, enjoying its beautiful Mediterranean weather and superb cuisine? If this applies to you then filing an application for Italian citizenship in Italy will sound like a thrilling experience. Our previous article touched upon the eligibility requirements to apply for Italian citizenship by descent and the benefits that it entails; this article instead will help you gain a greater insight into the process of applying for Italian citizenship and submitting your application in Italy. Firstly, we will summarize the eligibility requirements to apply for citizenship; secondly, we will explain how to prepare an application. Finally, we will guide you through the last steps you will need to take after you are granted citizenship.

Eligibility requirements

Firstly, it is important to bear in mind that you can apply for Italian citizenship by descent if you meet the following requirements:

  • your ancestor who was born in Italy was never naturalized or he/she was naturalized after his/her child’s birth in the U.S.
  • your Italian ancestor must have been alive when Italy was unified as a nation on March 17, 1861, or he/she must have been born after that date
  • the individuals in your Italian lineage must not have renounced their Italian citizenship voluntarily.

If your male ancestor naturalized prior to the birth of his child, you might not be able to apply for citizenship via an Italian consulate or via a municipality in Italy, but you might be able to claim citizenship via a female ancestor through the court system. This is due to the fact that Italian women were not allowed to pass citizenship on to their children prior to January 1, 1948, which is when Italy’s constitution came into effect. A legal precedent was established in 2009 and since then, individuals who fall in the above category can apply for citizenship retroactively by filing a lawsuit in a court in Italy.

While it is possible to apply for citizenship via an Italian consulate, many people choose to apply directly in Italy. A fundamental requirement to apply for citizenship in Italy is that you establish residency in the municipality where you intend to file your application. In other words, as soon as you arrive in Italy (no visa is required to travel), you will need to formally establish residency by filling out a form and submitting it to the municipality where you have chosen to apply for citizenship. The local police will verify that you are living in the property where you have established your residency. By law, they will have up to 45 days to verify this. Please note that in order to establish residency you will need to provide proof that you can legally use the property where you intend to reside throughout your application process; this may be a lease agreement or a property deed (please note that you cannot establish residency in a B&B). Once your residency status has been confirmed you will be allowed to file your application at the citizenship office in the municipality’s town hall.

Preparing and submitting an application 

In order to submit an application you will need all your family’s vital records and your ancestor’s naturalization records or proof that your ancestor was never naturalized. Generally, municipalities in Italy require that applicants submit certified copies of the records pertaining to the individuals in the Italian lineage only, thus records pertaining to out-of-line spouses are not strictly required. All the records will need to bear an Apostille seal. An important requirement is that you certify all the translations into Italian. This can be done at the court that covers the jurisdiction of the municipality where you will be applying for Italian citizenship. Generally, a translator will need to appear before the court and swear that the translations reflect the original content on the records. The cost to certify the records varies depending on the number of revenue stamps that are needed to certify each translation.

Once all the records have been duly legalized and translated you will need to book an appointment at the citizenship office in the municipality’s town hall and submit your documents in person. If you are applying with other family members you will all need to be physically present on the day of your appointment. The citizenship clerk will assess your records and you will need to allow the time necessary for your application to be processed. Applying via a municipality is generally faster than applying via an Italian consulate in the U.S; in fact, Italian consulates have two years, by law, to process an application. On the other hand, the process in Italy takes a few months although this might vary depending on the municipality to which you apply.

While your application is being processed you will be issued a residency permit (permesso di soggiorno in attesa di cittadinanza), which will allow you to stay in Italy until your application is approved. If you decide to move to Italy with your spouse, please note that your spouse will only be able to spend three months in Italy on a tourist visa. If the application process to be granted citizenship exceeds that period of time your spouse might be allowed to stay longer, however, this depends on the municipality where you apply. Once you are recognised as an Italian citizen your spouse will be able to apply for a residency permit for spouses of EU citizens, which will allow your spouse to stay in Italy without any restrictions or time limitations.

If you would like to learn more about the process to apply for Italian citizenship by descent in Italy, do not hesitate to contact Italian citizenship Assistance at info@italiancitizenshipassistance.com or at +1 (951) 742 5830.