Tips for applying for Italian citizenship by descent in Italy

An overview of some of the most important aspects you will need to consider if you decide to travel to Italy to apply for citizenship.

While our previous articles have analyzed the various paths towards acquiring Italian citizenship by descent, the stages involved in filing an application and the benefits entailed, this article will provide you with an overview of some of the most important aspects you will need to consider if you decide to travel to Italy to apply for citizenship. In particular, it will do so by answering some of the most frequently asked questions related to applying for citizenship in Italy. However, before we dig deeper into the subject it is worth pointing out that in addition to the eligibility requirements to apply for Italian citizenship, if you decide to file your application in Italy, you will need to establish your residency in the municipality where you intend to submit your documentation. So, where can you apply? What do you need to look out for? This article will answer these questions and many more so as to prepare you for an exciting journey towards rediscovering your Italian roots and obtaining Italian citizenship by descent.

Can you apply to any municipality in Italy?

Yes, you can choose any municipality (comune) in Italy to file your application, however, it is worth pointing out that not all municipalities in Italy are familiar with applications for Italian citizenship by descent, especially the smaller ones. Furthermore, although speaking Italian is not a requirement to apply for citizenship, the likelihood of interacting with English speaking clerks in medium-sized town and cities in Italy is higher compared to if you apply via a small town.

Another aspect which is correlated to the size of the town or the city to which you apply is that generally speaking, it is better to avoid filing an application in a very big city such as Rome, Milan, Florence and Naples, for instance, which have a very big population and thus a greater workload. As a consequence, these cities might have very long processing times compared to smaller municipalities. Therefore, the best option is applying to a medium-sized city or town, which is familiar with applications for citizenship by descent, and which can process an application in a relatively short amount of time.

Please bear in mind that applications need to be submitted to a comune, which is both the municipality itself and the town hall, thus the municipal building where the government is located. Often, a comune can also include a few frazioni, which are territorial subdivisions of a municipality that do not have their own administrative offices, therefore, if you establish residency in a frazione you will be considered a resident of the municipality that incorporates that frazione and you will need to file your citizenship application at the municipality’s town hall.

How do you establish residency?

If you decide to travel to Italy to apply for citizenship, you will not need a visa to travel but when you arrive in the country you will need to establish your residency by filling out a form and submitting it to the municipality where you have decided to apply for citizenship. In particular, you can establish residency in a property you have purchased or which you are renting, therefore, establishing residency in a B&B, for instance, is not allowed. Once you have submitted your residency form to the municipality, the local police will verify that you are living in the property where you have established your residency and by law, they will have up to 45 days to verify this. Once your residency status has been confirmed, you will be allowed to submit your application at the citizenship office in the municipality’s town hall.

Which documents do you need in order to apply?

Before you travel to Italy you will need to collect all of your family’s vital records (birth, marriage, death and divorce certificates, if applicable) and your ancestor’s naturalization records or proof that your ancestor was never naturalized. As a general rule, most municipalities in Italy require that applicants submit certified copies of the records pertaining to the individuals in the Italian lineage only, therefore records pertaining to out-of-line spouses are not strictly required. Nevertheless, it is advisable to contact the municipality to which you will be applying prior to travelling to Italy in order to double-check that you have all the required documentation and that you meet all of the eligibility requirements.

Finally, all the records will need to bear an Apostille seal and all the translations into Italian will need to be certified in court in Italy. This can be done by a professional translator who will need to appear before the court and swear that the translations are true and accurate.

Once your application is complete, you can book an appointment at the citizenship office in the municipality’s town hall and submit your application in person.

If you apply as a family do all applicants need to be present?

If you are applying with other adult family members you will all need to be physically present on the day of your appointment. On the other hand, minor children will be automatically included in your application and thus their presence might not be strictly required.

How long does it take to process an application in Italy?

Once you submit your application, you will need to allow the citizenship clerk the time to analyse your records and process your application. Generally, applying via a municipality is faster than applying via an Italian consulate in the United States; in fact, Italian consulates have up to two years, by law, to process an application whereas the processing time in a municipality in Italy is generally around six months although this might vary depending on the municipality to which you apply.

When you are officially granted Italian citizenship, if you decide to live in Italy you can apply for a passport at the local police headquarters (Questura). On the other hand, if you plan on returning to your home country, you will need to register with the A.I.R.E. and apply for an Italian passport at the Italian consulate which covers the jurisdiction where you reside.

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 or at +1 (951) 742 5830.