Do you need your family’s help to apply for Italian citizenship?

Your family may be involved in the process of applying for the Italian passport, depending on the specific scenario and multiple factors.

Cover photo with young poeple in Rome for the Italian citzenship article
Giardino degli Aranci, Rome. Photo: Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash.

Do you need your family’s cooperation to apply for Italian citizenship by descent? Do you need their approval at any point in the process? These are common questions for an individual aiming to get Italian citizenship. The answers all depend on your particular situation. In other words, your family may be involved in the process or not, depending on the specific scenario and multiple factors, such as your residency, ancestry, or perhaps your marriage to an Italian citizen. This article will provide you with the basic information about the different ways of acquiring Italian citizenship, and the different circumstances that can help you to determine whether family assistance, in your case, is necessary.

How to become an Italian citizen

First, there is more than one way to acquire Italian citizenship. You may be eligible to apply for Italian citizenship by residency, marriage, or descent (also known as citizenship “Jure Sanguinis” or “citizenship by right of blood”). The first generally does not require your family to be involved. For instance, if you are a non-EU citizen and you would like to apply for Italian citizenship by residency you will need to prove that you have lived in Italy for 10 years, whereas if you are an EU citizen you can apply after 4 years of legal residency. In addition to the number of years of legal residency in Italy, you need to have B1 certified knowledge of Italian. You must also prove that you have sufficient funds and finally, you are required to provide criminal background checks from all the U.S. states and other foreign countries in which you have resided since the age of 14.

If you are married to an Italian citizen you can apply for Italian citizenship by marriage after 2 years from the date of marriage or civil union if you live in Italy or after 3 years if you reside abroad. If you have minor children, the number of years is halved. In order to apply you need to have an Italian language certificate (B1 level is required) and you must also provide clean criminal records issued by all the U.S. states and foreign countries in which you have resided since the age of 14. It is worth pointing out that you will need your spouse’s help to obtain Italian citizenship by marriage. In particular, when you are recognized as an Italian citizen you will need to attend a ceremony and your spouse will be required to sign an affidavit declaring that the marriage is legally valid and that no separation, divorce or annulment have occurred.

On the other hand, if you apply for Italian citizenship by descent, you may need your extended family to help you to apply by providing required documentation, such as birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates.

Applying for citizenship by descent

To determine your eligibility for Italian citizenship by descent, a thorough examination of your family tree is necessary. While it is helpful to have as much information as possible about your ancestors in the Italian lineage, genealogical research can be conducted to determine eligibility and the best path for citizenship. Essential and most relevant details include your ancestor’s full name, dates and places of birth, marriage, and death, as well as any naturalization records or proof of non-naturalization, if applicable.

Obtaining the required records for the citizenship application may or may not require family cooperation. In fact, while most U.S. states do not require direct family assistance for Italian citizenship applications, there are a few instances where family cooperation may be necessary to obtain certain documents. The rules for obtaining such documents vary depending on the state responsible for issuing them, the type of records needed, and their date of issuance. For instance, if your parents were born in the state of New York, they would be the only ones entitled to request their birth certificates, whereas vital records in Ohio, for instance, are public. You will want to check your state’s up-to-date eligibility requirements to apply for the records required based on your specific situation.

There can be several different situations when applying for Italian citizenship. For example, if you are estranged from a living family member in the Italian line and your application is done through their line, you will still need their help. An Affidavit (known as FORM 3) must be signed by whoever is alive in the Italian lineage (it could be your parent or grandparent, for example) to self-declare that they never renounced their right to Italian citizenship. However, this form will only be required if you are applying through an Italian consulate. Instead, it will not be needed if the application is through a municipality or court in Italy.

If your ancestor through whom you claim Italian citizenship by descent has passed away, you can still apply for Italian citizenship as the above-mentioned FORM 3 is only required for living ascendants. You must still gather essential vital records, such as birth, marriage, and death certificates, to establish your lineage and connection to the deceased ancestor. Some older documents might be easily accessible within your family unit. In that case, you may have to obtain copies from the relevant authorities or explore archives to secure the ancestor’s death certificate. You might need the help of an attorney, a genealogist, or a professional who knows how to work with archives in Italy.


These are just some of the many situations in which individuals seeking Italian citizenship may find themselves. As mentioned earlier, your family’s help may or may not be needed based on your specific case. It is important to remember that requirements and procedures can vary depending on the consulate or jurisdiction you rely on. Our team at ICA can answer any question and solve further doubts or difficulties you may encounter while applying for citizenship.

If you would like to learn more about the process to apply for Italian citizenship, do not hesitate to contact Italian Citizenship Assistance at or at +1 (951) 742 5830.