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In the following article, we talk about discovering if you are eligible for Italian citizenship.
Suppose you have an Italian ancestor (e.g. excellent, grandfather/mother or grandfather/mother) who was born in Italy and emigrated to your country (USA, UK, Argentina etc.). In that case, you might be eligible for Italian citizenship.
JUS SANGUINIS PRINCIPLE & JUS SOLI PRINCIPLE
Italian citizenship is based on the Jus Sanguinis principle, which means citizenship is passed from parent to child based on bloodline. To make it simple, we can say that a child born to an Italian citizen parent (even if the parent has never been formally recognized as an Italian citizen) is ordinarily born an Italian citizen (with some exceptions)
The Jus Soli principle applies in many other countries, like the US, where you are a citizen of that country because you were born there (on US soil).
Therefore, if you can prove that Italian citizenship was transmitted from your Italian-born ancestor down to you (even if you and your relatives were born abroad), you could also become an Italian citizen, with all its benefits, including being a citizen of 27 European countries.
Usually, your Italian ancestor will be your great grandfather/mother or grandfather/mother who was born in an Italian municipality and then, in the last decades of the 1800s or the first ones of the 1900s, emigrated to your country (UK, USA, South America, etc.).
To claim Italian citizenship, in most cases, you must apply to the competent Italian authority, your local Italian Consulate if you live abroad, or an Italian municipality if you live in Italy. You will have to enclose all the required documents (completed with Apostilles/legalizations and translations, where needed) to prove that you had an Italian ancestor who was born in Italy, emigrated to your country, and was able to pass Italian citizenship to their child, and then down to you.
Although it might seem easy at first to determine whether you are Italian by blood, many exceptions come into play when assessing eligibility for Italian citizenship.
For example, there are no generational limits for Italian citizenship by descent. Still, the Italian ancestor must have been alive and a citizen of Italy after the unification of Italy, which happened in March 1861 (before this date, Italy was not a nation, so they could not have been an Italian citizen). However, you should be aware that there are some specific cases, usually called the “pre-1948-cases”, which we will address in another post, where the petitioner will need to petition the Court to be recognized as an Italian citizen because they had a female Italian ascendant who gave birth to a child before January 1, 1948 (the date the Italian Consitution came into force).
Furthermore, it is essential to know if and when your Italian ancestor naturalized (acquired the citizenship of the country they emigrated to). If your Italian ancestor naturalized before June 14, 1912, or before the birth of their child, they would not have been able to pass citizenship on to their child.
You also have to consider that if any other relative down the bloodline ever formally renounced their Italian citizenship will not be eligible for Italian citizenship because the passage of the Italian citizenship would have been interrupted.
So, as you can see, there are many laws, judgments, and exceptions that you must consider when applying for Italian citizenship.
You discover that you have an Italian ancestor who was born in Italy and emigrated to your country. You do some research and realize that you qualify for Italian citizenship. Collect your documents to submit your Italian citizenship application to your local Italian Consulate (you can also apply directly in Italy at a municipality of your choice).
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I'm Natalia Bertelli, an English/Spanish to Italian legal translator. Since 2008 I have been working on contracts, judicial deeds, certificates, corporate translations for foreign clients who want to do business in Italy, get a dual citizenship or simply settle in my beautiful country.