Italian Citizenship: Rules on Obtaining Italian Nationality
These listed laws are currently applicable to Italian citizenship, but you will have to check if these laws have been revised before you make any significant choices.
A person born of Italian parents is definitely an Italian, likewise a person born in Italy by parents that are of unknown origin and are stateless or an individual who did not acquire his or her parents' citizenship under their country's law.
What are the requirements to become a citizen?
You can apply for Italian citizenship if you have Italian parents, or in some cases grandparents, if you’re born in Italy, or if you marry an Italian. Otherwise you might be eligible for citizenship through residency if you live in Italy for long enough. The waiting time in this case depends on your circumstance - from four years for people with some Italian heritage, to 10 years, for those coming to Italy from outside of the EU.
Regardless of the route you’re applying to, you have to fulfil certain basic requirements to be eligible, and the Italian government may refuse to offer citizenship if they believe there's any security risk in doing so.
Application processes for Italian citizenship are set out by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and their website is a great place to look for process details, and application forms.
Can I have dual citizenship?
It’s possible to be a citizen of Italy, as well as of another country, known as dual citizenship. There are some countries, however, which don’t allow this. Although Italian law won't make you renounce your former citizenship, the country of your first citizenship might not allow you to hold the citizenship of two countries.
If you’re considering seeking dual nationality, it’s worth talking to an immigration specialist or your local embassy to check the rules.
Ways to obtain Italian citizenship
Depending on your personal circumstances there are several different ways you can claim Italian citizenship. If the routes outlined below does not suit your circumstance then you might be able to claim citizenship based on your residency. In this case, you must have lived in Italy for four years if you’re an EU citizen, or 10 years if you’re from the USA or elsewhere outside of Europe.
There are some exceptions to this rule - for example, you might have less time to wait if you have some Italian heritage, and there’s an expedited rule for stateless people from outside of the EU, too.
Can I obtain citizenship through descent or ancestry?
You can become an Italian citizen through descent if at least one of your parents was an Italian citizen when you were born. Alternatively, if a grandparent was Italian and worked in some form of public service, such as the military or government, you may be able to claim citizenship by descent. Finally, you might be able to claim Italian citizenship if you’re born in Italy to foreign parents but lived there until the age of 18.;
You still have to meet the requirement to be of good character, and you’ll need to prove your identity and the citizenship of your Italian parent or grandparent, if you’re relying on this to claim citizenship.
Can I obtain citizenship through marriage?
If you’re married to an Italian and live in Italy, you can claim Italian citizenship through marriage two years after your wedding. If you live outside of Italy, the wait time is three years, although the relevant waiting period is reduced by 50% if you have children with your spouse.
How to apply for Italian citizenship
The basic route for applying for citizenship is the same, whatever the grounds for your application. You’ll need to check the exact documents needed for your circumstance, which will be available on the prefecture website. Typically the list is pretty long, so be prepared. Usually documents must be translated and certified if they’re not in Italian, or aren’t original copies.
Applications are then made directly to the prefecture, addressed to the President of the Republic.
Application Fees and Cost Fees are payable for all routes to citizenship - if you’re applying as an adult for Italian citizenship, then you’ll have a bill of EUR 300 to pay.
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.