The Italian Citizenship grants the same rights to anyone who gets it as if they were born and raised in the Country. With the Italian citizenship, one also acquires an Italian passport, and grants more rights than an Italian residence permit. There are several ways you can become an Italian citizen: birth on Italian territory, marriage, by descent and more.
This guide will provide you with all the details about who qualifies for Italian citizenship and how to get Italian citizenship.
What rights do you have with an Italian citizenship?
Becoming an Italian citizen grants the following rights:
- You can vote and be elected in Italy during local and national elections;
- You can hold public office and public functions.
By being an Italian citizen, one automatically obtains also a European Union citizenship which entails additional rights:
- The freedom of movement and residence throughout the territory of the Union;
- The right to vote and be elected in municipal and European Parliament elections in Italy;
- Protection by the diplomatic and consular authorities of any European member state in a third country that doesn’t represent Italy;
- The right to submit petitions to the European Parliament and appeals to the European Ombudsman.
Italian Passport Requirements
As mentioned above, Italy grants the Italian citizenship, and therefore the Italian passport, based on several cases: birth on Italian territory, by descent, legal residence and more. In order to get an Italian citizenship, it is necessary to fall at least in one of the categories below.
Italian Citizenship by birth (Ius Sanguinis)
You can get Italian citizenship by Jure Sanguinis if you are:
- A child with a father or mother who is an Italian citizen;
- Foreign minor adopted by an Italian citizen;
- Minor children of a person who acquires or regains Italian citizenship. If children live with said person, then they acquire the Italian Citizenship. However, when coming of age, they may renounce it if holding another citizenship.
Birth on Italian territory
- For those born on Italian territory and whose parents are unknown or stateless. Or also if the child does not acquire the citizenship of the parents according to the law of their State;
- For those who were Italian citizens and resided in the territories that were part of the Italian State, later ceded to the Republic of Yugoslavia;
- For those of Italian language and culture who are children or descendants in a direct line of the persons mentioned in point 2.
Italian citizenship by descent
Also known as the citizenship through ancestry, the Italian citizenship by descent applies when you are able to prove a direct line with your Italian ancestors who emigrated abroad.
During the application, you will have to provide birth certificates, marriage certificates and other relevant documents of your ancestors.
For further details on this specific type, have a look at our dedicated guide on the definition and requirements for the Italian citizenship by descent.
You can also get support from A&P to apply and get your Italian citizenship by descent.
Legal residence in the territory of Italy
- Foreigners born in Italy who have been legally residing in Italy without interruption until becoming of age, become Italian citizens if they declare the intention to acquire the Italian citizenship within 1 year of that date;
- Foreigners of age adopted by an Italian citizen who have been legally living in Italy for at least 5 years after the adoption;
- Foreigners who have been affiliated with an Italian citizen since before the entry into force of Law No. 184 of May 4, 1983, and who have been legally living in the territory of the Republic for at least 7 years after the affiliation;
- Citizens of a European member state if they have been legally living in Italy for at least 4 years;
- Stateless person who has been legally living for at least 5 years in the territory of the Republic;
- Foreigners who have been legally living for at least 10 years in the territory of the Republic;
If you want to know more about Italian citizenship by residency, take a look at our dedicated article.
Italian citizenship by marriage
Another way to become an Italian citizen is to get Italian citizenship by marriage.
Spouses, foreign or stateless, of Italian citizens may acquire Italian citizenship when, after the marriage, they have resided legally for at least 2 years in the territory of the Republic, or after 3 years from the date of marriage if residing abroad. The terms are halved in the presence of children born to or adopted by the spouses;
What can prevent you from getting Italian citizenship
There are a series of cases which preclude the acquisition of the citizenship regarding this point:
- the conviction for one of the crimes included in Book Two, Title I, Chapters I, II and III of the Penal Code;
- the conviction for an intentional offense for which the law provides for a maximum sentence of not less than three years of imprisonment. Or conviction for a non-political crime to a sentence of more than one year by a foreign judicial authority, if Italy recognized the sentence;
- the existence, in the specific case, of proven reasons pertaining to the security of the Republic.
The attorney general (procuratore generale) requests the recognition of the foreign judgment of the district where is located the civil status office where the marriage is registered or transcribed.
Rehabilitation terminates the preclusive effects of the conviction.
The State shall suspend the acquisition of the citizenship until notification of the final judgment, if the court initiated criminal prosecution for any of the offenses referred to in subsection (a) and subsection (b), and for as for as long as the proceedings for recognition of the foreign judgment, referred to in subsection (b), are pending.
Service to the Italian State
- To the foreigner who has served, including abroad, for at least five years at the service of the State;
- To foreigner who have rendered eminent services to Italy, that is when there is an exceptional interest of the State;
For the purposes of the election, acquisition, reacquisition, renunciation or granting of citizenship, the petition or declaration of the person concerned must still be accompanied by the certification proving the possession of the requirements required by law.
The above applications or declarations, are subject to the payment of a fee in the amount of €250.
What is the fastest way to get Italian citizenship?
Among the options above described, the fastest way to obtain the Italian citizenship is by birth or descent.
How long does it take to become Italian citizen?
The processing time highly depends on the type of citizenship application. In case of Italian citizenship application by descent, application can be filed either via an Italian Consulate or via an Italian Municipality, depending on where you are resident.
Consulates usually take up to 24 months to process an application for Italian citizenship by descent, however this time can be shorter if that specific Consulate doesn’t have many applications to process at that time. On the other hand, Italian Municipalities are generally faster and tend to process the application in a few months (6 months on average). If the process takes longer than the maximum of 90 days you are allowed to stay in Italy as a non-EU citizen, you will need to apply for an Italian residence permit.
In case of application by marriage or by residency, the processing time after the application is filed is usually longer and it can take up to 36 months.
Once your Italian citizenship is granted, you will be able to apply for an Italian passport.
How long do you have to stay in Italy to get citizenship?
You generally have to reside in Italy until your application is granted. Timing can vary according to the type of application, as described in this article.
When can I apply for a citizenship in Italy?
You can start your application as soon as you have collected all your supporting documents. Supporting documents differ according to the application type and might include copies of your and your family vital records, duly legalized and translated for use in Italy, your police clearance records, and proof of knowledge of the Italian language.
Level of proficiency in the Italian language to apply for the citizenship
The granting of the Italian citizenship (for instance, by marriage or by residency) is subject to the possession of an adequate knowledge of the Italian language, not less than level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (QCER). To this end, applicants who have not signed the integration agreement referred to in Article 4-bis of the Consolidated Text of Legislative Decree No. 286 of July 25, 1998, or who do not hold an EU long-term residence permit, have to produce appropriate certification. Such certification must be issued by a certifying body recognized by the Ministry of Education, University and Research and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation or the Ministry of Education, University and Research.
Where to apply for the Italian citizenship
The declarations for the acquisition, preservation, reacquisition and renunciation of citizenship and the taking of the oath for obtaining the citizenship have to take place at the civil registrar of the municipality (comune) where the declarant resides or intends to establish residence. Or, in the case of residence abroad, at the diplomatic or consular authority of the place of residence.
Italian Citizenship Application
Applicants for Italian citizenship must sign up on the portal dedicated to the procedure at the following address: Portale servizi.
Applicants can fill out the online application form, attaching:
- Identification document;
- Birth certificate and criminal record certificate issued by the authorities of the country of origin;
- Certification attesting knowledge of the Italian language, not less than level B1 of the QCER. Those who have signed the integration agreement referred to in Article 4 bis of the Consolidated Text of Legislative Decree No. 286 of July 25, 1998, or who hold an EU long-term residence permit referred to in Article 9 of the same Consolidated Text are excluded;
- Receipt of payment of the €250.00 fee;
- Details of the online revenue stamp (marca da bollo).
Once filled out, applicants must send the application to the competent Prefecture (for residents in Italy) or Consulate (for residents abroad). The Prefecture or Consulate will then provide for the following convocation of the applicants.
Italian Citizenship by Investment
Unlike other countries, Italy does not offer a golden passport scheme.
However, the good news is that you can apply for an Investor Visa (also known as “Golden Visa”) and, after you live in Italy for at least ten years, you become eligible to apply for Italian citizenship by residency.
You can obtain a Golden Visa if you are investing in strategic assets for Italy’s economy and get a Nulla Osta by the Ministry of Economic Development. To learn more about the Italian Golden visa you can check out dedicated article.
Italian Citizenship and “Ius Soli”
A debate has raised in the past years among the Italian public opinion on the concept of citizenship by “Ius Soli”, specifically on whether or not Italy should apply it.
The “Ius Soli” refers to the right to acquire citizenship for the simple fact of being born in a country, independently from the parent’s citizenship.
Italy applies the “Ius Sanguinis” concept, instead, according to which the Italian nationality can be acquire only if the parents or other ancestors are Italian. Despite this, Italy applies the “Ius Soli” only in some residual and limited cases such as:
- Children born in Italy from unknown or stateless parents, or
- Children who cannot acquire the citizenship on the parents as the law of the parents’ country of origin does not allow to acquire citizenship for the child born abroad, or
- Children abandoned in Italy by unknown parents, and whose citizenship of origin cannot be demonstrated.
Can the Italian citizenship be revoked?
In case of the Italian citizenship obtained by adoption, the revocation of the adoption due to the adopted’s fault results in the automatic loss of the citizenship acquired by virtue of the adoption, provided that the adopted has another citizenship or regains it.
Article 12 of L. 91/1992 provides for two additional cases of automatic loss of Italian citizenship:
- Failure to comply with the Italian government’s orders to leave a public employment or public office that the citizen has accepted from a foreign state or public body or from an international body in which Italy is not a participant, or failure to comply with the Italian government’s orders to leave military service that the citizen performs for a foreign state;
- Taking up public office or performing of military service for a foreign state, or voluntarily acquiring the citizenship of the state in question; when such circumstances occur while being at war with it (Article 12, co. 2).
Can you have a dual citizenship in Italy?
Yes, you can have dual citizenship in Italy. In fact, the Italian law recognizes the possibility of being a citizen of more than one state. That is, the right to have a dual or multiple citizenship. This applies both to Italian citizens who move abroad permanently, and also want to obtain the citizenship of the country in which they live. This also applies to those who arrive in Italy and decide to live in the Country without giving up the citizenship of their home country.
If you need support for your Italian Citizenship application, take a look at our Italian Citizenship Assistance page.