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Italian Citizenship by Descent

This type of citizenship allows you to apply for the Italian citizenship if you have Italian ancestors (parents, grandparents, great grandparents etc.)

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The Italian citizenship by descent relies on the legislation of Ius Sanguinis (“right of blood”). It refers to individuals born to Italian parents, grandparents (and even great grandparents). All these individuals can claim Italian citizenship and become Italians through descent.

People given Italian birthright citizenship are entitled to the same rights and benefits as their Italian ancestors in Italy.

If you are looking for a broader introduction, have a look at our guide on the Italian Citizenship and learn more about other types you might be eligible for.

Who qualifies for the Italian citizenship by descent?

Children under the age of 18 are naturally Italian citizens if one of the parents is Italian.

Another requisite is that the birth certificate has been registered with the Italian authorities.

Can I get Italian citizenship if my great grandparents were Italian?

The Italian citizenship is transmitted by the Italian ascendant to the children – in concatenation and with no generation limits.

However, some limitations apply as regards the maternal line. In case of maternal descent, children of an Italian mother (where the father is foreign citizen) are entitled to recognition of the Italian citizenship only if:

  • they were born after January 1st, 1948, or
  • they were born before that date but their father, and descendants, are unknown (Article 1 paragraph 2 of the Law 555/1912 and Art. 7 of the Civil Code of 1865).

Moreover, to obtain Italian citizenship through ancestry you have to prove that your Italian predecessor was an Italian citizen at the time of his/her birth or had the right to claim Italian citizenship at the time of his/her birth.

How far back do you have to be to get Italian citizenship?

One key need for understanding if you can claim Italian citizenship by ancestry is the date March 17, 1861, when Italy became a nation. I your eldest Italian parent was alive after this date, you are eligible for submitting a Jure Sanguinis citizenship application.

Special cases when it is possible to apply for the Italian Citizenship by Descent

Foreigners whose father or mother or one of second-degree direct ascendants have been Italian citizens by birth, can acquire the Italian citizenship by descent if:

  • they perform military service for the Italian State and declare in advance that they wish to acquire Italian citizenship;
  • they hold a  public employment for the State, in Italy or abroad, and declare that they intend to acquire Italian citizenship;
  • upon reaching the age of majority, they legally reside for at least two years in the Italian territory, and declare, within one year, of wanting to acquire the Italian citizenship.

What documents do I need to get Italian citizenship by descent?

To claim the recognition of Italian citizenship by descent you must prove your connection with an Italian ancestor. For this reason, you must present to the Authorities the following documents:

  • extract of the birth certificate of the Italian parent who emigrated abroad;
  • birth certificates, with the official Italian translation, of all the applicant’s direct descendants;
  • marriage act of the Italian predecessor who emigrated abroad, with an official Italian translation;
  • marriage certificates  of your descendants, in a direct line, including the descendants of the parents of the applications;
  • certificate issued by the competent Italian Consular Authority attesting that neither the ancestors in the direct line nor the person applying for recognition of Italian citizenship has ever renounced it under the terms of Article 7 of Law No. 555 of June 13, 1912, and Law No. 91 of February 5, 1992;
  • certificate of residence;
  • passport or another identity document.

How long does it take to get the Italian citizenship by descent?

Italian authorities usually grant Italian citizenship in 6 months from the time of the application submission.

However, this timing might change based on the specific case.

Can you get Italian citizenship by descent through DNA test?

No, it’s not possible to obtain recognition of Italian citizenship by descent through DNA test.

How to get the Italian Citizenship by Descent

If you are looking to apply for the Italian citizenship by descent, you must do so at the civil register of the Italian municipality where you plan to reside or move your Italian residency.

In case of residence abroad, the application must be presented to the relevant Italian diplomatic-consular authority.

If you are looking for support in applying for Italian citizenship, take a look at our page dedicated to the services offered by Studio A&P to apply for the Italian citizenship by descent.

To find out more about the other types of Italian citizenship available, read our articles on:

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Regulatory Framework

Law No. 91 of February 5, 1992

Reference (Italian only)

Types of Italian Citizenship

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