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Italian Citizenship by Residency

Italian Citizenship by Residency: learn all the requirements to become an Italian citizen through legal residence on the Italian territory.

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The Italian Citizenship grants the same rights to anyone who gets it as if they were born and raised in the Country. There are several ways you can become an Italian citizen, one of them is to get Italian citizenship by residency into the Italian territory (also known as “naturalization”).

This guide will provide you with relevant information about who qualifies for Italian citizenship by residency and how to apply for it.

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.

Can you get Italian citizenship through residency?

Italy grants the Italian citizenship, and therefore the Italian passport, based on several cases, one of them is by legal residency in our country.

This type of citizenship application is also called “Citizenship by naturalization” and it means that, applicants who have been lawfully resident in the territory of the Italian Republic for a minimum number of years, may be granted citizenship by decree of the President of the Republic, on the proposal of the Minister of Interior.

The Italian citizenship by residency is sometimes the only way for applicants to get an Italian passport, but it might not be the faster way. Before starting the process, we advise you to check if you may be eligible for other citizenship types.

What is the difference between permanent resident and citizen of Italy?

Many people usually confuse the concept of citizenship with the concept of permanent residency into the Italian territory. Despite some similarities, the two concepts are very different.

The main difference between citizenship and permanent residence is that citizenship allows you to obtain a passport for the country in which you live. Permanent residence, on the contrary, doesn’t allow you to obtain the local passport so you will have to hold an Italian residence permit. After 5 years of living in Italy with certain types of resident permits, you become eligible to obtain a permanent residence permit, that will allow you to live in our country permanently, provided that you renew your permit every 10 years.

Permanent residents on Italy can travel to Schengen countries, work and live in Italy, but they don’t have the same rights as Italians. For instance, they cannot vote. So, being a citizen gives you more rights, but the application process is also lengthier and more complex.

How long do you have to live in Italy to become a citizen?

The length of time you have to live in Italy before you can apply for citizenship by naturalization depends on your nationality.

As a general rule, legal residence on the Italian territory for at least 10 years is required for non-EU foreigners, but there are many cases for which the period of residence required is shorter:

  • 3 years of legal residence for the foreigner whose father, mother of any of the second-degree ascendants in a direct line were Italian by birth or for the foreigners born in Italy and residing there;
  • 4 years for the citizens of an EU Member State;
  • 5 years of legal residence following adoption for the foreigners of legal age or following the recognition of the status of stateless people or political refugees.

The requirement of residence is not envisaged for the foreigners who worked also abroad for the Italian State for at least five years.

The legal residence status commences from the date of registration with the local Town Hall and the total years of residence in Italy must be uninterrupted.

Can I live in Italy while waiting for citizenship?

As a general rule, applicants must keep their residence in Italy during the whole process of citizenship application by naturalization. This does not mean that you cannot travel abroad, but it is important to remain resident in Italy.

Applicants can change their residence address in Italy, during the citizenship application if, for instance, they permanently move to a different accommodation. However, in this case, it is mandatory to immediately inform the authorities of this change.

Generally speaking, once the application for citizenship by residency is submitted, the waiting time for the procedure completion is up to 24 months, which can be extended to 36 months. In some cases, the procedure can be faster, mostly depending on the authorities workload.

Level of proficiency in the Italian language to apply for the citizenship

The granting of the Italian citizenship by naturalization 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 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.

Currently, here are some certification bodies that are recognized for this purpose:

  • University of foreigners of Siena;
  • University of foreigners of Perugia;
  • Roma Tre University;
  • Dante Alighieri Society.

In some specific cases, applicants can be exempted from providing the language certificate.

Where to apply for the Italian citizenship by naturalization?

The application for Italian citizenship by residency is filed through the official website of the Italian Ministry of the Interior. To access the relevant website, applicants must be in possession of a SPID digital identity.

After accessing the website, it is necessary to select the right application form and complete it with all the personal details required. After completing the application form, you will have to upload your supporting documents and then submit the application.

Once your application is approved, a decree will be sent to the Town Hall where you reside. Then, you will be invited to a citizenship ceremony where you will be taking your oath and swear to follow the provision of the Italian Republic.

Documents required for Italian citizenship

Supporting documents for Italian citizenship by residency may include:

  • Your identification document;
  • Your birth certificate issued by the country where your birth was registered, and duly legalized and translated for use in Italy;
  • Your criminal record certificates duly legalized and translated for use in Italy;
  • Italian language official certification (unless exempted);
  • Receipt of payment of the €250.00 fee;
  • Details of the online revenue stamp (marca da bollo).

It is advisable to make sure that your name on your passport perfectly matches the name reported on your birth certificate. This might not always be the case, for instance if you changed your name after marriage, or for other reasons. Discrepancies in the names reported on your documents might cause problems in the later stage of your citizenship application, so it is always advisable to correct them prior to the application submission.

Income requirement for Italian citizenship

To qualify for the Italian citizenship by residency, you must provide evidence of your income for the past 3 years.

Specifically, the yearly income must not have been lower than:

  • €8.263,31 for applicants not marred and without children;
  • €11.362,05 for applicants with economically dependent spouse, plus additional €516 for each dependent child.

In case you don’t have any yearly income, it is possible to indicate somebody’s else income as long as they are part of the same family status.

Finally, the above mentioned income must be maintained for the all duration of the citizenship process, up until the citizenship oath.

If you need support with your Italian Citizenship application, Studio A&P can help you: take a look at our Italian Citizenship assistance services. 

Regulatory Framework

Law No 91 of 5 February 1992

Reference (Italian only)

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Types of Italian Citizenship

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