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How to Gain Italian Citizenship

Updated on September 19, 2012

This article aims to simplify an often confusing process by offering a no-nonsense, step-by-step guide to the entire citizenship process, whether you already live here, are a direct Italian descendant, or have nothing to do with Italy at all at the present moment in time.

In order to successfully request citizenship you must first unconditionally meet at least one of the conditions set forth by Italy's Home Office.

In the section below I will detail all of the prerequisites which you can use to stake your citizenship claim, and how you can begin the process once you have all the necessary information you're likely to need. If you have any questions, feel free to use the comments section at the bottom of the article, although please bear in mind I am not employed by the Italian state, and cannot officiate any kind of proceedings for you!


The Original Text

For those of you who already speak Italian, you can find the original summary and explanation on how to gain Italian citizenship directly from the Italian Home Office website.

Conditions Of Citizenship

Fulfilling any of the following criteria makes you eligible for citizenship. In every case, you will be asked to prove the details of the case, so make sure you have the appropriate testimonies and documentation handy. For information regarding how to initiate the process of citizenship, please refer to the bottom of the article.

  1. You were born in Italy and have legally lived here for at least three years.
  2. You are either the son, daughter or grandchild of an Italian citizen and have legally resided here for at least three years.
  3. You have been adopted by an Italian citizen and have legally lived at least five years in Italy subsequent to the adoption. You must be over eighteen to invoke this clause.
  4. You have worked for the Italian state abroad, or locally, for at least five years. For those of you who are resident abroad, you don't need to establish residency before claiming citizenship. You can apply directly abroad through existing consular channels.
  5. You are an E.U citizen and have legally lived in Italy at least four years.
  6. You are a refugee or stateless, and have legally lived in Italy for at least 4 years.
  7. You are a foreign citizen that has legally lived in Italy for ten years.
  8. You are a foreign or stateless citizen that descends directly from first or second degree Italian citizens, that has legally lived in Italy for at least two years, and have presented your claim to citizenship within one year of becoming a legal adult.
  9. You have been legally married for two years with an Italian.

Typical Reasons For Rejection

Sometimes, despite a clear-cut case for successful citizenship, you may stumble upon rejection. The following reasons are often to blame (as per the Italian Home Office):

  • When your citizenship is deemed to be a national security threat.
  • Inability to prove your legal residency.
  • Insufficient family or personal income.
  • A criminal past.
  • Poor Italian and knowledge of Italy's laws, norms and society. Applicants should be willing to show that they intend to integrate seamlessly into Italian society.

Right, I'm Set! What Now?

Once you have made sure that you have all the required legal documentation you are likely to need (including a birth certificate), it is merely a matter of finding the appropriate legal channel.

If you currently live in Italy: You will need to present your application directly to the region where you plan on being registered as a citizen. You may do so by selecting the appropriate region on this article, and jotting down the contact details on the resulting page.

If you currently live abroad: You will need to seek the appropriate consular channel locally, which may differ from country to country. Your best bet is to call your local Italian Embassy and ask for further instructions.


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    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thanks again GTF and Paradise!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Very interesting. Especially the one about being an E.U. citizen. Great hub thooghun!

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      I wonder if bribery works, when nothing else seems to. Not kidding!

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Hi Petra!

      I know a ton of people who gave up on the whole idea as well (despite living here), but continue to "lavorare in nero" (work illegally), nobody here seems to really care. I guess it's almost a sociological norm at this point.

      P.S: Agreed, Italy is a bureaucratic nightmare. It takes a whole day at the post office to send a letter, I can't image what it must be like to file a claim such as citizenship.

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Italian citizenship could be granted If one has the patience to wait for years, until you get through the bureaucracy and inefficiency of the Italian government.

      It happened to me, so I know all about it; after working abroad for the Italian Trade Commission (a government agency) for more than 9 years I applied for citizenship in 1979. It takes a presidential decree to be granted citizenship and during the waiting period one has to exit the country every 6 months and return with a new tourist visa. As a tourist you are not allowed to work legally (unless a company who wants to hire you places an ad in the paper for 6 consecutive weeks listing the position and then "takes a chance" to select you as the best candidate.

      I got so tired of it that in the end I decided to come to US instead, but I still have a bitter taste in my mouth.