Q: How many generations back can I pursue citizenship?

A: There is no generational restriction; however, your ascendant cannot have emigrated prior to the founding of the Kingdom of Italy on March 17th, 1861. If your ascendant was born prior to this date, you must prove that he or she did not emigrate until afterward.

Q: My Italian-born ascendant was a minor when he or she emigrated. Does that have any legal impact?

A: No. That person is still your closest ascendant. You must present naturalization documentation for him or her, not his or her parents. Note that in Italy, until 1976, the age of majority was 21. Minors who emigrate generally naturalize concurrently with their adult parents. Ergo, if your Italian-born ascendant was a minor when his or her parent naturalized, it is very probable that he or she naturalized on that date as well. If you wish to prove otherwise, you will need to provide documentation proving so.

Q: Will acquiring Italian citizenship affect my U.S. or other citizenship(s)?

A: If you are concerned that a dual citizenship procedure may affect your US citizenship you should contact the local U.S. authorities in any case  according to the principle of jure sanguinis, you have actually been an Italian citizen since birth (if you qualify). Obtaining dual citizenship through ancestry is much different than obtaining it through naturalization, which in many cases can result in the loss of your native citizenship.

Q: Can I apply for citizenship without registering my marriages, divorces, or minor children?

A: No. Citizenship jure sanguinis is a retroactive recognition of citizenship; ergo, all those documents must be legally recorded in Italy. Concealing the existence of marriages, divorces, or minor children is illegal.

Q: How long does it take to be formally recognized as an Italian citizen?

A: It is really variable, from our own experience we are averaging three to six months for appointments to apply and two to five months to process an application.

Q: Is my spouse entitled to citizenship as well?

A: Yes. However, in most cases the spouse must apply after the couple’s marriage has been registered in Italy. See our citizenship by marriage service. Foreign women who married Italian men prior to 27 April 1983, however, automatically acquired Italian citizenship, and therefore are entitled to apply simultaneously for recognition.

Q: I do not qualify for citizenship because my Italian-born ascendant naturalized before the birth of his or her children. What can I do?

A: If you are the child or grand-child of an ex-citizen, you can obtain Italian citizenship by residing in Italy for a period of three years. Great-grandchildren (and beyond) are treated no differently than people of purely non-Italian ancestry, and can only acquire citizenship by residence in Italy for a period of ten years. People who do not qualify for citizenship by descent can still acquire citizenship by marriage or by service to the government.

Q: I have a family member who already applied for and received citizenship jure sanguinis via this or another Consulate. Do I need to duplicate all the documentation from scratch?

A: Normally documents on file in the Consulates do not need to be duplicated. If your family member was recognized at another Consulate, you will need to provide either new originals, or copies coming from the Consulate through which your family member was recognized.

Q: Can I apply for citizenship directly in Italy or through another Consulate?

A: You can only apply for citizenship through the Italian authority with jurisdiction over your residence. Please consult the “Italian Consulate in the US” section and remember that you can only apply for citizenship through the domestic authorities in Italy if you are a permanent legal resident of Italy.

Q: Will I or my children be drafted into the Italian military?

A: No. The draft has been abolished. On May 8, 2001, the Italian government passed a law (Art. 7 del D. Lgs. 8 May 2001 n. 215) making military service completely voluntary as of January 1, 2007. Females do not have any military obligations, nor does any male born on or after January 1, 1986. If you have already served in the US military or you are forty-five years or older, you do not have to serve in the Italian military. If you are twenty-seven or older and younger than forty-five, you can avoid military service by filling out some paperwork. If you are a male born between 1976 and December 31, 1985 and you want to live in Italy, you are obliged to complete your military service unless you are enrolled in a university. Work exemptions also exist for those who meet certain qualifications (e.g. independent business-owners or members of a family business). Please contact the Bureau of Military Services (LEVA) of the area in Italy in which you are planning to live for more information

Q: I have had or want a name change. What can I do to register this name change in Italy?

A: The Italian government generally permits name changes in only two situations: (1) your life is in danger, (2) your birth name is obscene. If you have had a name change prior to applying for citizenship, the only way you can keep that name change is by amending your birth certificate. To do so, you generally need to request a change of name decree from your local court, then contact the department of vital records of the U.S. state in which you were born and ask them to amend your birth certificate, presenting the decree as supporting evidence.
If you wish to change your name after your application for citizenship has been submitted, you will generally find it exceedingly difficult to do so.
Nota bene: This means the Italian government does not recognize married names either!

Q: My Italian-born ascendant was native to a town which is no longer part of Italy, or which was not part of Italy when he or she emigrated from Italy. Can I qualify for citizenship?

A: Due to the many exchanges of territory between Italy and other nations and the resulting patchwork of citizenship laws, your situation is likely to be too complex to be covered here. Contact the citizenship department, specifying your ascendant’s place and date of birth as well as his or her date of emigration from Italy (or what was by then another nation’s territory).

Q: What taxes will I have to pay as an Italian citizen?

A: Although the United States taxes its citizens even when they live abroad, you can qualify for tax exclusion for all income earned in Italy or elsewhere in the European Union up to $70,000 USD per year. In order to qualify you must establish a tax home outside the U.S. and pass one of two tests:
Physical-presence test: you need to be at least 330 days outside of the U.S. over a consecutive 12-month period.
Foreign-residence test: you become a bona fide resident of Italy or of any other EU country for an entire taxable year. If you live in Italy or in Europe and have an Italian passport, you should pass this test.
Remember that even if you don’t qualify for this exclusion, Italy and the United States have tax treaties to protect their citizens from dual taxation. Generally, you don’t pay U.S. tax on foreign-earned income if the foreign tax rate is higher than the U.S. rate. If the foreign rate is lower, you will have to pay US taxes on the difference between these rates.
Note: Always check with your tax attorneys for more information.

Q: Can the Consulate accept church records?

A: Consulates usually only accept church records (baptismal certificates, religious marriage certificates, etc.) if the civil authorities state that they have no record of a birth or marriage. Ergo, if you cannot find a civil record, obtain a statement to that effect from the local authorities.

Q: My Italian-born ascendant emigrated to a country other than the United States (such as Canada or Argentina); then my ascendant and/or subsequent generations of my family emigrated to the United States. Are there differences in the procedure?

A: First, double-check that you still qualify. If an intermediate ascendant acquired U.S. citizenship prior to 15 August 1992, then even if that ascendant had inherited Italian citizenship from your Italian-born ascendant, the intermediate ascendant could not pass on citizenship to his or her children born after the acquisition of U.S. citizenship. Secondly, you will in many cases need to provide naturalization records from the country to which your ascendant originally emigrated. The Italian Consulate or Embassy located in that country will be able to tell you what documents you need to provide.

Q: I was adopted by Italian citizens. Can I still qualify for citizenship through my adoptive Italian parents?

A: Yes. The adoption decree must be submitted (certified copy, with Apostille and translation) along with the applicant’s other documents. If you were adopted as a minor, and are applying as an adult, there are generally no other requirements. If you were adopted as an adult, you must reside in Italy for five years before applying.

Q: I cannot find my Italian-born ascendant’s birth certificate. Is there an alternative?

A: Usually, the only acceptable alternative is a letter from the Comune stating that they do not have the birth certificate, and a copy of the baptismal certificate from the local diocese. Occasionally, in the case of male ascendants, military draft documents from Italy will have parents’ names and the ascendant’s place and date of birth. Without either one of these substitutes or the birth certificate from the Comune, you cannot apply for citizenship.

Q: I adopted non-Italian children. If I am recognized as a citizen, are my adopted children also recognized as citizens?

A: Yes. See the previous question, and contact the citizenship department for specifics. Frequently, a parent must be recognized as a citizen before he or she can request citizenship for an adopted minor child (unlike biological minor children, who are automatically citizens). The adoptions of minor children go to the Tribunale dei Minori (Children’s Court) for judicial review before they can be passed onto the municipality and the child recognized as an Italian citizen.