The General Rule

In order to demonstrate that you have inherited a right to citizenship by descent, you must demonstrate that citizenship was transmitted from his or her Italian-born ascendant to the applicant.

Italian citizenship was exclusive until 15 August 1992; therefore, the voluntary acquisition of any non-Italian citizenship meant the automatic renunciation of one’s Italian citizenship for people who were born with Italian citizenship. Children born to Italian citizens in the United States or other countries with jure solis, however, acquired their foreign citizenships involuntarily because of their birthplaces. Ergo, these children can claim citizenship by descent if and only if they can prove that their Italian-born ascendant was an Italian citizen at the moment of their births. Subsequently, they can pass citizenship onto their children, grandchildren, etc., barring a loss of citizenship somewhere along the line.

​Italy has been a participant in the Strasbourg convention on the reduction of cases of multiple citizenship.

Note:
There were no Italian citizens prior to 17 March 1861, because Italy did not exist as a nation. Thus the oldest Italian ancestor in any jus sanguinis citizenship application must have been still alive on or after that date.
Any child born to an Italian citizen parent (or parent also with the right to Italian citizenship jus sanguinis) is ordinarily born an Italian citizen, with the following caveats: If the child was born before 15 August 1992, the Italian parent ordinarily must not have naturalised as a citizen of another country before the child’s birth.

Preliminary Research

​Before you can find out if you qualify for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis, you should know:​
• The birth dates of every relative in a direct line between you and your ancestor from Italy. It’s OK if you don’t have exact dates right now, but you should at least know the year.
• The date your ancestor from Italy became a naturalized citizen of your country.

Before you start the process of obtaining dual citizenship, you should also find out whether acquiring Italian citizenship will affect your current citizenship by checking with the nearest Italian authority and/or consulting your government’s citizenship laws.​

To qualify for citizenship through ancestry, the applicant and his/her ascendants must meet the following basic criteria:​

  • A child is born to an Italian citizen parent or a parent with the right to Italian citizenship “jure sanguinis”. Henceforth this parent will be known as the Italian parent.
  • If the child was born before August 16, 1992, the Italian parent must not have taken another citizenship by naturalization at the time of the child’s birth.
  • If the mother is the Italian parent, the child must have been born on or after January 1, 1948.
  • Ancestors naturalized before June 14, 1912, cannot transmit citizenship (even to children born before their naturalization). This rule is not enforced at all consulates.

All conditions above must be met by every person in a direct lineage. There is no generational limit. However, while there is no generational limit to claiming Italian citizenship through “jus sanguinis” the ancestor who immigrated from Italy must have died in the Italian Peninsula or abroad after March 17, 1861, according to Italian Ministry of Interior. Any person who died prior to that date was not a Citizen of Italy, because this was before the unified nation of Italy was formed. Subsequently, that person had no ability to pass on Italian citizenship.

Note: Some Consulates vary on required documents and translations. Contact the consulate jurisdiction (link to the consulates page) in which you reside if you have any questions regarding your eligibility.

Examples

Francesco’s grandfather Paolo emigrated to the States in 1900. His father, Antonio, was born in 1912, and Paolo naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1925. Antonio inherited citizenship because Luigi was a citizen at the moment of his birth, and Francesco, born in 1950, inherited citizenship from Antonio unless Antonio renounced his right to Italian citizenship (for example, by acquiring a third citizenship prior to Francesco’s birth or by a declaration before an Italian authority).​

  1. Ascendants naturalized before June 14th, 1912, cannot transmit citizenship, even to children born before those ascendants naturalized.
  2. Italian women did not win the right to pass on citizenship to their children until 1948. Therefore, people born prior to Jan. 1st, 1948, can only claim citizenship from their paternal line, while those born on or after Jan. 1st, 1948, can claim from either their maternal or paternal line.

Luigi and his brother Luca emigrate to the USA in 1898. Luigi’s son, Giuseppe, is born in 1900. Luca’s son Raffaele is also born in 1900. Luigi naturalizes as a U.S. citizen in 1910. Luca naturalizes as a U.S. citizen in 1914. Giuseppe and Giuseppe’s descendants do not have any right to Italian citizenship. Raffaele and his descendants do.

Giovanna emigrates to the USA in 1940 and marries an American man. She never acquires U.S. citizenship. Her son Luigi is born in 1947. Her daughter Anna is born in 1949. Luigi did not inherit Italian citizenship. Anna did.

Children born outside of Italy with the citizenship of a member country may not have been able to hold Italian citizenship by birth because of this convention. The convention has also extended the era when Italians could lose citizenship by foreign naturalization to dates later than 14 August 1992, if the naturalization were in a participant country.

​Important: The child must not have renounced Italian citizenship. Most commonly, renunciation occurred if the child naturalized as the citizen of another country voluntarily, as an adult, and prior to 15 August 1992.
All conditions above must be met by every person in a direct lineage. There is no generational limit, except in respect to the date of 17 March 1861.

Note: ​If an Italian ancestor naturalized as a citizen of another country independently from his or her parents, and prior to reaching legal Italian adulthood (age 21 prior to 10 March 1975, and age 18 otherwise), then often that ancestor retained Italian citizenship even after the naturalisation and could still pass citizenship on to children. Also, having one qualifying Italian parent (father only, before 1 January 1948) is sufficient to derive (inherit) citizenship, even if the other Italian parent naturalised or otherwise became unable to pass on citizenship. Sometimes that qualifying parent is the foreign-born mother, because foreign women who married Italian men prior to 27 April 1983 automatically became Italian citizens and, in many cases, retained that citizenship even when their Italian husbands later naturalised.

The common categories that follow will help you determine your eligibility. However, there may be factors not listed here that will affect your eligibility. Please consider that there are many factors not listed below that may negatively affect your eligibility to apply for Italian citizenship; conversely, even if your case may at first not appear to be falling within any of these criteria of eligibility, you should consider the opportunity to have a professional evaluation because there are many variables that may have a positive influence on your case that only a specialized lawyer is aware of Italian Embassy and Consulates are not a Law offices and their services to the community does not include giving free legal advice.  ​

Your father was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth and you never renounced your right to Italian citizenship. If citizenship is acquired by birth in your country and you meet all these conditions, you qualify for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis.

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Your mother was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth, you were born after January 1st, 1948 and you never renounced your right to Italian citizenship. If citizenship is acquired by birth in your country and you meet all these conditions, you qualify for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis

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Your mother was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth, you were born after January 1st, 1948 and you never renounced your right to Italian citizenship. If citizenship is acquired by birth in your country and you meet all these conditions, you qualify for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis

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Your father was born in your native country, your paternal grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of his birth, and neither you nor your father ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship. If citizenship is acquired by birth in your country and you meet all these conditions, you qualify for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis.

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Your father was born in your native country after January 1st, 1948, your paternal grandmother was an Italian citizen at the time of his birth, and neither you nor your father ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship. If citizenship is acquired by birth in your country and you meet all these conditions, you qualify for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis.

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Your mother was born in your native country, your maternal grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of her birth, you were born after January 1st, 1948, and neither you nor your mother ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship. If citizenship is acquired by birth in your country and you meet all these conditions, you qualify for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis.​​

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Your mother was born in your native country after January 1st, 1948, your maternal grandmother was an Italian citizen at the time of her birth, and neither you nor your mother ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship. If citizenship is acquired by birth in your country and you meet all these conditions, you qualify for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis.

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Your paternal grandfather was born in your native country, your paternal great ​grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of his birth, and neither you nor your father nor your grandfather ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship. If citizenship is acquired by birth in your country and you meet all these conditions, you qualify for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis.

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Your paternal grandmother was born in your native country, your paternal great grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of her birth, your father was born after January 1st, 1948, and neither you nor your father nor your grandmother ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship. If citizenship is acquired by birth in your country and you meet all these conditions, you qualify for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis.

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Your maternal grandfather was born in your native country, your maternal great grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of his birth, you were born after January 1st, 1948, and neither you nor your mother nor your grandfather ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship. If citizenship is acquired by birth in your country and you meet all these conditions, you qualify for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis.

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Your maternal grandmother was born in your native country, your maternal great grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of her birth, your mother was born after January 1st, 1948, and neither you nor your mother nor your grandmother ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship. If citizenship is acquired by birth in your country and you meet all these conditions, you qualify for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis.

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Your paternal great grandfather was born in your native country, your paternal great great grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of his birth, and neither you nor your father nor your ​paternal grandfather nor your paternal great grandfather ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship. If citizenship is acquired by birth in your country and you meet all these conditions, you qualify for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis.

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