Italian Citizenship: Complete Guide

10 de October, 2023

Italian Citizenship: Complete Guide

Italy does not set generation limits for the transmission of nationality. Here's how to apply for Italian citizenship.
Reading: 8 min

You know that great-grandfather in your family who was Italian? They could be a way for you to get your Italian Italian citizenship. This is because, unlike other nations, Italy does not set generation limits for the transmission of nationality. All you need to do is trace your family tree and gather all the necessary documents to apply.

There are, however, a few details to keep in mind. The ancestor in question cannot have renounced their original citizenship in favor of a new one. This happened a lot during the Great Migration, when millions of Italians left the country in search of economic opportunities and a better life. You also need to be aware of the dates of the documents and the changes in the law, which have altered access to Italian citizenship over the years.

This article will explain who is entitled to Italian citizenship what documents are required, deadlines, fees and the procedures needed to start the process.

It’s worth remembering that Italian citizenship can open many doors for your future, allowing you to live, study, work and invest in any EU country.

Want to apply for Italian citizenship? Talk to our experts!

Who is entitled to Italian nationality?

  1. Find out if you are entitled to Italian citizenship.
  2. People married to an Italian citizen;
  3. Legal residents in Italy;
  4. Citizens born in the country;
  5. Citizenship by merit

1. Italian Citizenship by Ancestry (Italian descent)

Italian citizenship is granted to people who have an Italian ancestor (antenato) as long as he or she has not renounced Italian citizenship. It is necessary to prove the family relationship by presenting birth, marriage and death certificates from the Italian antenato to the applicant.

It is worth noting that there is no generation limit for the transmission of citizenship by descent. However, it is necessary to provide all certificates necessary to prove kinship.

When tracing the genealogy, it is crucial to check whether there are women in the line of descent. Until 1948, children did not receive citizenship through maternal transmission, only paternal. This was because until then, foreign women who married acquired the nationality of their spouse.

Although this does not prevent the process, which can take place through the courts, it can reduce the chances of success. Therefore, this is a relevant aspect to consider during the procedure.

The judicial route is also the most suitable for more complicated cases, when there is a missing document or when the transmission line is interrupted in some way (as in the example above).

Documents required for Italian citizenship of descendants

In the case of descendants (jus sanguinis), the documents required will be:

  • From the Italian in question: original birth certificate (estratto dell’atto di nascità) issued by the Ufficio di Stato Civile in Italy.
  • Certificate of No Naturalization (CNN) for the Italian member of the family.
  • Marriage certificate of the Italian (if applicable).
  • Death certificate of the Italian (if applicable).
  • Of ancestors in the line of descent: birth, marriage and death certificates (where applicable);
  • Your birth and marriage certificates;
  • Completed Application for Italian Nationality;

All documents need to be translated and apostilled.

Do you want to live in Europe?

Realizing your goal of living in Europe or obtaining European citizenship can be simpler than you think. We offer personalized support to make the immigration process more accessible and uncomplicated.

Can I live in Italy while I’m waiting for my citizenship application?

Yes, people of Italian descent can live in the country without having to apply for a visa. You must enter Italy as a tourist, so you can stay in the country for 90 days.

If the process is not completed within this period, you will have to apply for a “Permesso di Soggiorno”, a residence and residence permit.

Italian law allows this, but you must have all the translated and apostilled documents proving your descent. The applicant for citizenship must also obtain accommodation and proof of it. Only then can they go to the “Comune” (town hall) to present all the documentation and apply for their residence permit.

2. Italian citizenship by marriage

Are you married to an Italian citizen? If so, you can apply for citizenship within the following time limit:

  • 3 years of union for couples living outside Italy (no children)
  • 2 years of union for those living in Italy (no children)

The deadline is reduced for couples who have children in common:

  • 1.5 years (living outside Italy)
  • 1 year (living in Italy).

The address and marital status of the Italian citizen and information about minor children (if applicable) must be duly updated at the Italian Consulate. Finally, to be able to apply, you will also need to prove that you can speak Italian. The required level is intermediate (B1). The type of citizenship granted in this case is by naturalization.

Is Italian citizenship by common-law marriage possible?

Italian law does not accept stable unions to start the citizenship process for couples of different genders.

The law only recognizes stable unions as an alternative to marriage in the case of same-sex couples since the country does not allow gay marriage.

Documents required to apply for Italian citizenship by marriage (performed after April 27th, 1983 )

The online application can be made by attaching the following documents:

  • Completed application;
  • Identification document;
  • Proof of residence;
  • Birth certificate translated and apostilled;
  • Criminal records from the countries where you have lived;
  • Marriage Transcription in Italy
  • Proof of payment of the application fee;
  • Italian language proficiency certificate, minimum level B1.

When you are granted citizenship, you must swear an oath to the Italian Constitution. On this day, you will have to present your documents again, updated. In other words, if there is a divorce during the process, the applicant loses the right to the new citizenship.

However, if there is a separation after the process has been completed, citizenship is already guaranteed.

3. Italian citizenship by residence

According to nationality law, Italian citizenship is granted to foreigners from outside the EU who have been legally resident in Italy for at least 10 years.

This period can be reduced in certain specific situations:

Time required residenceWho benefits
3 yearsFor people who are of Italian descent up to the second degree or who were born in Italy.
4 yearsFor citizens who live in Italy and were born in one of the countries belonging to the European Union.
5 yearsFor those adopted by Italians after the age of 18, for political refugees, stateless persons or people who have served the country for that period.
7 yearsFor people who were adopted by Italian citizens before 1983.

Documents required to apply for citizenship by residence

To apply for Portuguese citizenship by length of residence, the following documents are required:

  • Completed and signed application form;
  • Identity documents: foreign and Italian identity card, carta or permesso di soggiorno, codice fiscale and valid foreign passport.
  • Certificate of residence history in the country or Certificato Storico di Residenza: it must state the period of residence in a given comune.
  • Copy of the permesso/carta di soggiorno: document that allows the applicant to stay legally in Italy until the process is finalized.
  • Criminal record certificates from the countries where you have lived (translated and apostilled);
  • Valid passport and residence permit;
  • Document proving knowledge of Italian

4. Italian nationality for those born in Italy (Italian citizenship by birth)

Italy follows the principle of “jus sanguinis” which means that citizenship is based on ancestry, not place of birth. Therefore, a person born in Italy is not automatically an Italian citizen, unless at least one of their parents is an Italian citizen. However, there are some exceptions for children born in Italy to foreign parents, if the parents are stateless or unable to pass on their citizenship. In other words, Italian citizenship for those born in Italy only applies in special cases such as stateless persons.

5. Italian citizenship on merit

Citizenship by merit is generally granted to people who have made significant contributions to the country in areas such as culture, economics, science and public service. They are awarded by the President of the Republic himself, in very rare cases.

How long does it take to get Italian citizenship?

The average waiting time to obtain Italian citizenship will depend on the type of process you choose.

As a rule, the deadline for defining the process of recognizing citizenship should be up to 730 days (about 2 years) from the date the application is received. However, in many cases it can take longer:

  • Through the Italian Consulate in your country: The process usually takes between 2 and 14 years. In the USA it is usually quicker than in Brazil (due to the large number of applications and the limited number of consulates, this is where it usually takes longer).
  • Through the courts: The current average time, in 2023, is between 8 months and 1.5 years. It is the most economical and guaranteed route.
  • In Italy, by administrative means: It can be completed in 3 to 6 months, but you must live in the country during this period.* Although faster, this route is more costly and risky.

How much does Italian citizenship cost?

The amount to be spent varies greatly. It will depend on a number of factors:

  • the number of family members involved in the application (generations up to the Italian ancestor),
  • which route and type of procedure you will choose (in Italy, through the consulate or in court), number of missing documents to search for, sworn translations, apostilles, support from a specialized consultancy.
  • number of missing documents to search for,
  • sworn translations,
  • apostilles,
  • support from a specialized consultancy.

The price is usually between €1,000 and €6K.

Why hire a consultancy?

Hiring specialized advice for the Italian citizenship application is crucial due to the documentary complexity involved in the application. In the case of Italy, specific laws vary according to the year of the ancestor’s emigration and there are gender restrictions until 1948. The legal nuances, challenging bureaucratic procedures, regional variations and the time involved make professional assistance vital to avoid mistakes, optimize the process and increase the chances of success. The specific experience of these professionals in dealing with the intricate details of the Italian system can guarantee efficiency throughout the procedure of obtaining Italian citizenship by descent and avoid losses. Can you imagine going through an expensive process, waiting for years and having the document denied because of a mistake, resulting in a huge loss?

It can be very useful to hire a consultancy to help you through the process.


Obtaining Italian citizenship can open up a host of opportunities, including the freedom to live and work in any country in the European Union. However, the process can be complex and time-consuming. It’s important to be well informed and prepared before starting your journey. Atlantic Bridge can give you the support you need to obtain your new nationality. Talk to our consultants!

Find out if you are entitled to Italian citizenship. Talk to an expert!

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.



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