Applying for Italian Citizenship (with few tears)

L-R: Marco Capuzzello, Leslie Strazzullo, l'ufficiale di stato civile, Sean Michael Carlos, Elisabetta Vitiello
L-R: Marco Capuzzello, Leslie Strazzullo, l'ufficiale di stato civile, Sean Michael Carlos, Elisabetta Vitiello

The lure of Italy is undeniable. So much so you're pondering if you should apply for Italian citizenship - but you might not be so sure about the process. Inspired by the BrExit referendum, the Scottish association Casa Scozia held a seminar on Italian citizenship for Brits and other English speakers in the Milan area. As a naturalised Italian I was invited to present what I learned about the citizenship application process.

Multiple routes to Italian citizenship

Passaporto italiano The first thing to know is there are multiple ways to qualify for Italian citizenship; consult the applicable law for the full details, but in a nutshell:

  1. Marriage to an Italian citizen - at time of application & at swearing in!
  2. Residency (naturalisation) - 4 years required for EU nationals, 10 years for most others; must be continuous & documented; the applicant must have "sufficient" income
  3. Italian ancestry - parents ("automatic") or paternal ancestors; maternal ancestors from 1948 onward
  4. Born in Italy - with some restrictions
  5. Asylum
  6. Have worked for the Italian State

Some routes are given preferential treatment, i.e. marriage based applications are processed much quicker than residency based applications. If you can apply based on marriage or residency, you should apply based on marriage, with one big caveat. You must still be married (not separated nor divorced) at the time citizenship is approved.

Gathering the necessary documentation

Should you decide to apply, you'll need to gather the appropriate documents. They include:

Tip: document expiry: you must submit your application no later than 6 months after the date of your foreign criminal record check(s); do insure you've fully mapped out how you will collect all the documentation, including Apostille and translations, before beginning!

Tip: document self-certification: in theory you can provide an "autocertificazione" of any document the Italian State already has access to. You cannot self-certify non-Italian documents. Can you self-certify your Italian income statements and / or marriage certificate? I'm not sure; I was specifically asked for newer copies of my income statements as the process took more than three years.…

Submitting your application

Once you've gathered all of the necessary documents, your application must be submitted online. Tip: you can register at any time to see what the online application asks of you.

Following-up on your application

At this point, you can sit back and wait. Or maybe not…. Your application will first be processed by the local prefettura before, if you're fortunate, being sent to Rome. In the case of Milan, there are multiple ways the Prefettura di Milano allows you to follow-up on the status of your application:

You may have detected a pattern here: once your application is submitted, it falls into a black hole. If you're lucky, things will "just work out" and, assuming your application be approved, you'll be granted citizenship within the two years specified by law. In Milan the wait for residence based applications may take 5 or more years; even then your application might only be acted upon if you know who to contact so it gets nudged out of the pile.… Consider seeking out a professional with a proven track record to assist you:

Tip: if you move before your application is approved, you must notify the prefettura of your new address. I also assume you must remain a resident in Italy until your application is approved; check with a specialist for confirmation or consult the law directly.

Once you've become a citizen

Congratulations! Your city of residence will call you in for the swearing ceremony. Once this is done, you'll need to change your carta d'identità. You'll also need to transcribe your birth certificate at the anagrafe, both easy to do. You'll be able to apply for a passport which is also relatively simple to do, although you need to make payments in two different places (bonifico postale + marca da bollo), neither of which is where you apply… benvenuto!

Questions you were about to ask…

In conclusion

Italy has historically been a country of emigration; immigration has not been a political priority and the process clearly reflects this state of affairs. Yet armed with perseverance and the right documents, you too can become Italian!

The intent of this article is to help you along the way; do verify the contents herein reflect the current state of affairs before you begin; the author is not an immigration expert. On the other hand, if you're interested in real estate in Italy, do feel free reach out!

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The above is offered as general guidance without warranty; changes may have occurred since it was written. Do consult with appropriate qualified professionals regarding your specific situation before making any real estate purchase.

About the author

Sean Michael Carlos

Sean Michael Carlos grew up in Rhode Island, USA. He studied in the US, UK and Germany before settling in Italy where he has lived for over twenty-five years, in three different regions.

Sean is a licensed real estate agent in Italy with over 10 years experience in the sector and would love to hear from you if you are looking to buy or sell property in Italy.

Professional assistance available

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