Getting Citizenship By Ancestry in Italy in 2022

Italian Citizenship By Ancestry

Got Italian parents, grandparents or earlier ancestors? In today’s episode, we unpack how you can get Citizenship By Descent in Italy in 2022…

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Getting Citizenship By Ancestry in Italy in 2022

Ever heard of the term Jure Sanguinis? Jure Sanguinis is a Latin term that means “right of blood.” Today, the term is equivalent to “by ancestry” and refers to a situation in which one tries to obtain citizenship based on their family’s history. If you’ve just found out that one of your ancestors came from a European country that does allow obtaining citizenship based on ancestry, you might be eligible for a second passport and, therefore, dual citizenship.

Obtaining a second passport is actually an excellent strategy for safeguarding your freedom of movement especially during the uncertain times that is the 21st century. We’ve recently taken a look at how you can obtain Citizenship By Ancestryin Portugal and Greece

And in today’s episode, we explore your options in Italy…

There’s no doubt that Italy is an amazing country, full of history and historic buildings that take your breath away – not to mention that it is one of the best countries for wine lovers. However, there’s more to this country than just great food, culture and architecture – it also boasts a powerful passport.

Italy is part of both the European Union and the Schengen Area. Its passport offers visa-free access to a whopping 159 countries around the world, earning it an “A” grade ranking in the Sovereign Man Passport Index

It is also in this country that our founder, Simon Black, obtained citizenship and passport based on his ancestry.

A quote from his personal story:

Several years ago, it came, neatly wrapped inside a 3.5” by 5” package.

Inside was a new gift of freedom: an Italian passport, courtesy of my ancestry and a little time and effort. Instantly, I had just doubled my options

I could live and work anywhere in Europe without issue; now, two enormous regions — the US and the EU — could be considered ‘home’.

If you’re of Italian descent, this could be YOU…

The above is a powerful message. And hopefully, quite a few of our subscribers will be able to tell the same story after exploring their European heritage and obtaining Italy Citizenship By Ancestry.

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Italy, in particular, is very generous in terms of its citizenship by ancestry rules. According to Italian law, having an Italian parent (Italian mother or Italian father), Italian grandparents, Italian great-grandparents, or even an Italian great-great-grandparent can qualify you for Italian citizenship and a passport. 

There is no limit on generations, but your Italian ancestor must have been alive on or after March 17, 1861. (This is the date Italy became a unified nation.) 

If your Italian ancestor died before this date, then Italy does not consider them officially Italian. And that means that you won’t be considered to be Italian either, and you won’t be able to claim Italian citizenship.

Additionally, your lineage needs to be uninterrupted — meaning that no one in your family chain renounced their Italian citizenship without first passing it on to their children. 

That is because citizenship, whether we are talking about Italian citizenship or others, usually passes automatically from a parent to a child during the child’s birth. So, if your ancestor renounced their Italian citizenship and then gave birth to a child, then they did not pass Italian citizenship to them, and therefore the child would not have been considered Italian.

Now, don’t get us wrong – if your ancestor hasn’t renounced Italian citizenship but still went through a naturalization process in order to obtain foreign citizenship, you can apply for Italian citizenship Jure Sanguinis. That’s because your ancestor simply had Italian dual citizenship. However, it must have been done after August 15, 1992, as until then, Italy didn’t allow dual citizenship. If someone obtained citizenship in another country before that, their Italian citizenship was automatically renounced.

One more thing that needs to be mentioned is that when it comes to a naturalized American citizen, if the naturalization records come from after June 14, 1912, then you would be eligible for Italian citizenship by descent, provided your ancestor passed it down to his children before the naturalization took place.

If it happened before, then, unfortunately, you will not be able to obtain Italian citizenship by descent, as those who were naturalized before June 14, 1912, were unable to pass down the citizenship to their children – even if the child was born before naturalization took place.

And there’s one additional factor to consider if your Italian lineage stems from an Italian-born female ancestor…

The letter of the law is that women whose children were born before January 1, 1948, cannot pass down citizenship. Only men were allowed to transfer Italian citizenship to children born before that, in accordance with the Law of 1912. This is often referred to as the “Rule of 1948.”

So, if your Italian ancestor was a woman who had children with someone who wasn’t an Italian citizen and birthed your father, mother, paternal grandfather, maternal grandfather, etc., before January 1st, 1948, she couldn’t pass down Italian citizenship to them, and therefore you cannot apply for Italian citizenship Jure Sanguinis through that ancestor.

But in 2009, the Italian Supreme Court issued an important ruling. They confirmed that gender equality should be retroactive, and hence the Rule of 1948 became null and void. Nowadays, there is a high chance that if your Italian ancestor was a woman, you will be granted Italian citizenship by descent – however, it is not 100% guaranteed.

So, the spirit of the law has changed… but that change has not yet been formalized in law. 

In the case of a male Italian ancestor, once your documents are ready, you can submit them to the nearest Italian consulate so that the procedure of you obtaining Italian citizenship can start. Keep in mind that you should go to an Italian consulate that has jurisdiction over your area – especially since different consulates might have different requirements in terms of required documents, translations, appointments, etc. While the differences might not be significant, it’s still important to make sure you follow the procedures carefully so the process isn’t unnecessarily pro-longed.

If your Italian lineage comes through a female ancestor born before January 1948, then you don’t submit the documents to a local Italian consulate. Instead, you should submit a claim to the Court of Rome with the assistance of legal counsel, as it’s the Court of Rome that decides whether the Italian citizenship applications via an Italian female ancestor can go further.

As for the approximate timeline…

It took Simon quite a while to complete his process and receive Italian citizenship by descent — more than two years. That’s because, as he said, he had no idea what he was doing.

He had to figure this all out himself, with no guidance, no tips, and no contacts – and getting Italian citizenship by descent is no joke when it comes to the paperwork you need to submit.

You have much more of an advantage. If you’re a Sovereign Man: Confidential member, you’ll have access to our detailed, step-by-step SMC Alert  — “​​How to acquire Italian Citizenship By Ancestry” — from a few years ago. 

You can also check out the following information on the website of the Consulate General of San Francisco. 

And if you’re thinking about completing this process yourself from the US, here’s a link to a list of Italian consulates near to you.

Or you can use the services of an Italian immigration attorney. Sovereign Man: Confidential members, get in touch if you would like a reference.

If you have to challenge the Rule of 1948 in order to obtain Italian citizenship, then an attorney that already has experience in claiming Italian citizenship through female ancestors will definitely be needed. 

Over the past few years, the adjudication process was already taking much longer than when Simon applied, which was more than a decade ago. And then COVID hit. 

(And, as you know, it hit Italy early and hard.)

Scheduling a mere appointment in some of the Italian consulates takes more than one year. And it’s not unheard of for the full process to take four to five years before you officially receive your dual citizenship and an Italian passport. 

So, start applying yesterday

On the bright side, as we have already mentioned, since August 1992, Italy allows dual citizenship with no restrictions.

The Fast-Track to Italian Citizenship By Ancestry

There is a way to fast-track your Italian citizenship by ancestry process.

You’ll need to travel to Italy, demonstrate that you’ve secured accommodation (i.e. a rental apartment), and register as a resident with the local authorities.

Next, you’ll file your citizenship application form within the country instead of waiting for a consular appointment in your home country. 

We discuss this process in much more detail in the pages of Sovereign Man: Confidential as well.

Prior to COVID, the entire process (following this method) took around six to eight months (in some cases, it extended up to one year). But given the pandemic, Italy’s stringent lockdowns, and increasing levels of scrutiny from public officers, you can expect the timeline to be longer. 

Italian Citizenship – Frequently Asked Questions

Is there another way of getting Italian citizenship instead of by descent?

Yes, there are actually quite a few ways in which you can officially become one of the Italian citizens besides having to prove your Italian heritage, including:

  • by marriage/civil partnership with an Italian citizen – just so we’re clear, marrying an Italian citizen doesn’t automatically give you Italian citizenship. However, it does speed up the process. You can apply for Italian citizenship based on a marriage certificate after two or three years, depending on where you live – if you live in Italy, then it’s two, and if in another country, it’s three. Keep in mind that if you have children who are already Italian citizens, then the time period is reduced by half.
  • by residence (naturalization) – there are a few different situations in which you can obtain Italian citizenship by residence. Those are:
    • you are a foreigner, but you are a child or grandchild of an Italian citizen by birth and have lived in Italy for at least three years
    • you are over 18 and a foreigner but have been adopted by an Italian citizen and have lived in Italy for at least five years after the adoption process was completed
    • you are a foreigner that has been employed by the Italian government for at least five years, no matter if it was in Italy or in another country
    • you are an EU citizen and have legally lived in Italy for at least four years
    • you are stateless or a refugee and have legally lived in Italy for at least five years
    • a foreigner and have legally lived in Italy for at least ten years
  • through maternal or paternal recognition – if you are already of legal age, but your Italian mother or father acknowledges you, you might be granted Italian citizenship, provided you apply for it within one year from when the recognition happened.
  • by investment – this is also known as a Golden Visa. Italian Residency By Investment is available to non-EU citizens that are over 18, and have invested €250,000 in an innovative start-up, €500,000 in a limited company, €2 million euros in government bonds, or made a €1 million philanthropic donation. The Golden Visa is issued for two years – during this time, you can apply for a Residence Permit. The Permit is also valid for 2 years. However, it can be renewed for another three years – you just have to remember to apply for it at least 2 months (60 days) before it is set to expire.

Will my children have Italian citizenship once I get it?

Yes. If you have Italian citizenship, then your children will also receive it — because, as the law states, the requirement to get Italian citizenship is having at least one Italian parent. Now, if you’re child is born after you receive your citizenship, then they become an Italian citizen by birth. If, however, your child was born before you obtained your citizenship, the process will likely be more involved.

Do I need to know Italian in order to receive my Italian citizenship?

It depends. If you’re obtaining Italian Citizenship By Descent, then there’s no need for you to speak Italian. However, if you’re trying to obtain citizenship by marriage, then yes, your Italian needs to be at a certain level.

Can I have more than two citizenships?

Yes, you can have more than two citizenships. When it comes to Italy, there is no law in place that would prevent you from obtaining your third or fourth citizenship. The only “requirement” would be that all the countries involved need to have similar rules in place.

Can I live in Italy if I don’t have Italian citizenship?

The short answer is yes, you can. The longer answer would be that while you certainly can go reside there without Italian citizenship, you might be required to have a visa, depending on which country you come from, how long your staying, and the purpose of your stay.

The Bottom Line

There are excellent EU passports to be obtained on the basis of ancestry. But the process takes time and tends to be paperwork-intensive no matter which country you’re applying for.

Our most recent 74-page SMC Black Paper covers scores of countries offering Citizenship By Ancestry programs in Southern Europe and the Balkans, and offers an excellent point of departure if you’re looking to explore your options for second Citizenship By Descent. 

To gain access to this invaluable resource, join Sovereign Man: Confidential today.

Yours in Freedom, 

Team Sovereign Man 

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About the author

Andre Bothma

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