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How to Acquire Italian Citizenship: A Comprehensive Guide

italian citizenship


Picture yourself indulging in gelato by the Colosseum, or sipping espresso in a quaint Tuscan village. Tempting, right? Italy, with its rich culture and mesmerizing beauty, is a dream destination. But if you’re looking to make this dream a lasting reality, knowing how to secure Italian citizenship is vital.

No worries – we’ve got your back. Dive in as we decode Italian citizenship essentials and show how Lexidy is the best mate you could have on this adventure.

The Benefits of Italian Citizenship

Before we dive into the finer details, let’s talk about why you might want to become an Italian citizen in the first place. Italian citizenship comes with a host of benefits:

  1. Freedom to Wander: As an Italian, you get a VIP pass to live and work in any EU country. No more visa headaches!
  2. Global Access: With an Italian passport in hand, you’re free to pack your bags and explore the world with ease, thanks to visa-free access to numerous countries.
  3. Quality of Life: Get a firsthand experience of Italy’s iconic culture, history, and food. Plus, be part of the EU community that highly values the sweet life (or as Italians say, “la dolce vita”).

Paths to Italian Citizenship

Ever thought about enjoying the perks of Italian citizenship? If “How do I become an Italian citizen?” is on your mind, you’re in the right place. Italy provides several routes to citizenship, each packed with its own exciting opportunities and requirements. Ready to dive in?

Italian Citizenship by Descent

Got Italian roots? Italy’s citizenship rules are refreshingly generous. They don’t set a generational limit on claiming citizenship by descent. Whether your connection is via your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or even further back, you could be eligible. 

But here’s the key date: 1861. That’s when Italy unified as a nation. For you to qualify, your Italian relative needs to have been born or have left Italy after this milestone year. Keep that in mind as you trace your lineage!

Italian Citizenship by Birth

Being born in Italy to non-Italian parents doesn’t quite grant you automatic Italian citizenship, unfortunately. But, don’t fret! If you’ve lived in Italy for your first 18 years, you become eligible to apply for naturalization upon turning 18. Sure, there’s some paperwork involved (isn’t there always?), but it’s a popular route among Italy’s vibrant immigrant community.

Italian Citizenship by Marriage

So you said “I do” to an Italian, congrats! But before you get too excited about the prospect of citizenship, the year you exchanged vows matters. If you married before 1987, you’re in luck! Just present your marriage certificate to the local consulate or town hall. 

Unfortunately, if you tied the knot after 1987, the route changes a little. You’ll need to apply for naturalization by marriage. Living outside Italy requires 20 years of marriage, but if you live in Italy, it’s only 2 years. And if you both share a child? Cut those time requirements in half. Simple, right?

ItalianCitizenship by Residence

Living la dolce vita in Italy for quite some time? Then citizenship might be within reach! There are multiple options to gain residency in Italy. If you’re a non-European citizen, you need a continuous 10-year stay in Italy. Plus, you’ll have to prove some Italian language skills, typically with an E2 Italian certificate. 

Are you already a European citizen? Then you have a shorter wait: just 4 years in Italy to apply for citizenship through naturalization. 

Additional Requirements and Waiting Times

Regardless of the pathway you choose, be prepared for some additional steps. For instance, you may need to pass an Italian language test. Also, the administrative processing time can be lengthy, sometimes taking up to four years. But once you clear these hurdles, the sweet reward of Italian citizenship awaits.

Required Documents for Italian Citizenship by Descent

Italian citizenship

At this stage, you may be particularly interested in understanding the documents required for obtaining Italian citizenship by descent. This is often the most complex part of the process. So, let’s delve into the specifics.

Proving Your Italian Ancestry

To establish your eligibility, you’ll need to provide the Italian government with a comprehensive set of documents. These include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Death certificates

Think of it as connecting the family dots straight back to your Italian ancestors. Typically, you can obtain these records from the country of your and your ancestors’ origin. Need a hand fetching those Italian papers? Just give us a nudge. We can help you get the necessary certificates from Italy.

Additional Documentation

Alright, so laying out your family tree is step one. But there’s a bit more paperwork waiting for you to complete. You will also need to provide:

  • Proof that your Italian ancestor never became a naturalized citizen of another country, such as the U.S. or the U.K.
  • Evidence that none of your Italian descendants ever renounced their Italian citizenship.

Fortunately, it’s quite rare for Italian descendants to renounce their citizenship, so this is generally not a major concern.

How to Process Your Italian Citizenship Application

If gaining Italian citizenship is on your to-do list, you’ve got a couple of strategic moves to make it happen:

  • At the Consulate: No need for a plane ticket just yet. You can kick off your journey to Italian citizenship right from home country. They’ll guide you through the maze of paperwork and ensure your application is in tip-top shape.
  • In Italy: But if you’re feeling a tad more adventurous and can’t resist the call of Italian streets, why not immerse yourself fully? By becoming an Italian resident, you can experience the culture first hand while you apply for citizenship. 

If your application falls under specific categories, such as paternal lineage, you may need to go through a court case. This becomes particularly likely if your consulate isn’t quite hitting the speed marks and takes more than the legal time frame to process your citizenship application.

Quick Recap on Timeframes for Different Types of Recognition

Local Consulate Applications:

Starting your Italian citizenship quest at your local consulate? Strap in; it’s a bit of a marathon. The process can stretch up to two years. Yep, it’s a commitment, so prepare yourself for a potentially long wait. The consulate will review your application, verify your documents, and may even conduct interviews before making a decision.

Applications in Italy:

Feeling spontaneous? If you apply directly in Italy, the Italian authorities generally have a six-month window to finalize your application. This is often a much faster route than applying through a consulate. However, it requires you to stay in Italy during process, which can be logistically challenging.

Court Cases:

As for court cases, it’s kind of like predicting the weather. Some days it’s sunny, some days it’s not. It’s a much more unpredictable route and timeframes can vary widely from six months to two years or even more. Legal complexities and the court’s workload can significantly impact how long it takes to resolve your case.

Administrative Procedure:

Once the court or consulate gives you a thumbs up, there’s a final lap to run. You will need to undergo an administrative procedure managed by the local town hall. This can take anywhere from 30 days to 720 days. It all depends how quickly the town hall can transcribe your certificates and complete the final steps of your application.

Tips for a Successful Application for Italian Citizenship

Applying for Italian citizenship

Document Presentation:

Start strong by having all your documents organized and ready. Ensure they remain unsealed and get them translated into Italian by a certified translator. Think of this step as a fist impression: poorly presented documents could push your application to the back of the line or boot it out completely.

Document Accuracy:

Make sure every detail in your documents is accurate. Names, dates, and other essential details related to your lineage should match existing records. Any discrepancies can cause complications and prolong the application process.

Comprehensive Documentation:

Remember to submit a complete set of documents. By handing over a comprehensive set of documents, you’re not just speeding things up, but you’re also giving your application an edge. The Italian authorities meticulously review each case, so providing all necessary documents minimizes potential obstacles.

Stick to these golden rules, factor in the time, and you’ll be well-equipped for a smoother journey through the Italian citizenship application process.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Do I Need to Speak Italian?

Let’s clear up a myth: thinking you need to speak Italian to obtain Italian citizenship. The reality is more nuanced. If you’re applying for Italian citizenship through descent, there’s no language requirement. However, if you’re seeking citizenship through naturalization, you will need to demonstrate some proficiency in Italian.

Deeper dive: If you’re applying for citizenship through marriage, you’ll need to pass a dual-language test. Alternatively, if you’re applying based on residency, you’ll be required to pass an A2-level Italian language test. The silver lining? These language requirements aren’t sky-high. Most folks can achieve them in 6 months to a year.

Can I Acquire Italian Citizenship by Buying Property?

Currently, Italy doesn’t offer a straight path from property investment to citizenship. Unlike the Golden Visa programs in some countries, snapping up Italian real estate won’t directly earn you an Italian passport. So for now, that Tuscan villa might be just a dreamy getaway, not a citizenship shortcut.

Does Italy Allow Multiple Citizenships?

Another common question we receive is whether Italy allows for dual citizenship. The answer is yes; Italy permits multiple citizenships. The key factor is how you acquired each citizenship. For instance, if you are applying for Italian citizenship by descent, you are allowed to retain any other citizenships you already possess.

However, it’s important to note that the ability to hold multiple citizenships also depends on the laws of the other countries where you are a citizen. Some countries may not allow dual or triple citizenship, so it’s crucial to check the regulations of each country involved.


The path to Italian citizenship is a complex but rewarding process. Initially you may encounter challenges but the reward comes with a range of unbeatable benefits. If you are ready to the next step to acquire Italian citizenship, our team of Immigration experts are eager to support you.

Reach out to us through the form below and our multilingual legal eagles will reach out to guide you with all the information and paperwork.

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