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Italian citizenship

Published 2009.01.11

Law 91 of February 5, 1992, specifies a number of different cases of acquisition of citizenship [cittadinanza italiana], some of which are automatic and others which apply only to specific conditions and/or are subject to a declaration of the eligible person expressing the wish to acquire citizenship:

  • Birth (the child of an Italian father or mother, even if born abroad or descendent of an Italian ancestor living abroad, only if the ancestor never gave up Italian citizenship).
  • Recognition or judicial declaration of paternity (for minors citizenship is automatic, while children over 18 maintain their citizenship but can, within one year of the recognition or judicial declaration, declare that they choose Italian citizenship).
  • Adoption (automatic in case of minors and, for those over 18, at the request of the interested party after five years of legal residence in Italy.
  • Descent (the father or mother are citizens, or one of the direct ancestors to the second degree were Italian citizens by birth who lost their Italian citizenship). In this case, to reacquire Italian citizenships, the following conditions are required:
    • Military service for the Italian government
    • Employment as a civil servant in an office of the Italian government (even abroad)
    • If, on reaching the age of 18, the person has resided in Italy for at least two years and expresses, by voluntary declaration before the nineteenth birthday, the wish to acquire Italian citizenship
  • Acquisition or reacquisition by a parent: the minors of persons who acquire or reacquire Italian citizenship also acquire it if they are living stably and effectively with the person at the time of acquisition or reacquisition. When they reach the age of 18, if they have other citizenship, they can renounce Italian citizenship.
  • Birth and residency in Italy: a foreigner born in Italy and legally residing in our country, without interruption, until the age of 18, can acquire Italian citizenship if, by the age of 19, he or she makes a declaration accepting Italian citizenship.

Other cases are a consequence of certain conditions, the declaration of desire to become a citizen and a decision of the authorities:

  • Marriage: the foreign or stateless spouse of an Italian citizen may acquire Italian citizenship after six months of legal residence in Italy or, if resident outside the country, after three years of marriage (unless the couple have divorced, or the marriage has been annulled or its civil effects voided, or in case of legal separation).
  • Naturalisation: at the discretion of the government, which expresses its willingness to accept the foreign citizen on Italian soil. This acceptance is based on the participation of the applicant in Italian society, the applicant's personality (lack of social danger, police record) and financial self-sufficiency.

The general requisites are:

  • Ten years' legal residence in Italy (five for those who have the status of stateless persons or refugees and four for citizens of the European Community)
  • Three years of payment of state contributions
  • Financial self-sufficiency

Useful addresses:
Registrar’s Office [Prefettura] Piazza Castello 201, Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9.00-12.00.
Department of Citizenship [Anagrafe - Ufficio Cittadinanza] (for the acquisition of citizenship for descendents of Italian citizens).
The Home Office [Ministero dell'Interno] has set up a telephone line for information about applications for citizenship: 06/48042101/02/03/04, in operation Monday through Thursday 9.00-14.00 and Friday 9.00-13.00.

For descendents of Italian citizens the reference office is the Department of Citizenship at the registrar’s office at no. 23 via della Consolata 23.
In this case you must be in possession of:

  • residency permit [permesso di soggiorno] (even for short stays)
  • documentation certifying Italian descent, translated and legally authorised by the Italian consular authorities abroad
  • declaration that the Italian relative has not renounced Italian citizenship

After presenting this documentation the applicant will obtain residency and with this, a temporary residency permit awaiting citizenship.
This sort of letter of intent is valid for the Turin Police Headquarters on the basis of specific agreements.
If the applicant does not have a residency permit, recognition must be requested from the Italian consular authorities in the country of origin.