Los Angeles









REQUEST A CALLBACK +1 (310) 388-3430

Italian Citizenship by Descent

Hannah Mejorada

Hannah Mejorada

Last updated: May 9, 2024

Italian citizenship by descent, also known as jure sanguinis, offers a pathway for individuals with Italian ancestry to claim citizenship based on their bloodline. This principle contrasts with citizenship based on the location of one’s birth, or jure soli. Italy’s law on citizenship by descent has opened doors for many descendants of Italians to reconnect with their heritage, embrace new opportunities, and enjoy the benefits of holding an EU passport.

For those exploring the possibility of Italian citizenship by descent, it is essential to understand the eligibility criteria, which are rooted in the lineage connection to an Italian ancestor. However, the eligibility extends only to those who can prove their Italian lineage through proper documentation and meet specific requirements. Furthermore, the application process demands thorough preparation, including gathering of essential documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, and submitting them through the nearest Italian consulate or through legal channels in Italy. Applicants often face various challenges, such as navigating bureaucratic procedures or dealing with language barriers, but with adequate preparation and possible professional assistance, these obstacles can be overcome.

Key Takeaways

  • Eligibility for Italian citizenship by descent hinges on proving Italian lineage with appropriate documentation.
  • The application process can be complex, requiring interaction with consular services or legal representatives in Italy.
  • Overcoming procedural challenges is part of the journey to acknowledging Italian citizenship by descent.

Understanding Jure Sanguinis

Jure Sanguinis, or the Right of Blood, is a principle of nationality law by which you can claim Italian citizenship through your ancestral lineage. Your eligibility is not restricted by generational limits, opening a pathway to Italian nationality through ancestors as distant as great-grandparents.

Historical Context

Italy has allowed individuals to claim citizenship based on their ancestry since the early 20th century, notably with the Italian Citizenship Law of 1912. This law outlines the principles of Jure Sanguinis, where you inherit citizenship through the bloodline, as opposed to where you are born. Notably, if an Italian ancestor naturalized in another country before July 1, 1912, descendants might be ineligible to claim citizenship by descent.

Jus Sanguinis vs. Ius Soli

Jus Sanguinis (Right of Blood) differs from Ius Soli (Right of the Soil), a concept where citizenship is determined by the place of birth. While the U.S. and other countries may follow Ius Soli, Italy, like many other European nations, primarily recognizes Jus Sanguinis, allowing you to claim Italian citizenship even if you were not born in Italy.

Reforms and Relevant Years

Key reforms like the 1992 Italian Citizenship Law (Law 91/92) have shaped current practices. However, cases prior to 1948 present a unique situation; women could not pass citizenship to their children before this year, as per Italian Constitution. After various court decisions, this was deemed discriminatory, allowing descendants to claim citizenship through female ancestors before 1948. The year 1948 marks an essential threshold for eligibility based on maternal lineage.

When applying, ensure you understand the nuances of these laws and the relevant years, as they will directly affect your eligibility and the application process.

Eligibility Criteria for Italian Citizenship by Descent

To claim Italian citizenship by descent, you are required to demonstrate your ancestral connections back to Italy through a direct bloodline. This process is known as “jure sanguinis”. Your link to an Italian ancestor along with adherence to specific legal statutes form the basis of your eligibility.

Direct Lineage from an Italian Ancestor

In order to be eligible for Italian citizenship through descent, you must establish direct descent from an Italian ancestor. This means that you will need to prove your blood connection to an Italian parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, or beyond, without limitations on the number of generations. However, one critical piece of evidence is that none of these Italian ancestors should have renounced their Italian citizenship before the next descendant in line was born.

Eligibility through Maternal Line

If your Italian lineage is through your maternal line, special considerations apply. You can claim citizenship through your mother if she was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth. However, if your Italian ancestor is a woman who gave birth to her child before January 1, 1948, Italian law traditionally did not recognize the right to transmit citizenship. Nevertheless, these instances referred to as “1948 Cases” have been successfully challenged in court, as such laws were deemed discriminatory by several Italian courts.

Cutoff Years and 1948 Cases

There are certain cutoff years you need to be aware of:

  • If your Italian ancestor naturalized as a citizen of another country before June 14, 1912, you would not be eligible.
  • If your Italian ancestor emigrated from Italy and naturalized in another country after the birth of his or her child, you might still retain the right to citizenship, provided the naturalization occurred after July 1, 1912.
  • Specifically, for those with female ancestors who had children before 1948, often called “1948 Cases,” you may need to pursue your citizenship through the judicial system, as administrative procedures typically do not grant citizenship in these cases.

Application Process for Acknowledgment of Italian Citizenship

To commence the application process for Italian citizenship by descent, you must meticulously prepare a dossier of documents to showcase your lineage. Following the steps outlined below will be essential in successfully navigating the complex process.

Gathering Required Documentation

Vital Records: Begin by collecting all necessary vital records, such as your birth certificate, the birth certificates of your Italian ancestors, and any relevant marriage certificates. You must obtain these documents from the local offices where the events were originally registered.

  • Birth Certificate: You and your Italian ancestors
  • Marriage Certificate: If marriage occurred, especially pertaining to claims through maternal lineage

The Italian Consulate or Consular Office in your jurisdiction should provide you with a specific list of required documents.

Authentication and Translation of Documents

Once you have gathered the documents, each must be legally authenticated with an Apostille to ensure they are accepted by Italian authorities. After authentication, the documents must be translated into Italian.

Documents to be processed include:

  • Apostille Stamp: Issued by the Secretary of State in the state where the document originated.
  • Translation into Italian: Should be conducted by a translator officially recognized by the nearest Italian Consulate.

Dealing with Discrepancies in Documentation

Prepare to carefully scrutinize your documentation for any potential discrepancies in names, dates, and places. Discrepancies may impede your application process. It is your responsibility to address any inconsistencies before scheduling your appointment with the Consulate.

Steps to resolve discrepancies:

  1. Review: Compare all documents thoroughly for inconsistencies.
  2. Correct: Seek amendments through the appropriate vital records offices when necessary.

For steps requiring interaction with Italian authorities, making an appointment is often necessary and can be done through the consular office’s website. This appointment will be your opportunity to present your application and documentation to be reviewed for the recognition of your Italian citizenship.

Submitting the Application

When applying for Italian citizenship by descent, you must meticulously prepare and submit your application. Adherence to the procedures and requirements of the relevant Italian consulate is critical for a successful submission.

Appointment with the Consulate

To start your application process for citizenship by descent, commonly known as “Jure Sanguinis,” you are required to schedule an appointment with the Italian Consulate. You must create an account on the Prenot@MI portal and choose the appropriate option for citizenship by descent. After booking, you need to confirm your appointment using the same online portal, generally 3 to 10 days before the date scheduled.

Fees and Payment Modalities

The application for Italian citizenship by descent involves a non-refundable fee. The fee, mandated by the consulate, is €300, which is to be paid in USD. The corresponding amount is subject to change each trimester. For instance, the amount due until June 30th, 2024, is $325.80. Payment must be made at the time of your consulate appointment, and accepted methods are typically a money order or a cashier’s check.

Application Forms and Declarations

You are required to fill out application forms with your details and provide necessary declarations evidencing your eligibility for citizenship by descent. Ensure that all forms are completed accurately and all requested documentation is gathered prior to your appointment. The forms and further instructions can usually be obtained from the consulate’s website or the Prenot@MI portal. Remember to review all documents thoroughly, as any errors can extend processing times.

Potential Obstacles and Solutions

In pursuing Italian citizenship by descent, you may face a number of challenges, from extended processing times due to the COVID-19 pandemic to specific legal hurdles such as the 1948 Case. Here, you’ll learn about these potential roadblocks and the applicable solutions to help streamline your application process.

Application Delays and COVID-19 Impact

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased processing times for citizenship applications. You might experience delays due to reduced staff or temporary closures of application centers. To mitigate these delays, regularly check the Prenot@mi Portal for appointment availability and updates. Remaining proactive and flexible with your timeline is key.

1948 Case Litigation

If you are applying through a female ancestor who gave birth before 1948, known as the 1948 Case, you might need to pursue your application through the Italian Court system. This is because Italian law did not recognize jure sanguinis citizenship transmission from a mother to her child before 1948. For these cases, consulting with a legal expert experienced in Italian Citizenship 1948 Cases can provide you with the necessary representation to navigate the legal system successfully.

Incomplete Applications and Follow-Up

Submitting an Incomplete Application can lead to significant delays or even a rejection. Ensure that your documentation is thorough, including all necessary records such as birth, marriage, and death certificates. Pay close attention to detail; for example, ensure names across different documents are consistent. If follow-up is required, respond promptly to all correspondence from consular or municipal officials to avoid additional delays.

Post-Recognition Procedures

Once your Italian citizenship is recognized, it’s essential to complete the following steps to fully exercise your rights as an Italian citizen. These involve obtaining your Italian passport and registering with the Italian registry of residents abroad.

Acquiring an Italian Passport

To get your Italian passport, you must apply through the nearest Italian Consulate or Embassy. The process includes:

  • Document Submission: You’ll need your Italian citizenship recognition certificate, a valid ID, passport photos, and the application form.
  • Appointment: Book your appointment for passport issuance online through the consulate’s scheduling system.
  • Fees: Pay the required passport fee. This can be done via money order or cashier’s check if you’re applying through a consulate in the United States.

Remember, proficient use of the Italian language can facilitate the process when communicating with officials at the Consulate or Embassy.

Registration with AIRE and Local Comune

AIRE Registration Once you are a recognized citizen, you should register with the AIRE (Registry of Italians Resident Abroad) through your local Italian Consulate:

  1. Complete the AIRE registration form.
  2. Submit proof of residence in the Consulate’s jurisdiction.

Local Comune Registration Next, proceed with registering at the Comune (municipal office) in Italy:

  • Documentation: You’ll need to provide personal identification documents and the certificate of Italian citizenship.
  • Registration: This step confirms your residency and civil status in the Italian system.

This dual registration is crucial as it maintains your status in the official records, ensuring access to services for citizens both in Italy and abroad.

Understanding Dual Citizenship and Renunciation

Navigating the complexities of dual citizenship involves understanding the advantages it offers, the conditions under which you might renounce it, and the legal intricacies of holding multiple citizenships. This is particularly pertinent if you are considering or hold Italian dual citizenship.

Benefits of Dual Citizenship

Italian Dual Citizenship grants you the ability to live, work, and study in Italy and other EU countries without the need for special visas. You have access to public healthcare and education systems on par with Italian citizens. Additionally, you can vote in Italian elections and purchase property in Italy more easily.

Consequences and Process of Renouncing Citizenship

Should you decide to renounce your Italian citizenship, it’s essential to understand the process. Renunciation typically involves submitting a declaration to the Italian consulate, and, in some cases, residing in Italy for a period—usually between 1-3 years. After renouncing, you lose the aforementioned benefits and the right to pass citizenship to your descendants.

Legal Implications of Holding Multiple Citizenships

With dual citizenship, you must adhere to the laws of both countries. This includes the possibility of double taxation (though Italy has agreements to avoid this), and serving in the military if required. If you choose naturalization as your route to Italian citizenship, be aware this usually involves a residency requirement of over 10 years. Countries have different stances on dual citizenship; it’s crucial to understand your other country’s laws to avoid conflicts.

Legal and Professional Assistance

Navigating through the complexities of Italian citizenship by descent can be daunting. Professional legal services can provide guidance, ensure all documentation is correctly handled, and may represent you in dealings with Italian consulates.

When to Seek Legal Advice

You should seek legal advice if you encounter complexities in your application for Italian citizenship by descent. This may include situations such as:

  • Uncertainty about your eligibility due to multi-generational lineage or historical laws.
  • The Italian ancestor in your family lineage renounced their Italian citizenship before your birth.
  • Two scenarios involve female ancestors and Italian law where issues arise if the woman gave birth before 1948 due to Italian Law 91/92.

Legal advice can also be critical if you face legal impediments or need representation before the Italian legal system.

Choosing the Right Professional Assistance

Choosing the right professional assistance is vital to ensure a smooth application process. Here are key points to consider:

  • Research thoroughly to find reputable Italian Citizenship Lawyers or firms that specialize in jure sanguinis applications.
  • Evaluate potential lawyers or agencies based on their track record, client reviews, and levels of expertise.
  • Confirm that the professional assistance has knowledge of the required supporting documentation and experience dealing with Italian Consulates.

It’s important that the professional assistance you choose is adept at handling official procedures and can translate and legalize your supporting documents where necessary.

Case Studies and Success Stories

Exploring the paths others have taken to obtain Italian citizenship through descent illuminates both the complexities of legal processes and the triumphs of persistence and legal advocacy.

Navigating Complex Cases

When claiming Italian citizenship by descent, you may encounter challenging scenarios termed “1948 cases.” These involve Italian women who gave birth before January 1, 1948, a time when Italian law did not acknowledge women’s ability to transmit citizenship to their children. In these cases, claiming citizenship requires navigating the Italian judicial system, which typically falls outside the regular administrative process.

  • Example: David’s story exemplifies a successful pathway through this complex scenario. His application for Italian citizenship was rooted in his great-grandfather’s emigration from Italy. However, it was the transmission of citizenship through his female ancestor that presented complexities due to the dated legislation.
  • Outcome: With legal assistance, David and his siblings were able to argue their case based on Italy’s constitutional principles of equality, which eventually led to a successful claim of citizenship.

Advocacy for Citizenship Equality

Legal advocacy has played a crucial role in challenging the dated legislations that once barred the transmission of Italian citizenship through a female ancestor prior to 1948.

  • Circular Letter No. K.28.1 serves as a directive that aids in understanding the administrative procedures related to the acquisition of Italian citizenship. It is an example of how new legal interpretations and directives can influence citizenship claims.
  • Case Law: Legal precedents set by Italian courts have deemed the exclusion of maternal transmission of citizenship before 1948 as discriminatory. Foreign nationals, with Italian heritage through their maternal line, have used this precedent to argue for equality in the citizenship transmission process.
  • Success Rates: Advocacy efforts have led to a higher chance of success in 1948 cases being ruled in favor of the applicant, emphasizing the importance of legal strategy and persistence.

Your individual journey to Italian citizenship might be laden with similar complexities. Understanding these success stories and the legal advocacy efforts that paved the way for equality can empower your pursuit of acknowledgment of your Italian heritage.

Additional Resources and Contacts

When seeking Italian citizenship by descent, you will require accurate information and support. Key resources include consular and embassy services, as well as community forums and networks formally established for this purpose.

Consular and Embassy Resources

Your primary point of contact is the Consular Office that serves your region. This office can facilitate the majority of your needs, from providing information on required Civil Status Documents to processing your application for citizenship by descent.

  • Embassy of Italy in Washington D.C.
    • Address: Use the embassy’s official website to find the most current address.
    • Citizenship Information: Specific details are available regarding application procedures, fees, and processing times.
    • Appointments: Book through the Prenot@MI portal, which is the official appointment system.

For specific legal references, you might consult the Italian Civil Code and any relevant Circular Letters that pertain to citizenship, including those related to Maternal Lineage post-1948 cases.

  • Ministry of Interior – Citizenship Office
    • Civil Records: Ensures proper registration and updates in the Census.
    • Legislation Guidance: Offers information on the Civil Code and how it applies to your situation, such as descent cases through the maternal line before 1948.

Community Forums and Networks

Interacting with networks of individuals who have successfully navigated the citizenship application process can offer valuable insights.

  • Online Forums: Join discussions, share experiences, and seek advice on document preparation and procedural expectations.
  • Local Community Groups: These groups often hold meetings or social events that can be valuable for networking and sharing information.

Remember, official sources such as the Consular Office or the Embassy should be your first reference for your citizenship process, as they provide the most current and accurate information. Community resources are supplemental, providing peer support and practical tips from individuals’ experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you’ll find concise answers to common questions regarding Italian citizenship by descent, which will help clarify the process and the requirements involved.

What are the eligibility criteria for obtaining Italian citizenship by descent?

To be eligible for Italian citizenship by descent, you need to be directly descended from an Italian citizen. Italian law does not impose generational limits, making it possible to claim citizenship even through ancestors from several generations back, provided no ancestor renounced their Italian citizenship before the birth of the next in line.

What documents are required to apply for Italian citizenship by descent?

You are required to present a series of vital records to support your claim. These include the birth certificates of your Italian ancestor(s) and all direct descendants up to you, as well as marriage and death certificates as applicable. All documents must be officially translated into Italian and properly legalized.

How much does it typically cost to apply for Italian citizenship by descent?

The costs for obtaining Italian citizenship by descent can vary based on the complexity of your case, the number of documents required, and translation and legalization fees. Additionally, consular fees must be paid, and you might incur costs associated with acquiring necessary records or obtaining professional assistance.

What is the process for Americans to acquire dual citizenship in Italy?

As an American, to acquire Italian dual citizenship, you must provide proof of your Italian heritage, fill out relevant application forms, gather all necessary documentation, and submit your application through the nearest Italian consulate. The process involves verification of your lineage and an assessment of your documents.

Is it possible to claim Italian citizenship through a great-grandparent?

Yes, you can claim Italian citizenship through a great-grandparent if they were Italian citizens and did not renounce their citizenship before the birth of their child (your grandparent). The Italian law permits citizenship claims through ancestors several generations back as long as the lineage is uninterrupted.

What steps are involved in applying for Italian citizenship by descent online?

To apply online, you must create an account on the official portal of the Italian consular services. You will upload scanned copies of required documentation, complete application forms, and track your application’s status. Note that original paperwork might still need to be presented in person or mailed to the consulate.

Need help?

Navigating through golden visa & citizenship by investment programs can be complex and overwhelming, regardless of the country or program you’re interested in. If you’re struggling to find clear, accurate information, you’re not alone. Our team is here to offer you clarity and reliable advice across a wide range of immigration programs.

By scheduling a consultation, you’ll receive personalized guidance tailored to your unique situation. We’re dedicated to helping you understand the details of various immigration programs, making them more straightforward so you can proceed with confidence.


During our call, we will:

Here is what to expect from a call with our advisory team:


We’ll answer your questions about the program and the application process, providing you with the clarity you need.


We’ll break down each stage of the immigration process, ensuring you know exactly what to expect.


We’ll help you determine if the chosen program is the right fit for you or suggest alternatives that may better align with your goals.


Gain access to our network of recommended local lawyers, as well as providers of eligible investment options.