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Italian Citizenship by Descent

Italy allows descendants of Italian nationals to apply for citizenship in certain cases. Depending on your family history, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship if at least one of your ancestors is Italian. Make the most out of your ancestry by acquiring an Italian passport and experience the full freedom and protection afforded to EU nationals.

Italian Citizenship by Descent

Italian Citizenship by Descent

Home to many great works of art, architecture, and fashion, Italy’s strategic location in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea makes it an ideal place to live. Italy is a founding member of the EU and the third-largest economy in the eurozone. Italian citizens enjoy high standards of living, education, and healthcare, and a unique quality of life.

You can apply for Italian citizenship by descent if you have Italian ancestry. As a citizen of Italy, you have access to a strong, well-connected EU market and the many opportunities available in the region. You can also live, work, study, and retire in Italy and anywhere else in the EU and Switzerland at any time.

Requirements of Italian citizenship by descent

There are three ways you can obtain Italian citizenship based on family links:

  1. Automatic citizenship

    Children under the age of 18 can apply for Italian citizenship and a passport straight away if at least one of their parents is an Italian citizen. The child’s birth certificate needs to be registered with the Italian authorities. Automatic citizenship also applies to children adopted as minors.
  2. Citizenship by Italian descent

    You can apply for citizenship through descent as a birthright (jure sanguinis) if you have an Italian parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, or even further ancestor.
  3. Citizenship by marriage

    Another way to apply for citizenship is by marrying an Italian citizen.

Conditions for descendants

The direct descendants of an Italian ancestor born after 17 March 1861 are eligible to apply for citizenship by descent:

  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Great-grandchildren
  • And even further generations

Conditions for ancestors

You may qualify for Italian citizenship by descent if you can prove that your direct ancestor:

  1. Was an Italian citizen when they were born.
  2. Had the right to claim Italian citizenship when they were born.

There are other cases where you can qualify for Italian citizenship if your parent or grandparent was born an Italian citizen:

  • If you have legally resided in Italy for at least two years when you reach the adult age (18 years old) and declare, within one year, that you wish to obtain Italian citizenship.
  • If you work for the Italian government (either in Italy or abroad) and declare that you intend to obtain Italian citizenship.
  • If you perform military service for the Italian government and declare in advance that you wish to obtain Italian citizenship.

Documents required 

Applications for Italian citizenship by ancestry must be accompanied by substantive original documentation supporting your ancestral claim:

  • ID or passport
  • Birth certificate of the Italian parent who emigrated abroad (where applicable)
  • Marriage certificate of the Italian ancestor who emigrated abroad, with an official Italian translation (where applicable)
  • Ancestor’s death certificate or records (where applicable)
  • Birth certificates of your direct descendants, with the official Italian translation
  • Marriage certificates of your parents, their direct descendants, and your direct descendants (where applicable)
  • Certificate of naturalization or non-naturalization of your Italian ancestor who emigrated abroad
  • Proof of your country of residence

Procedures and time frame of Italian citizenship by descent

Applicants are advised to read all the requirements carefully before submitting their application. Thereafter, they will need to complete a client intake form to check for eligibility.

Henley & Partners can seamlessly manage the entire citizenship by descent application process for you, from helping you prove your lineage to assisting you with the necessary documents and requirements, to you receiving your Italian passport in hand.

The process for acquiring Italian citizenship through descent will depend on a specific case’s complexity, but it may be completed in six months. We will be able to provide you with an expected timeline once we have had a chance to assess your particular situation.

Contact us today

For more information on how we can help you secure your future by connecting with your family’s legacy, please complete the Italian citizenship by descent enquiry form below.

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