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Obtaining Italian Citizenship

How to Get Records from Italy

Dual Citizenship Message Board

The following information was provided by the Italian Consulate in response to a request for information on the Italian citizenship status of Americans of Italian descent.

It is important to recognize that while it may once have been true that U.S. Citizens could not hold dual citizenship, U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the 1970s settled the issue once and for all: Dual citizenship for Americans citizens is legal.

The hurdle one must clear, therefore, is whether or not one meets the requirements of the other nation involved. In the case of Italy and under Italian law, the taking of the American Oath of Citizenship constitutes a voluntary surrender of your Italian citizenship. So, for many of us, our naturalized grandparents surrendered their Italian citizenship.

For if their children were born in this country, then they were automatically American citizens, having to take no oath renunciating any Italian citizenship which was gained (under Italian law) by being born to parents who were Italian citizens. In other words, since both my parents were born before their parents naturalized, they remained Italian citizens according to Italian law.

That same law extends the citizenship one more generation, through either paternal or maternal lines. Here then, in the words of the Italian Consulate, are the steps required to formally recognize that dual citizenship, and gain an Italian passport (along with full recognition as a member of the European Community, an issue of no small economic importance to many of us. Check other benefits,risks and FAQ below).

Citizenship By Birth

If you were born in the United States you may also be considered an Italian citizen if any one of the situations listed below pertains to you:

1) your father was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth and you never renounced your right to Italian citizenship;

2) your mother was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth, you were born after January 1, 1948 (and before April 27, 1965) and you never renounced your Italian citizenship;

3) your paternal grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of your father's birth and neither you nor your father ever renounced your Italian citizenship;

4) your maternal grandmother was an Italian citizen at the time of your mother's birth,  your mother was born after January 1, 1948 and neither you nor your mother ever renounced your rights to Italian citizenship.

Note: Citizenship can not be passed down from anybody naturalized before July 1, 1912. This rule previously overlooked is now being enforced by some consulates.

IF #1 APPLIES TO YOU you must obtain the following documents:

- your father's birth certificate (write to the commune where your father was born, request his birth certificate it must be in "estratto integrale".

- your parent's marriage certificate (if the marriage took place in Italy follow the procedure described above for birth certificate; if it took place in the United States you must obtain a certified copy of the marriage certificate from city hall and it will require an apostille; if applicable, his death certificate with apostille; your birth certificate (certified copy with apostille);

- your father's naturalization certificate , or a statement from U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service stating that your father was never naturalized, or his current Italian passport and alien registration card. This serves to prove that if your father became a naturalized U.S. citizen this occurred after your birth (**if it occurred before your birth you are not entitled to Italian citizenship**).

IF #2 APPLIES TO YOU, you must do **all of the above**, but with regards to your MOTHER.

IF #3 APPLIES TO YOU, you must obtain your paternal grandfather's birth certificate from Italy, his marriage license, and all of the documents listed for #1, except for your father's naturalization certificate, because in this case you will need your paternal grandfather's naturalization papers.

IF #4 APPLIES TO YOU, you must obtain your maternal grandfather's birth certificate, his marriage certificate, and all the documents listed for #2, except for your mother's naturalization certificate, because in this case you will need your maternal grandfather's naturalization papers.

You should bring all the pertinent documentation to your nearest Consulate General, they will forward all the certificates issued in the United States to Italy to be recorded there. After they have been notified that the documents have been accepted and recorded, a process which generally takes four to six months, you may apply for an Italian passport.

PLEASE NOTE:
If you were a minor on April 21, 1983, and your father or mother (depending on whom you are tracing your citizenship through) became a naturalized U.S. citizen after that date, you have lost your right to Italian citizenship.

Citizenship By Marriage

If the marriage occurred prior to April 27, 1983, a foreign female who married an Italian male citizen has automatically acquired Italian citizenship.
If the marriage occurred after April 27, 1983, the foreign spouse (male or female) of an Italian citizen can apply for citizenship through the "Prefettura in Italy" if he or she has established residence in Italy for two years. If he or she resides abroad, the request should be submitted through the appropriate Consulate after three years of uninterrupted marriage. Must provide a lack of criminal record and lack of national security concerns

IMPORTANT:
We suggest that you contact the citizenship office of the Consulate General of Italy of your jurisdiction for more information regarding the documents that are required.

Reinstatement of Citizenship

The Italian citizens who became U.S. citizens prior to August 15, 1992 lost the Italian citizenship.
The deadline to reinstate the Italian citizenship, through a declaration submitted at an Italian Consulate, was December 31, 1997.
Those who did not apply at that time may regain it through residency in Italy for at least one year (Law n.91/1992,art.13).
IMPORTANT:
Situations not included in the above explanation need to be examined by the Italian Consulate.

Dual citizenship for recently naturalized citizens

The Italian citizens who became U.S. citizens after August 15, 1992 retained their Italian citizenship (Law n.91/1992, art.24). However, they have the duty to declare their naturalization within 90 days at the nearest Italian Consulate. If declared after 90 days, the "Prefetto" will impose a fine.
IMPORTANT:
We suggest that you contact the citizenship office of the Consulate General of Italy of your jurisdiction for more information regarding the documents that are required.

Benefits of dual Italian US Citizenship

  • Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world to live in.
  • Cost of living is much lower than in the US, ( most areas outside the regular tourist traps) great for retirement.
  • Universal Heathcare System.
  • Access to all the European Union countries, i.e. you can visit, live and work in France, England, Germany, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Sweden, Portugal, Austria, the Netherlands, and many more to come.
  • Buy European stocks, bonds exclusive real estate.
  • Hold two passports. These days with the rise in terrorism its a good idea.
  • If you work long enough in Italy you may collect a pension along with your Social Security.
  • State college tuition is free. (May want to double check on this)
  • Open a Business in Italy with less hassles.
  • Possible benefits in property succession (inheritance).

Risks of Dual Citizenship

  • There are some risks of dual citizenship worth noting.
  • If you get into trouble in Italy (if entered using an Italian passport) the US can do very little to help.
  • May hinder or jepordize your chances of getting or keeping a security clearence.
  • You may be called for military duties in time of war.
  • Some may call it un-patriotic.

Check with an attorney for advise regarding your situation.

FAQ

Q: If I work in Italy do I have to pay both US and Italian taxes.
A: No you only have to pay taxes to the country you work in.

Q: Can I vote in Italy without losing my US citizenship?
A: Yes

Q: Is it possible to lose my US Citizenship.
A: No, unless you formally renounce your US citizenship in writing. VERIFY WITH THE LOCAL U.S. AUTHORITIES.

Q: Will I have to serve in the Italian Military?
A: If you have already served in the US military or you are 45 and over you do not have to serve in the Italian Military, if you are older than 26 and under 45 you can avoid military service by filling out some paperwork. If you are 18 to 26 years old you must complete your military service unless you enter Italy as a student. After January 1, 2003 military service may become voluntary check with the officials.
Check with an attorney for more info.

Apostille

An apostille is a special seal applied by an authority to certify that a document is a true copy of an original. Apostilles are available in countries, which signed the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization of Foreign Public Documents, popularly known as The Hague Convention. This convention, created in 1961, replaces the time consuming chain certification process used so far, where you had to go to four different authorities to get a document certified.

Where can I get an apostille?
Each country party to the Hague Convention designates an authority within its territory that can issue apostilles. For example, in the USA, it is the office of the state's secretary. In practice, you should contact a notary to get an apostille. Please note that some notaries may not be familiar with this procedure - they may propose you an ersatz that they are more familiar with. If it does not bear the term "APOSTILLE" in big, that's not it. Also, you don't have to explain why you need an apostille when dealing with your notary - just tell him what you need. Finally, please bear in mind that there are some countries that did not sign this treaty yet and thus no apostilles can be obtained.

What are apostilles normally used for?
An apostille can be used whenever a copy of an official document from another country is needed. For example for international marriages, adoptions, inheritance, but also for plain contracts. The apostille is an official certification that the document is a true copy of the original. It does not certify that the original document's content is correct, however.

Hague Convention Member Countries

Please Note:
Please check with an attorney to see if dual citizenship is good for you, the information here provides a very general guide line. We have done our best to provide you with accurate information but laws change or can be misinterpreted, we cannot guarantee everything on this page is 100% accurate.

IF YOU ARE CONCERNED THAT ANY OF THE ABOVE PROCEDURES MAY AFFECT YOUR U.S. CITIZENSHIP YOU SHOULD CONTACT THE LOCAL U.S. AUTHORITIES.

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