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Citizenship by Descent in Italy

Citizenship by Descent in Italy

Citizenship by descent in Italy is possible for those who are related to Italian nationals. The Italian citizenship by descent is based on the jure sanguinis principle (the right of blood) and the law prescribes 2 options, based on the age of the applicants.

These are: children under the age of 18 years old and adult applicants. For adults, there are many ways to acquire citizenship, in accordance with the law on immigration to Italy. Our team of immigration lawyers can offer in-depth legal information on the steps eligible applicants should follow.

How can minors acquire Italian nationality by descent in 2024?

The legislation in Italy, just like in most European countries, define minors as persons with an age below 18 years old. In their case, citizenship can be automatically acquired if one of their parents is an Italian national.

At the same time, it must be noted that it is compulsory to register the child’s birth certificate with the Italian authorities so that the procedure can be successfully completed. In the case in which the parents did not immigrate to Italy and they live abroad (and one of them is an Italian national), the child is still entitled to Italian citizenship by descent.

But in this case, the parents must send the child’s (or children) identity documents in Italy so that they can be registered with the Italian institutions – this must be done through the Registry Office of the Italian Consulate working in the country where the parents and child live.

In order for the child to obtain citizenship, the parents must submit all the required paperwork before the child reaches 18 years old (otherwise, the child, who will then be considered an adult from a legal point of view, will need to handle the procedure by himself/herself, following the legal pathways available for adults).

In all cases, it is not necessary to move to Italy in order to apply for citizenship in the case of minor applicants. You can rely on our immigration lawyers in Italy for additional information on all the steps of the procedure. Our immigration lawyers can also help you if you want to get permanent residency in Italy after moving there.

How can adults apply for Italian nationality by descent?

According to the General Consulate of Italy, acquiring Italian citizenship in the case of adult persons implies that the applicants must submit an application for the recognition of citizenship, if their birth certificates have not been registered with the Italian authorities. With regards to adult applicants, the following apply:

  • the Italian ancestor must have been born in Italy after the date of 17 March 1861 (when the Kingdom of Italy was established);
  • there are exceptions to this rule, in the sense that one can have an Italian ancestor born before the date of 17 March 1861, but who died after that date as an Italian citizen;
  • please mind that if you have a maternal lineage to Italian descent citizenship, it is possible only for those born after 1 of January 1948;
  • it is also worth knowing that in the case of Italian ancestors who acquired another citizenship outside the citizenship in Italy before the date of 16 August 1992, they are no longer considered citizens, as they have automatically lost Italian citizenship;
  • we also mention that if you want to apply for Italian citizenship by descent, you are required to pay a processing fee of EUR 300 (imposed since 8 July 2014).

The applications for citizenship by descent for those who are not currently in Italy are handled through the Italian embassies and consulates working abroad. The applications must be completed by an appointment with the representatives of the consulates/embassies, and these appointments can be made in accordance with the availability of the consular mission.

The administrative procedures to handle a citizenship by descent application are lengthy and complex and they must be completed as per the requirements of the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers No. 33 of 17/01/2014.

Therefore, if you apply in 2024, you may be required to wait a period of time for the processing of your application, but this case vary from one consular mission to another, based on the demand appeared in a community.

Persons interested in acquiring Italian descent citizenship must know that the procedure can be lengthy. The maximum time limit imposed by the law is 24 months, but it can increase up to maximum 36 months, in cases where the documentation is obtained through more complicated means.

We invite you to contact our immigration lawyers in Italy for more details on the application process. You can also rely on us if you need assistance on other immigration matters, such as the golden visa in Italy.