Updated August 2023
Italy has always been a popular destination for travelers and adventurers, thanks to its stunning landscapes, delicious food, and lively culture. In addition to attracting tourists, Italy also presents a chance for those desiring a more profound bond by acquiring Italian citizenship.
Read further as Wego dives into the process of acquiring Italian citizenship, exploring the eligibility criteria, application procedures, and rewards of embracing this remarkable heritage.
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To ensure the proper implementation of Italy’s citizenship-related statutes, the process is guided by presidential decrees, ministerial directives, and various instructions issued by the Ministry of the Interior. These directives offer clear guidance to the civil service regarding applying Italy’s citizenship laws.
Italy citizenship requirements
Various pathways are open for individuals who are not Italian nationals to pursue Italian citizenship. The following outlines the available routes for obtaining Italian citizenship, each with its prerequisites.
Do note that acquisition of Italian citizenship through law, descendants, and maternal/paternal recognition, the application must be submitted to the Municipality of Residence.
Italy citizenship by marriage
Italy allows foreign citizens or stateless individuals to apply for citizenship by marriage. To be eligible, you must meet certain criteria:
- you must be married to an Italian citizen
- you should have lived lawfully in Italy for a minimum of 2 years or 3 years in another country
- if you have children who are Italian citizens, the required timeframes are halved
- when the ministerial order for granting citizenship is issued, your marriage should not have been annulled or dissolved, and its civil effects should not have ended. Legal separation disqualifies eligibility
- individuals engaged in a civil partnership with an Italian citizen can also submit a request under the same conditions
Italy citizenship by naturalization
Individuals who have been legally residing in Italy for a minimum of ten years have the opportunity to apply for and potentially receive naturalization as an Italian citizen. To qualify for this process, certain conditions must be met:
- the applicant should not have a criminal record
- sufficient financial resources must be demonstrated
However, there are specific cases in which the residence requirement is reduced:
- grandchildren of Italian citizens are eligible after residing in Italy for three years
- foreigners who were born in Italy can apply after residing for three years
- nationals of European Union (EU) member states can apply after residing for four years
- refugees or stateless individuals can apply after residing for five years
- individuals adopted as children by an Italian citizen can apply after residing for seven years
Italy citizenship by residence
Becoming a citizen through residence in Italy, governed by Article 9 of Law no. 91/1992 (as amended), involves granting citizenship through a decree issued by the President of the Italian Republic. To be eligible for citizenship by residence, you must meet specific criteria:
- if you are a foreigner and either born on Italian territory or the son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter of an Italian citizen by birth and you have resided in Italy for a minimum of 3 years
- if you are a foreigner over 18 years old, adopted by an Italian citizen, and have lawfully lived in Italy for at least 5 years after the adoption
- if you are a foreigner employed by the Italian government for at least 5 years in Italy or another country
- if you are a citizen of another European Union state, having lawfully resided for a minimum of 4 years in Italian territory
- if you are stateless or a refugee and have been lawfully resident for at least 5 years in Italian territory
- if you are a foreigner who has been lawfully resident for at least 10 years in Italian territory
As of 18 June 2015, applications for citizenship by residence must be submitted online through the Ministry of Internal Affairs Portal. This involves accessing the portal using the provided login information after registration. Applicants need to submit all required documents in electronic format.
Within six months of receiving the decree granting citizenship, the individual must take an oath of loyalty at the General Register Office of the Vicenza Municipality. To schedule the oath-taking ceremony, you will need the following documents:
- valid passport
- residence document
Italy citizenship by law
Becoming an Italian citizen by law, as outlined in Article 4 of Law no. 91/1992, involves specific qualifications.
If you are the son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter of an Italian citizen by birth, you qualify under the following circumstances:
- you have completed military service in the Italian armed forces after expressing your desire to become an Italian citizen
- you have been employed in public service by the Italian government and have expressed your wish to become an Italian citizen
- you have been legally residing in Italy for a minimum of 2 years after your 18th birthday, and while you were still 18 years old, you expressed your desire to become an Italian citizen
On the other hand, if you were born on Italian territory and have continuously resided in Italy lawfully until your 18th birthday, and while you were still 18 years old, you expressed your wish to become an Italian citizen.
Italy citizenship by descent
Italian citizenship can be granted to descendants under the principle of “jure sanguinis” (by bloodline), under Article 1 of Law no. 91/1992. Suppose you are a foreigner and your ancestry includes Italian citizens who emigrated, and you intend to be officially recognized as an Italian citizen through the bloodline without any interruptions. In that case, you are required to apply to the appropriate authority based on your location:
- if you reside outside of Italy, you should apply to the responsible Italian consulate
- if you live within Italy, your application should be submitted to the citizenship office (ufficio cittadinanza) of your local municipality (comune)
Italy citizenship by maternal or paternal recognition
Under Italian law, if an individual of legal age is formally acknowledged by an Italian national as their child, and if the child chooses to declare their intention to acquire Italian citizenship within one year of the recognition, they may be eligible to receive Italian citizenship.
Italy citizenship by minors
Italian citizenship can be acquired by minors under the provisions of Article 14 of Law No. 91/1992. When minors live with their parents who have acquired or renewed Italian citizenship, they may automatically acquire it themselves.
Upon reaching the legal age of adulthood, they can renounce their Italian nationality if they already hold citizenship from another country.
For minors to be eligible to acquire Italian citizenship through this pathway, the following conditions must be met:
- a parent/child relationship must exist
- cohabitation with the parent(s) who have acquired or renewed Italian citizenship is required
As outlined in Article 12 of the Regulation implementing the Law on Citizenship, the requirement of cohabitation must be demonstrated with sufficient evidence of stable and effective living arrangements, supported by appropriate documentation.
Italy citizenship benefits
Obtaining Italian citizenship goes beyond its captivating culture and picturesque landscapes, providing a range of appealing benefits. For individuals contemplating Italian citizenship, here are the key benefits:
- no tax responsibilities unless residency is established in Italy
- authorization to reside and work in Italy as well as all European Union nations
- automatic acquisition of European Union citizenship
- upon choosing to live in Italy, enrollment in the Health National System (HNS) is possible
- access to emergency healthcare services across all EU countries
- the privilege of automatically transmitting citizenship to children under 18 years of age