If you're visiting this website, you're probably curious about what Italian dual citizenship is and what it entails. If you have any Italian ancestry, you might be eligible for Italian dual citizenship (more on that later in this post). But before we get to determining eligibility, let's break down the basics of Italian dual citizenship.
So how come you can have both U.S. and Italian citizenship at the same time?
The short answer is because citizenship jus soli and jus sanguinis do not overlap, and are allowed to co-exist since they depend on different criteria.
The long answer is that Italian law specifically allows for dual citizenship with citizens coming from jus soli countries. As per wikipedia: "According to Italian law, multiple citizenship is explicitly permitted under certain conditions if acquired on or after 15 August 1992. (Prior to that date, Italian citizens with jus soli citizenship elsewhere could keep their dual citizenship perpetually, but Italian citizenship was generally lost if a new citizenship was acquired, and the possibility of its loss through a new citizenship acquisition was subject to some exceptions.) Those who acquired another citizenship after that date but before 23 January 2001 had three months to inform their local records office or the Italian consulate in their country of residence. Failure to do so carried a fine. Those who acquired another citizenship on or after 23 January 2001 could send an auto-declaration of acquisition of a foreign citizenship by post to the Italian consulate in their country of residence. On or after 31 March 2001, notification of any kind is no longer necessary."
Exceptions to the rules for Italian dual citizenship
There are only three exceptions to the rules for Italian dual citizenship. But, as with all things in Italy, even the exceptions have exceptions.
Determining if you qualify for Italian dual citizenship
Finding out whether or not you qualify for Italian dual citizenship is as easy as finding your last Italian-born ancestor, and determining if any of the following situations apply:
And so on and so forth. There is no limit to generations, and you may go back as far as possible as long as your Italian ancestor was still alive after March 17, 1861 (the date of Italian unification). Before that date, there was no such thing as an Italian citizen.
For the purposes of Italian dual citizenship, “Italian citizenship at the time of birth” means that he or she did not acquire any other citizenship through naturalization before the descendant’s birth.
We can look through your individual case, determine your eligibility and organize your paperwork. We'll exhaust all the possibilities and identify the most promising option(s). Once determined eligible, we can map our your lineage, collect extensive documentation (both domestic and Italian), translate all your records and assist you in your dual citizenship application. We can even help you apply for Italian dual citizenship in Italy!
Everyone seeking Italian dual citizenship will come across the word “apostille” at some point during the process of collecting documents. At first glance, this French word seems confusing--what exactly is an apostille, what does it do and why do you need one? With this post, I hope to clear up some of the confusion.
What is an apostille?
An apostille is an internationally recognized form of authentication. Its only function is to identity any stamp or seal affixed to an official document, certify the authenticity of the signature on the document, and the capacity in which the person signing the document acted. In order for your American documents to be considered valid in Italy, they must bear an attached apostille issued by the relevant Secretary of State.
In the United States, an apostille is a separate sheet of paper in which the details of the original document are summarized and authenticated by the Secretary of State of the state in which the original was issued. For example, a document issued in California must be apostilled by the Secretary of State in California.
The history of the apostille
The apostille was first instituted at the Hague Convention of 1961 which did away with the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. Under the Hague Convention, participating countries agreed to recognize public documents issued by other signatory countries as long as those public documents are authenticated by an apostille. In other words, the apostille guarantees that public documents issued in one signatory country will be recognized as valid in another signatory country without further documentation.
Apostilles in different countries
In some countries like Spain, the apostille may be obtained electronically (e-app), replacing the holographic signature in accordance with internationally standards. In these cases, there is also usually an electronic record of apostilles (e-register) which replaces the traditional card catalog. In others like the United States, the apostille is a separate document which gets attached to the original, and must be issued by the Secretary of State of each state and his or her deputies as competent authorities. In the United Kingdom, all apostilles are issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Milton Keynes.
How do you get an apostille?
To be eligible for an apostille, a document must be issued or certified by an officer recognized by the authority issuing the apostille. This sounds more complicated than it is: for example, in the state of Vermont, the Secretary of State maintains a registry of all notaries public—this means that all documents that have been notarized within Vermont are eligible for apostilles.
In some places, intermediate certifications may be required in the county where the document originated before it can be apostilled. For example, in New York City, the Office of Vital Records—the office which issues birth certificates—is notdirectly recognized by the New York Secretary of State. This means that as a consequence, the signature of the City Clerk must be certified by the County Clerk (which is recognized by the Secretary of State) to make the birth certificate eligible for an apostille.
Confused yet? Don’t be! Here is a list of information regarding rules for apostilles in each U.S. state. Use the drop down menu to select your state and follow the directions in order to obtain your apostille.
Growing up Italian American, I was lucky to hear stories of the Old Country from my grandparents every Sunday afternoon. I was enthralled by the land that my ancestors loved and lost in order to give their children a better life in America. From a young age, I knew that I wanted one day very much to explore my heritage and sought out any means to do so, first by speaking Sicilian with my nonni. When I found out that I was eligible for Italian citizenship, an entire world of possibilities opened itself up to me. Not only could I live, work and study freely in Europe, I could also be entitled to the same rights that any citizen of the European Union enjoys. For some, having Italian dual citizenship is a romantic notion. But did you know that there are also many practical reasons for obtaining Italian citizenship jure sanguinis?
1. Ease of travel: If you want to visit Europe often, dual citizenship will allow you to travel, stay and work unrestricted in the European Union. You will never have to worry about a visa ever again and can live in Italy (and within the EU) for as long as you want, completely unrestricted.
2. Citizenship Benefits: Dual citizenship means you enjoy citizenship advantages of both countries. You may qualify for pension in both countries, not to mention cheaper healthcare and access to cheaper higher education.
3. Employment prospects: EU employers (or employers sending their workers to Europe for extended periods of time) will see your dual citizenship as an asset. Your two passports mean less bureaucratic hassle for them when hiring you, and will be a point in your favor.
4. Affordable education: Education in Italy is extremely affordable, as is education in much of the rest of the European Union. As Italian nationals, you and your children are entitled to study in the EU and pay EU tuition rates within universities all over Europe - this means significant savings.
5. Hereditary benefits: One of the most basic reasons why Italian citizenship is beneficial is that you get to pass it on to your children (and their children and their children's children)!
6. Added protection: If you get in trouble while abroad, you may be allowed to appeal to two embassies or consulates when, since you are a citizen of two countries. You can also travel to places that are inhospitable to Americans with your Italian passport.
7. Cheap healthcare: For the uninsured or underinsured, healthcare in the United States can be very expensive. As an Italian citizen, you are entitled to apply for your tessera sanitaria to receive Italian healthcare which is world class and much more affordable when compared to healthcare in the States.
8. Buying property: Having Italian citizenship entitles you to hassle free property renting and buying. For an Italian citizen, the bureaucracy of home ownership will be cut down.
What are some of the reasons why you want Italian citizenship? Leave a comment below and join the discussion!
Audra de Falco is a certified freelance Italian, Spanish and French translator and interpreter. She loves writing about the profession and dual Italian citizenship. Her free time is spent mostly learning Dutch, reading and exploring New York. Contact.