How to Get Italian Dual Citizenship
Do you spend hours talking to your family members about "The Old Country"? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to actually live in Italy? Or, do you simply think getting an Italian passport would be a great idea (spoiler: it is)? Well, have I got some information for you! In today's post, I'll go over how to get Italian dual citizenship.
But why should you trust me? Don't just trust my word for it. I've actually been in your shoes.
I did it myself... without any help in the days before pretty much any information about Italian dual citizenship existed online. In fact, I made a bunch of blunders along the way so you don't have to. Eventually, I became so good at "doing" Italian dual citizenship that after finishing my application, I began to help others for free until I simply had to charge a fee for my time. Then, I opened my own Italian dual citizenship consulting firm.
So, let's get started. Or as the Italians say: cominciamo!
First things first: are you eligible?
Obviously before you can do anything else you need to figure out if you're eligible for Italian dual citizenship. There are some rules to qualifying but they're rather easy to figure out. Here they are:
Your ancestor must have been alive after March 17, 1861.
Your ancestor must have still been an Italian citizen at the time his or her child was born in the U.S. If your Italian ancestor became a U.S. citizen before August 15, 1992 this meant s/he automatically lost Italian citizenship.
If your ancestor became a U.S. citizen, this must have happened both after July 1, 1912 and after the birth of the aforementioned U.S.-born child.
If you have any women in your direct line of descent, the date they had their children will determine the method in which you apply for recognition of Italian citizenship.
Gathering your documents
Italian dual citizenship is nothing more than a bureaucratic procedure in which you ask the Italian government to legally recognize a status you've held since birth. In other words, if you qualify you're actually already an Italian citizen. You just need them to make it official.
Accordingly, the way to prove eligibility is in black and white. Not a DNA test. Not anecdotal evidence. Not family lore.
We're talkin' birth, marriage, death, naturalization, and other documents. You simply must be able to recreate your Italian family tree across the generations with these vital records. Italian officials don't care about anything else but what is written on paper in front of them.
To find out exactly what you need, you'll have to check with your local consulate. There are 9 consulates and 1 embassy in the United States. They are located in:
Each consulate reserves the right to request its own specific combination of documents. Generally, they all want the following at a minimum:
Your Italian ancestor's birth, marriage, naturalization, and death records
Birth, marriage, death, divorce, and subsequent marriage records for any "intermediate" ancestors (aka, the people between you and your last Italian-born ancestor)
Your birth, marriage, divorce, and subsequent marriage records
Birth records for any minor children you have, if applicable
Naturally all of the above documents must be translated if in any language other than Italian. If your documents are from the United States, they also must be apostilled.
(Not to worry, I'll write a post on apostilles in the near futur
Getting an appointment
I won't sugarcoat it.
Getting an appointment is hard. This is because Italian dual citizenship is incredibly popular and consulates are perpetually overworked, and understaffed. Also--and this hurts to say--Italian dual citizenship is simply not a priority for consular workers.
So you'll have to try more than once (and possibly more than 10 times or more) to snag an appointment.
To get an appointment, navigate to Prenot@mi and sign up. Then, follow all the prompts and answer all questions until you get to your specific consulate's page. Navigate to the appropriate section and watch the calendar like a hawk. If you see an open appointment, grab it immediately.
Each consulate releases appointments on different times and different days. Check your consulate's website for this information and then use Prenot@mi accordingly.
If you don't get an appointment at first, don't give up. Keep trying and you will eventually get one!
The consular interview
What happens at a consular appointment? Not much, really.
You'll be called up to the window and hand in your paperwork. The consular officer will go over everything with you. If all is well, he or she will take your payment, give you a receipt, and tell you not to bother them until you're a recognized citizen. When that day comes, the consulate will send you an e-mail letting you know.
One of three things can happen after your appointment:
Your paperwork is perfect as-is and they'll start give your file a case number and start processing it in the order in which it was received.
Your paperwork is so-so but there's enough "meat" there to start a case file for you. The consular worker will give you "homework" (missing documents to obtain, amendments or corrections to your documents to be made) and tell you to mail everything back to them when you've done what you need to do.
Your paperwork has many glaring errors, is missing vital pieces, or is otherwise unacceptable. You will not be given a file number and you'll be told to come back and/or mail in your documents when possible. In some cases, you may be told to get a new appointment altogether.
After you become an Italian citizen
You can go back to the same Prenot@mi system and get a passport appointment. You'll need to take passport photos and prepare payment for this.
Additionally, you'll also receive ballots in the mail for voting in Italian elections and referendums when applicable.
Finally, you'll also be able to request a copy (in Italian) of your birth, marriage, and divorce records (if applicable) from your Italian ancestral municipality. This even more than your passport is definitive proof of Italian citizenship.
For a list of the pros and cons (and rights and privileges) of Italian dual citizenship, please read this post.