In a recent post, we shared how we gained Italian dual citizenship through Jana’s great-grandfather. There was such great feedback on that post that we wanted to share more helpful tips for those who have Italian ancestors!
We touched on some of the many benefits of dual citizenship and shared other countries within Europe who have similar arrangements. But how do you get Italian dual citizenship? Today we’re going to break down each of the requirements necessary to qualify for Italian dual citizenship by ancestry!
3 Italian dual citizenship requirements
While this is an amazing and relatively cheap way to secure a second citizenship (some people pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to “buy” citizenship in countries across the world), it is by no means easy. (What’s the cost of Italian dual citizenship? We will dig into that topic in another post, so stay tuned!)
This is going to take a significant investment of your time and energy — and yes, your dollars (or another currency!) — in order to finish the process. So before you start down that path, it’s important to know whether or not you qualify for Italian dual citizenship through ancestry!
The qualifications aren’t lengthy, but there are enough details that you will need to do some basic research to confirm your eligibility. So let’s do a little process of elimination to work through each one. (IMPORTANT: All qualifications must be met in order to be eligible!)
QUALIFICATION #1: You have an ancestor who was alive and an Italian citizen on or after March 17, 1861 (this person will be referred to as your “Italian ancestor” from here on). Italy was not unified as a country until this date, so technically there was no such thing as an “Italian” before then. If your ancestor immigrated to another country before this date, you are probably not eligible.
QUALIFICATION #2: Your Italian ancestor did not become a U.S. citizen before June 14, 1912. Immigrants who came to the U.S. did not automatically become U.S. citizens. There was a process of naturalization (becoming a U.S. citizen) that often took years to happen, and sometimes was never even completed. However, if your Italian ancestor did officially become a U.S. citizen prior to June 14, 1912, you unfortunately are not eligible for Italian citizenship through him/her.
QUALIFICATION #3: Your Italian ancestor became a U.S. citizen AFTER June 14, 1912 AND your next ancestor in line was born BEFORE this citizenship was recognized; OR your Italian ancestor never became a U.S. citizen. As Italian law sees it, citizenship is passed through the “right of blood” — meaning anyone born to an Italian citizen inherits that citizenship as well. If your Italian ancestor became a U.S. citizen before the next person in your family line (your Italian ancestor’s child) was born, he would have lost his Italian citizenship, and the Italian “bloodline” would have been cut off before it could be passed on.
3 exceptions to Italian dual citizenship qualifications
Do you tick each of the boxes so far? Well, before you start packing your bags and singing “That’s Amore,” make sure none of these exceptions disqualify you:
EXCEPTION #1: Someone in your ancestral line was born before 1948 and had a non-Italian father. Unfortunately, women were not allowed to pass Italian citizenship on to their children until 1948. So if this applies to you, you are (technically) not eligible.
NOTE: This rule was steeped in a misogynistic tradition that unfortunately still remains a barrier in many ways. However, it has been successfully challenged in court a number of times more recently, and is no longer an absolute barrier to Italian citizenship. If this exception threatens to upend your quest for Italian citizenship, let us know and we’ll steer you toward some resources that might be helpful.
EXCEPTION #2: Your Italian ancestor was born in one of the following regions: Veneto, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, or Trentino Alto-Adige. If this applies to you, he or she must have left Italy AFTER July 16th, 1920. Otherwise, you are not eligible.
EXCEPTION #3: Someone in your direct ancestral line between you and your Italian ancestor has renounced his/her Italian citizenship. This is pretty rare, but technically possible. And if it’s the case, you would not be eligible for Italian citizenship.
Do you meet the qualifications?
Pursuing Italian dual citizenship by ancestry can feel like walking through a maze of qualifications and genealogy research. But it’s one of the most gratifying challenges we’ve ever accepted!
In our next post on Italian dual citizenship, we’ll show you how to find the documents that prove your eligibility, how to apply for Italian dual citizenship, and the resources that were most helpful throughout our journey!
Now that you know the Italian dual citizenship requirements, do you think you qualify for Italian dual citizenship by ancestry? Are you already in the process? Let us know about your experience in the comments below! Or drop us a note on Instagram! @aplinsinthealps