Guide to Italian Citizenship

Italy, known for its rich culture and historical landscapes, also offers various avenues for obtaining citizenship. This guide outlines the paths to Italian citizenship, including by descent, marriage, and naturalization, providing expatriates and residents with essential information to begin their journey towards becoming an Italian citizen.

Overview of Italian Citizenship

As of 2022, Italy is home to approximately 54 million citizens, with an additional 5.8 million Italians living abroad. The country offers several pathways to citizenship, catering to individuals born to Italian parents, those married to Italian citizens, and long-term residents, among others.

Pathways to Italian Citizenship

  • Citizenship by Descent: Individuals with at least one Italian parent are eligible for citizenship by descent. This also applies to those with Italian ancestors, provided the lineage is direct and unbroken.
  • Citizenship by Birth: Those born on Italian soil may claim citizenship if they are born to stateless or unknown parents, or have resided in Italy from birth to adulthood.
  • Naturalization: Residents can apply for citizenship through naturalization after living in Italy for a required period, typically 10 years for non-EU citizens and 4 years for EU citizens.
  • Citizenship by Marriage: Spouses of Italian citizens can apply for citizenship after a specified period of marriage, provided they meet residency requirements and have an adequate knowledge of the Italian language.

Citizenship by Descent

Citizenship by descent can be claimed by individuals whose parents are registered as Italian citizens. Additionally, those with Italian ancestors can apply, though they must prove that their Italian lineage has not been interrupted by naturalization in another country.

Former Italian Territories

Descendants of individuals from former Italian territories might be eligible for citizenship if their ancestors held Italian citizenship during specific periods, such as those from Istria, Fiume, and Dalmatia between 1940 and 1947.

Adopted Children and Adults

Italy grants citizenship to adopted minors if one adopting parent is Italian. Adults adopted by Italian citizens can also apply, subject to residency requirements.

Italian Citizenship by Birth

Being born in Italy does not automatically confer citizenship, except under conditions such as statelessness of parents or continuous residency from birth to adulthood.

Transmitted Citizenship

Minor children can acquire Italian citizenship if their parents become Italian citizens. This pathway also covers those who marry Italian citizens, contingent on certain conditions and duration of marriage.


This common route requires a prolonged residency in Italy, ranging from 4 to 10 years based on the applicant’s origin. Applicants must demonstrate integration into Italian society through language proficiency and economic activity.

Applying for Italian Citizenship

Applications for citizenship are processed either in Italy at local municipalities or abroad through Italian consulates. Necessary documentation typically includes proof of identity, residency, economic activity, and, where applicable, familial connections to Italy.

Additional Considerations

  • Dual Nationality: Italy allows dual or multiple nationalities, so applicants do not need to renounce their original citizenship unless required by their home country.
  • Citizenship Test: While there is no formal citizenship test, proficiency in the Italian language at a B1 level is required, demonstrated through certified language tests.
  • Losing or Renouncing Citizenship: Circumstances under which Italian citizenship might be revoked include voluntary service in foreign military forces or acquiring a government role in a foreign state during wartime.

Useful Resources

Whether you are exploring your Italian heritage or seeking to make Italy your new home, understanding and navigating the citizenship process is crucial. This guide aims to provide you with a thorough overview to assist you in your journey to becoming an Italian citizen.

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