Do you have an Italian ancestor? Discover immediately if you are eligible for Italian citizenship

Do you have an Italian ancestor? Discover immediately if you are eligible for Italian citizenship

If you have an Italian ancestor (e.g. great grandfather/mother or grandfather/mother) who was born in Italy and emigrated to your country (USA, UK, Argentina etc.), you might be eligible for Italian citizenship.

As a matter of fact, Italian citizenship is based on the Jus Sanguinis principle, which means that citizenship is passed from parent to child based on bloodline. To make it simple, we can say that a child born to an Italian citizen parent (even if the parent has never been formally recognized as an Italian citizen) is ordinarily born an Italian citizen (with some exeptions).

This is contrary to the Jus Soli principle, which applies in many other countries, like the US for example, where you are a citizen of that country because you were born there (on US soil).

Therefore, if you can prove that Italian citizenship was transmitted from your Italian-born ancestor all the way down to you (even if you and your relatives were born abroad), you could also become an Italian citizen, with all its benefits including being a citizens of 27 European countries.

Usually, your Italian ancestor will be your great grandfather/mother or grandfather/mother who was born in an Italian municipality and then in the last decades of the 1800s, or in the first ones of the 1900s, emigrated to your country (UK, USA, South America, etc.).

In order to claim Italian citizenship, in most cases you will have to submit an application to the competent Italian authority which is your local Italian Consulate, if you live abroad, or an Italian municipality, if you live in Italy. You will have to enclose all the required documents (completed with Apostilles/legalizations and translations, where needed) in order to prove that you had an Italian ancestor who was born in Italy, emigrated to your country, and was able to pass Italian citizenship to his/her child, and then all the way down to you.

Now, although it might seem easy at first to determine whether you are Italian by blood, there are many exceptions which come into play when assessing elegibility for Italian citizenship.

For example, there are no generational limits for Italian citizenship by descent, but the Italian ancestor must have been alive and a citizen of Italy after the unification of Italy which happened in March 1861 (before this date Italy was not a nation so he/she could not have been an Italian citizen). Moroever, you should be aware that there are some specific cases usually called the “pre-1948-cases”, which we will address in another post, where the petitioner will need to petition the Court in order to be recognized as an Italian citizen, due to the fact that he/she had a female Italian ascendant who gave birth to a child before January 1, 1948 (the date the Italian Consitution came into force). n. 1

Furthermore, it is important to know if and when your Italian ancestor naturalized (acquired the citizenship of the country he/she emigrated to). In fact, if your Italian ancestor naturalized before June 14, 1912, or before the birth of his/her child, he/she would not have been able to pass citizenship on to his/her child.

You also have to consider that if any other relative down the bloodline ever formally renounced their Italian citizenship (we know you might not have this information at the moment), you will not be eligible for Italian citizenship because the passage of the Italian citizenship would have been interrupted.

So, as you can see, there are many laws, judgments, exceptions that you must take into consideration when applying for Italian citizenship.

Therefore, an Italian attorney specialized in Italian citizenship applications can assess your case and let you know if you are eligible for Italian citizenship, and also if you can apply through your local Italian Consulate, if you will have to come to Italy to apply at a muncipality, or if you will have to petition the court (“pre-1948 cases”) to ask an Italian judge to recognize your Italian citizenship instead of the Consulate.

In order to find out if you qualify for Italian citizenship by descent, we need to know your family history. Therefore, please fill out the following ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP FORM with the information you have regarding your family members, and an expert Italian attorney will let you know if you have any chances of becoming an Italian citizen. It is free of charge and of any obligation.

For this first assessment you should know at least the names and birth (possibly marriage and death) dates of your relatives from your Italian ancestor who emigrated to your country all the way down to you (if you do not have all the exact dates, approximate dates for now should be fine) and your children, if you have any.

If you require any further information, please send an email to citizenship@vademecumitalia.com

n. 1 According to the old 1912 Italian Citizenship law only Italian men were able to transfer Italian citizenship to their children (even if born abroad), while Italian women (both born in Italy or abroad) were not able to transfer Italian Citizenship to their children. It was only from 1948 – the date the Italian Constitution entered into force – that Italian women were able to transmit Italian citizenship to their children, but only if born after January 1, 1948. Therefore, if your Italian-born ancestor was a female or you have a female ascendant in the line, whose child was born before 1948, Italian consulates and municipalities will deny your citizenship application. The same will happen if your Italian female ascendant married a non-Italian man before 1948, because she would have lost her Italian citizenship due to the marriage, according to the abovementioned law. In these particular cases, in order to claim Italian citizenship, the interested person must petition the Court of Rome.

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