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Italian citizenship requirements

Check out the Italian citizenship requirements | Applying by Descent

Who meets the Italian citizenship requirements with Italian descendants?

If you can trace your ancestry back to Italy, you might be eligible to apply for Italian citizenship, provided that you meet the Italian citizenship requirements. 

While it might seem improbable to gain Italian citizenship through an ancestor from the past, it is indeed a viable path to citizenship.

This process not only honours your familial heritage but also opens up opportunities for connection and belonging in Italy. 

Let’s explore the Italian citizenship requirements in detail to understand the specific eligibility guidelines for applying through descent.

By understanding these requirements, you can have a better grasp of the application process and ascertain your eligibility to obtain Italian citizenship based on your lineage.

Italian citizenship by descent requirements

If you are of Italian descent and have at least one Italian ancestor who passed away after 17 March 1961, It is possible that you meet the Italian citizenship requirements.

Italian citizenship by descent has no requirements for your last Italian ancestor to still be alive when applying, and there is no limitation on generation to apply.

You must be able to prove that there is no break in the line of transmission from generation in your family lineage.

What causes the break of transmission for Italian citizenship by descent?

Understanding the Italian citizenship requirements is crucial to avoiding breaks in the transmission of citizenship.

There are many reasons that could break the lineage.

However, the two main reasons are 1) renunciation of Italian citizenship and 2) naturalisation to a citizen of another country.

Renunciation of Italian citizenship

Italian citizenship is passed on from generation to generation with no limitation on the condition that none of the ancestors has renounced their Italian citizenship.

However, if your last Italian-born ancestor renounced their Italian citizenship, your eligibility would rely on many factors such as the age of the next person in the lineage, date, and reasons for renunciation.

It would be best to consult with an immigration lawyer, as even if your case is affected by renunciation, it does not always mean you would be ineligible for Italian citizenship.

It is also important to note that you cannot skip a generation when applying for Italian citizenship. You would need to refer to your last Italian ancestor to yourself.

If one of your ancestors renounced their citizenship before the next generation was born, the transmission of Italian citizenship would break, affecting your ability to meet the Italian citizenship requirements.

Naturalisation to a citizen of another country

If your last Italian-born ancestor naturalised, it is also important to double-check the naturalisation date.

Although your last Italian-born ancestor naturalised, it does not always mean that you would be ineligible.

Naturalisation is the process of becoming a citizen of another country that is not the initial citizenship given when they were born.

In this case, if your last Italian-born ancestor naturalised to a citizen of another country apart from Italy, then you would need to obtain some naturalisation details.

The year and place of naturalisation would be the key factors to determine your eligibility for Italian citizenship.

Your eligibility would generally depend on the country that your last Italian-born ancestor naturalised in or the age of the next person in the lineage when they naturalised.

If the next person in your lineage has already reached adulthood, this would not affect your case.

However, if the next person in the lineage were a minor at the time of naturalisation, you would need to check the law of that specific country they naturalised in.

There is an exemption in Italian law for some specific reasons when a child is born in a country that follows Ius Soli or Jure Sanguinis law.

If you end up in naturalisation cases, it is always best to contact Italian immigration lawyers to assess your situation and ensure you meet the Italian citizenship requirements.

Is speaking Italian one of the Italian citizenship requirements?

It is not required to speak Italian when applying through descent according to Italian citizenship requirements.

Applying for Italian citizenship through bloodline requires you to prove your family lineage by providing necessary documents, but proficiency in Italian or passing language exams is not necessary.

However, if you are looking to move to Italy, it might be helpful for you to learn Italian or to feel connected to your Italian roots.

How to get Italian citizenship in the U.K.?

Provided you are eligible, you would need to prepare your documents regarding your Italian ancestors to prove all relationships between you and your family members.

However, the process of preparing your application folder can be facilitated by a law firm specialising in Italian immigration.

They would be able to obtain the certificates and letters to present to the Italian consulate on your behalf.

How many years does it take to get Italian citizenship?

Italian consulates are required by law to process your Italian citizenship application within 24 to 36 months. However, it does not always mean that they would take up to 24 months.

It is the full timeframe they have by law to work on your Italian citizenship application.

Nevertheless, you would also need to account for the time required to prepare your application.

The application preparation time can take approximately 8 months to up to 2 years without guidance. 

However, if a law firm is preparing the documents on your behalf, it would shorten the process to around 3-4 months.

Since obtaining the documents from Italy can be time-consuming and the information available online may not be comprehensive, many individuals find it challenging to navigate Italian bureaucracy.

Please find the complete guide for the Italian citizenship by descent timeline here.

What is the fastest way to get Italian citizenship?

While you still need to wait for the Italian consulate to proceed with your Italian citizenship application as required by law, there are steps you can take to minimise the timeline, such as streamlining the document preparation process by seeking support from legal services.

This would ensure the accuracy of your documents, reduce the risk of rejection, and save you time.

Can you move to Italy as a British citizen?

As a British citizen, you cannot move to Italy freely.

If you have a UK passport, you are allowed to stay in the Schengen area for 90 days within a 180-day period.

Additionally, you are also not allowed to work in Italy without a work permit.

If you’re seeking to move to Italy, you can either apply for a visa or Italian citizenship if you meet the requirements, such as being married to an Italian citizen for at least 2-3 years, having at least 1 Italian ancestor, and having lived in Italy for a specific period of time.

Does Italy allow dual citizenship with the UK?

Yes, if you obtain Italian citizenship, you will be able to hold both Italian and UK passports simultaneously.

Italian dual citizenship with the UK allows you to become a citizen of both countries, granting you access to EU benefits, retirement in Italy, healthcare, reduced taxation, and more.


If you are interested in applying for Italian dual citizenship, book a free 15-minute discovery call with our team. During this call, we will discuss your details and guide you on how to proceed with your application.

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