An Ultimate Guide to How To Become A Citizen Of Italy

Italy is one of the best places in Europe to live, work and permanently settle down. If you would like to stay in Italy for a long time without any hassle, gaining Italian citizenship is the ultimate solution, providing you with the right to reside, work and even vote in the country. You will also be able to acquire an Italian passport when you become a citizen of Italy. Having an Italian passport will enable you to travel to more than 190 countries visa-free, or with a visa issued on arrival. Italy also offers a wide array of attractive employment opportunities and profitable investment opportunities for non-EU entrepreneurs.

Undoubtedly, obtaining Italian citizenship is an alluring dream for many. But the ultimate question for many foreigners remains ‘how to become a citizen of Italy?’ In this article, we are going to take you through the Italian citizenship application. You can also learn all about Italian passport requirements and start applying without further delay.

All about Italian citizenship

Being a part of the European Union (EU), Italy has a number of citizenship benefits. As an Italian citizen, you can travel freely without any visa restrictions to all the 26 Schengen countries such as Hungary, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Germany, and Greece. Plus, you can stay in any of the EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein, for as long as you want without any advance permanent residence. Though, for this, you need to apply for a temporary residence. You will also have visa-free access to countries outside Europe like the USA. Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Australia. 

You can unlock the Italian citizenship benefits once you are registered as a legal citizen of the country. If you do not want to renounce your primary citizenship status for your home country, Italy allows for dual citizenship. Retain your primary citizenship and the perks of both citizenships. For those wondering about how long it takes to get Italian dual citizenship, note that it depends entirely on the way you choose. 

Becoming a citizen of Italy

How to become an Italian citizen?

When it comes to applying for citizenship in Italy, there are various pathways that you can follow. 

Like most of the EU countries, the primary method of earning citizenship in Italy is by birth. There are also multiple other options, such as Italian citizenship through descent, Italian citizenship by marriage, and naturalization. There is also the option of an Italy Golden Visa and citizenship through investment options. But unless you satisfy the criteria for citizenship by birth, you must fulfill the permanent residency requirements and other conditions for most of the methods. 

Basic ways to get an Italian passport with citizenship

Only a valid citizen of Italy is able to apply for a passport. So, before you can apply for a passport, you must understand first how to become a citizen of Italy. You can choose any of the following methods for your citizenship application. 

Obtain Italian citizenship by birthright

The most common path to Italian citizenship is through birth. People born in or outside Italy to Italian parents can automatically claim Italian citizenship. You do not need to apply anywhere formally to gain this right when you satisfy the criteria naturally. This law also applies to children born in Italy whose parents are unknown.

Italian citizenship by naturalization

Naturalization in Italy is a process for people who have lived in the country for a total of ten years with a permanent residence. Firstly, with a residence permit card in Italy, you can get the primary allowance to stay in the country. After living for five years, you can apply for permanent residence status. People with more than five years of this status can eventually apply for Italian citizenship. In these ten years, you are supposed to reside in the country continuously, have a regular source of income and pay taxes in order to get qualified for naturalization. Thereafter, if the Non-EU citizen has lived in Italy with a permanent residence permit for ten years, they can apply for Italian citizenship at the Italian consulate. Italy is part of the EU and as an EU member state, with Italian citizenship, you will be able to enjoy all the perks associated with it. 

You can contact the Italian citizenship assistance/Italian government to get more information about dual citizenship.

Obtain Italian citizenship by descent 

People whose parents or grandparents are Italian citizens can get citizenship in Italy through this process. This process is also called Italian Citizenship Jure Sanguinis, meaning ‘right of blood.’ If you can confirm your Italian ancestry roots in Italy by submitting proper documents, you can be eligible for this status. The requirements and the procedures of this method are similar to naturalization, but it is comparatively faster. You can acquire Italian citizenship if you have three years of residence in the country before making the Italian citizenship application through the Italian ancestry rule.

Becoming a citizen of Italy by marriage

If you are married to a legal citizen of Italy, you can be eligible for dual citizenship status after a considerable amount of time through the Italian citizenship laws. In case you are residing in the country, you can apply after two years of your marriage. And, for people living outside of Italy, the minimum time of marriage before the citizenship application is three years. You can check the information about dual citizenship at the local Italian consulate.

Basic ways of obtaining Italian citizenship

Acquiring Italian citizenship through other options

By adoption: If any Italian citizen adopts a child, it automatically inherits the Italian nationality. The citizenship right of this child will be valid from the moment of the finalization of the adoption. 

Citizenship for servicemen: Those who have served the Italian government for five years can be eligible to obtain citizenship in Italy. This rule applies even if the period of service was outside the country. You do not need to satisfy the ten years residency requirement for this particular process.

For adult individuals, the three most commonly practiced methods to become a citizen of Italy are descent, marriage, and naturalization. In the next segment, we are going to discuss in detail all three of them. 

Know everything about Italian citizenship by naturalization

Getting Italian citizenship through naturalization can be a time-consuming and complex process, but for foreigners in Italy who want to gain legal citizenship, naturalization is the most reliable process. First, you have to get at least a six months visa to stay in Italy before you can apply for a residence permit. After living for five years with this permit, you can be eligible for permanent residence in Italy. When you live for five more years with this status, you can apply for Italian dual citizenship.

For the residence permit, you need to prove that you have lived in the country under a registered address. You must live in Italy for a total of 183 days in a year. Citizenship is only approved if the candidate hasn’t spent more than ten months outside of the country in the last five years before starting the application. Once your application is approved, you can apply for the passport at the Italian consulate. 

There are certain income-related instructions for the candidates in this process. 

Category

Minimum income to be confirmed

Applicant €8264
Applicant with spouse €11362
For each child under 18 years of age €516

Specific requirements:

  • You have to show valid income certificates for the last three years before the date of citizenship application.
  • You must be able to provide documents of income tax returns to prove you are a regular taxpayer.
  • You must be adept in the Italian language and should qualify for the B1 level of the Italian language test. This language test is conducted by many reputed institutes in Italy, including the Dante Alighieri Society and the University for Foreigners in Roma Tre, Perugia, and Sienna.
  • If you have obtained a graduate degree in Italy, you can be exempted from the language test in Italian. This exemption applies to people with a diploma from the Provincial Centre for Adult Education (CPIA) after 2015.
  • Another essential document is the proof of no criminal record in Italy and the associated countries of residence during the application years. This document shows your compliance with Italian law. The certificate should not be more than 180 days old, and it should be translated into Italian before getting notarized.

Italian Citizen by ancestry: the Italian Citizenship Jure Sanguinis Method

Jure Sanguinis or Jus Sanguinis is the Latin phrase for ‘right of blood’ applied to the citizenship process by Italian descent status. Italy has specific laws for people with parents, grandparents, or other ancestors who were Italian nationals or were entitled to Italian citizenship at their birth. The country grants Italian citizenship to such people by descent or ancestry. To qualify for this status, you need to arrange for official documents from the place of residency of your ancestors at the Italian consulates or Italian authorities. 

You must have a registered address in Italy and should live in the country for three years at least before applying through this method. The minimum living requirement is six months and one day in a particular year. 

Italian citizenship requirements:

  • You must submit certified copies of official documents from your ancestor’s Italian residence.
  • A document from the Italian Consulate confirming neither your ancestors nor you have ever renounced Italian citizenship has to be produced.
  • You must submit income certificates from the last three years along with the documents of income tax returns. The minimum income criteria are the same as naturalization.
  • To qualify for this, you must prove that your ancestor was not a naturalized citizen of any other country before you were born.
  • Previously, citizenship by ancestry was only provided through paternal ancestral roots. But since the modification of the law, people born after 1st January 1948 with a maternal ancestor can be eligible for the same. 

Once you are given Italian citizenship by descent, you will be entitled to all the privileges and rights in the country, and you can finally obtain a European Union passport. 

How to become an Italian citizen through marriage

The process for becoming an Italian citizen through marriage is known as Jure Matrimonii. When you are married to an Italian citizen, you automatically get the right to apply for citizenship in Italy. You should be married for two years at least, have a legal marriage certificate, and be present in the country during that period before you can apply. For couples living abroad, the minimum required time of marriage for the citizenship application of the non-Italian spouse is three years. 

Couples residing in the country with a child under 18 years, be it biological or adopted, will have to wait only one year before the non-Italian spouse can apply for citizenship. For couples staying outside Italy, the same clause will be applicable with a waiting time of 18 months. 

Specific requirements:

  • You should be able to prove the civil union and satisfy the time criteria as required for your living status. 
  • This particular citizenship process is also applicable to same-sex couples in Italy.
  • According to the Italian law modified after 2018, the non-Italian spouse has to prove the B1 level proficiency in the language test.

Know when to apply for Italian citizenship through marriage

Let’s look at the simplified chart to understand the required time duration for different categories of obtaining citizenship through marriage in Italy.

Type of applicant Waiting period before citizenship application
Couples living in Italy 2 years
Couples living in Italy with a minor child 1-year
Couples living outside of Italy 3 years
Couples with a minor child  living outside of Italy 1.5 years

Obtaining Italian citizenship through Investment

Italy offers suitable residence permits for foreign investors who are willing to contribute to the country’s economy. This scheme is known as Italy Golden Visa and is similar in many ways to the Portugal Golden Visa and Spanish Golden Visa. But the best part about getting citizenship in Italy by investment is that you do not have to fulfill strict living criteria in Italy, unlike the other countries.

Foreigners who intend to apply for an investor visa in Italy have to submit necessary documents to prove their annual income is greater than €100,000. This clause can be reduced to €35,000 for candidates planning to invest a large amount of €300,000 – €500,000.

Italy citizenship through investment

There are different categories of investments for this application.

Amount of investment Purpose
€250,000 Investing in unique Italian startups.
€500,000 Investments in authorized capitals of Italian organizations. 
€1,000,000  -> As a loan to any Italian limited company

-> Contributing to any philanthropic activity.

€2,000,000 Investments in government bonds.

However, the foreign investor has to go through strict diligence procedures and has to confirm the legal source of the investment funding. Initially, the investors will get a residence permit for two years, which then can be extended for a further three years if the investment continues. After five years of residency, you can directly apply for citizenship. Please note that you do not have to live in Italy to continue the investment if you are not willing to gain Italian citizenship. 

Primary documents needed for the Italian citizenship application

No matter which method of citizenship application you choose, you have to arrange for some common documents before beginning the application process. The documents are as follows:

  • The applicant’s questionnaire.
  • The authorized original passports of the applicant, along with notarized and translated copies of the passport of the applicant’s family members. 
  • Certified copy of the residence permit in any Italian region.
  • Police clearance and record of no criminal offense of the applicant in Italy and in other countries where the applicant has lived previously.
  • Application fee of €250.
  • Four passport-size photographs. 
  • Postal stamps. 

Please refer to the specific documents required for the different methods of citizenship applications as discussed above under each category.

Where to apply for citizenship in Italy?

Irrespective of your chosen application method of citizenship, you must fill out the prescribed form on the website of the Italian Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. You have to upload all scanned copies of the required documents and then wait for the application to be approved. After the primary review, the applicant will be given a date to hand over the original required documents to a nearby municipality.

Depending on the complexity of the applicant’s situation, it might take three months to three years before getting your citizenship approval. For any legal assistance regarding your Italian citizenship application, feel free to contact us and get immediate help from our legal experts.

Possible Alternatives to Italian Citizenship

Since the minimum living criteria to obtain Italian citizenship through naturalization is ten years, it may not be feasible for every individual. Many other EU countries offer faster and more convenient ways of citizenship through investments, permanent residences, and work permits. You can live, study, work and move around the European Union freely when you have such a status. So, if you are finding it too long to wait for Italian citizenship, you can check out the other countries to get citizenship quickly. In case you are determined to stay in Europe, you can check our article to find out how to become an EU citizen.

Does Italy provide citizenship to foreigners?

Yes. Italy has several methods for foreigners, such as citizenship by descent, marriage, or naturalization for which you need to apply at the Italian consulate. You can also invest in Italy to obtain citizenship.

Is it easy to get citizenship in Italy?

Much like in any other country, obtaining citizenship in Italy is complex and takes quite a lot of time. But if you are married to an Italian or have an Italian ancestor, it may be easy for you to become an Italian citizen.

Can I become a citizen of Italy?

Yes. If you satisfy the requirements for naturalization, or if you are married to an Italian resident or have ancestors who were Italian, you can apply to get an Italian citizen.

How much does it cost to apply for Italian citizenship?

The primary citizenship application fee is only €300. But you have to possess a confirmed annual income status of €8264 to be eligible as an applicant for Italian citizen status.