Previously, Legal help for Expats published this post on how to acquire Italian citizenship. If you’ve read it and realized that CITIZENSHIP AS A RESULT OF ITALIAN PARENTS/ANCESTORS (“ius sanguinis”) is your case, then here are the complete instruction on how to proceed:
The procedure to apply for jure sanguinis citizenship can be carried out at the Italian Consulate in a foreign country where the applicant resides, or in Italy.
(Art. 1, Law No. 91/1992)
If the citizenship application process is filed in Italy, you might need to move to Italy for the duration of the procedure (in order to be available in case public administration requires it; you can process it or delegate the process)
Immediately after your arrival in Italy, you must declare your presence in the country (“dichiarazione di presenza”) at the Municipality where the procedure will be carried out indicating your residence address. Then you must appear in person before the “Prefettura” with appointment to get your paperwork checked.
Duration of citizenship recognition under administrative law is not predictable at all, since 2018 the Italian Government has established that Public Administration has 4 years to decide on said requests.
To apply for jure sanguinis citizenship the applicant must show that he/she has an Italian ascendant and that the citizenship chain has not been interrupted or lost.
You must gather all the required documentation: birth, marriage and death certificates of all ascendants in the same line of kinship up to the applicant applying for citizenship; certificate stating “the absence of loss of Italian citizenship” by the Italian ascendant (e.g.: a letter from a State Public Department such as an Electoral Office or the National Naturalization Record stating that the ascendant never acquired citizenship in any other Country to which he/she emigrated, i.e. and did not lose or renounce Italian citizenship.
The Electoral Office shall certify, that the person never appeared on voting list). Otherwise, if the Italian ascendant has lost or renounce citizenship their Italian citizenship, the applicant must present certificates showing that citizenship was lost after the descendant’s birth, who has acquired the right to citizenship and continues with the citizenship chain.
Example of the right chain of transmission:
- marriage of ascendant A with B
- birth of ascendant C (son of A + B)
- death of ascendant A
- marriage of ascendant C with D
- birth of ascendant E (son of C + D)
- death of ascendant C
- marriage of ascendant E with F
- etc. ... following the chain up to the applicant for citizenship (you)
Each descendant must have been born before the death of his or her direct ascendant.
It does not matter if at any point in his/her life that ascendant A (only Italian citizen of the chain) has lost citizenship, what does matter is that his/her child (C) was born before they lost their citizenship of A.
All certificates issued by foreign Authorities must be legalized and translated by a sworn translator. Legalization is an administrative procedure by which validity is granted to a foreign official document, verifying the authenticity of the signature and the capacity of the signing authority (e.g.: in the case of the UK, USA, Spain or Argentina a document is legalized by apostille). This means that certificates must be legalized only in case they are issued by Official Organizations.
The Apostille does not have an expiration date, and valid as long as the document is still valid. Birth, marriage or death certificates issued in Argentina and in Italy that are legalized, authorized and apostilled have no expiration date; certificates issued in Spain are valid for three months. Therefore, we suggest that you check with the registry of your own country, or even better, in the city or town where the citizenship process is carried out to avoid expired documentation. Which can delay your process.
Old certificates often present many errors (typos, names do not match, birth dates are not correct, etc.). As a result, doubts could arise about the identity of the person in question. In such cases you can request the corresponding Official Department to rectify the document or to issue a certificate stating that the identity of one person indicated in two different documents is the same.
In the case of jure sanguinis citizenship by female ascendant, when one of the ascendants is a woman and her descendant was born before 1948, a trial must be initiated before the court with jurisdiction in Rome in order to carry out the necessary procedures.
In common language this is known as the “1948” case.
In 1948 the Italian Constitution established the principle of equal rights between men and women. As there are still legal gaps in some areas of the Italian legal system (including citizenship), a judge’s ruling is necessary for the Court to recognize citizenship.
The duration of the trial can last from 1 to 3 years.
In order to avoid any dispute that may delay and/or block a trial, when the applicant can’t sign the power of attorney in person before the lawyer in Italy, we recommend the issuance of a public deed. However, power to act can be granted by private instrument certified by a notary public. In this second case, as established by the Italian Supreme Court of Appeals (rulings nº 22559 of November 4, 2015; nº 12309 of May 25, 2007; n. Of May 5, 2006, etc.), the following is essential:
1) the power of attorney must be signed in the presence of a notary public;
2) the Notary public must have verified the identity of the parties;
3) points 1) and 2) must arise from the declaration of the notary public attached to the deed.
Minors must be represented by the child’s parent or legal guardian. You should check with the notary public in your country which formalities must be fulfilled in such a case.
– When in the same family line there are several descendants interested in obtaining citizenship, one single process (parental trial) can be initiated. Legal representation shall be collective and simultaneous and, as a result, costs shall be reduced.
– The procedure can be followed using the smartphone app “Giustizia Civile”. The app allows checking all the ever-changing circumstances of the trial – except for the name of the parties and the lawyer due to privacy reasons.
– According to Italian law, a child under 18 years old who has already acquired citizenship automatically acquires citizenship if he/she lives permanently with the parent who has already acquired citizenship, even outside Italy (art. 14 law n. 91 / 1992). Proof of cohabitation must be presented together with the necessary documentation (for example, residence certificates).
Never fear – sightseeing in Italy’s magnificent capital city doesn’t have to cost the earth. Although many museums and monuments charge hefty admission fees, a surprising number of the famous sights are actually completely free. The doors of the city’s art-laden churches are flung open to all, ancient architectural wonders await around many a corner and it costs nothing to wander the historic streets, piazzas and parks. Check out our run-down of the best things to do in Rome without spending a thing:
1. Gaze heavenwards at the Pantheon, it’s an exhilarating experience to enter this iconic Roman building and look up at the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built.
2. Pay homage at St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican’s showcase basilica is free, though you’ll probably have to queue to get in. Once inside, look out for Michelangelo’s Pietà statue and Bernini’s baldachin (altar canopy).
3. Hang out on Piazza Navona, and enjoy the daily circus of street performers, artists and tourists acted out against a backdrop of baroque palazzi and ornate fountains.
4. People watch on the Spanish Steps, these grand stairs have long been a popular hangout – in the 1800s local beauties would parade up and down hoping to be picked as artists’ models.
5. Tell a lie at the Bocca della Verità, just keep your hands well out of the way. Myth holds that the mouth of the huge ancient face will slam shut on the fingers of anyone who fibs.
6. Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, according to legend, this will ensure your return to Rome. You and thousands of other people – on an average day about €3000 is chucked over people’s shoulders into the water.
7. Explore Villa Borghese, Rome’s most famous park is an oasis of shaded walkways, verdant corners and excellent museums.
8. Survey the city from Il Vittoriano, few views can top those from this massive marble monolith. You have to pay to take the lift to the top (€7) but there are plenty of free viewing spots.
9. Explore the Jewish Ghetto, this atmospheric area is studded with artisans’ studios, vintage clothes shops, kosher bakeries and popular trattorias.
10. Walk the Via Appia Antica, antiquity’s most famous road sets the perfect scene for a leisurely amble with its pine trees, Roman ruins and eerie catacombs.
11. Lap up the atmosphere in Trastevere, this vibrant district buzzes well into the night as locals and tourists hang out on its picturesque lanes and piazzas.
12. Go on a free tour, New Rome Free Tour (newromefreetour.com) runs a daily walking tour of the historic centre.
13. Take a timeout at the Cimitero Acattolico, The last resting place of Keats and Shelley, Rome’s non-Catholic Cemetery is a serene spot to recharge your batteries.
14. Learn about Rome’s war at the Museo Storico della Liberazione, Rome’s Nazi occupation is recounted at this chilling museum housed in what were once the city’s SS headquarters.
15. Marvel at the mosaics in the Chiesa di Santa Prassede, the sparkling Byzantine compositions in this easy-to-miss church are among Rome’s most impressive.
16. Admire modern architecture in EUR, a highlight of the southern district is the Palazzo della Civiltà del Lavoro, a masterpiece of Italian rationalism known as the Square Colosseum.
17. Experience religious ecstasy at the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria, this roadside church is the unlikely setting for one of Italian baroque’s great masterpieces, Bernini’s Ecstasy of St Teresa.
18. Find architectural perfection on the Gianicolo hill, Bramante’s Tempietto (little temple) is considered the first great building of the High Renaissance.
19. Search out the Arco degli Acetari, discover the picture-perfect medieval courtyard hiding behind the dark Vinegar-Makers’ Arch (Via del Pellegrino 19).
20. Meet Moses at the Chiesa di San Pietro in Vincoli, Michelangelo’s muscular Moses is the star turn at this 5th-century church. Also here are the chains that St Peter supposedly wore in captivity.
21. Peek through the keyhole of the Priorato dei Cavalieri di Malta, and you’ll see St Peter’s dome perfectly framed at the end of a hedge-lined avenue.
22. Partake in the passeggiata, Head to Via del Corso and join the locals on their early-evening passeggiata (stroll).
23. Catch a Caravaggio at the Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi, better still, catch three. This baroque church is home to the St Matthew cycle, a trio of the artist’s earliest religious paintings.
24. Get into the swing on Campo de’ Fiori, by day, poke around the much-loved market; at night, grab a drink and see in the small hours with hundreds of like-minded revellers.
25. Seek light relief in the Quartiere Coppedè, with its turreted villas, fairytale towers, gargoyles and arches, this Art Nouveau neighborhood stands in contrast to Rome’s more serious sights.
26. Watch the world go by on Piazza del Popolo, there’s always something going on on this grand neoclassical square. Nearby, the art-rich Chiesa di Santa del Popolo is well worth a look.
27. Do a double take at the Teatro di Marcello, a dead ringer for the Colosseum, this ancient stadium looms over the Area Archeologica del Teatro di Marcello e del Portico d’Ottavia.
28. Investigate a crime scene at the Largo di Torre Argentina, modern investigators have identified the spot where Julius Caesar was murdered. It was in the Area Sacra on Largo di Torre Argentina.
29. Take in a concert during Estate Romana, Rome’s big summer event stages everything from concerts and dance performances to book fairs and late-night museum openings. Some are free.
30. Check out Piazza del Campidoglio, on the Capitoline Hill, Michelangelo’s exquisitely designed piazza is one of Rome’s most beautiful public spaces.
31. Look up at Trajan’s Column, this ancient landmark towers over the Imperial Forums. If you can make them out, the reliefs depict Trajan’s military campaigns.
32. Enjoy local colour in Garbatella, this sparky neighborhood presents a colourful front with its community gardens, faux baroque palazzi and red housing blocks.
33. Go jogging in the Circo Massimo, where once crowds cheered chariot racers in Rome’s largest arena, now locals come to stretch their legs.
34. Colosseum, Palatino, and Roman Forum; first Sunday of the month.
35. Vatican Museums; last Sunday of the month.
36. All state museums; first Sunday of the month.
37. Pope’s weekly audience; every Wednesday morning.
38. Porta Portese market; every Sunday morning.
39. Palazzo di Montecitorio; first Sunday of the month.
40. May Day Concert; May 1
Anthony Majanlahti shares his story
My experience of getting my residency is not the most difficult one I’ve heard of. Refugees have it worse, in fact just about everyone who isn’t an EU citizen has it harder. I can only tell my own story.
I was born and raised in Canada, of an English mother and a Finnish father. I’m a historian and writer about Rome, and obviously there’s no better place for me to live and do my research than here. However, for many years I lived here very hazardously, never sure if, once having left the country, the authorities would let me back in. I will draw a polite curtain over the stress of my life here as an extracomunitario. Temporary permessi di soggiorno for the purposes of study would expire, and have to be renewed, always from the Italian Consulate in Toronto, because they wouldn’t do it from Italy. So back I would go. And that kind of permesso didn’t give the right to work.
A few years ago, my father let me know that Finland had changed its laws to permit the children of people born in Finland to claim Finnish citizenship, probably because Finland’s population growth is negative at the moment. I didn’t have any EU citizenship rights through my mother, because the British changed their citizenship law: since I hadn’t been put on some embassy list before I was 18 years old, I had no right to British citizenship. However, now I suddenly had the right to Finnish and therefore EU citizenship. I jumped at the chance. After a surprisingly friendly and easy series of steps, I found myself clutching my prize, an EU passport. Now finally I couldn’t get sent back to Toronto.
At this point I wanted to go all the way and get my residenza in Rome. But I was perplexed. The information available online seemed contradictory and incomplete, and who knew whether or not the sites had been updated. Yet at the same time I didn’t want to go and ask anyone official – years of living dangerously had taught me an innate resistance to coming to the attention of the Italian authorities. I lived in a sort of semi-legal limbo for a long time.
My first piece of concrete advice is: if you have an EU passport, but no job, don’t be scared. There are a bunch of helpful organs ready to give you various pieces of information. I went to discuss the matter with the CGIL immigration assistance office on via Buonarroti 51, and they were very nice and gave me a lot of advice. It was also free. There was another agency of another big union, the UIL, whose offices are at via Cavour 108, near Santa Maria Maggiore, and they were even more friendly and less crowded. They too offer help and advice for free.
If you’re an EU citizen you don’t need to mess around with permessi di soggiorno or carte di soggiorno, no matter what the Ministry website says. What you want to establish is your residenza. With that, you can get your identity card and your health card, and with those pieces of identification you have official existence in Italy. You can even get a job.
Second, and this is a bit strange, but every different municipality of Rome has different requirements. As I live in Municipio I, Centro Storico, I am describing what my experience is with them. If you live in the historic centre, you are in Municipio I and you have to go down to the huge drab Fascist-era Anagrafe or Public Record Office on via Petroselli, down past the Theatre of Marcellus toward piazza Bocca della Verità. If you live in a different Municipio, check their website to see how their requirements differ: they won’t be significantly different, in any case.
Here is what you need, as an EU citizen without a contract or a job, to get your residenza:
Make sure you have copies of everything! The Anagrafe will want the copies to keep, and will want to look at the originals, so bring it all with you.
The adventure really begins once you get to the at. It is said to open at 8.30, but by 8.30 the entrance is already crammed with a mass of people blocking your way. Sometimes someone has already made a makeshift numbering system and giving out little scraps of paper saying you’re number 16 or whatever. That makes the entrance into the Anagrafe at 8.30 slower. In any case, Bring a good book and your iPod, because chances are . Since the Anagrafe is only open in the morning, arriving after 8.30 is pointless. The bureaucracy is not fast.
Once you’re inside the Anagrafe, you will want to make your way to your , up some steps, into a large gloomy hall where you will have to decide what kind of service you want, like at the post office, and press a button to get a waiting number. You will want whatever the button is that says “”. There will probably be a helpful staff member to press the button for you if you are perplexed. However, at that point you are on your own. If your number isn’t immediately going to be called, you can exit the hall, go get a coffee and croissant at the bar inside the Anagrafe on the other side of the main entrance, and go upstairs to the Cassa comunale and buy your “” and the form (“”) for the identity card. Having done that, you will feel a pleasant sense of being armed and ready to do battle with the bureaucracy.
When your number is finally called (pay attention to the screen!), you will be brought into an office with a hopefully kindly functionary behind a desk who will ask to see your documents, may ask you questions, and will fill in a bunch of information on the computer. This functionary will tell you if there are pieces missing from your documentation – if there are, you will have to go through all of this again twice, so try to avoid missing out anything. At the end, having taken your photocopies of everything, the functionary will issue you with a wide computer-printed strip of paper, the “fascia”, which serves as a sort of interim identity document, saying in effect that your application for residenza is being processed. (You can already go to your local health authority with this “fascia” and sign up, but I waited til I had everything sorted out.) You need to bring this “fascia” back with you to get your identity card.
At this point the nice lady functionary told me, “Now all you have to do is wait for the police to come and check that you live where you say you live.”
“Yes, you have no idea the kind of scams that people try to pull. Make sure you have your rental contract on hand and be at home when the policeman calls.”
“When will he come?”
“Oh, not within the next three weeks, I’d say,” said the functionary cheerfully. It was August. “You can certainly go on holiday without worrying.” This was all starting to look a bit haphazard and I got worried.
“What if I’m not there when he arrives?”
“Don’t worry, you’ll just have to take your rental contract and go to his office and show it to him.”
“But how is that different from showing it to you here, as I am doing now?”
“Because I am not the police,” she replied gently.
“And then what happens? Does the policeman give me a document that I bring back to you?”
“Oh, no!” she said. “The policeman sends a communication to us here, and we process it, and you come back and line up and get your identity card.”
“But how will I know when you get the policeman’s communication?”
“It usually takes about ten working days from when you see the policeman. Come back then.”
Well, I took her at her word, only to find that the police had passed by to see me when I was gone. I went to the police station on viale Trastevere, just past piazza Sonnino and before the start of via di San Gallicano, taking the piece of paper left with my concierge that gave the date and time that I should present myself at the policeman’s office. I noted that there were only two days a week when he could be found at his office, for precisely one hour, around lunchtime. I went with my rental contract, was ushered in immediately (there was no one else waiting), and a weary police officer filled in a form and glanced at my contract, and said “Congratulations. As far as the police are concerned, you are now a resident of Rome.”
“How long do I have to wait before I go back to the Anagrafe and apply for my identity card?” He laughed cynically. “All I can say is, this form will leave my office tomorrow. After that –” he spread his hands — “maybe you should wait a month or two.”
“But they told me ten days!”
“OK, OK. I can only tell you that my job ends when the paper leaves my office.”
“Well, thank you very much.”
“Welcome to Rome,” he said, already looking at another piece of paper on his desk.
I decided to wait two weeks, then risk it. This time I was smarter and got to the Anagrafe before 8 AM, and there were only about 20 or so people in front of me. I waited about 45 minutes, in high anxiety, before my number came up. I had brought my envelope with all my documents, originals and photocopies, including the “fascia” they’d given me last time. I went back into the office behind the counter, and a different functionary, but still very nice, confirmed that they had, indeed, received confirmation from the police that I was resident where I said I was, and that they could issue the identity card right away, especially since I already had the “modulo” (the form) and the photos. I handed my “fascia” over to her. After so much time and anxiety and effort, I could almost not believe it. But she put the blank identity card paper into the special printer and printed it out, then affixed one of my photos and stamped it with an official imprint. She then printed out a page entitled “ATTESTAZIONE DI REGOLARITA’ DEL SOGGIORNO PER I CITTADINI DELL’UNIONE EUROPEA” which stated that I, Anthony Majanlahti, born in.., resident in via…, of Finnish citizenship, “E’ REGOLARMENTE SOGGIORNANTE IN ITALIA”, “is staying in Italy according to the rules”. She affixed two of the “marche da bollo”, one of each kind, to one copy, and did the same to an office copy.
I left the Anagrafe with my carta d’identità, one of the old-style paper ones (“Some of the other Municipi give you the plastic card with the smart chip in it,” the functionary told me, “but it’s not free. It costs the earth!”), and couldn’t stop looking at it as I staggered up the via del Teatro di Marcello. I soon found myself in largo Argentina, and I went into a tobacconist’s to ask if I could buy a plastic cover for the identity card. “It’s my first identity card! I’m a legal resident of Rome at last!” I told the tobacconist, rather deliriously. To celebrate, he gave me the plastic cover for free.
From that point on, it was easy to get signed onto the medical system. I was in the Primo Distretto Sanitario of the ASL Roma A (which coincides with the Municipio I – check which yours is at their website, www.aslromaa.it), at via Luzzatti, 8, near piazza di Porta Maggiore. I went there with my documents, including my carta d’identità, and they filled out a quick form, took some photocopies of my passport and carta d’identità that I had already made just in case, and printed out a dummy version of my health card which would have to serve until the real one arrived by mail, a month or so later. I chose a doctor from a list of doctors near my apartment, and that was that. The real card arrived a month later and I cancelled my private health insurance. I was in the system.
Have a story to share that will help others living and working in Rome to become legal? Get the proper documents needed to make life easier? Please email us at [email protected]