Can you pass Italian citizenship on to your children

If you have acquired Italian citizenship your child then also qualifies as an Italian citizen. You can take the steps to ask the Italian government to recognise your child’s citizenship. After which, an Italian passport can be issued, and your child will have the same rights as any other Italian citizen.

In this guide we explain the documents needed to pass Italian citizenship onto your child, and the process of applying for Italian citizenship.

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Jure Sanguinis

Jure Sanguinis is a Latin term meaning "blood right"  which describes the right to citizenship whereby the nationality of the parents determines the of the child's right to citizenship through “blood right”. It contrasts with Jure Solis, the term applied whereby the nationality of the child is determined by the location in which they are born.

Most countries around the world adopt elements of Jure Sanguinis and Jure Solis - Italy, like most European countries, recognises Jure Sanguinis.

Historically, countries around the world have followed the father’s lineage when using Jure Sanguinis to determine a child’s nationality. In Italy, in keeping with this, initially women could not pass their own citizenship to their child unless the child’s father was deceased, unknown, missing, or couldn’t pass down their own citizenship. However, in 1 January 1948 it was decided that failure to recognise female lineage was discriminatory.

At present, obtaining Italian citizenship from the mother’s or father’s lineage or an ancestor born in Italy is a straightforward process. A total of 112,523 people were granted Italian citizenship in 2018, according to the latest report.

How does your child qualify for Italian citizenship?

Italian law states that a child needs to have at least one parent who is an Italian citizen to qualify for Italian citizenship.

There are, however, some factors to consider. If you are currently an Italian citizen, you must have been an Italian citizenship at the time of your child’s birth in order for them to be able to apply for citizenship.

Furthermore, if you have acquired dual citizenship in a second country, you must have done so after your child’s birth. However, if you became a citizen of Italy and a second country simultaneously, prior to your child’s birth, and your child will still be qualified to apply for Italian citizenship.

What documents are needed to pass on Italian citizenship to your child?

When asking the Italian government to formally recognise your child as an Italian citizen, you will need to provide the following documents:

  • Your birth certificate, stating that you were born in Italy - unless you became a citizen after your birth.
  • If you did become an Italian citizen after your birth, you will need your Italian naturalisation certificate.
  • If you are also a citizen of another country, you will need a naturalisation certificate from this county.
  • Your child’s birth certificate.
  • A marriage certificate and where applicable death certificates (of your parents or spouse) in support the Italian citizenship application.

Applying for Italian citizenship

If you have an ancestor who was an Italian citizen and was born on or after 1861 (1912 applies for some northern regions which were ruled by Austria) you may apply for Italian dual citizenship. You will need your ancestor’s documentation, as well as all of the birth/marriage/death certificates that demonstrate a link to you (they must be translated into Italian).

There may be some issues if your ancestor accepted naturalisation in another country, for example, if they immigrated as a child,. Also, if the lineage is through women there may be an issue. However, you should obtain expert legal advice to establish whether you can pursue Italian citizenship, especially if the lineage is through women - many Consulates find these laws outdated and are happy to authorise these kinds of applications using discretionary powers.

You will need to take the required documents to your local Italian Consulate (if you live outside of Italy) or the local town hall (if you live in Italy). Contact the consulate before applying, as each consulate will have different requirements.

Giambrone’s immigration team can assist you on applying for Italian citizenship or passing Italian citizenship to your child. We can advise you on the viability of an application, ensuring the documentation is in order and also can guide you through any complications. You can contact us here for more information on how we can help.

Frequently asked questions

Do you need to speak Italian to get Italian citizenship?

If you are applying for Italian citizenship through Italian descent, you do not need to speak Italian. However, if you are applying for Italian citizenship through marriage, you do need to speak Italian to the required standard.

Does Italy allow dual citizenship?

Yes, Italy allows dual citizenship. Many people with Italian parents may have Italian citizenship because of Jure Sanguinis and US citizenship due to Jure Solis.

What happens if children were born abroad to Italian parents that did not register the birth in the Italian register of birth?

If the parents do not have a birth certificate, they should contact the Consulate directly to find out how the birth and residence in Italy can be proved.

Can you live in Italy without being a citizen?

Any EU citizen can live, work and study in Italy without hindrance. Individuals who come from countries outside the EU Member States can also gain residency status through a range of visas,  by working in Italy or applying for a visa to live with a partner, which can progress to permanent residency.

What if your Italian ancestor was born prior to 1861?

Italy was not a unified country prior to 1861.  If your ancestor died before this year they will not have been born an Italian citizen, therefore, you will not be able to get Italian citizenship through Jure Sanguinis.

Can you have three citizenships?

Italy’s citizenship law permits having multiple citizenships, providing the other countries involved have similar arrangements.

Getting Italian citizenship through parentage is relatively easy, with the correct documents.

For more information on applying for Italian citizenship, please contact our immigration team

Qualify for Italian dual citizenship Options and documents

Completing an Italian dual citizenship form