Achieving Italian Citizenship for Adults and Children

Achieving dual Italian/English citizenship is a rapidly escalating goal which has been accelerating since the UK’s Brexit referendum.  During the two years from referendum to the final Brexit, the Italian government made significant changes to the laws governing obtaining Italian citizenship in 2018.  Italian authorities are undertaking meticulous due diligence with regard to the documentation provided to support an application for Italian citizenship.  Elze Obrikyte, who heads Giambrone’s immigration team, commented “we have noted that applications are being rejected for minor breaches which makes it imperative that all applicants have the assistance of a lawyers with sound expertise in this area of law to make absolutely sure that all the documentation you submit is correct.  You will have to start again if your application is rejected”.  Our lawyers will ensure that the provisions for Italian citizenship are all met and the documentation presented to the authorities is in good order.  Applicants, with the exception of those applicants with Italian heritage, must now speak Italian to a reasonable standard, level of B1,and be able to demonstrate this by way of  valid a certificate showing that they have achieved the standard of fluency required.  There is one other proviso, any person who has been convicted of a crime or has connections with terrorism is not eligible to apply for Italian citizenship.

Citizenship is a vital status for everyone and the acquisition of citizenship, particularly when nationals of a country are permanently resident in a different country, is not always completely understood and there are many incorrect preconceptions that are still held, such as if you are born in a particular country you will automatically be a citizen of that country regardless of your parents’ citizenship status.

The current figures from the Office of National Statistics state that there are approximately 162,000 Italians living in the UK and many of them will be married to UK citizens and many of them will be parents.  How Italian citizenship is obtained for any children born in the UK to  Italian parents or born in Italy to foreign parents depends on a number of factors. 

Who is eligible for Italian Citizenship?

The three main principals of citizenship for a UK citizen are Italian heritage, (jus sanguinis), marriage to an Italian citizen and naturalisation through long term residence in Italy.

For children:

  • A child born in Italy to non-Italian parents who is permanently resident in Italy may apply to become an Italian citizen on reaching the age of 18 years, the age of majority in Italy. 
  • Similarly a child adopted in Italy by non-Italian parents or if one of their adoptive parents is Italian can elect to become an Italian citizen at the age of 18, the application must be made within one year of their eighteenth birthday.  
  • For those children who were born or adopted in Italy by Italian parents, they too have the option of choosing to become Italian citizens on reaching the age of 18.  
  • Children who are born to parents where one parent is Italian or acquires Italian citizenship are automatically entitled to Italian citizenship.
  • Children born abroad to Italian parents are also presumed to be Italian but their birth certificate must be transcribed to an Italian Municipality.

Italian heritage:

If your forefathers were Italian, regardless of where you were born, you have the right to apply for dual nationality with Italy.  An application can be made through the male line from the foundation of the nation of Italy in 1861 and through the female line from 1948.  You will need to provide supporting documentation to prove a valid relationship to your forefathers.


The spouse of an Italian citizen can apply for Italian citizenship, the marriage must be viable throughout the application.  The application can be made following a qualifying period which is variable depending on whether the couple live in Italy or abroad. 

Naturalisation through long term residency:

An individual must have been legally resident in Italy continuously and have paid taxes in Italy for the past three years.  There are variable lengths of time for residence in Italy that apply depending on the applicant’s status.  An applicant must be able to demonstrate that they are financially self-sufficient.

The highly experienced immigration team at Giambrone have considerable experience in assisting people to achieve dual nationality and become Italian citizens.  If you would like to know more about how to obtain Italian citizenship please click here