How the rules for Italian citizenship change for Brits on Brexit day

How the rules for Italian citizenship change for Brits on Brexit day
Photo: AFP
There's some bad news today for British nationals living in Italy and hoping to soon apply for Italian citizenship through residency after being in the country for four years.

While many people may have thought the terms for Italian citizenship applications based on residency would remain the same after Brexit day, at least during the transition period, British Embassy officials have confirmed that this is not the case.

British Embassy officials told Brits living in Italy this week that unless they've been a resident for four years or more by today – January 31st 2020 – they will not be eligible, as these terms will no longer apply after Brexit.

Instead, they may now have to wait ten years under Italy's third-country national rules.

At a town hall meeting in Rome on Wednesday, a British embassy representative said that, according to the Italian government, any British citizen who had been here for at least four years by Brexiit day (January 31st 2020) would be able to put in an application for citizenship until the end of the transition period, (Dec 31 2020.)

Anyone else will have to meet the ten years required of third-country nationals resident in Italy – unless applying through the marriage route.

This will come as a huge blow to anyone nearing the four-year residency mark who had been expecting to be able to apply under the current rules.

But in Italy, only EU citizens are allowed to apply after four years of residence.

READ ALSO: How to become Italian: A guide to getting citizenship

A spokesperson from campaign group British in Italy confirmed that to the best of their knowledge, the 10-year residency requirement “would indeed apply for Brits applying for citizenship through the residency route who had not accrued four years of legal residency by 31st of January.”

“This is because citizenship is a national competence and therefore not subject to special transition period provisions.”

They pointed out that the Italian government's Decreto Brexit, which was published ahead of the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, “contained an article (Article 15(1)) indicating that British citizens who had accrued four years of residency by Brexit day would be able to apply based on those years of residency until 31/12/2020.”


Ai fini della concessione della cittadinanza italiana i cittadini del Regno Uniti sono equiparati, fino alla prestazione del giuramento, ai cittadini dell Unione Europea se hanno maturato il requisito di cui all' art.9, comma 1 lettera d), della legge 5 febbraio 1992, n.91 alla data di recesso del Regno Unito dall'Unione europea e presentano la domanda entro il 31 dicembre 2020″  

British in Italy has requested clarification as to whether this Article also applies now that the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified.

What if I've been in Italy for three years and 11 months by Brexit day?

Unfortunately, it seems that even if you reach the four-year mark during the transition period, you won't be eligible.

Is this the case for Brits in other European countries too?

It depends entirely on the rules in each country, as citizenship is not covered by EU law. Rules vary, but in some countries, such as France, the citizenship laws are already quite similar to the current EU rules.

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