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ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP

Reader question: Will my children get an Italian passport if born in Italy?

Obtaining Italian citizenship is not a simple matter even if you are born here, as there are many obstacles to overcome. This is what you should know about the complex process of naturalisation.

Getting Italian citizenship for your children can be a complicated process.
Getting Italian citizenship for your children can be a complicated process. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

It is natural that people who are settled in Italy would want their children to have Italian citizenship.

Unlike many other countries, however, merely being born in Italy doesn’t mean the person is Italian.

If their parents were born abroad and still hold foreign passports, children will not obtain Italian citizenship at birth. 

This may sound unfair to someone coming from, say, the United States, but Italy doesn’t (in the vast majority of cases) recognise so-called “birthright citizenship” (jus soli) which would automatically grant an Italian passport to anyone born here.

Even kids who have lived here their entire lives and consider themselves to be Italian will have the same nationality as their parents and will continue to be considered foreigners by the Italian state – until and unless they become naturalised.

Some Italian politicians and political parties, particularly from the Democratic Party, are pushing for a relaxation of the rules, however at present they remain in place. 

Who is entitled to an Italian passport at birth?

Children born to Italian-citizen parents, or at least one parent who is Italian, will be automatically considered citizens of Italy by a process known as “acquisition by descent”, or jus sanguinis.

READ ALSO: How British nationals can claim Italian citizenship by descent

This applies as much to children born abroad as it does to those born in Italy.

A foreign child adopted by Italian parent(s) is subject to the same rules.

What happens if both parents are foreign nationals?

There are several scenarios to consider if you would like your child (or future child) to be Italian.

If you don’t have children yet but have a permit that allows you to permanently reside in Italy, you could apply for naturalisation after living in the country for a set number of years.

For most foreigners, ten years is the minimum length of time they will need to have lived in Italy before they become eligible to apply for citizenship through naturalisation. That period is reduced to four years for EU nationals, and five years for refugees.

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between Italian residency and citizenship?

If you become naturalised before the child is born (even if you still retain the citizenship of your former country), then he or she will be automatically Italian at birth.

If the child was born before the parent naturalised, they still automatically become an Italian citizen at the same time as the parent does – provided they are under the age of 18 and living with the naturalised parent.

“It is irrelevant that the birth occurred before or after the submission of the application for citizenship,” Giuditta De Ricco, head citizenship lawyer at the immigration firm Mazzeschi, told The Local.

Those children whose parents become Italian citizens after they turn 18, however, will need to file their own citizenship application.

For children born in Italy to foreign parents, the requirements are strict: they must reside in Italy ‘without interruption’ until the age of 18 and submit a statement of their intent to apply for citizenship within one year of their eighteenth birthday.

However, children who were born in Italy, moved away, and moved back as adults can apply for citizenship after just three continuous years of legal residency in the country – so being born on Italian soil does have some advantages when it comes to acquiring citizenship.

The Italian Air Force aerobatic unit performs on April 25, 2020, Italy's 75th Liberation Day, over the Altare della Patria monument in Rome.

The Italian Air Force aerobatic unit performs on April 25, 2020, Italy’s 75th Liberation Day, over the Altare della Patria monument in Rome. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

What happens if the parents are of different nationalities?

If the child’s parents are of different nationalities that are treated differently by the Italian state (if, for example, one parent is French and the other American), the child will be subject to the least stringent applicable naturalisation requirements. 

This means that if a child has one French and one American parent, they will be subject to French (EU) rules and eligibility periods when applying for naturalisation as an Italian citizen.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I have residency in Italy and another country?

A French parent can apply for Italian citizenship on their own behalf after four years of residency in Italy, and “minor children will be automatically Italian, once the parent takes the oath,” confirms De Ricco.

Usually all that’s required is that the parent produces the children’s birth certificates, although in some cases children will also be asked to attend the oath-taking ceremony with their parent.

Bear in mind that it’s important to consider whether the child’s country/ies of origin allow for dual or triple citizenship, and if not, whether you would be willing to renounce your child’s citizenship of another country in order for them to obtain Italian citizenship.

What if I moved to Italy when my children were already born?

If two non-citizens move to Italy when their children were already born, naturalisation is the means through which they may be able to gain citizenship. 

In recent years some Italian parliamentarians have proposed a ius culturae basis for citizenship – that is, acquiring citizenship via cultural assimilation, on the understanding that children quickly adapt to the culture of their country of residence.

A bill put forward by Democratic Party MP Laura Boldrini would allow children under the age of ten who have lived in Italy for at least five years and completed one school year to apply for citizenship, as well as those who arrived in Italy under the age of ten and have lived continuously in Italy up to the age of 18 (and submit their statement of intent before they turn 19). 

This bill has yet to pass in Italy, however, so there are currently no such fast-tracks in place for foreign minors born outside of the country.

What about citizenship for the third generation?

Italy is particularly lenient when it comes to awarding citizenship to foreign citizens with Italian ancestry.

Anyone who can prove they had an Italian ancestor who was alive in 1861, when Italy became a nation, or since then, can become an Italian citizen via jus sanguinis (provided the ancestor in question did not renounce their citizenship).

And this leniency also extends to those who prefer to become citizens through naturalisation – if you had an Italian parent or grandparent, you just need three years of legal residency in the country to acquire citizenship in this way.

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For members

WHAT CHANGES

What changes about life in Italy in July 2022

Hot weather, beach trips, gelato, and the return of summer tourism: there are a few things we know to expect in Italy this July. But what else is in store for people living in the country?

What changes about life in Italy in July 2022

Strikes and travel disruption

While Italy has so far been spared the chaos seen at airports in many European countries recently, that doesn’t mean travel to or within the country is guaranteed to be straightforward this summer.

Dozens of flights were cancelled or delayed in two Italian airline staff strikes in June, and unions warned that these were likely to be the first in “a long series” of protests “throughout the entire summer” amid ongoing disputes over pay and working conditions.

READ ALSO: ‘Arrive early’: Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

Transport strikes of all types are a staple of summer in Italy, with protests often disrupting rail services and local public transit – usually on Fridays.

No further nationwide strikes have yet been announced for July. See The Local’s Italian travel news section for the latest news on any expected major disruption.

Heatwave and drought

Summer has only just officially begun in Italy, where the hot season is said to start from June 20th. But temperature-wise, this year it feels like we’ve been in the middle of summer for a lot longer already.

As July begins, one thing many Italian residents want to know is: will the weather change? As well as being profoundly uncomfortable, weeks of unusually high heat and humidity across the country have caused the worst drought for 70 years, as well as fuelling wildfires and electricity shortages

READ ALSO: Drought in Italy: What water use restrictions are in place and where?

The current heatwave is, at least, expected to break in the first days of July. But overall, it’s set to be a long, dry summer. All forecasts so far point to Italy potentially breaking heat records, set in 2003.

In the meantime, we’ve got some very easy ways to save water during the shortages, plus tips for keeping cool in the heat like an Ancient Roman.

Covid rule changes?

For the first time in a long time, Italy has almost no Covid restrictions in place and the rules are not expected to change in the coming weeks.

The remaining rules you’ll need to be aware of if visiting Italy are the continuing mask mandate on public transport (in place until at least the end of September) and the requirement for anyone who tests positive to isolate for at least one week.

Following public debate over whether the isolation rule should now the scrapped, Italy’s health minister has confirmed he has no intention of changing it anytime soon.

Mask rules have been eased in Italy except for on public transport – though they remain recommended in crowded places. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

€200 bonus payments

In July, the Italian state will begin paying out its one-off €200 ‘bonus’ – a benefit intended to offset the rising cost of living, intended for everyone with an annual income of under €35,000 gross.

But, while some details of the payment scheme remain unclear, some people will reportedly have to wait until September or October to receive their payment.

Here’s the official information so far about who will be eligible and how to claim.

Digital invoicing requirement for freelancers

Italy is bringing in new rules from July 1st that mean changes for freelancers who are on the ‘flat tax’ rate. While digital invoicing may sound like it should be more straightforward than paper, there are new regulations and online systems to get to grips with.

Find out what self-employed workers need to know about the new ‘fatturazione elettronica’ or digital invoicing system here.

Fuel price cap extended

As the cost of living continues to bite, Italy’s government has confirmed it will extend its fuel price reduction throughout July.

Motorists can expect the current 30-cent cut to the cost per litre for petrol, diesel, LPG and methane to continue until August 2nd.

Summer sales

By law, shops in Italy are allowed only two big sales a year – one in winter, one in summer – and the summer sale kicks off in early July.

The sales continue for several weeks, with the exact start and end dates varying depending on which Italian region you’re in. See this summer’s sale dates here.

Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

Summer holidays

Schools broke up for summer weeks ago: Italy’s long school summer holidays began in June and go on until early or mid-September, depending on the region.

But adults usually don’t begin their somewhat shorter summer vacations until July, meaning this is the month many Italian families will go away.

With an estimated 90 percent of Italian holidaymakers planning to travel within their own country this year, plus the return of mass tourism from overseas, prepare to arrive early to find a spot for your towel on the beach this month.

There are no national bank holidays during July in Italy.

Festivals and events

Summer is full of events and, with Covid restrictions lifted, Italy is ready to host some of its largest festivals again. 

In July, people can look forward to the return of major events including the Palio di Siena, the first of which is held on July 2nd, and the Umbria Jazz festival from July 8-17th. There’s also the ongoing Verona Opera Festival and the Venice Art Biennale this month.

With numerous local fairs, cultural events and food-focused festivals held across the country, there will no doubt be something happening wherever you are in the country.

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