Italian citizenship For Members

Can you be stripped of Italian citizenship?

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected]
Can you be stripped of Italian citizenship?
Italy's altare della patria, in central Rome. Once you become Italian, can this ever be undone? Photo by Leonhard Niederwimmer on Unsplash

Italian citizenship rules are relatively generous - even if they come with a ton of paperwork and requirements. But, under certain circumstances, what has been given can be taken away again.


There are many reasons to seek Italian citizenship, from the practical - such as shorter passport queues and an end to residency permit requirements - to wanting to feel that you belong to a country that has become home, or which was the home of your ancestors.

For people who take up Italian citizenship as residents, one big reason to do so is security; the knowledge that you won't be kicked out of the country if you screw up your paperwork, and you can come and go as you please.

But are there any circumstances in which your Italian nationality could be revoked?

According to Italian citizenship law specialist Marco Permunian, there are "some very specific circumstances" in which citizenship can be automatically lost by Italians living abroad.

These include an Italian citizen voluntarily enlisting in the armed forces of a foreign government, or accepting a government post with a foreign state, if they do not comply with deadlines set by the Italian government to relinquish their position; and an Italian citizen serving with a foreign country during a state of war, or holding a government post or acquired citizenship in that state.

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There are however very few known cases of these laws being put to use. In 2019, now-Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was among those who called for Italy to strip citizenship from Sandro Gozi, an Italian politician who accepted an advisory position with the French government at the time.

These calls did not lead anywhere: Italy's constitution states that a person cannot be deprived of citizenship for "politically motivated" reasons, while Italy has also signed treaties against leaving people stateless, such as the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, ratified by the Italian parliament in 2015.


Terrorism-related crimes

Since 2018, it has been possible under Italian law to revoke citizenship previously acquired by those who are found guilty of certain crimes linked to terrorism.

This rule came in under the controversial 'Security decree' (decreto sicurezza), which also made the process of acquiring Italian citizenship more complex and the lives of refugees in Italy more difficult, though some of the measures have since been scaled back.

There have been no reported cases of the law on revoking citizenship in case of terror-related offences ever being applied.

Not taking the oath

You could lose your Italian citizenship before it's even fully granted if you fail to complete the final step in the application process: taking the oath.

Those who are granted citizenship via residency or marriage are required to swear an oath of allegiance to the Italian Republic (known as giuramento), after which they become Italian citizens to all intents and purposes and are eligible to apply for an Italian passport from the very next day.

READ ALSO: How many people get Italian citizenship every year?

But the oath must be taken within six months of receiving the citizenship concession decree, otherwise it expires and you'll have to start the application process all over again.


Other citizenships

One way you could theoretically lose Italian citizenship would be by becoming a citizen of another country which doesn't allow dual nationality.

Of course, this isn't specific to Italy - Italian law does not put any limit on the number of citizenships an Italian citizen may hold.

For this reason, or any other, some people might choose to renounce their Italian citizenship - which you are legally allowed to do. The process involves roughly the same documentation and fees as that of filing your citizenship application.


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