An Italian passport offers a wealth of opportunities and privileges. Those in possession of it can travel visa-free to 132 countries and obtain a visa upon arrival in 43 others. Only 23 countries necessitate a comprehensive entry permit for Italian citizens. As Italy is a member of the EU, its passport holders are empowered to work, establish businesses, and access free education across European nations.
Within Italy, citizens enjoy comprehensive social benefits. The country boasts a robust healthcare system, with emergency care provided free of charge. Other medical treatments are covered by insurance, including the European Health Insurance Card. Additionally, citizens have access to retirement benefits, unemployment benefits, and various other forms of social assistance.
Another important aspect of Italian citizenship is the entitlement to engage in the political affairs of both the country and the EU. This includes voting in local elections and elections for the European Parliament, enlisting in the armed forces, and pursuing public office. Importantly, citizenship is inherited by the children of Italian passport holders. Furthermore, it offers the opportunity to reside in one of the world's most exquisite nations, characterised by a warm climate and exceptional cuisine.
How to Obtain an Italian Passport?
There are several ways to obtain proof of Italian citizenship:
- By birth and descent.
- By marriage.
- By naturalisation.
- By an order of the President on an exceptional basis.
Now, we will provide you with a comprehensive overview of each method to obtain an Italian passport and guide you through the process.
Colosseum. Photo: Dario Veronesi (Unsplash)
Citizenship by Birth or Descent
The Italian constitution stipulates that Italian citizenship is conferred by birth to:
- A child whose mother or father is an Italian citizen.
- A child born within the Republic to parents whose identity is unknown, are stateless, or belong to a country that doesn't permit the transmission of nationality.
- A child born to unknown parents, without any other verified citizenship, and abandoned within the territory of Italy.
These conditions are applicable to minors. If an individual fulfils these conditions but is of legal age, their citizenship remains intact. Simultaneously, they gain the option to choose their citizenship by descent within one year of having their citizen status and eligibility for an Italian passport officially acknowledged.
Rome. Photo: Mauricio Artieda (Unsplash)
Additional conditions include:
- If a minor foreigner is adopted by an Italian citizen, they are granted Italian citizenship.
- A foreigner or stateless individual, whose parent or grandparent was born as an Italian citizen, can be eligible for an Italian passport if:
- They serve in the Italian armed forces and express in advance their intention to acquire an Italian passport.
- They are employed by the Italian government either within the country or abroad and subsequently apply for an Italian passport.
- By the time they attain legal adulthood, they have resided in Italy for a minimum of two years, and they apply for an Italian passport within one year of reaching legal adulthood.
- A foreigner born in Italy who has maintained permanent residency in the country before attaining the age of majority becomes eligible for an Italian passport if they apply for it within one year after reaching legal adulthood.
- Foreigners born in any country can qualify for an Italian passport if one of their grandparents or great-grandparents was or is an Italian citizen. The applicant should provide certified evidence of Italian ancestry, along with documentation attesting to the former or current citizenship of these ancestors. Additionally, the applicant must affirm that neither they nor their ancestors have previously renounced their Italian citizenship.
Getting an Italian passport by ancestry is often a complicated and tedious process which can take up to four years.
Milan. Photo: Szymon Fischer (Unsplash)
Citizenship by Marriage
The spouse of an Italian citizen is eligible to apply for an Italian passport if:
- They have resided in the country alongside their Italian spouse for a minimum of two years.
- In cases where the spouses' marriage was registered abroad and they are living overseas, they must have cohabited for at least three years. The marriage should be officially recorded at an Italian embassy or consulate.
If the spouses have children, including adopted children, these timeframes are reduced to one year and 18 months, respectively.
The marriage bond should be valid by the time the Italian ministry approves the citizenship.
Another prerequisite to acquire an Italian passport through marriage is proficiency in the Italian language at the B1 level, encompassing basic daily conversations.
The conditions for obtaining citizenship are the same for people in civil partnerships with Italian citizens.
Turin. Photo: Antonio Sessa (Unsplash)
Citizenship through Naturalisation
This is the lengthiest but also the most straightforward route in terms of required documentation. This option is applicable to:
- Foreign individuals aged 18 and above, who have been adopted by citizens of the country. The individual must have lawfully reside within the country for a minimum of five years post-adoption.
- Foreigners who have worked for the Italian government, either within the country or abroad, for a duration of at least five years.
- Citizens of an EU country who have maintained legal residence in Italy for a minimum of four years.
- Stateless individuals or refugees who have legally resided in Italy for at least five years.
- Foreigners who have lawfully resided in Italy for a span of at least 10 years.
Naples. Photo: Tom Podmore (Unsplash)
A permanent residence permit provides the legal authorization to reside in Italy. Initially, a temporary residency visa is granted. This temporary visa can be issued based on various grounds, with the most common being:
- Family reunion
- Scientific pursuits
- Investment (for affluent individuals prepared to invest over €500,000 in the Italian economy)
- Elective residence without the right to work (for financially independent foreigners seeking permanent residence in Italy)
Under a temporary visa, you are obligated to reside in Italy for a duration of five years. This entails the need to renew the visa periodically, maintaining eligibility based on criteria such as possessing a residential address and a consistent income. Additionally, it is essential to register with the Tax Agency and social security institutions to acquire your tax identification number.
Following a continuous five-year residency under a temporary visa, you become eligible to acquire a permanent residence permit. Upon completing five years of permanent residency, you become eligible to apply for citizenship. To maintain your permanent residency status, you are required to reside in Italy and be registered for at least 183 days per year. When applying for citizenship, you must provide evidence of your proficiency at the B1 level in the Italian language. Additionally, a clean criminal record is essential in Italy, your country of origin, as well as any previous country of residence.
Venice. Photo: Ricardo Gomez Angel (Unsplash)
Citizenship through Special Merit
Upon the endorsement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the president sanctioned the Minister of the Interior's resolution to confer citizenship upon foreigners who have rendered distinguished services to Italy or when there exists a matter of exceptional state interest. This process necessitates a preliminary decision by the Council of Ministers and a consultation with the Council of State.
How to Apply for an Italian Passport
The only way to apply for an Italian passport is online. To do that you must register on the Ministry of the Interior official website and submit all necessary documents in digital format. Depending on how you receive your citizenship the number of documents can differ significantly. Whether it is by descent, by naturalisation or by marriage, the general documents are:
- A notarised copy of a passport or another form of ID translated into Italian.
- A notarised and translated copy of your birth certificate.
- A certificate attesting to your proficiency in the Italian language at the B1 level.
- Proof of your income for the last three years.
- Notarised and translated proof of a clean criminal record in Italy and your previous country of residence
- Confirmation of legal residence in Italy
- A notarised and translated copy of your marriage certificate (if applicable).
- A payment receipt indicating the required fee, deposited into the Ministry of Interior's account. This fee is €300 for all adult applicants, regardless of the grounds for their citizenship.
When completing the online form, upload scanned copies of all your documents. Subsequently, you will arrange an appointment with a prefect if you are within Italy, or with an Italian Consulate if applying from abroad. During the appointment, you must present both the original and notarized copies of all required documents.
An application for citizenship by descent can be under review for a period of up to four years. For other scenarios, the process typically spans from 30 days to one year.
Upon the approval of the citizenship application, the applicant is granted a six-month window to take an oath of allegiance to Italy. The ceremony commonly entails reciting an oath and receiving an official certificate of citizenship.
Following the ceremony, the candidate attains official Italian citizenship status and becomes eligible to obtain their Italian passport. To achieve this, they must complete an application, present all required documents, and remit a passport fee.
Florence. Photo: Rick Govic (Unsplash)
Dual Citizenship, Renunciation and Citizenship Revocation
Italy permits dual citizenship. Individuals acquiring, obtaining, or regaining foreign citizenship do not forfeit their Italian citizenship. However, they have the option to renounce their Italian citizenship if they relocate or are already residing abroad.
Italian citizenship is revoked under the following circumstances:
- When an Italian citizen assumes a role in a foreign government or serves in a foreign military and declines to relinquish their position or service upon request.
- Following a conflict with a foreign nation, if an Italian citizen has occupied a governmental position within that State, declined to abandon their role, voluntarily enlisted in the adversary's armed forces, or intentionally acquired citizenship of that State during the course of the war.
In a Nutshell
In the majority of scenarios, obtaining an Italian passport is feasible through descent, marriage, or naturalisation. To acquire Italian citizenship through naturalisation, it is required to maintain legal residency in Italy for a span of 10 years.
Cover photo: Rome. Carlos Ibáñez (Unsplash)