Immigration has enjoyed the status of the hot potato of politics for some time and with Brexit looming that is unlikely to change in the near future.  Many people may choose to change their citizenship, particularly those involved with or married to a person from another country, as well as individuals who are planning to remain in Europe for the foreseeable future may also want to become citizens of European country.  A country with membership in the European Union delivers automatic European citizenship to its citizens and to all member countries as introduced by the Maastrict Treaty 1992.  European citizenship is supplementary to national citizenship and provides a number of rights, freedoms and legal protections, including freedom of movement, settlement and employment across the European Union.

Italian citizenship is increasingly desirable for non-EU citizens who would otherwise have to obtain a residency permit.  Italian citizenship is currently regulated by Law No. 91/1992 which assesses the importance of an individual's intention and recognises the right to hold dual citizenship.

There are several ways to acquire Italian citizenship, however, the main routes are as follows:

Descent from parents who are Italian citizens

Italian citizenship is principally acquired through jure sanguinis (blood right) i.e. being born to Italian parents.  A male parent and the male line can transfer citizenship without limit to the number of generations, although Italian citizenship derives from 1861 when the country unified, prior to that there were no Italian citizens.  However a female parent and female line could only transfer citizenship from 1948 onward until a recent decision by the Supreme Court stated that the provision was contrary to the principles of equality.

Marriage to an Italian citizen

Marriage to an Italian citizen automatically confers the right of Italian citizenship on the foreign spouse, except in the following cases:  if an individual has carried serious criminal activity anywhere in the world; if the individual is deemed to be a security threat or a threat to public order. 

There are further conditions to fulfil prior to the application, two years of legal residency in Italy or three years if the parties live abroad.  The marriage must be viable throughout the application process.  There are no requirements to learn Italian or have knowledge of Italy and the Italian culture. 


A non-EU citizen having legally resided in Italy for ten years may apply for Italian citizenship and an EU citizen after four years. A foreigner with native-born Italian parents or grandparents who have lost their citizenship and therefore unable to pass citizenship on, is entitled to apply after three years of legal residency in Italy.

There are other ways of becoming an Italian citizen where complex circumstances arise; the lawyers at Giambrone have previously been able to overcome significant complications.  Including such obstacles as faced our client who hoped to use her great-grandfather's lineage, only to find that her great-grandfather had lost his Italian citizenship when he became a naturalised citizen of America.  The matter was additionally compounded by the fact that her great-grandparents were married prior to 1 January l948 before the Italian constitution was created.  Our lawyers conducted considerable research and concluded that filing at the Ordinary Court of Rome would offer the best possibility for success.  The meticulous and comprehensive petition presented by Giambrone ensured the success of the application against the odds. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.