Italian citizenship can automatically be acquired through marriage.
Before 27 April 1983, foreign women who married an Italian citizen were automatically granted Italian citizenship but the rules has since changed so that the spouse of an Italian citizen living outside of Italy can apply for Italian citizenship 3 years after the date of the marriage or after 18 months if the couple has children, pursuant to art. 5 of Law 91/1992
The spouse of an Italian citizen can apply for Italian citizenship through naturalisation if they have been legally resident in Italy for at least ten years, so that they may apply for and be granted naturalisation as an Italian citizen if he or she does not have a criminal record and has sufficient financial resources.
The residence requirement is reduced to three years for descendants of Italian citizen grandparents and for foreigners born in Italy, four years for nationals of EU member states, five years for refugees or stateless persons, and seven years for someone who was adopted as a child by an Italian citizen..
Since 2012, the authority to issue citizenship decrees is assigned to:
- The Prefect for applications submitted by foreigners legally residing in Italy
- Head of the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration in the case of a foreign spouse residing abroad;
- The Minister for the Interior in the case of reasons pertaining to the security of the Republic.
Applicants who have their main residence in the United Kingdom must have a valid residence permit issued by the UK Home Office, and their Italian spouses must be registered as resident in this Consular district (AIRE) and state in their application clearly that the foreign spouse is living in the UK, specifying the address for both spouses.
The spouse of an Italian citizen living in Italy can apply for Italian citizenship after two years of legal residence (permit to stay and enrolment in an official statistics office (Anagrafe) after the wedding.
The foreign spouse of an Italian citizen can claim Italian citizenship in the presence of the following requirements:
- valid marriage certificate and permanence of marriage bond up until the issuance of citizenship;
- absence of convictions for crimes leading to a maximum penalty of 3 years in prison or convictions by a foreign judiciary authority of more than one year for non-political crimes;
- absence of convictions for any of the crimes against government personnel
- Absence of obstacles related to the security of the Republic.
Claims to Italian citizenship, addressed to the Ministry of the Interior, must be submitted to the Prefecture of the Province of residence, if in Italy; if residence is abroad, to the diplomatic-consular mission. Claims must include the reasons for claiming the right to Italian citizenship accompanied by the following documentation, duly legalized and translated:
- ESTRATTO PER RIASSUNTO DELL'ATTO DI MATRIMONIO which must only be issued by the Italian Municipality where the Italian citizen is registered or by the Italian Municipality where it took place (the marriage certificate issued abroad on the day of the marriage ceremony is not acceptable). Please note that all marriages even those that took place abroad must be registered with an Italian Municipality
- FULL BIRTH CERTIFICATE of the applicant legalised and translated into Italian, containing all pertinent data or, in the case of the documented impossibility of producing that, an affidavit issued by the diplomatic-consular authorities of the country of origin stating all exact personal data (name, surname, date and place of birth), as well as those of the father and mother of the applicant; The legalisation is by means of an Apostille, if the Country signed the Hague Convention of 5th October 1961, if not it must be legalized by the Italian Embassy/Consulate in the country of issue. The translation into Italian, carried out by a translator, must be certified by the Italian Consulate/Embassy in the country where the certificate was issued or legalised by means of an Apostille
- CERTIFICATE OF NO CRIMINAL RECORDS from country of origin and eventual third countries of residence where the applicant may have resided permanently, starting from the age of 14. For all the Federal States the certificate of no criminal records must be issued by the Federal Police. In particular, for the United States, the "Police clearance" or the "Certificate of Criminal records" or "Certificate of good conduct" issued by the central authority of each State (not the county) and legalised by means of an apostille is required, as well as the F.B.I. clearance with the fingerprints, accompanied by a translation into Italian, and legalised by means of an apostille. For Brazilian Nationals ask for "CERTIDAO DE ANTECEDENTES CRIMINAIS" issued by Policia Federal. Indian Nationals can obtain this certificate from the High Commission of India in U.K. and obtain apostille from India.
- certificate of history of legal residence in Italy (with affixed tax stamp);
- legal certificate of citizenship of Italian spouse (with affixed tax stamp);
- certificate of criminal record (or lack thereof) in Italy (with affixed tax stamp);
- certificate of charges pending in Italy (or certified lack thereof) issued by the State Prosecutor's Office at the court authorised for the area of residence of the applicant (with affixed tax stamp);
- authenticated copy of residence permit (with affixed tax stamp);
- copy of passport (with attached official translation in Italian, where the document does not contain data, in addition to the original language, also in English or French), authenticated by the diplomatic-consular mission of the State that issued it;
- certificate of family status (with affixed tax stamp);
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.