Italian Law no. 91 of 5 February 1992, indicates the modalities and conditions in the presence of which the faculty to acquire Italian citizenship and passport and enjoy its benefits is recognized.

Specifically, the current legislation provides different conditions under which it is possible to acquire Italian citizenship:

a. descent (“ius sanguinis”);

b. ius soli;

c. election;

d. reasons of public interest;

e. residence on Italian territory protracted for a certain number of years.

Through the possession of Italian citizenship, the holder will be able to enjoy a series of benefits provided by the current legal regulations both of a civil, social and family nature as well as acquire the Italian passport.

1. Conditions for acquiring Italian citizenship

  1. ius sanguinis

Italian law states that a child of a father or mother who is an Italian citizen is a citizen by birth. The criterion underlying the recognition of the possession of Italian citizenship by descent is that of the continuity of the "bloodline."

However, this discipline finds a limit in the case of maternal descent, in which only children of an Italian mother and a father of foreign citizenship will be entitled to the recognition of Italian citizenship if born after January 1, 1948, or children born after that date only in the event that the father is unknown.

Children of Italian mothers born before January 1, 1948 will be able to apply for the recognition of Italian citizenship through court proceedings in Italy.

  1. ius soli

A minor residing in Italy at the time of his or her parent's naturalization will be entitled to automatic recognition of Italian citizenship. In the aforementioned case, for the purpose of automatic recognition of Italian citizenship, the requirement of cohabitation will be required, meaning that the minor must necessarily live with the naturalized parent.

  1. election

A foreigner born in Italy, who has resided there legally without interruption until reaching the age of majority, may acquire Italian citizenship by election if he or she declares his or her intention to acquire Italian citizenship within one year of that date.

  1. reasons of public interest

A foreigner who has performed civil or military service, including abroad, for at least 5 years in the employ of the Italian state will be entitled to the recognition of Italian citizenship for reasons of public interest.

  1. residence on Italian territory protracted for a certain number of years

The law provides for different terms of residency depending on the various scenarios and mandatorily requires that residency be legal, uninterrupted and current until the conclusion of the citizenship granting procedure.

In more detail, it is possible to apply for citizenship by residence:

- non-EU citizen resident in Italy for at least 10 years;

- E.U. citizen resident in Italy for at least 4 years;

- stateless citizen or refugee residing in Italy for at least 5 years since recognition of status;

- foreign citizen of full age born in Italy and resident for at least 3 years;

- foreign citizen with parents or second-degree direct ancestors who were Italian citizens by birth, after 3 years of residence in Italy;

- foreign citizen of full age adopted by an Italian citizen who has been resident in Italy for at least 5 years, subsequent to adoption;

- a citizen, whether foreign or stateless, married to an Italian citizen may acquire Italian citizenship when, after marriage or civil union, he or she has been legally residing for at least two years in the territory of the Republic;

- alternatively, after three years from the date of marriage if residing abroad if, at the time of the adoption of the decree granting citizenship, there has been no dissolution, annulment or termination of the civil effects of the marriage and there is no legal separation of the spouses.

In the indicated cases of acquisition of Italian citizenship by residence referred to in letter e., the Security and Immigration Decree provided, as of October 5, 2018, the possession of a qualification having an adequate knowledge of the Italian language, not less than level B1.

2. Advantages for Italian citizenship

Citizens with Italian citizenship enjoy a number of advantages both of a social nature, a civil nature and a family nature. More specifically, the Italian citizen has access to public competitions, can vote in elections, access to all types of pensions and social benefits.

Through the possession of citizenship, the citizen will be entitled to the issue of the Italian passport, which allows the holder free access to 190 countries and ranks second in the world ranking.

Moreover, pursuant to art. 19 of the Consolidated Law on Immigration, family members within the second grade of Italian citizens will be entitled to a residence permit and cannot be expelled from Italian territory.

These rules apply provided that the requirement of cohabitation exists, in the sense that the family member must live with the Italian citizen.

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.