A person born in Italy of immigrant parents has a privileged procedure to follow in becoming an Italian citizen. This privilege, however, is only valid for a year, from the moment the person reaches the legal age.
According to Italian Law, whoever is born in Italy of immigrant parents doesn’t automatically acquire Italian citizenship. The child maintains the parents’ citizenship until he/she reaches the legal age.
Let's see in detail the legal procedure to be followed by one who was born in Italy to immigrant parents and would like to become an Italian citizen.
The Italian citizenship is regulated by Law no. 91/92 which states that a foreigner who was born in Italy, and has been residing legally and uninterruptedly in the country from birth up to the legal age, becomes an Italian citizen by making an explicit statement of will to acquire Italian citizenship within a year of reaching the legal age. (Article 4, paragraph 2 of Law 91/92).
This means that the foreign citizen who was born in Italy and always lived legally in the country can apply for Italian citizenship between their 18th and 19th birthday, by reporting to the Office of the Registrar at his/her City Council of residence.
Citizenship, in this case, is granted through the benefit of the law, so it is possible for one to become an Italian citizen through a simple statement of will to be made to the Registrar of Civil Status within one’s 19th birthday.
Having ascertained that the applicant meets the requirements, the Registrar of Civil Status will proceed with the registration of the new citizen in the register of the citizens only after he/she takes oath of allegiance to the Republic of Italy, through which Italian citizenship is granted.
Documents to be submitted:
1. Receipt of payment of a fee of €200 to the current account number 809,020 of the Ministry of Home Affairs (see facsimile);
2. Valid passport;
3. Full copy of the applicant’s birth certificate (see facsimile);
4. The Permit of Stay: in case there are periods in which the applicant didn’t have the Permit of Stay, the applicant must submit documents proving that he/she was living uninterruptedly in Italy (e.g. educational certificates, medical certificates, and any other);
5. Historical certificate of residence. In case of late registration of the child in the registry of residents of the City Council, it is necessary to provide documents proving that the child was living in Italy prior to his/her registration (e.g. medical certificates).
The period of legal residence from the time of birth must be proved using the historical certificate of residence which can be obtained from the Office of the Registrar at the City Council and the Permit of Stay.
At times parents fail to register their children born in Italy at the registry of residents, or they apply late for inclusion of their children in their Permits of Stay.
In such cases, the requirement of uninterrupted legal stay in the country from birth until the child reaches the legal age would not be met, hence no entitlement to apply for citizen.
In order to facilitate applications for citizenship from people in the above situations, Ministry of Home Affairs issued the Circular Letter - K64.2/13 of 7 November 2007, urging Registrars of Civil Status to be flexible in assessing the requirement of uninterrupted residence in the country.
The ministry instructed that in case of interruption of legal residence or late registration with the registry of residents, the officers must take into consideration other proofs of presence in Italy such as medical certificates (vaccination certificates, etc.), school certificates or other similar documents.
Unfortunately, despite the Circular Letter K64.2/13 of 7 November 2007, some City Councils still continue to deny citizenship to those who were not residents for some periods.
In these cases, Judges have ruled that such denials by the City Councils are to be considered illegitimate.
Moreover, in order to facilitate the access to the right to citizenship, on 6 November 1996, the State Council issued Opinion 940/1996 in which they declared that the absence or delay of registration of the child cannot prevent the child from obtaining citizenship, under the following three conditions:
a) If the birth of the child which took place in Italy, was timely reported to the Office of the Registrar, even just for registration purposes (birth certificate);
b) If at the time of birth, the parents were legal residents with valid Permits of Stay and registered at the registry of residents;
c) If the parents continued to meet the above requirements throughout the period taken into consideration, at least up to the moment the child acquired an autonomous Permit of Stay.
Warning! Please keep in mind that some foreign countries do not allow dual citizenship. It is advisable to check with one’s Consulate if obtaining Italian citizenship does not lead to losing the citizenship of the country of origin.
This guide has been prepared by using Law 91 of 5 February 1992 as the point of reference.