Dual Citizenship: Applying in the U.S. versus Applying in Italy?

Have you ever thought to acquire Italian Dual Citizenship, but never knew where to start and how to proceed? According to My Italian Family, the  process does not have to be so aggravating.

Today, more and more applicants for Italian Dual Citizenship are faced with the decision to apply in their country of residence, United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, etc. or to apply in Italy.

Assuming all eligibility requirements are met, you can technically only apply at the Italian Consulate that has jurisdiction over the State or Province of your “Permanent Residence”.  However, you can establish residence in Italy and apply in-person, thus avoiding the long delays for appointments at the Italian Consulates outside of Italy.  We call this a “Fast Track Application”. For instance, in the US, Consulate appointments can be a year or more out, although we are starting to see some improvements, whereas upon your arrival in Italy, you can apply at any town hall (Comune).

Fast-Track Applications can be appealing; you cut the wait time in half and enjoy living in the “Bel Paese” while your application is processed at the Italian municipality. Although there likely is no “wait” time for an appointment in Italy, you still must gather all the same documentation as if you were applying locally in the US or in your country of residency prior to arriving in Italy. Recognize that putting together an application, with Italian and US vital records, apostilles and translations to Italian, certified Naturalization Records, amendments (if applicable), etc. may take a while. Thus, the process of preparing your application takes the same amount of time whether you apply in the US or in Italy and that cannot be fast tracked.

[The town hall in Domodossola, Piedmont. If you choose to apply in Italy, you must establish permanent residence in Italy, either in your family ancestral town or in any town of your liking.]

If you choose to apply in Italy, the process requires that you establish permanent residence in your family ancestral town or in any town of your liking, usually for the duration of the application, which takes 4 to 9 months to be finalized (please refer to “Helpful Facts for Residency” below). The time frame varies with each applicant.  The local town hall officials will ask you to show proof of residency for a minimum of 12 months, such as a lease for an apartment or home, a purchase of a home, or proof you are living with a relative, etc. You will need to stay initially in your new residence for a few weeks.  During this time, the local Police officer (or Vigile) will visit you to confirm that you are in fact living there. It is advisable that you remain in Italy until the first step “Residency Registration” is completed, which usually takes about 45 to 60 days. Although once you have officially applied for Italian citizenship, you are free to leave Italy and travel to and from your country, you must have the flexibility to fly back for special appointments that may be required by the town hall officials.

Here are some words of caution in the event you decide to apply in Italy:

– You will have to establish permanent residency, which may have some fiscal and tax implications. Contact your accountant to learn more.

– You must apply at the Italian Town hall of the Comune where you are going to reside. You cannot rent an apartment in one town and apply in another.

– The application may require your non-Italian document translations be notarized by an Italian Consulate here in the U.S., or in a Court in Italy.

– To finalize your application, the Italian Town Hall will contact the Italian Consulate or Consulates where your family resided in the US or other countries of residence, to confirm that neither you nor your ascendants ever renounced to Italian citizenship.

[The town hall in Riva del Garda, Trentino. You must apply at the Italian Town hall of the Comune where you are going to reside.]

Helpful facts for Residency:

According to Italian Law, in addition to the formal registration with the town hall, residency is based on two fundamental elements:

1. The first element is physical presence in Italy, it must be regular and continuous, as opposed to sporadic and occasional. If an individual spends time both in Italy and in another country, the periods of presence outside of Italy are compared with the periods of presence in Italy in order to see which one is prevalent.

2. The second element is subjective; based on an individual’s intention to stay and live in Italy for the foreseeable future. In order to determine an individual’s intention to live in Italy on a regular basis, reference is made to numerous aspects, including but not limited to an individual’s conduct, social and personal habits, working relationships, family relationships, business and personal activities.

Here’s some Q&A with Bianca Ottone, Founder of My Italian Family

Can family members such as spouses and children also apply for Italian Dual Citizenship? Yes, but many rules apply. For instance, your spouse can only apply after you receive your Italian citizenship. Minor children automatically become citizens when you do. Adult children can apply at any time.

What is an Apostille? The Apostille is a form of authentication issued for vital records by the Secretary of State where the birth/marriage/divorce/death took place and it’s used to verify the document is legitimate so it can be accepted in one of the other countries (i.e. Italy) who are members of the Hague Apostille Convention.

Tips for somebody who is thinking of applying for Italian Dual Citizenship in Italy: When applying in Italy, it is advisable to have a law firm representing you throughout the process. Without this kind of support, you may run the risk of your application being delayed due to requests for additional documentation by the Italian Town Hall. Remember, in order for your residency permit to be issued, your application for Italian Citizenship has to be approved. If it’s not, you only have 90 days (you will be entering Italy under the Visa Waiver Program) to acquire any missing document and it may not be enough. That’s why we strongly suggest you prepare your complete application, with all your documents, apostilles and translations, prior to your arrival in Italy.

Italy Destination Services offers an array of relocation services for those looking to temporarily stay in Italy during the Dual citizenship process. Please feel free to contact us for any help and questions you might have.

2018-03-23T06:11:33-04:00 February 15th, 2018|