Citizenship Through Marriage
This seems to be the one that is the more common reason for taking on Italian citizenship, and is the easiest one: once you fulfill the requirements, you actually are entitled to acquire Italian citizenship, you just need to formalize it. This is regulated by the article nr. 5 of the law nr. 91 from 5.Feb.1992.
The basic requirements are that you are the spouse of an Italian citizen and have been a legal resident of Italy for at least two years (Ministero dell'Interno circolare 19/7 Aug 2009). Alternatively, if you live outside of Italy you must have been married for at least three years. In both cases, you must still be living together and there has been no legal divorce or annulment of the marriage and you are not separated or in the process of separating.
The following factors can prevent you from acquiring Italian citizenship:
- you have been found guilty of committing a crime against the Italian State – either abroad or in Italy
- you have been found guilty of committing a crime agains the political rights of an Italian citizen
- you have been found guilty of a premeditated crime for which the law foresees a prison sentence of minimum three years
- you have been found guilty of a non-political crime for which you have been sentenced to more than one year of imprisonment by a foreign government
- If there exists concrete evidence that you pose a threat to national security
From a practical point of view, if you are living in Italy, you need to apply for citizenship at your local Prefettura. If you are living abroad, you need to make the application at the consulate that is responsible for your region or city. In either case, when applying, you need to address the request to the Minister of the Interior.
The documentation you need to present apparently varies slightly from region to region, but better to have more than less. Often in the web sites of individual prefetture you can get the detail of what they require (example: Firenze). You need to include 5 copies of the request (see form in appendix / download section). For the form used in Florence click here. The original has to have a “bollo” (check with the prefettura for the current price). In addition, you need to include four copies (one original and three photocopies) of the following documents (all of course translated by a certified translator):
- Birth Certificate (atto di nascita) in the so-called “long-form” (which is more detailed: it also shows who are your parents, as well as your full name and date and place of birth). This should be legally translated and “legalized” at the Italian embassy or consulate in the country which issued the birth certificate. Should it be impossible to obtain, sometimes a certification issued by the consular representative of the country of origin, also properly translated, in which the key data from the birth certificate are included, may be accepted.
- Penal certificate (certificate that shows your penal record, or lack of it) from your country of origin and from the countries where you have been a resident prior to coming to Italy. Sometimes called certificate of pending suits. Also this should be legally translated and “legalized” at the Italian embassy or consulate in the country which issued the document. For the Italian part, you need to get a general certificate of criminal records issued by the Public Prosecutor’s office of the Tribunal (certificate del casellario giudiziale – from the “Cancelleria della Procura). Note: This document can be replaced by an “autocertification” (but only for citizens of EU countries) as per article 2 of the law nr. 15 of 4.Jan.1968, and reconfirmed by the article nr. 1 of the D.P.R. nr. 403 from 20.Oct. 1998 concerningthe regulations pertaining to the articles 1,2, and 3 of the la nr. 127 from 15.May 1997 relative to the simplification of administrative certifications. If the country of origin or of previous residence does not issue penal certificates, you need to present an “atto notorio” (kind of a auto-certification). In this document, you need to state (assuming it is true, of course) that you have not been found guilty or have judicial process against you for crimes as stated above. In addition, in this case you need to obtain a document (attestazione) from the competent Italian consular authority in your country of origin, stating that your country of origin does not issue penal certificates (“non previsione”).
- Original Certificate of residency (you get this at the local anagrafe office) – get the one that shows how long you have been living at your current residence. Although not formally required, it can’t hurt to also include a copy of your Permesso di Soggiorno.
- Most places require a Historical Certificate of Residence (shows where you have lived over time within Italy). This is especially true if you have been in your current legal residence for less than three months. This too can be autocertified as per article 2 of the law nr. 15 of 4.Jan.1968, and reconfirmed by the article nr. 1 of the D.P.R. nr. 403 from 20.Oct. 1998 concerning the regulations pertaining to the articles 1,2, and 3 of the la nr. 127 from 15.May 1997 relative to the simplification of administrative certifications.
- A Marriage Certificate issued by an Italian comune where the marriage has been registered and/or transcribed. (note: if you married outside of Italy, you first need to get your marriage transcribed at your local anagrafe office.)
- Proof of Italian Citizenship of your Spouse with bollo of 11 euro. As an alternative, this can best be done with the so-called “dichiarazione sostitutiva di atto di notorietà. You can use the following form to do this. In this case, your spouse has to sign the document only at the moment of turning in the documentation at the Preffettura – the employee there has to witness the signing.
- Certificate of Family Status (Certificato di Stato di famiglia) with bollo of 11 Euro. Also this can be autocertified, as per article 2 of the law nr. 15 of 4.Jan.1968, and reconfirmed by the article nr. 1 of the D.P.R. nr. 403 from 20.Oct. 1998 concerning the regulations pertaining to the articles 1,2, and 3 of the la nr. 127 from 15.May 1997 relative to the simplification of administrative certifications.
- Advice of change of Residence. Free-form declaration in which you commit to advise the prefettura in a timely manner any change of residence. Use the following form.
The birth certificate and penal certificate are exempt from a “legalization” if issued by one of the following countries: Austria – Belgium – Croatia – Czech Republic - Denmark – Finland – France – Germany – Great Britain – Greece – Ireland – Liechtenstein – Luxembourg – Macedonia – Netherlands - Norway – Portugal –– San Marino – Slovakia – Slovenia – Spain – Switzerland – Turkey – Hungary
On the other hand, these two documents have to be legalized with the “apostille” (stamp) from the issuing country if you come from: Anguilla – Antigua – Argentina – Bahamas – Bermuda – Barbados – Bosnia – Botswana – Brunei – Cayman islands – Cyprus – Colombia – Dominican republic – Falklands – Fidji – Japan – Gibraltar – Grenada – Hong Kong – Israel – Lesotho – Malawi – Malta – Marshall Islands – Mauritius – Panama – Romania – Saint Christopher and Nevis – Saint Vincent – Santa Lucia – Saint Helen – Seychelles – Surinam – Swaziland – Turks and Caicus Islands – Tonga – United States of America – Venezuela – Virgin Islands – Zimbabwe
(note: this list may NOT be comprehensive…)
Important: the names and data on the different documents have to be the same (sounds logical, but often offices make transcription or registration errors!). I have run into difficulties, for example, when a second middle name was or was not included in certain documents. If there are differences, then the consular representation in Italy of the country of issue of the documents has to certify that the documents apply to the one and same person.
So, you got all your documents, and turned them in. Now sit back and get on with life. DO NOT hold your breath. The procedure states that the prefettura has to forward the request to the Ministry of the Interior within 30 days from receipt of the documentation, along with their report on the matter. Then the Ministry of the Interior has 730 days (yes, 730: this is not a typo!) to send the decree of citizenship to the Prefettura, who then forwards it to the newly minted citizen (hence the importance of advising the Prefettura of any change of address!). He or she then has 6 months from the receipt of the notification of citizenship to take the appropriate oath at the local comune of residence.