Applying for Italian citizenship

by Alexandra

italian passport

I’ve almost stopped caring about Brexit – I can’t keep up, and there’s not much point in worrying about something that’s completely out of your control, or getting hysterical when it might not be that bad after all. But every now and then I have little moments of panic. What if a no-deal Brexit messes up my residency status? Is having residency enough? Should I try to get Italian citizenship?

I wrote about my experience of getting residency in Rome three years ago. Although I’ve lived in Rome for six years, I’ve only had official residency for three. As I’m living in Italy legally I’m protected and should probably just relax, but it’d be nice to have citizenship too. I’d like to have that extra level of security, and to continue using the line for EU citizens at passport control.

So, I started doing some research. There are three routes to Italian citizenship:

Residency – If you’re an EU citizen, you can apply for citizenship after 4 years of official residency in Italy. If you’re a non-EU citizen, you can apply after citizenship after 10 years.

Marriage – You can apply for citizenship after 2 years of marriage to an Italian.

Descent – If you have Italian grandparents or great-grandparents you can apply for citizenship. You need to be able to prove that your ancestor was born in Italy and never renounced their Italian citizenship.

The residency and marriage routes also require a language certificate – B1 (pre-intermediate) Italian. You can see some examples of official Italian exam papers here, if you’re curious. I thought some of the B1 questions were quite tricky, but that’s because my grammar is appalling.

I’ve been weighing up the pros and cons of seeking citizenship through these routes, and they all come with complications.

Residency – I only have 3 years of residency, not the 4 years required to apply now. Of course, post-Brexit, I’ll no longer be an EU citizen, which means I’ll have to wait till I have 10 years of residency. If only I’d got official residency sooner! If only Boris Johnson had never been born! We’d all be better off. Oh well. Too late…

Marriage – An option, but Valeriano and I are toing and froing on this – if, when, how. He also thinks it’s unfair that I could get Italian citizenship through marrying him, but he couldn’t get British citizenship through marrying me. Anyway, even if we do go down this route, I’ll still have to wait a couple of years before I can even apply.

Descent – My great-grandparents (on my mother’s side) were from Naples. I’m pretty sure I would qualify for citizenship, but proving it might be difficult. My mother thinks the records office in Naples was bombed during the war. I have to do more research on exactly what documents are required before going ahead.

At this point, I should probably just wait and see what happens after Brexit. I’m not going to suddenly be kicked out of the country, so I might as well relax. I’m a legal resident of Rome. I have British and Canadian citizenship. I’m all right.

(On a side note, citizenship might also be an issue in the future, if we have children. My parents were born in Canada and Kenya, and I was born in Australia. My mother applied for me to have British citizenship by descent, rather than the regular kind. This means that if I give birth abroad and the father of the child is not British, my child will not have British citizenship. Which is a problem. Or is it? I don’t even know any more.)

Anyway, if I’m honest with myself, all of this research on citizenship is probably just a way to procrastinate, instead of tackling the next big challenge of living in Italy – learning to drive. We’ve just got a car, so I don’t even have that excuse any more. Also, if I have to do the Italian language exam to get citizenship at some point in the future, I’m sure the experience of learning to drive in Rome will be excellent preparation. Incrocio, semaforo, mortacci tua. All that useful driving vocabulary.

More information on citizenship

How to become an Italian citizen

How to obtain Italian citizenship

Do you qualify for Italian dual citizenship?

Facebook groups can also be helpful – I’m a member of Applying for Italian citizenship – British in Italy.

Some blog posts

Kristen Suzanne – applying for Italian citizenship through descent as a US citizen living in Italy

Ciao Bologna – applying for Italian citizenship through descent as a US Citizen living in Italy

Traveling Jersey Girl – applying for Italian citizenship through descent as a US citizen living in the US

Our Italian Journey – applying for Italian citizenship through descent as US citizens living in the US

The Limonata Lounge – applying for Italian citizenship through marriage as a US citizen living in Italy

Italian Belly – applying for Italian citizenship through marriage as a Canadian citizen

Mums Do Travel – applying for Italian citizenship through marriage as a UK citizen living in the UK

I haven’t come across any posts about people applying for citizenship as residents – everything seems to be through marriage or descent. Please share your own experiences in the comments!