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Ius sanguinis

(Art. 1, Law No. 91/1992)

The procedure to apply for jure sanguinis citizenship can be carried out at the Italian Consulate of the foreign country where the applicant resides, or in Italy. 

If the citizenship application process is filed in Italy, you might need to move to Italy for the duration of the procedure (in order to be available in case public administration requires it; as main duties related to the process are personal and cannot be delegated to third parties). Immediately after your arrival in Italy, you must declare your presence in the country (“dichiarazione di presenza”) at the Municipality where the procedure will be carried out indicating your residence address. Then you must appear in person before the “Preffettura” on the date fixed in order to get paperwork checked. 

Duration of citizenship recognition under administrative law is not predictable at all, since in 2018 the Italian Government has established that Public Administration has 4 years to decide on said requests.


*** The procedure ***


To apply for jure sanguinis citizenship the applicant must show that he/she has an Italian ascendant and that citizenship chain has not been interrupted.


To this end, you must gather all the required documentation: birth, marriage and death certificates of all ascendants in the same line of kinship up to the applicant for citizenship; certificate stating “the absence of loss of Italian citizenship” by the Italian ascendant (e.g.: a letter from a State Public Department such as an Electoral Office or the National Naturalization Record stating that the ascendant never acquired the citizenship of the Country to which he/she emigrated, i.e. that has not lost Italian citizenship. The Electoral Office shall certify, for example, that the person never appeared on voting lists). Otherwise, if the Italian ascendant has lost Italian citizenship, the applicant must present certificates showing that citizenship was lost after the descendant’s birth, who has acquired the right to citizenship and continues with the citizenship chain.


Example of the right chain of transmission:

-> birth of ascendant A (Italian citizen)      

-> marriage of ascendant A with B      

-> birth of ascendant C (son of A + B)      

-> death of ascendant A      

-> marriage of ascendant C with D      

-> birth of ascendant E (son of C + D)      

-> death of ascendant C      

-> marriage of ascendant E with F      

-> etc. ... following the chain up to the applicant for citizenship (you) 


Each descendant must have been born before the death of his or her direct ascendant. 

It does not matter if at any point in his/her life ascendant A (only Italian citizen of the chain) has lost citizenship, what does matter is that his/her child (C) was born before the loss of citizenship of A. 


All certificates issued by foreign Authorities must be legalized and translated by a sworn translator. Legalization is an administrative procedure by which validity is granted to a foreign official document, verifying the authenticity of the signature and the capacity of the signing authority (e.g.: in the case of UK, USA, Spain or Argentina a document it is legalized by apostille). This means that certificates must be legalized only in case they are issued by Official Organizations.


A common question is “does the Apostille expire?” The Apostille does not have an expiration date, but it shall be valid as long as the document is valid. Birth, marriage or death certificates issued in Argentina and in Italy that are legalized, authorized and apostilled have no expiration date; certificates issued in Spain are valid for three months. Therefore, we suggest that you check with the registry of your own country, or even better, of the city or town where the citizenship process is carried out so as to avoid expired documentation.


Old certificates often present many errors (typos, names do not match perfectly, birth dates are not correct, etc.). As a result, doubts could arise about the identity of the person in question. in such cases you can request the corresponding Official Department to rectify the document or to issue a certificate stating that the identity of one person indicated in two different documents is the same. 


In the case of jure sanguinis citizenship by female ascendant, when one of the ascendants is a woman and her descendant was born before 1948, a trial must be initiated before the court with jurisdiction in Rome in order to carry out the necessary procedures. 


In common language this is known as the "1948" case.


As widely well known, in 1948 the Italian Constitution established the principle of equal rights between men and women. As there are still legal gaps in some areas of the Italian legal system (including citizenship), a judge’s ruling is necessary for the Court to recognize citizenship.


The duration of the trial can last from 1 to 3 years. 


A power of attorney is required to start the trial. In order to avoid any dispute that may delay and/or block a trial, when the applicant can’t sign the power of attorney in person before the lawyer in Italy, we recommend the issuance of a public deed. However, power to act can be granted by private instrument certified by a notary public. In this second case, as established by the Italian Supreme Court of Appeals (rulings nº 22559 of November 4, 2015; nº 12309 of May 25, 2007; n. Of May 5, 2006, etc.), the following is essential:

1) the power of attorney must be signed in the presence of a notary public;

2) the Notary public must have verified the identity of the parties;

3) points 1) and 2) must arise from the declaration of the notary public attached to the deed.


Minors must be represented by the child’s parent or legal guardian. You should check with the notary public in your country which formalities must be fulfilled in such a case. 


Answers to FAQ: 

- When in the same family line there are several descendants interested in obtaining citizenship, one single process (parental trial) can be initiated. Legal representation shall be collective and simultaneous and, as a result, costs shall be reduced. 

- Our law firm always communicates all updates on the trial. However, all phases of the procedure can be followed using the smartphone app "Giustizia Civile". The app allows checking all the ever-changing circumstances of the trial - except for the name of the parties and the lawyer due to privacy reasons. 

- According to Italian law, a child under 18 years old who has already acquired citizenship automatically acquires citizenship if he/she lives permanently with the parent who has already acquired citizenship, even outside Italy (art. 14 law n. 91 / 1992). Proof of cohabitation must be presented together with the necessary documentation (for example, residence certificates).


Gerardo D'Antuono Attorney at Law


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