Italian Consulates Citizenship Process

The Role of Italian Consulates in the Citizenship Process

If you are residing abroad and wish to obtain Italian citizenship, this article will briefly explain why and when it is necessary to turn to Italian consulates abroad. Before we begin, we remind you that you can consult another article on our blog for an introductory and general overview of Italian citizenship.

What is the Role of Italian Consulates?

Italian consulates generally play several fundamental roles in various matters related to Italian citizenship. Some of the main tasks include:

  • Issuance and renewal of the Italian Passport: an essential document for Italian citizens residing abroad
  • Management of civil status registers for Italians abroad (information on births, marriages, and deaths of Italian citizens residing in their jurisdiction)
  • Involvement in the processes of acquisition or re-acquisition of Italian citizenship (information and assistance regarding the requirements and procedures to obtain or recover Italian citizenship)
  • Authentication of signatures, certificates, and other legal documents and provision of legalization services for Italian documents to be used abroad
  • Advice and information on the rights and responsibilities of Italian citizens abroad, on Italian legislation relating to citizenship, and more.

Please note. The functions and services offered specifically may vary from consulate to consulate, depending on jurisdiction and local legislation.

What are the Main Consular Services for Citizenship?

  • Instructions for submitting online the application for Italian citizenship by marriage/civil union with Italian citizens. When applying for Italian citizenship (as provided in articles 5 and 9 of Law number 91 of 1992), it is necessary to proceed exclusively electronically (to the consular authority competent for the territory) through the ALI portal of the Ministry of the Interior. The applicant must fill out and submit the citizenship application online, completing it with the required documentation.
  • Indication of the necessary documentation for the recognition of Italian citizenship iure sanguinis for adults. Given the complexity of the matter, the consulate can assist in identifying the necessary documents to produce before sending the application (you can use the consulate’s email, providing your full personal details and attaching any documentation in possession). There are consular fees (always case by case, in relation to the consulate of reference) for handling these applications for the recognition of Italian citizenship submitted by adult individuals.
  • Instructions for requesting the renunciation of Italian citizenship. Article 11 of Law 91 of 1992 indeed provides that Italian citizens can voluntarily renounce Italian citizenship (in case of transferring their residence abroad and holding another or other citizenships).
  • Application for uninterrupted possession of Italian citizenship. Italian women married to foreign citizens after January 1, 1948, who lost Italian citizenship due to Law number 555 of 1912, can request and obtain uninterrupted maintenance of Italian citizenship, applying to the Italian Municipality of residence, or to the Consular Authority if residing abroad. If a foreign citizenship is acquired, it is necessary to communicate the naturalization of Italian citizens by sending a photocopy of the “Naturalization Decision” accompanied by a photocopy of an identity document to the email address of their consulate of reference.

In Which Ways of Obtaining Citizenship are Italian Consulates Abroad Involved?

Remembering that the matter of citizenship falls within the competence of the Italian Ministry of the Interior, let’s now briefly see, for each way of obtaining Italian citizenship, the role played by Italian consulates.

In citizenship by descent (“ius sanguinis”, Article 1 of Law number 91 of 1992)

When it comes to recognizing citizenship for foreigners descending from an Italian ancestor who emigrated to countries where ius soli prevails, it is necessary to demonstrate descent from the emigrated ancestor (the first to hold the status of citizen) and prove the absence of interruptions in the transmission of citizenship (certificate of non-foreign naturalization of the ancestor before the birth of the child, no renunciation of Italian citizenship by further descendants before the birth of the next generation, etc.) According to circular number K.28.1 of 1991 of the Ministry of the Interior, the authority competent to carry out the verifications is determined based on the place of residence: for residents abroad, it is the territorially competent Consular Office.

In citizenship by marriage or civil union.

The foreign spouse or stateless person of an Italian citizen can acquire Italian citizenship according to articles 5, 6, 7, and 8 of law number 91 of 1992. From August 1, 2015, residents abroad must submit the application for Italian citizenship electronically, following the new procedure established by the competent Ministry of the Interior. It is necessary to register on the dedicated portal, named ALI .

To more easily identify the territorially competent diplomatic-consular Representation, there is a link on the internet address previously indicated that allows, after selecting the state of residence, to choose the competent Representation through a list that includes the entire diplomatic-consular network of the selected country. The applicant must fill in all the fields provided by the form and insert the mandatory documents indicated by the Ministry of the Interior to make the request for citizenship (we remind the EU regulation number 1191 of 2016, which came into force on February 16, 2019, that provides for the exemption from legalization provided that the public documents are issued to a citizen of the Union by the authorities of his Member State of citizenship). The documents legalized by the Italian diplomatic-consular authority or, in any case, to be presented to it are:

Birth certificate extract or equivalent (except exemptions provided for States adhering to international conventions -Apostille- or agreements). The act and any marginal annotations about the change of personal details (name, surname) must be attached and must also be accompanied by the respective translation. Furthermore, the translator’s signature must be legalized by the consular authority (or apostilled).

Criminal Record Certificate from the country of origin, any third countries of residence, and countries of citizenship

Copy of the marriage certificate (or extract), to be requested from the competent Italian Municipality where the act was transcribed. It must be presented at the time of the summons at the Consular Offices. If you are an EU citizen, you can use self-certification (according to the DPR number 445 of 2000);

Certificate of knowledge of the Italian language not lower than level B1

After submitting the application electronically, the applicant is summoned by the diplomatic-consular Representation to be identified and to carry out all other necessary formalities, including the collection (with the originals) of the documents attached to the application made online and any other document useful for the investigation.

If the applicant is a citizen of a country not adhering to the European Union, there is an exemption from presenting the extract of the marriage certificate, the certificate of family status, and the certificate of Italian citizenship of the spouse, only in the case where these acts are already in possession of the diplomatic-consular Representation.

It is remembered that, according to the directive of the Minister of the Interior of March 7, 2012, from June 1, 2012, the competence for issuing decrees granting citizenship belongs to the Prefect (in case of applications submitted by the foreigner legally residing in Italy), to the Head of the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration (if the foreign spouse has residence abroad) or to the Minister of the Interior (if there are reasons related to the security of the Republic).

It is useful, for any other information, to consult the website of the competent Representation for residence. From February 11, 2017, it is also possible to submit online requests for Italian citizenship, for foreign citizens who have established a civil union with an Italian citizen/a (transcribed in the civil status registers of the Italian Municipality).

In the granting of citizenship for special merits (Article 9, second paragraph of Law number 91 of 1992)

In this case, citizenship is granted by Decree of the President of the Republic, after consulting the State Council and upon deliberation of the Council of Ministers. The proposal is made by the Minister of the Interior, together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The foreign applicant must have rendered eminent services to Italy, or there must be an exceptional interest of the State. This procedure is initiated not at the impulse of the interested party, but by a proposal made by entities, public personalities, associations, etc., that evaluate the existence of the requirements provided by law in the citizen. It is clear that, then, the declaration of consent of the latter must be acquired. The presidential decree granting Italian citizenship has no effect if the subject, residing abroad, does not swear allegiance to the Republic at the competent Consular Office (as provided by Art.10 of Law number 91 of 1992).

In the recognition of Italian citizenship according to special laws.

For example, Law number 379 of 2000 or number 124 of 2006. The application must be submitted to the Italian consular office (in case of residence abroad) or to the Italian Municipality (in case of residence in Italy).

In cases of loss of citizenship.

The loss of citizenship can be automatic or occur through formal renunciation. In all cases, the declaration of renunciation of citizenship must be made, if residing abroad, at the competent consular office. Attention. Women who, following January 1, 1948, automatically acquired a foreign citizenship (due to marriage with foreign citizens or due to the foreign naturalization of the Italian-born husband) do NOT lose Italian citizenship. To make the necessary marginal annotations on the civil status acts, it is necessary for the interested parties (or their descendants) to declare, at the competent consular offices, the will to maintain it (“declaration of uninterrupted possession”).

In the case of reacquisition of citizenship (Article 13 of law number 91 of 1992).

The citizen, residing abroad, who has lost citizenship can acquire it again through a declaration at the competent consular office (if he establishes his residence in Italy within a year from the declaration). Another case is represented by women married to foreigners before January 1, 1948, who, due to marriage, automatically acquired the citizenship of the spouse and, therefore, lost Italian citizenship. Well, they can reacquire it, even if residing abroad, always with a declaration of reacquisition of citizenship to be made at the competent consular office.


We hope to have clarified the role played by Italian consulates in the procedures for obtaining citizenship. If you want clarifications and wish to be supported in carrying out your practice, you can contact one of our lawyers specialized in Italian citizenship matters.

Dott.ssa Elena Capodacqua

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