Requirements requested by Italian law in order to obtain recognition of Italian citizenship by descent.
In this article we will explain how Italian law regulates citizenship by descent.
One of the questions we are asked most frequently by our clients is about what requirements are requested by Italian law in order to obtain recognition of Italian citizenship by descent.
Here are some examples:
Paolo asks us: “My great-great-grandfather was Italian, can I obtain Italian citizenship by descent?”
Francesca asks: “My cousin was able to obtain Italian citizenship, can I get an Italian passport?”
Antonio asks: “My great grandfather was Italian, but he was naturalized after my grandmother was born, can I still request recognition of citizenship?
Now that you have a clear idea of how popular the topic is, we will try to answer the questions asked by Paolo, Francesca and Antonio, and everyone who might have doubts about this topic.
Italian legislation, dating back to the Civil Code of 1865, has always used the principle of ius sanguinis with regards to citizenship. Article 4 of the Civil Code of 1865 stated that: “A child of a citizen father is also a citizen”. Later, law n. 555 of 1912, in article 1 comma 1 stated that: “A child of a citizen father is a citizen by birth”. This principle is then confirmed in law n. 91 of 1992.
In other words, Italian citizenship is transmitted from parents to children with no generational limitations. Italian citizenship is also transmitted from mother to child. (We suggest you read the article in which we explain the historical evolution of this institution.)
Furthermore, Italian law does not give any limits on generations, meaning that citizenship is transmitted from father to child or mother to child, who in turn transmit it to their descendants without limitations.
Now that you understand how the principle of ius sanguinis works, it is easy to assume that anyone who has a direct ancestor who is or was an Italian citizen is essentially eligible to obtain recognition of Italian citizenship.
Why essentially eligible? Because for citizenship to be transmitted from parents to children it is necessary that there was no interruption.
Remember that only the son or daughter of an Italian citizen is eligible to be recognised as an Italian citizen, whatever the country of birth.
Let’s look an example. Francesco, son of Italian parents, is born in Treviso in 1890. In 1910 Francesco moves to Saint Paul, where he marries Maria (Brazilian citizen). From the wedlock of Francesco and Maria, Luigi is born in 1914. Luigi, even though he was born in Brazil, can be recognised as an Italian citizen because son of an Italian citizen, as stated by law n. 555 of 1912.
What happens if Francesco is naturalized as a Brazilian citizen before Luigi is born?
The son cannot obtain recognition of Italian citizenship by descent, because the father lost his citizenship due to the naturalization.
What if Francesco is naturalized as a Brazilian citizen after the birth of Luigi?
In this case, the line of descent was not interrupted, and Luigi can obtain recognition of Italian citizenship, because he is “son of an Italian father”, as foreseen by Italian legislation.
The fundamental aspect is that at the moment of birth, the parent was an Italian citizen. The subsequent naturalization of the father does not exclude the son from requesting recognition of Italian citizenship.
What we have just explained represents the fundamental basis in understanding if the descendant of an Italian citizen has the requisites to obtain recognition of Italian citizenship.
Summing up, with regards to citizenship by descent, it is fundamental that there was never an interruption in the transmission. In terms of the naturalization that we just discussed, if it took place before the birth of a child, it interrupts the transmission of citizenship. Naturalization that takes place after the birth of a child does not interrupt descent.
Therefore, in the evaluation of eligibility to obtain recognition of Italian citizenship by descent, you need to verify that at the time of birth of a descendant, the father (Italian ancestor) was still an Italian citizen. This is proven through a Certificate of non-naturalization that confirms that the Italian citizen was not naturalized or was naturalized after the birth of their child.
Let’s go back to our example of Francesco who emigrated to Brazil. Proof is provided through a CNN(Negative Naturalization Certificate) issued by Brazilian authorities.
In this evaluation it is also important to prove that Francesco or any of his direct descendants have never renounced Italian citizenship. The explicit renunciation by Francesco or any of his direct descendants amounts to the interruption of transmission.
How is renunciation of Italian citizenship proven? You need to contact the Italian Consulate of the city where the person you are asking about lived and ask if they have any requests for renouncement.
If you have any doubts or questions or are not sure if you have the needed requirements to obtain recognition of Italian citizenship by descent, please contact one of our lawyers specialized in Italian citizenship by descent to receive a consultation.