How to Get Citizenship in Italy

Updated on Tuesday 03rd August 2021

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One of the main reasons foreigners move to Italy is to obtain citizenship. Italy is one of the most appealing European countries to move to thanks to good employment possibilities coming to Europe for this purpose, but also because of the numerous investment opportunities this country offers.

No matter the reason why one decides to immigrate to Italy, citizenship can be acquired after a specific period of time. The only question most people ask remains ‘How long does it take to get Italian citizenship?’. The answer is that it depends on the chosen immigration route.

Below, our immigration lawyers in Italy explain how long it takes to obtain Italian citizenship based on the way one enters the country. We will first help you obtain a residence permit in Italy.

The main ways to obtain citizenship in Italy in 2021 

Those wondering how long it takes to acquire an Italian passport should first understand that there are several ways in which citizenship can be obtained. These are:
  1. by means of a residence permit which implies living for a few years in Italy before being granted citizenship;
  2. by means of employment which implies working in Italy in order to obtain citizenship (there are various types of work permits which can be obtained);
  3. by naturalization which implies a complicated procedure, however, it is quite easy to obtain;
  4. by marrying an Italian citizen which implies completing various formalities in order to become an Italian citizen;
  5. by investment which is one of the most popular ways of immigrating to Italy as a non-EU citizen;
  6. by obtaining various types of visas, such as family reunification permits, however, these are not that often employed.

If you are interested in immigration in Italy and need support, our lawyers can guide you. They can also answer any question related to how long it takes to obtain citizenship in Italy.

The main ways of obtaining Italian citizenship are presented in the infographic below:
How to Obtain Italian Citizenship

Types of visas through which Italian citizenship can be acquired

When it comes to how to get citizenship in Italy, it is important to note that most visas can be a way to this means. Foreign citizens from non-EU and non-EEA countries can apply for various types of visas and wait for the necessary period of time until they are granted permanent residency followed by citizenship.

Except for tourist visas, any other type of residence permit, for short and long residency, can be a good way to get citizenship in Italy. One of the greatest benefits of immigrating to Italy is that even student visas can be converted to employment permits which enable immigrants to increase their chances to Italian passports provided that they want to live here permanently.

If you have any questions on how to get citizenship in Italy and the best visa for it, our immigration lawyers are at your service with detailed answers. We can also advise on how to apply for a residence permit in Italy.

EU citizens applying for Italian passports

As an EU country, Italy offers various advantages to citizens of other member states seeking to obtain citizenship here. However, some of the mandatory living requirements apply to EU citizens just as in the case of those moving here from non-EU countries.

EU citizens have the right to apply for citizenship in Italy after living here for 4 years based on a permanent residence permit.

If you want to immigrate to Italy as an EU citizen and need assistance in preparing the documents, you can rely on our specialists who are at your service with complete services.

How to get citizenship in Italy as a non-EU citizen

Non-EU citizens are bound to first apply for one of the temporary or long-term permanent residence permits issued by the Italian authorities prior to applying for citizenship in Italy. They must also live in this country for longer periods of time compared to EU citizens, however, they have access to the Citizenship by Investment Scheme through which can take up citizenship sooner than through traditional means.

Non-EU citizens interested in how to get citizenship in Italy should know that through temporary residence permits, they must live for at least 5 years here before being granted permanent residency. Citizenship will be granted to this category of applicants after living in Italy for 10 years.

Italy is one of the most welcoming countries in Europe when it comes to the integration of foreign citizens seeking to move here permanently and then obtain citizenship. It is also one of the most sought countries among those that offer investor visas for non-EU citizens.

If you have questions about Italian citizenship, we will be more than happy to answer them.

Obtaining citizenship in Italy through a residence permit

Foreign citizens from non-EU countries can relocate to Italy by applying for a temporary or permanent residence permit. EU citizens do not need to obtain such a visa in order to immigrate to Italy. Even if this not one of the fastest routes to obtaining Italian citizenship, it is definitely one of the most secure.

In order answer the question on how long it takes to obtain Italian citizenship by means of residence, we can say that for non-EU citizens the minimum period of living in Italy is established at 10 years, while for EU citizens the minimum period is of 4 years.

The same timeframe must be complied with when coming to Italy based on an employment visa.

Our immigration lawyers in Italy can help those who want to obtain residence permits with the purpose of obtaining Italian citizenship.

How long does it take to obtain Italian citizenship by naturalization?

A foreign citizen who has Italian parents or grandparents who have not lost Italian citizenship can apply themselves for an Italian passport as soon as they can prove their ties with the Italian citizens. When it comes to foreign citizens with descendants who have lost Italian citizenship, these must live in Italy based on a residence permit for at least 3 years.

The video below offers a short presentation on how to apply for Italian citizenship


How long does it take to obtain an Italian passport by marriage?

Those who have married Italian citizens and want to know how long it takes to obtain Italian citizenship for themselves, the answer is that it depends on where the marriage was concluded. For those who have married an Italian citizen in Italy, the waiting period is 2 years. During this time, the applicant must have lived in Italy with an Italian spouse.

For those registering their marriage with an Italian citizen abroad, the waiting period to apply for Italian citizenship is 3 years.

Our immigration lawyers can explain the documents you need to provide when applying for citizenship in Italy.

How long does it take to obtain citizenship by investment in Italy?

Non-EU citizens disposing of at least 500,000 euros can apply for citizenship by investment through which residency can be obtained within 6 months. Then, the route to Italian citizenship will take the usual 10 years.

If you are considering Italy as your future home country, you are making the right decision considering that:
  • in 2016, Italy granted the largest number of citizenships in the entire European Union (1/5 out of 1 million EU citizenships);
  • Rome approved 201,600 citizenship requests, 23,600 more than in 2015;
  • at an EU level, 994,800 foreigners have obtained citizenship in all member states;
  • in 2017, the number of immigrants in Italy increased by 14.5% compared to 2016, according to Istat.

Special laws regarding citizenship in Italy

When inquiring about how to get citizenship in Italy, one should know that the government has passed several special laws regarding specific categories of persons who can be granted Italian passports.

Among these laws are:
  • Law No. 379 of December 2000;
  • Law no. 124 of March 2006.

Law No. 379/2000 provides for the right to Italian citizenship of individuals living in former territories of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and their descendants. In order to get citizenship based on this special law, the applicant must submit proof of birth and residence of their ancestors living in the respective territories after being annexed to Italy at the end of World War I.

Law No. 124/2006 provides for recognition of Italian citizenship of the following two categories of applicants:
  • Italian citizens and their descendants of Italian citizens living in Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty of Paris of 1947;
  • Italian citizens and their descendants living in the former territory of Trieste until 1977, in accordance with the provisions of the Osimo Treaty of 1975.

The applications can be filed with an Italian consulate or embassy in case of foreign citizens living abroad or with the local municipality in the case of those living in Italy. No matter, the applications will be analyzed case-by-case and a special committee will decide if the citizenship requirements are met.

If you need more information on how to get citizenship in Italy, our immigration lawyers are at your service with detailed information.

Obtaining Italian citizenship is not easier or harder compared to other countries in Europe, however, Italy has specific integration policies that help migrants adapt to the national regulations easier.

The government has even introduced special regulation meant to help asylum-seekers. In their case, special support can also be provided by our immigration lawyers in Italy. We can assist during the document processing period and can offer advice on how to proceed further. Italian citizenship is available under specific laws which can be explained by our lawyers.

How to become an Italian national?

There are various ways through which an individual can become an Italian national and these are the main ones:
by blood right (descent):  a child born to an Italian parent, mother or father, is also an Italian national; before 1948, it was not possible for an Italian mother to transfer citizenship to her child; furthermore, a child born in Italy of stateless or unknown parents is also automatically Italian;
by adoption: the right to nationality is extended to any child who was adopted by an Italian citizen (even for those adopted abroad, if rendered valid in Italy by means of an order from the Juvenile Court); 
by marriage to an Italian national: it can only be denied to those having a serious criminal record (either outside of Italy or on its territory) or to those considered to be a threat to the public safety and national security; no language tests are required for the future spouse to pass, but it is necessary that the marriage lasts through the process of application for Italian nationality;
by residency: Italian nationality can be granted to non-EU citizens who have been legally residing in Italy for ten years; for EU citizens it can be awarded (under certain conditions) after only four years.
What is more, it is no longer required to choose between your parents' nationality and Italian, because the Italian state now accepts dual nationality ("doppi doppia cittadinanza").
Our lawyers in Italy can be of help in providing you with further details on how to obtain Italian nationality and on other legal issues that you may face.

The process of applying for Italian nationality in 2021 

If you wish to acquire Italian nationality, you have to apply to the Minister of the Interior ("Ministro degli Interni") by means of the commune's mayor from the area you live or abroad, through the local Italian consulate. A tax must be paid and you must also swear loyalty to the Italian state and future observance of the Italian constitution and laws. Depending on the type of application, you will have to submit some documents such as:
  • birth certificate;
  • certificate of residence (if it is the case);
  • certificate of Italian citizenship of mother or father (where requested);
  • certificate of criminal record (or certified lack of one);
  • marriage certificate.
The rules of obtaining Italian citizenship have been maintained throughout 2021 as well, so those who are familiarized with the applicable law in the field do not have to consider new rules; however, for those who want to apply for Italian citizenship in 2021, our immigration lawyers in Italy are ready provide legal advice and assistance on any procedure that can be of interest, as well as on the extensive set of documents that has to be prepared in this sense. 

The main benefits of Italian citizenship

Here are the 7 most important benefits of obtaining Italian citizenship:
  1. the possibility of working in Italy and the other 27 member states of the European Union;
  2. the possibility of studying in Italy, but also in other EU member states of the EU;
  3. the access to buying real estate in Italy based on the golden visa program or simple acquisition of citizenship;
  4. dual citizenship is also possible for those who want to retain their initial citizenship;
  5. the possibility of starting a business as an Italian citizen and obtaining various tax benefits;
  6. access to moving freely across Europe (the European Union and Schengen area);
  7. access to educational services and to the national healthcare system in Italy.

If you need information on the main ways in which you can access Italian citizenship, our immigration lawyers are at your disposal with complete information and assistance.

1. Work and live in Italy

The most important benefit of obtaining Italian citizenship is the possibility of living and working in Italy stress-free. Once you become an Italian citizen, you will no longer need to think about visa renewal periods. Also, Italian citizenship grants access to all other EU member states.

2. Study in Italy

Non-EU citizens who move to Italy based on a study visa can remain here after finishing their studies. We mention this as a benefit of obtaining Italian citizenship because Italy is the only EU state which offers the right to convert a student visa into an employment residence permit.

If you plan on immigrating to Italy based on a student visa, our lawyers can help you.

3. Access to real estate ownership

The possibility of buying and owning a property in Italy is one of the major benefits of Italian citizenship and even if this is possible through the residence by investment scheme for non-EU citizens, it implies the obligation of purchasing a property of a specific value, however, being an Italian citizen when starting the acquisition procedure will no longer imply such a requirement.

4. Dual citizenship

For the citizens of certain countries, dual citizenship is possible even after obtaining an Italian passport. This will bring them rights in both countries. If you need information on dual citizenship matters, our immigration lawyers in Italy can guide you.

We offer various expat services to our clients, so you can reach out if you have any questions or unclarities related to Italy immigration.

5. Start a business and obtain tax benefits

Entrepreneurship is one of the most important advantages of obtaining citizenship in Italy, as it is easier to start a company as a citizen of this country. Apart from this, you will be able to access various tax benefits.

6. Freedom of movement

As an Italian citizen, you will be allowed to travel freely to all European and Schengen area countries. This a great benefit from non-EU citizens choosing to apply for citizenship in Italy. Our lawyers can explain all the requirements for non-EU citizens who want to immigrate to Italy and obtain citizenship.

7. Access to good education and healthcare

Italy has some of the best education and healthcare systems in Europe and all its citizens have access to them. This is also a right automatically acquired once a foreigner becomes an Italian citizen. Also, you will obtain voting rights once you are a citizen of Italy.

According to a survey published by the European Commission in March 2019:
  • 4.4 million people immigrated to one of the EU states during 2017;
  • out of these 4.4 million persons, approximately 2 million were non-EU citizens, while 1,3 million were EU citizens moving from one country to another;
  • out of all these immigrants, Italy welcomed a total of 343,000 individuals;
  • among the 343,000 immigrants, 240,000 were non-EU citizens.

Immigration services offered by our lawyers in Italy

Those who want to immigrate to Italy should know that the procedure is not complicated, however, the requirements depend on the country of origin of the applicant. Also, the documents required to be presented with the Italian authorities depend on the case. This is why asking for legal help from our immigration lawyers in Italy can significantly ease your situation.

Our Italian immigration lawyers will offer specialized assistance tailored to your case, so you can benefit from a fast and secure application procedure. We can also help with the preparation of all the documents related to applying for Italian citizenship.

For complete information on how long it takes to obtain Italian citizenship, please contact our immigration lawyers.