How to Obtain Italian Citizenship by Marriage

Updated on Monday 02nd March 2020

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There are several ways in which Italian citizenship can be obtained. Among these, the easiest way is to obtain an Italian residence permit and wait for the 5 or 10-year period of time during which permanent residency is granted and then apply for an Italian passport, and the residence by investment programs under which certain conditions must be fulfilled in order to obtain Italian citizenship.

One of the easiest ways of obtaining Italian citizenship is by marriage to an Italian citizen. The foreign spouse of the Italian citizen must comply with a few requirements related to obtaining Italian citizenship by marriage, however, these are not very stringent.

Below, our immigration lawyers in Italy explain in detail how to acquire citizenship by marriage in Italy. Foreign citizens can also apply for a residence permit with our help if they are interested in immigrating to Italy in other ways. You can also rely on us for assistance in obtaining Italian citizenship.
 

The main ways for acquiring Italian citizenship


Foreign citizens who want to immigrate to Italy can apply for residence permits based on which they can later obtain citizenship. The following means can be employed for obtaining an Italian passport:
 
  1. through a student or employment visa by converting them into residence permits;
  2. through retirement in Italy – foreign citizens with certain incomes can retire and live in Italy permanently, then becoming citizens of this country;
  3. through a residence by investment program under which non-EU citizens can acquire Italian citizenship;
  4. through marriage to an Italian citizen which is one of the simplest ways of acquiring Italian citizenship.

Italian citizenship by marriage is available for both EU and non-EU citizens interested in immigrating to this country.

With the help of our immigration lawyers in Italy, obtaining citizenship by marriage can be subject to a speedier procedure.
 

Foreigners marrying Italian citizens


There are several requirements that need to be complied with when seeking to obtain Italian citizenship by marriage. Law No. 91 which was amended several times until now, provides for the following conditions for foreigners applying for an Italian passport after marrying an Italian citizen. These are:
 
  •           the marriage was concluded in an Italian city in which at least one of the spouses resides;
  •           marriages registered abroad can also be recognized, if the Italian citizen or resident is registered with the Italian Embassy or Consulate in that country;
  •           the foreign spouse can obtain Italian citizenship within 2 years if the marriage was registered in Italy;
  •           the foreign spouse can obtain Italian citizenship by marriage if the marriage was registered in another country.

If the couple has children of their own or adopts children, the waiting period for the foreign spouse to obtain Italian citizenship by marriage will be reduced. The same principle applies if both spouses are foreign citizens, but they are Italian residents.

Our Italian immigration lawyers can advise on the main ways of obtaining Italian citizenship, including by marriage.
 

Requirements for foreigner obtaining Italian citizenship by marriage


In December 2018, the Italian government has brought two major changes to the legislation under which foreign citizens can acquire Italian citizenship by marriage. The most important one refers to the waiting time in which the processing of the application occurs, and which has been raised from 24 months to 48 months. The second one refers to the Italian language test to be sustained by the foreign spouse applying for citizenship by marriage in Italy. Under the new regulations, the foreign spouse must have a B1 level of the Italian language when undertaking the citizenship interview.

Our immigration attorneys in Italy can offer more information on the new requirements applicable to foreign citizens seeking to obtain Italian citizenship by marriage.

You can read about the advantages of obtaining Italian citizenship by marriage in the scheme below:
 
The advantages of Italian citizenship by marriage

 

Documents needed when applying for Italian citizenship by marriage


The set of documents needed when applying for Italian citizenship via marriage is made of:
 
  •           the application form which must be printed and filled out and signed before the authorities;
  •           the valid passport and the driver’s license (if any), in original and copies;
  •           the marriage certificate which must not be more than 6 months older, in original;
  •           the proof of residency in Italy for the foreign spouse (a recent utility bill will suffice);
  •           the birth certificate of the applicant, in original, but also a certified translated copy;
  •           the copy of the applicant’s criminal record (a clean criminal record is mandatory);
  •           the divorce decree (where applicable) or a no divorce declaration is also required.

An application fee must also be paid, and the receipt must be appended to the dossier.

Our lawyers who specialize in helping those who want to immigrate to Italy can guide in the preparation of the documents which need to be filed when applying for Italian citizenship by marriage.
 

Steps before registering a marriage in Italy


Those who want to obtain Italian citizenship by marriage are subject to various requirements that differ for those who got married in Italy or outside the country. The Italian authorities will first complete a few steps in order to establish if the foreign spouse qualifies for Italian citizenship.

The first procedure implies verifying if the Italian city hall has any records of the marriage, in the case of those getting married in Italy. If not, the records of the consulate must have proof of the foreign citizen residing in Italy for the required period of time in order to start processing the citizenship application. Also, the Italian spouse must be registered with the Registry of Italian Citizens Residing Abroad (AIRE).

These are the conditions both spouses must respect in order for the foreign one to be allowed to apply for Italian citizenship by marriage.

Our lawyers can also help those interested in immigrating to Italy by other means.
 

Registration with the AIRE of the Italian spouse


As mentioned above, when the marriage between an Italian citizen and a foreign one has concluded abroad, the Italian citizen must be registered with the Registry of Italian Citizens Residing Abroad (AIRE) in order for the marriage to be validated in Italy and the foreign spouse to apply for Italian citizenship.

The AIRE system was introduced in 1988 and is meant to keep records of all Italian citizens living abroad. Italian citizens are required to register with AIRE with the Italian consulate or embassy in the country he or she is living. Those who registered with AIRE will have a file with the last address they were living at both in Italy and the foreign country.

The respective address will be used when the foreign spouse will apply for Italian citizenship by marriage. The documents are also available with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Italy.
 
AIRE registration becomes mandatory once an Italian citizen lives outside his/her home country for more than 12 months.

If you have any questions about AIRE registration, our immigration lawyers in Italy are at your disposal with detailed information.
 

The interview for Italian citizenship


One of the steps for obtaining Italian citizenship by marriage is for the foreign spouse to undergo an interview with the Italian authorities. The procedure is rather simple, however, the applicant must consider some documents he or she must bring along. Among these:
 
  • his/her passport, but also the Italian spouse’s passport;
  • proof of residence;
  • a declaration through which the spouses declare they are still married;
  • the birth certificate of the applicant (the original and apostilled copy are required);
  • the marriage registration certificate in original;
  • the criminal record of the applicant in original;
  • the Italian language certificate (a B1 level is necessary to pass the interview);
  • proof of payment of the consular fee.

After the interview, the authorities will process the application and return with an answer in a maximum of 4 months.

Through our expat services, foreign citizens can benefit from assistance in preparing for citizenship interviews.
 

Assistance in applying for Italian citizenship by marriage


Foreign citizens interested in obtaining Italian citizenship by marriage can rely on our immigration specialists in Italy. We will guide you through the procedure and will explain how to prepare for the interview with the immigration officers.

At the moment the foreign spouse applies for Italian citizenship, at least one of the following requirements must be met:
 
  • the couple must have been married for a minimum of 2 years if they live in Italy;
  • the marriage must have been registered for at least 3 years if the spouses live outside the country;
  • if the spouses live abroad but have children, the foreign spouse can apply for citizenship after one and a half years;
  • the couple must remain married for at least 2 years after the foreign spouse has obtained Italian citizenship.

It is important to know that starting with 2015, the applications for citizenship by marriage in Italy must be filed online and women must use their maiden name when lodging the forms.
Please feel free to contact us for any questions you have related to obtaining Italian citizenship by marriage. We can also help you immigrate to Italy by other means, such as investment or work contract.