With long waits for consular appointments, rules that seem to vary from office to office and the luck of the draw when it comes to getting a consular official who actually knows the law, applying for Italian dual citizenship in the United States can be a time consuming and nerve wracking process. Not to mention: some consular officials go through documents with a fine-toothed comb and will reject you if there is a misspelling of even one letter.
For those seeking an easier process, shorter wait times and a generally more laid back experience (most officials in Italy are much more forgiving with a misspelling), applying directly in Italy might be the best choice. If you are looking to apply for Italian dual citizenship in Italy—and cut out the consulate as middleman—here are the general guidelines to follow:
1. Find a town that’s not too big, and not too small. When I applied for dual citizenship in Italy, I went to Reggio Emilia (where I had already established residence). At under 200,000 residents, it is the ideal size for a town in which you’d want to apply. In 2009, I was the first American ever to apply there—up until then only South Americans of Italian background had applied there. The office wasn’t busy at all, and I waited a grand total of two and a half months from application to passport.
2. Make sure you get your passport stamped at the airport in Italy. This will serve as your official “dichiarazione di presenza” (declaration of presence) and will act in the same capacity as a permit to stay. This is what will allow you to stay legally and unencumbered in Italy as an American citizen for up to 90 days. Hint: if you are coming to Italy from another country and your passport is stamped there en route, you will have to go to your local questura (police station) within 8 days of your arrival to formally declare your presence.
3. Start the residency process as soon as possible. Find a place to stay that will allow you to take up residency. This means it must not be an illegal rental. You need residency in Italy before you can apply for citizenship there—this doesn’t mean you must live in Italy forever. It simply means that in order for you to apply, you must show that you have on good faith started the residency process. This is done at the local anagrafe or vital statistics office and registry.
4. Make sure your home is presentable. The anagrafe will send a few (or just one) officers (known as vigili) to your home to make sure you are really living where you say you are in your rental contract. They will check that it is suitable for use as living quarters and that you’re not scamming the system. All in all, it’s a fairly informal meeting. When the vigile visited me, he and I chatted about New York and shared a coffee.
5. Once the vigili have visited your home, you can start the process for Italian citizenship. You must go to the anagrafe, tell them you wish to apply for citizenship jus sanguinis, hand in your paperwork and receive a receipt. With that receipt you will go to the post office and pick up the kit for a permesso di soggiorno in attesa di cittadinanza (permit to stay while awaiting citizenship). You’ll fill it out, hand in all the requisite documentation and voila! You’ll be granted your permit to stay and you can stay in Italy legally for as long as it takes to receive your passport.
Wait times in Italy are far shorter than they are in the U.S. due to a backlog of stateside applications. Also, Italian consulates are quick to respond to Italian anagrafe offices in Italy and the documents sent back and forth are taken care of pretty quickly.
As a result, applying in Italy can save you time and money, and is certainly a viable option for those seeking hassle-free Italian dual citizenship. If you'd like to apply for Italian dual citizenship in Italy, we can help you cut the consulate.
Since 2005, we've been helping people achieve their dream of obtaining their Italian passport or living, working and studying in Italy.
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