Italian Citizenship “Ius Sanguinis” (by Descent) in Italy - Administrative Way

Generally, the recognition of the possession of Italian Citizenship to foreigners descending from Italian Ancestors (“iure sanguinis”) can be done with a formal request to the Italian Authorities. Citizenship is passed on from the ancestor to the applicant without limitation of generation, on the condition that none of the ancestors in the lineage has ever renounced their citizenship. Children of Italian citizens, born in a foreign State which had granted them citizenship according to the principle of ius soli, retain the Italian citizenship acquired at birth, even if the parents lost it when minors. Therefore, it is necessary to prove that there were no interruption in the transmission of citizenship (failed foreign naturalization of the ancestor before the birth of the children; absence of declarations of renunciation of Italian citizenship by further descendants before the birth of the next generation, thus proving that the transmission of citizenship did not stop). The procedures for recognizing the possession of Italian citizenship iure sanguinis were specifically formalized in circular letter No. K.28.1 of April 8, 1991 of the Ministry for Internal Affairs, the legal validity of which was not affected by the subsequent entry into force of Law No. 91/1992. The recognition procedure develops with the following steps:

  1. To ascertain that lineage started with an Italian ancestor (there are no limits of generations);

  2. to ascertain that the Italian ancestor retained Italian citizenship until the birth of the descendants.

So, when a person claims to be of Italian ancestry, it is necessary to provide proof that all ancestors have maintained the Italian Citizenship status, and therefore passed it on.


Transmission of citizenship through maternal lineage is possible via the standard administrative procedure, if any woman, before the 1st of January 1948, did not give birth to any descendent in the lineage. Otherwise, the applicant will still be able to apply for citizenship, however, in that case, it will have to be requested, but the procedure it would have to be via court and not in the administrative way.


Here following, all cases of transmission of Italian Citizenship Jure Sanguinis:

1. Great Great-Grandfather / Great-Grandfather / Grandfather / Dad / Applicant. When the applicant has only men in the bloodline, s/he will always have the right to Italian citizenship, regardless of generation.

2. Great Great-Grandfather / Great-Grandfather / Grandfather / Mother / Applicant. When the applicant has women in the bloodline, the “mother” as for below, the applicant must be born after 1 January 1948.

3. Great Great-Grandfather / Great-Grandfather / Grandmother / Mother or Father / Applicant. When the applicant has women in the bloodline, the “Grandmother” as for below, the applicant’s mother or father must be born after 1 January 1948.

4. Great Great-Grandfather / Great-Grandmother / Grandmother or Grandfather / Mother or Father / Applicant. When the applicant has women in the bloodline, the “Great Grandmother” as for below the applicant’s grandmother or grandfather have to be born after January 1, 1948.

5. Great Great-Grandmother / Great-Grandmother or Great-Grandfather / Grandmother or Grandfather / Mother or Father / Applicant. When the applicant has women in the bloodline, the “Great Great-Grandmother” as for below the applicant’s Great-Grandmother or Great- Grandfather have to be born after January 1, 1948.


If the case of the Applicant, do not fit in the categories explained in the below examples, s/he would have to go to Court to see her/his right of being Italian Citizen recognised.


The authority competent for carrying out the ascertainment shall be determined according to the place of residence: for those living abroad it is the competent Consular Office having territorial jurisdiction; for residents in Italy it is instead the official Civil Registry office (Ufficio Stato Civile) of the city or town (Comune) of residence. The problem with some Consulate is that in some area the waiting list for the appointments go over the time allow by law for the Public Administration to finalise the actual procedure. So, if the applicant prefer to do this process in Italy, it must be then a resident. The average time forecasted by the Italian Consulates abroad to obtain the Citizenship Iure Sanguinis, it is on average two years. This is the reason why for some procedures, like the Citizenship Iure Sanguinis, being resident in Italy, can be beneficial as the times, in obtaining it from the Italian Local Authority are way shorter (like 3 or 4 months on average, if no doubts or problems arise).


As above confirmed, to apply in Italy, the foreign descendant of Italian Ancestor must request the residence before the Comune, and then, contextually start also the process for the acquisition of citizenship. S/he will need to be regular on the territory.

  1. The Comune will issue the residence immediately upon request, however this is conditional to the check that the local police will carry out in the following days. The residence request will need to be first, as it is propaedeutic to the Citizenship Application.

  2. An Italian Tax Code (Codice Fiscale) will be needed;

  3. If the house it is rented, renting agreement and registration before the Tax Authority, will be needed;

  4. If the applicant is a guest in a property, a statement by the owner and the cadastral plans will be needed.

  5. Once filed the residence application, it will be possible to go back to the civil registry and request to start the procedure of acquisition of the Italian Citizenship after 48hrs.

  6. The applicant would need to attend in person also this phase of the procedure at the Comune. The request to start the process will be addressed to the Mayor. The documents for the recognition of citizenship by descent do not have an expiration date. On this phase the applicant will have to submit to the Comune the following documentation: Application form duly completed and to be signed in front of the officer; Residence Certificate; Valid Document and copy of it; Original birth, marriage and death certificates for all the ancestors in the lineage, until the last ancestor born in Italy; Documentation proving the lack of naturalization or the date of any naturalization of the ancestor with a certificate issued by the competent foreign Authority. Except the Italian ones, all documents will need to be duly legalized, and accompanied by an official translation legalized too.

It should be certified that neither the applicant nor the ascendants have ever renounced Italian citizenship, thus interrupting the transmission of citizenship, through appropriate certificates issued by the competent Italian diplomatic and consular authorities, upon the Comune request. The applicant need to bear in mind that if anyone on the lineage renounced Italian citizenship or naturalized before the birth of the next descendant, the applicant does not qualify for Italian citizenship. The Comune must correspond with the Consulate/Embassy in the country where the ancestors have been living in that in order to check that they never naturalized in that country, or with the date of naturalization. This phase is the one that will take more time. Once all the documentation has been double-checked with the consulates, a Mayor’s Statement it is issued to confirm the Citizenship. Subsequently, all the Certificates will be registered by the “Comune”.

Once provided the documentation, the Comune will verify the position of the applicant and the validity of the request. If all the papers are in order and the request is valid, the Mayor will give the order to do the transcript of all the due information to the Civil registry before the Comune and confer the Italian Citizenship to the applicant. They will communicate it to the Ministry and the Police.


Contact Us if you wish to have further details and know more about this procedure: timing and the whole documentation needed in details. We will assist through all the procedure, including the related and collateral steps needed to apply for the Italian Citizenship by Descendant in front of the Comune in Italy.

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