If documents were intelligent beings, they would do well to heed this warning on their way to the Italian Consulate’s office. The Consulate looks for the corporate government seal on vital records, and, although you may have heard of the state authentication seal called an Apostille, you may not have known that a city issued document will typically, although not always, require yet another authentication/notarization or exemplification before an Apostille can be given. Some states will not issue Apostille for older documents. Yet other states don’t have a limitation with respect to the age of a document as long as they can read the signature of the registrar.

The act of obtaining the documents seems simple enough: Follow the instructions on the form, send in a check and identification, then wait (sometimes up to 6 weeks) for the document. But noooo…..don’t be fooled!!! The document may not contain items required by the Consulate for Italian dual citizenship. For example, some government offices issue different types of marriage and birth records. The Consulate requires more details so generally you should ask for the long form, or book copy, if available. Also, you may be surprised to hear that a government office may respond with a letter stating that no records were found. In this regard, it is critical to provide the most accurate information available to your family. Guessing may cause further delays.

Last, but not least, it is important to be cognizant of name changes or spelling changes of a name over time. Names such as Giuseppe commonly become Americanized to Joseph, Francesco to Frank, Antonio to Anthony or Tony. Last names may also be spelled different over time or may have changed when your ancestor arrived in the states. The Consulate may question these changes and whether the vital records (birth, death, and marriage) are describing the same person during your appointment for Italian citizenship by descant.

Here at ICAP we utilize all of our experience with these issues to carefully compile your documents and assess and advise our clients regarding possible issues of concern. We examine the documents upon receipt to make sure that they are in the proper format required for the Italian citizenship application. We also work quite well with the vital records offices all over the US explaining the specific format of document needed for the Consulate.

Documents Beware!