Learn what some of the most common mistakes are when applying for Italian Citizenship by Descent

Are you applying for the Italian dual citizenship by descent? Don’t make these common mistakes!

In this blog we are going to talk about some of the most common mistakes that people make when  applying for the Italian citizenship by descent.


If you are starting your journey to Italian citizenship by descent the first thing that you must do is confirm your eligibility. Even though you have Italian ancestry (parent, grandparent, great grandparent) you may not qualify for Italian citizenship. The categories for Italian citizenship by descent are as follows:

  • Your father was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth (i.e., was not a citizen of the US or another country when you were born);
  • Your mother was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth (was not yet citizen of the US and you were born after January 1, 1948);
  • Your paternal grandfather was an Italian citizen, your father was born in the US or a country other than Italy, and your paternal grandfather was still an Italian citizen at the time of his birth;
  • Your maternal grandfather was an Italian citizen, your mother was born in the US or a country other than Italy, and your maternal grandfather was still an Italian citizen at the time of her birth, and you were born after January 1, 1948;
  • Your paternal or maternal great-grandfather was an Italian citizen, your paternal or maternal grandparent was born in the US or a country other than Italy, and your paternal or maternal great grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of your grandparent’s birth.

If you fall into one of the proceeding categories the next important step is to make sure that you meet the additional eligibility criteria:

  1. Your Italian ancestor was alive at the time of the unification of Italy which took place on March 17, 1861.
  2. Your Italian ancestor did not naturalize (i.e., received citizenship) in the U.S. prior to June 14, 1912.
  3. If your Italian ancestor naturalized it must have taken place after the birth of the next person in the ascendancy. For example, if your great grandfather emigrated to the U.S. and naturalized after the birth of your paternal grandfather, you would be eligible to apply for Italian citizenship by descent as long as the naturalization took place after June 14, 1912.
  4. If your Italian ancestor never naturalized, you must prove this by providing a certificate of non-existence of naturalization records from USCIS and either a copy of the ancestor’s alien file or a certified census report indicting non-US citizenship status of the.
  5. If your Italian ancestor was a woman born before January 1, 1948 she can only transfer Italian citizenship to her children born after 1/1/48 and to their descendants. Exceptions to this law can only be obtained through a court case presented in Italy.
  6. If your Italian ancestor was born in the following regions, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, or Trentino Alto-Adige, in order to apply for the Italian citizenship, you must prove that the ancestor left Italy after July 16th, 1920.
  7. Minor children who were born in Italy and emigrated to the US with their parents who received “derivative citizenship” upon the U.S. naturalization of a parent lost their Italian citizenship and cannot transmit it to their descendants.


Some people think that after the collecting of the required documents you can call or email the Italian Consulate to get an appointment within a reasonable timeframe. Unfortunately, the Consulate waiting time is much slower than expected because of the huge interest of Italian Americans that are seeking Italian citizenship through their ancestry. Appointments are scheduled on line and some Consulate jurisdictions can take 2 years or more to book an appointment! Obviously, this is a sufficient amount of time to collect all the required documents, which it is not an easy task to do, but if you don’t book your appointment in advance then you might find yourself in the situation where you have all your documents ready but must wait quite awhile for an appointment.

On the other hand another mistake is waiting to gather all of the necessary application documents too close to your appointment, especially if there are discrepancies in the documents which need to be amended. It is better to start collecting the documents as soon as you decide to pursue your Italian citizenship.

If you don’t want to wait so long to apply at the Italian Consulate in USA, you can hasten your application by applying in Italy!


The Consulate’s guidelines say that the documents must not have significant discrepancies in names, dates, and places of birth must be amended. Having documents with discrepancies is very common as the Italian ancestors who came to USA were not able to speak or read English properly, consequently they were not able to communicate with the State Registrar the personal data, or “Americanized” their names without legal name change. While direct translation of a first name into English is generally not a problem, e.g. Giuseppe to Joseph, non – direct translations such as Salvatore to Sam could cause your application to not be accepted until this discrepancy is rectified. It is not easy to predict what the Consulate’s opinion could be about specific discrepancies in your documents because it highly depends on the official who is going to examine your application.  It is always advisable to correct any significant discrepancies prior to your appointment.


The application documentation for the Italian citizenship by descent can vary depending on the location where the application is going to be presented. The requirements can also seem overwhelming to understand.   There is currently a lot of information found online but it is not always correct, or might not apply to your Consulate location.  Looking for professional assistance in this process can help you avoid needless mistakes. If you do engage in professional assistance, be sure that the you find a company that has extensive experience with successfully helping people complete their applications. The ICAP team has been successfully assisting US people who want to apply for the Italian citizenship by descent for more than 15 years, giving them all the necessary help to get the goal. Whether you are applying for Italian citizenship at an Italian Consulate in the US or abroad, directly in Italy, applying through the maternal line at an Italian Court, ICAP can help you prepare your application from start to finish with ease and accuracy!

Contact ICAP today for a FREE Eligibility Screening. Our team will be glad to help you in your application!