Italian Dual Citizenship: My Story

This blog post is way, way overdue. It's been a very long time since we posted a dual citizenship update (as in March 2011!). As I mentioned in a recent blog post, the short story and good news is that both I and Livia are dual citizens. The long story is that it took a very long time to get done. My citizenship was only finalized back in May.

So, what took so long? The honest answer is that once we moved to Italy we quickly gave into the Italian pace of getting things done. We generally had 3-4 months between every visit to Palazzo Vecchio (where the citizenship office is located) to drop off updated documents. We never really tried to rush things along. With no plans to move back home and a permesso di soggiorno there wasn't any good reason to rush the process. So long as we were living here legally it didn't really bother us to wait for the citizenship.

Let me address some key points in the process:

  • Updating documents: I came over with every document you can possibly imagine. In fact, many documents ended up not being needed. The documents they did need, however, needed to be to their exact specifications. Over the course of the 16 months it took to get citizenship, I had to request updated 2-3 documents with the details exactly how Palazzo Vecchio wanted them. Each request in the U.S. took about 2 months and then once the updated versions arrived I would bring them back in for review.
  • Following their lead: I did everything they asked me to do. To their exact specifications. I can't emphasize this enough. I cringe when I read message boards or emails from our readers talking about how the folks at the consulate or commune are "being difficult" and they are fighting back. These people have the final say in your citizenship. You are only hurting yourself if you argue with them. Do what they say and do it with a smile.
  • The long wait: If you are in a rush to get your citizenship and want to do it in Italy, I don't suggest trying it in a big city like Florence. It was just a slower process. If my documents had been 100% to their liking, it still would have taken 6 months. Some people have applied in smaller towns and managed it in 2-3 months, but it won't happen in cities like Florence, Milan or Rome. As I mentioned before, the wait didn't bother us, but I could see how it might frustrate others.
  • The baby influence: I'm not going to lie, once the citizenship office knew I was pregnant they were very clear with me about what I needed to do to wrap up the process. They knew -- like I did -- that things would be 1,000x easier for Livia if she was born with Italian citizenship. Everything has been a cinch because of the citizenship. In fact, she was "only" Italian for the first 6 weeks of her life until we made it to the American consulate!
  • The biggest surprise: Toward the end of the process, one of the biggest challenges was…MY birth certificate. Yes, you read that right. After stressing about 80+ year old documents, it turned out my birth certificate was a cause for concern. In Pennsylvania, a township can be a place of birth and the citizenship office was confused by this. Why? Because I always list the town I was born in as my place of birth and not the municipality. Once we worked out this confusion, it was smooth sailing.
  • "The hard is what makes it great": (To quote Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own) At the end of the day, I think it's good that they really make us work for dual citizenship. It's a huge honor and privilege to gain Italian citizenship and I appreciate that they don't necessarily make it easy. I feel like I earned it.


In Summary…

I first walked in to Palazzo Vecchio in January 2011 and I walked out in late May 2012 with my citizenship. I got my new carta d'identita later that day and, I'm not going to lie, seeing the "Italiana" listed on it made me giddy. After nearly 3 years of research, records requests and the formal application process, I was official!

5 Great Reasons to Apply for Italian Dual Citizenship

There are thousands of Italian-Americans in the United State that qualify for Italian dual citizenship. All you need to qualify is an parent, grandparent or great-grandparent that was born in Italy and never became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Once you've got that covered, it's simply a matter of collecting documents, certifying them and making your application.

The path to dual citizenship isn't easy for everyone and often requires a lot of family research. As such, some people wonder if Italian dual citizenship is worth all of the work. I'm here to tell you that it is! Italian dual citizenship is a fantastic way to preserve your family's heritage and reap the benefits of dual citizenship to another country.

Here are the top five reasons to apply:

  • STAY FOR A WHILE: Forget short visits and three-month travel visas because as an Italian citizen you can stay in the country as long as you want!
  • THE E.U. IS YOUR OYSTER: Because Italy is a member of the European Union, citizens have the legal right to live and work nearly anywhere on the continent.
  • REACH FOR A HIGHER EDUCATION: Listen up high school students (and parents!): college at certain Italian universities is free for citizens and tuition is lowered at many universities across the European Union.
  • BEING HEALTHY IS FREE: If you decide to relocate to Italy at any point, you'll be eligible as a citizen for the national healthcare system - giving you darn near free healthcare as long as you live in country.
  • CULTURAL CLOUT IS YOURS: From art to architecture to literature to fashion, Italians have been wowing the world since antiquity. Become a citizen and bask in the brilliance of counting yourself a member of this divine culture.

Still not convinced? Remember, even if citizenship is right for you now, it doesn't mean that it won't be in the future. Who knows, maybe in 20 years when you retire you'll want to move to a small Tuscan town and live the easy life there! Having dual citizenship would make that a cinch to accomplish.

Finally, even if Italian dual citizenship doesn't seem right for you, that doesn't mean that your children or grandchildren wouldn't benefit from having it passed down to them. As such, if you qualify to apply, it's worth strongly considering going through the application process. Down the road, your family will appreciate all of the hard work you've done.

This article is written by Kate Hash and originally appeared on EZine Articles. View it here:


living in italy: dual citizenship update!

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog lately, but certainly not because life has been quiet! We're working on a huge project for a client right now, the latest issue of Southern Flourish went live last week, we made some new friends that are also pursuing dual citizenship, and we've made some MAJOR progress with the quest for dual citizenship! Seriously, we're busy.

Bright and early on Saturday morning our doorbell rang. Thankfully, Rob is a quick to wake up and was able to answer the door. Guess who was there? The VIGILI. Finally. Hopefully in a few weeks my official letter of residence will appear in our mailbox and I'll be able to get the magic letter from the comune that allows me to pick up my permesso AND apply for citizenship. Yay! Later that day we took Winston to the anagrafe canine, where he officially became a resident of Florence, too :-)

But, that's not all. Today, on a bit of a whim, we took a completed permesso kit (along with photocopies of Rob's passport, police records from every state he's lived in since he was 18, AND our marriage certificate) to the post office and submitted his application for a permesso di soggiorno per motivi familiari. The woman behind the desk was a little dubious of the whole arrangement, but she ran the application past two of her superiors who told her it was "normale." We thought we would have to wait until I had my actual permesso in hand for Rob to apply for his, but that wasn't the case. This is a really big deal. Why? Because a permesso receipt is just as legal as the real permesso. That means Rob is 100% legal to live here once his imaginary tourist visa expires next month. In a few years he'll actually be able to begin the process of applying for citizenship himself!

In celebration, here are some photos we snapped last week during the 150th anniversary of Italy's reunification. It was kind of a big deal and the streets were packed with people enjoying the day off from work!

Museums were free and the line for the Palazzo Pitti was crazzzzy long.

italian dual citizenship: applying in italy, part two

Today we met up with Georgette again to return to the Anagrafe for the residency appointment. We got called back right at noon when our appointment was scheduled. While we've waited a half hour here and there for things, we've actually found the Italian bureaucracy no worse than the U.S., to be honest. Wow, did I just jinx us or what?!

We have really lucked out with our Italian government workers, too. We had another really nice older gentleman helping us today. He wasn't entirely familiar with what we were trying to do, but after some quick explaining from Georgette he was able to get the ball rolling.

I felt SO proud of myself. First, I understood most of what he was saying. Second, I had every document that he asked for. I had copies of everything. You could tell he was definitely impressed that we had our act together so well.

And then, it happened. He asked to see mine and Rob's marriage certificate so that he could register it and get us both in the system. Translated? Check. His eyes lit up. Apostlle? Very good. Certified by the consulate? Perfecto.

I can't tell you how amazing it felt to finally give someone one of those damn records.

I have been collecting, translating, stamping, sealing, paying for and basically bleeding on those records for almost a year. I wanted to kiss the Italian man across the table for being the first person to actually find them useful.

The appointment only lasted about 20 mintues, I signed a few documents and I now have temporary residency here in Florence! At some point in the next month special police will come to the apartment to make sure I actually live here. Once they confirm that I do, I will get a letter in the mail. I then take that letter back to the Palazzo Vecchio's citizenship office and get another letter from them. That letter I take to apply for my permesso di soggiorno (basically a permit of stay). Once I apply for that I'll get an appointment at the Questura (yes, another office) to officially receive my permesso. Then, finally, I'll be able to go back to the citizenship office and apply. Lots of steps, yes, but so very worth it.

Interesting to note...I am now eligible for the Italian health system! I have the option of applying for a temporary health card (and going back again once my residency is official), but I think I will just wait until the residency is official so that I only have to go to the health office once. Also, once I have my residency letter I can get my Carta d'Identita...all Italian citizens and residents carry these at all times. It's the most important thing to have when living in the country.

So, a ton of movement lately on the citizenship front! It will be quiet for a little while. I basically wait until the police show up and then it's lots of activity again.

A quick sidenote: the residency stuff at this point is technically just for me. I will need to go through a few more steps of the process to get "legal," and then Rob will piggy back off of me and do many of the same things.

italian dual citizenship: applying in italy, part one

{the entrance to our "town hall," aka Palazzo Vecchio; photo via Wikipedia since we haven't taken one yet}

It dawned on me today that I haven't written a dual citizenship post in quite a while. We made more (and major) progress today, so it's probably time that I post a bit.

On our first full day here, we met up with Georgette, a great new friend that I met via the Expats in Italy forum. She has been nothing short of our personal savior when it comes to helping things get done here in Italy with the dual citizenship.

The first office we visited was the Stato Civile at the Palazzo Vecchio (side note: can we talk about how ridic it is that our local government office is above the Uffizi?). We waited for a bit and were able to talk with someone, but found out we were at the wrong office. In fact, we wouldn't come back to that particular office until we were much further in the process. It's where I will return once I official have residency.

Georgette suggested that we walk up a flight of stairs to the citizenship office. This is the office where, a few months from now, I will formally make my application for dual citizenship. We figured they could potentially be helpful in educating us on the process up until that point.

We were able to talk to a very helpful gentleman that told us we actually needed to go to the Anagrafe (kind of a like a registration office), state our case, and get an appointment to come back to apply for residency. That ended up be exactly right.

Thankfully, Georgette had printed out Circolare n. 28 and n. 28.1, two minor Italian laws that declare it legal to do what we're trying to do. This is definitely not a common thing and most people have no idea what we're talking about. Having the laws handy was extremely valuable.

We were able to schedule an appointment for February 2 (today!) to come back and formally apply for residency, which is the first step toward citizenship.

Part Two (detailing today's action) coming in an hour or so...