Sunday, March 21, 2010

Path to Italian Dual Citizenship

John Galleano - Great GrandfatherGiuseppe Bruno - Great Grandfather
These are photos of our great grandfathers through whom we obtained Italian citizenship with jure sanguinis. Both were fathers of the fathers of our mothers. They immigrated to the USA from Italy in the early 20th century.


We both applied for Italian citizenship through jure sanguinis. We're close, but not quite there. Last month, we sent in a few missing pieces of information. At this time, our applications are being processed. That’s all we know. 


Our initial appointments to review our applications and associated paperwork for Italian citizenship took place two months ago. We had each requested our consulate appointments via email. Submitted within minutes of another, the earliest dates they had available were over a year and a half later and exactly a week apart. Does the consulate process only one application per week? Not all consulates have the same lead time or appointment scheduling. Here’s a list of Italian consulates in the U.S. You must work with the one that serves the area you live in. We opted for “mail-in review” since we don’t live near the consulate office in San Francisco which serves the Northwest.

The idea of dual Italian citizenship came to us in 2007 as we were planning our sabbatical to Italy. Part of the sabbatical then became a quest to gather the necessary paperwork – and there is no shortage of that. For our 2007 trip we decided that Visas were the best strategy and so we got them for that trip.

If your family members live in the same consular jurisdiction as you, and are interested in citizenship, then seriously consider combining efforts and doing the citizenship interview together. For example, if your sister or brother wants to apply for citizenship, the only difference between your paperwork and theirs may be an additional birth certificate. Again, check with the consulate that serves your area.

Jure Sanguinis

We engaged the Italian Consulate in San Francisco under whose jurisdiction Seattle comes. If you look at the forms section of the site, you’ll see a form called Application for Italian citizenship “Jure Sanguinis” (link as of today). What’s jure sanguinis? I’ll quote from a story of someone who did gain dual-citizenship:

Jure sanguinis - the Latin phrase meaning “continuity of blood” or “by the right of blood” - is the right of citizenship under Italian Nationality Law by virtue of one’s ancestry. As with many aspects of Italian and Italian-American life and culture, the rules surrounding Italian citizenship jure sanguinis are complex and, in some cases, counterintuitive. [source: article by Michael Votto]

Now back to the Jure Sanguinis form. To find it, go to the San Francisco Consulate web site; go to the part of the web site dealing with citizenship. There is a form called Jure Sanguinis. There are a number of ways to claim Jure Sanguinis. To illustrate by way of example, we’ll focus on what was relevant for us. For Travelmarx (both of us) option #5 applies which is:
Your paternal or maternal grandfather was born in the United States, your paternal or maternal great grandfather was born in Italy and was an Italian citizen at the time of your paternal or maternal grandfather’s birth, neither you nor your father/mother nor your grandfather/grandmother ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship.
In each of our cases, our Italian bloodlines are most easily proven via our paternal great grandfathers (pictured above). So one reads down to the section applying to option 5 and finds this list of required documents:

  5. Your paternal/maternal GRANDFATHER’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE
  6. Your paternal/maternal GRANDMOTHER’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE
  8. Your father’s BIRTH CERTIFICATE
  9. Your mother’s BIRTH CERTIFICATE
  10. Your parents’ MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE
Documents 1 -3 were obtained directly from Italian sources. We actually got these documents in person (for example in Palermo and Piemonte). (It goes without saying, but you should get multiple copies of these documents.) Documents 4 – 13 are all U.S. documents. Some documents such as your birth certificate will need to have an apostille attached. An apostille is a legalization provided by the Office of the Secretary of State of the state in which the document is issued. The path to getting an apostille for any given document will depend on the state in which the document was issued. For example, to get a New York birth certificate apostilled you first have to get a letter of exemplification before the apostille. (See this informative post.) The place you apply to get your records will be different than the place you have them apostilled so there’s lots of researching of government agencies on the Internet, calling, mailing and otherwise running around. It’s part of the experience.


Document #4 in the required documents list, the certificate of naturalization, proved to be a bit tricky. In our original applications, we sent copies of our great-grandfather's naturalization certificates. (One of our great grandfather’s certificate copy came from family records the other came from Homeland Security records, a C-File.) However, these copies turned out to not be sufficient even though we thought we were following the instructions closely. Here’s the email response we received back from the consulate indicating specifically what they required:
Either the original of your ancestor’s naturalization certificate or a certified copy of what the National Archives has on file concerning his acquiring US citizenship. They will not certify the certificate, but they will certify all the rest, including the oath, which is what we need. It will have a red ribbon on it. If you send the original, you will need to enclose a pre-paid self-addressed USPS envelope for the return of the document to you. We do not accept any other form of pre-paid mail.

So we both went to the National Archives site and ordered up red ribbon copies. One of our great grandfathers was naturalized in a federal court (in New York) so the National Archives had all the supporting documentation including his oath of allegiance. The other great grandfather was eventually naturalized in Riverside County Superior court (California) and so the National Archives red ribbon copies provided some supporting documentation (his first applications via federal courts which were denied). And Riverside County Superior court archives delivered the essential documents attesting to his naturalization there. Confusing? Kind of. You just have to go with the process and find out what works.

Be prepared

The short ½ of Travelmarx had to provide, in addition to the items above, a copy of a US passport and a statement (in email) that he was never married. It’s odd because the taller ½ of Travelmarx did not have to provide that information. The other items that the shorter ½ of Travelmarx had to provide were copies of the marriage certificate and divorce decree for a first marriage of his mother. Point of the this: be prepared.


The article by Michael Votto [link] enumerates a few pros and cons of dual (Italian) citizenship. The pros: a passport from a country that is a member of the European Union (E.U.) means you live, travel, and work more freely in any E.U. country. Other possible benefits include healthcare, the ability to purchase property, and the right to pass on citizenship to heirs. The cons: tax liabilities (generally equitable, but filing will be more complex if you have foreign income), possible military responsibilities, and more trouble getting a U.S. security clearance. To tell you the truth, we don’t know which of these pros or cons will be a joy or pain because it’s still early in the process.
The United States government’s position on dual citizenship: they recognize it but don’t encourage it stating that:
The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law, and dual nationality may limit U.S. Government efforts to assist citizens abroad. The country where a dual national is located generally has a stronger claim to that person's allegiance. [U.S. Department of State Web site]
Finally, a great resource for Italian info and citizenship is Expat Talk, and this guy has a nice and recent story about his successful dual citizenship quest.

A Word About Services That Claim to Assist You

Be careful! If you search for “Italian citizenship” on the Internet you’ll find lots of services offering to gather the documents for you and perhaps shepherd them through the process. We initially tried one and it was a waste of time and money. We recommend that you don’t use them. It’s better to manage the paperwork yourself. It may be challenging at times but can be made easier by getting support from the forums or folks that have already done it.

Update January 2011

We now both have our citizenship confirmed with a letter from the consulate. Hooray! One notice came months ago and the other came recently. We are attaching the redacted notice (2 pages) below to show what it looks like. Here's post on getting passports.

Italian Citizenship Notification Page Redacted
Italian Citizenship Notification Page Redacted

Update 2021

It's 2021 and it's hard to believe it's been 10 years since this post was written. Since then, we moved to Italy, established residency, and obtained our national identity cards and health cards. All of this comes with expected and unexpected consequences that we discovered along the way. For example, how taxes work. (We pay taxes in both countries and it's complicated. In the future, we'll write more on this subject.) 

Despite the times we were ready to throw in the towel and call it quits, we persevered and now live in Italy. We like to think our great grandfathers pictured at the beginning of this post would be proud. But then again, they left Italy for a reason and maybe they would find it bizarre that we returned?

Friends joke with us and say we are living a "postcard-life" and that we are "living the dream". That makes us chuckle. Whose dream? What dream? We just followed our instincts and curiosity, and that led us here. 

Update 2022


  1. Oh sure...."if your sister wants citizenship...take care of it together..." oh sure... but do YOU tell me this? noooooo... you just dont' want me living in the same country as you. that's ok. i'm living in Switz. the cheese is way better there and so is the language! LOL!

    so i have my birth certificate (2 copies now)...what do i do?

  2. Make sure your birth cert is apostilled (can send address where to do that). After that just wait until mine comes through and see if is is successful and what paperwork you can reuse.

  3. Hello, I read your post and found it very informative. I am now in the process of securing docs for my own Jure Sanguinis process. I have unofficial copies of my relatives oath of allegiance etc from an online service. However, I am having trouble locating these records on the NARA website you linked to above. While I know what collection to find it in the only thing I can seem to request is microfilm of this collection , as opposed to a "red ribbon" certified copy. Any assistance in the use of the website would be most appreciated. Please email me regarding this at Thank you, JP

  4. After years of constant research I can finally say that my husband has officially become an Italian citizen, now I need to wait 6 months for our marriage to be recorded in Rome in order to apply. Our little girl however can be registered as an Italian citizen anytime now; she doesn't need to wait. I must say that this quest started back in March 2005 when I first requested the birth certificates and marriage certificate from Italy and it wasn't until March 2010 that we submitted our application in the Italian Consulate of Philadelphia and at the end of November 2010 my husband received his official letter.

  5. That's awesome! Congrats. I've been meaning to update this post with our new info, but have been waiting. In a nutshell: 1/2 of Travelmarx is a citizen. It took about 5 months from filing of the application to receiving the notification (June 2010). The other 1/2 of Travelmarx (the one writing) is sadly still waiting. When I inquired they said my case was "more complicated". Hmm, not sure what that means. I'm about to write again and try to ask for status. We just got back from 1 month in Italy and it was glorious.

  6. I wonder why they say your case is more complicated, the other 1/2 of travelmarx is your sibling if I understood correctly, so if he/she has the citizenship, how is it that you don't, unless you are dealing with a different consulate. Well, be patient, you'll get it soon enough.

  7. The other 1/2 of travelmarx is my partner, so different families. The only thing really different was a divorce in my family (my mother). Perhaps that takes more effort to verify. Who knows.

    Yes, patience required. Thanks!

  8. Mine arrived last week! We both have citizenship in under 1 year. We are excited. Not sure of the next step. Probably to get passports.

  9. you mean italian passports? and boy you sure have a lot of comments on this...

  10. Hello!
    I just came across your blog while researching the SF consulate as I have my appointment next month to submit my application. May I ask if you needed to have the certificate of naturalization apostilled and translated? I keep reading conflicting information about this.
    Thank you in advance!

  11. Hi. Per the consulate’s instructions, only birth, marriage and divorce certificates require an apostille. So, no we did not have the certificate of naturalization apostilled or translated. Hopefully, it hasn't changed. They'll let you know otherwise. Good luck next month!

  12. Hi,

    I also live in Seattle and I have a few questions about the San Francisco consulate. Firstly, on their guide to jure sanguinis citizenship it says to ask them about special accommodations for people who live out of state... did you get any such accommodations? And secondly, in your post you mention if you and your sibling live in the same jurisdiction you can apply together - any idea if you can still do this if you live in different jurisdictions? (My brother lives in Boston.) Thanks!

  13. Re: accomodations, check out the consulate site for more info. If you are out of town, I think it means that you may be able to submit your application by mail. Here's a good link that answers many questions: GUIDE TO RECOGNITION OF ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP FOR PEOPLE OF ITALIAN DESCENT BORN IN THE USA, OR IN ANOTHER COUNTRY WHERE CITIZENSHIP IS ACQUIRED BY BIRTH (

    Re: Siblings (or other family members) in different jurisdictions piggybacking on your work. Just recently (see link above), applicants in different jursidictions must submit their own original papework, i.e., no sharing. Before the rule, there never was (from what we could tell) a process for sharing paperwork between jurisdictions.

  14. Hi,
    Is the Italian Citizenship law based on jus sanguinis?

  15. If you have an Italian ancestor in your family’s bloodline, you probably qualify for Italian Citizenship.

    In fact, it is possible to claim Italian Citizenship if there is an ancestor in your family that was an Italian Citizen at the time of his death, meaning that he never renounced to Italian Citizenship in his life.

  16. To Miguel: Our path to Italian Citizenship was based on jus sanguinis. But there are other paths like marriage.

    To "Italian citizenship": If you have an Italian ancestor in your family bloodline it does not at all you mean you qualify for Italian Citizenship.. There are a number of conditions that need to be met. See the consulate's web page.

  17. I'm hearing mixed things about what is required at the San Francisco consulate. Their website says that only my personal documents need translation and apostille while someone I know who went through the process a while back via the SF consulate says that all documents from the United States need both. He also says (Again contradicting the consulate web page) that only translations from recognized translators will be accepted in SF.

    Any feedback from folks would be appreicated.

  18. The SF Consulate has published a very helpful citizenship guide which does a great job of clarifying what’s expected and what’s not. Link here:

    For our applications, only our own birth certificates required translation, none of the other docs. Using an approved translator is smart. We worked with Gabriella Einaga (; she was fast, very reasonably priced, and easy to work with.

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  20. Hi TravelMarx,

    How strict are the Consulates regarding Anglicanized names? For example, from what I can tell based on my records, my great grandmother was born in Italy and immigrated as Fiorigia, but almost all of the U.S. documents I've obtained list her as Florence. Similar situation for my grandfather, who was born as Armando but used Armand for his marriage certificate (which we also used on his death certificate).

    Another quick question - I've been able to find every document I need except my great grandmother's birth certificate from Italy. I'm not claiming citizenship directly through her (rather: great-grandfather [Italian] -> grand-father [American] -> mother -> me). Will that preclude me entirely from applying? She was born (we think) about a month before they left Italy, and we aren't sure the family actually registered the birth.


    PS: I'm applying either in Newark or New York.

  21. Re: anglicanized name
    As long as you can present a list or an accounting of other names by which a person is referred to in the documents you present, you should be okay. For example, we created a spreadsheet of people and noted in it alternate name spellings and which documents those spellings occurred in. We had a few cases with ancestors with alternate spellings, as well.

    Re: missing grandmother's birth certificate
    We think this shouldn't present a problem, but, work with the consulate and explain the situation. The San Francisco Consulate published a guide[1], which we found very useful.



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