Citizenship by Descent

Italian citizenship is one of the most valuable in the world. It allows visa-free travel to the US and Australia and enables you to live anywhere in Europe.

Italian citizenship by  Descent or Ancestry (Jure Sanguinis) is open to individuals with Italian ancestry if the citizenship by blood was passed down all the way to him or her. The citizenship is passed down as long as the Italian parent has not lost his citizenship before the birth of his/her child. Italian citizenship was lost in the past if another citizenship was taken. Those that lost their Italian connection this way can still be fast-tracked to Italian citizenship. Foreigners normally need to have 10 years of residence in Italy before they can apply for naturalization.

Italy accepts dual citizenship, so you don’t have to forfeit your current citizenship to apply. 


There are commonly 3 categories under which an applicant can qualify for Italian citizenship by Descent:

  1. Citizenship by descent: The male ancestor was not a naturalized American before the birth of his child. If the father was a naturalized American before the birth, his Italian connection is broken.
  2. Citizenship by descent (1948 ruling): Applies to mothers who in the past couldn’t pass They pretty much become the same as males, but the filing is done in court and the process is faster.
  3. Fast-track naturalization: If you have an Italian grandfather or father but can’t qualify under the first 2 categories, you can opt for fast-track naturalization after 3 years.

The first 2 options require that the “legal” connection is not lost. In the past, an Italian who became a naturalized American would lose his Italian citizenship. Therefore, he/she couldn’t pass it to one of his/her future children. Those born before his or her parents’ American naturalization were Italian by blood; if they were born in the USA, they were also American at birth. After that, it was unlikely that the connection could be broken. The process to obtain Italian citizenship can be started at an Italian consulate near you if your Italian connection comes from a male ancestor. It can take 2 or 3 years. Now you can also petition an Italian court and get a decision in 1 year. The process to obtain Italian citizenship can be petitioned in an Italian court if the connection comes from a female ancestor. It can take 1 year.

Option 3 is for those with an Italian father or grandfather that do not qualify under the first 2 categories. This option requires the applicant to have held a residence permit for at least 3 years before their application for fast-track naturalization. Simply holding the permit for 3 years is enough to qualify for citizenship, and physical presence in Italy is not a requirement. Nevertheless, a 6-month physical presence in Italy requirement is often imposed in most resident permit categories. 

Therefore, most applicants choose the Italy Investor Visa (a.k.a. Golden Visa). This permit requires an investment ranging from €250,000 to €1m in exchange for a fragmented 5-year resident permit and no physical presence requirement. You only need to visit Italy once a year to maintain the resident permit. The naturalization process can take 1 or 2 years, making the 5-year Italian investor visa an important tool as compared to other temporary resident permits that must be renewed annually and require 6 months of physical presence in Italy.   

Capital City


Visa free countries

Schengen Area

Total area

301,340 km2







Time Zone



Freedom of movement in the European Union

No investment requirements

Leads to permanent residency and Italian citizenship

Live in an EU country


Application Processing Time: 3-4 Years


Stage 1 - Year 1

The process to obtain Italian citizenship by ancestry varies from one category to another. But today, both category 1 and 2 can be filed in court and be faster than the consulate route. The first step is to determine whether your Italian connection has been broken. If it hasn’t been broken, you can book an appointment at your nearest Italian consulate. It might take 2 or 3 years before you’re given an appointment, leaving you ample time to gather the relevant ancestry documents. The consulate will only accept your application if your ancestry comes from a male line. If your ancestry comes from a female line or if you want the process to go faster, you can use the 1948 ruling to petition directly to an Italian court. You can save 1 or 2 years in the process. If you need a resident permit, you can apply for one in Italy. It usually takes 1 month to receive it.

2 1

Stage 2 - Year 2

If you petition the court under category 1 or 2, you’re likely to have your case approved by the court after 1 year and become an Italian citizen. If you filed your application at the consulate, you’re likely still in line to be processed, and if you needed a resident permit, you’re now waiting for another 2 years of residency to be eligible for fast-track naturalization.


Stage 3 - Year 4

If you chose the consulate route, your appointment should be coming up. If you have all the required documents, the consulate should approve your request and transmit it to the Ministry of Interior for approval. You will receive your certificate of citizenship and passport shortly. If you needed 3 years of residence, you can now apply for naturalization into Italian citizenship. It takes 1 or 2 years for the Italian authorities to process the application.

Italy Citizenship by Descent
Application Conditions

The process for Italian citizenship by ancestry can take a few months to a few years, depending on the route and your eligibility.


Other requirements:

Week 1
Week 1
Verify eligibility
Week 1
Week 2
Week 2
Start client onboarding process with Global RCG
Week 2
Week 3
Week 3
Global RCG helps you gather the required documents with the help of our genealogist.
Week 3
Week 8
Week 8
Application for citizenship is filed. Depending on your case, the process can take six months if it's lodged at a municipality, 12 to 16 months if petitioned in an Italian court, 2 to 3 years if scheduled at a consulate, and 5 to 6 years via the residency route if your Italian blood connection was broken.
Week 8



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Do you need more information about the Italy Wealth Visa program? Download the complete factsheet below:

Required & Non-Required Visa Countries



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