Living la Dolce Vita: How to Get Italian Citizenship

There are so many amazing reasons to move to and live in Italy. The weather, the cuisine, the people, the culture, and even some exciting job opportunities. But, like anywhere in the world, it’s not usually as easy as just packing your bags, hopping on a plane, and calling this new country home. There are certain forms to fill and boxes to tick if you want to relocate to Italy on a more permanent basis than a quick trip.

If you’re planning on relocating to Italy, this article will provide you with some of the important information about visas, citizenship, and more.

Relocating to Italy at a glance

Relocating to a new country is an exciting prospect, but it’s not a decision to take lightly. Make sure you’ve considered all the factors and decided that it’s really something you want to do. In some cases, the decision may not be all yours, if you are being relocated for your job, for example.

One important thing to consider is the cost of living and renting in Italy. Italy is one of the more expensive EU countries in terms of cost of living, but it’s also pretty easy to live on a budget, especially if you live outside of the big cities. Of course, the tourist attractions like Rome and Venice are going to be more expensive than others, but relocating to a smaller town or village will offer you much greater cost savings.

It’s a good idea to research accommodation options before you relocate to Italy, at least finding somewhere to stay temporarily if you don’t want to rent long-term accommodation online before you move. You can find both short-term and long-term Italian rentals here on Nestpick.

If you’re still deciding where in Italy to relocate to, these are some popular places for expats:

Apartments in Rome
Apartments in Milan
Apartments in Florence
Apartments inTurin
Apartments in Genoa

Sicily and Sardinia tend to be top of the list for people looking to move to Italy for retirement, to enjoy the laidback lifestyle and great weather of these islands. Big cities like Rome and Milan are more popular for job opportunities.

Understanding visas to Italy

The next thing you need to know is what kind of visa you need, if any, to go to Italy. This will depend on where you’re coming from and how long you are planning to stay in Italy. If you do need a visa, it’s important that you have it before you travel to Italy to avoid facing any problems upon arrival or while you’re staying there.

EU citizens

If you have a valid passport from an EU country, then you can travel to Italy for up to 90 days without requiring a visa. This even applies if you are going to Italy with the intention to work. The following European countries that are not currently members of the EU also have these same permissions:

San Marino
Vatican City

If you are staying for longer than 90 days, then you will need to apply for a residency permit to be allowed to stay beyond the initial 3-month period. If you change residence during your time in Italy, you will need to apply for a new residency permit. Once an officer has visited your home in Italy and confirmed the status of your permit, you will be able to obtain a certificate of residence, as long as you spend more than half of the year in Italy.

Non-EU citizens

In general, a Schengen Visa is required for citizens of non-EU countries to enter Italy. However, the visa waiver agreement does make several countries exempt from this requirement for stays shorter than 90 days, as long as they will not be working in the country during this time. Included in this visa waiver agreement are the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Japan.

For non-EU countries not included in the above list, a Schengen Visa will be required. This visa generally allows you entry into multiple countries in the Schengen Area, although there are other versions of it that are limited to entry into a single country.

If you are relocating to Italy and are staying for more than 90 days, then you can apply for a long-stay Schengen Visa. This may be a student visa, work visa, or family visa depending on your reasons for coming to Italy. For certain parts of Italy, such as Rome, you will also require a National Visa to allow you to stay and work in the city. You can visit your local Italian Embassy for more information on the different types of long-stay visas available for Italy and to apply for your own.

How to get Italian citizenship

If you want to go a step further and become an Italian citizen, there are a few different ways to go about it. Getting citizenship in Italy has its benefits. For example, you will be allowed to vote in local and national elections, you will be able to travel more freely around Europe with an EU passport, and you will be granted certain protections by the government that are generally reserved for citizens.

Here is a brief explanation of the three different routes you can take for getting Italian citizenship.

1. Citizenship by ancestry

If you have ancestors or blood relatives that are citizens of Italy, or were while they were alive, you may already be classified as an Italian citizen. If one or both of your parents are Italian, then you are automatically an Italian citizen, even if you were born outside of Italy. This even applies in the case of adoptive parents.

If your grandparent, great grandparent, etc., had Italian citizenship, then you have a very strong case for becoming a citizen yourself via a principle known as jure sanguinis. If your ancestor is related through your paternal line, then anyone who was a citizen since 1861 can be used as evidence of Italian ancestry, as this was the year modern Italy was formed. Through the maternal bloodline, you can only refer to ancestors who were citizens since 1948, as this was when women were granted the right to pass down their citizenship to their children.

If you have native Italian ancestors who lost or renounced their Italian citizenship before it was passed onto you, then you can become an Italian citizen by naturalisation after living in the country for three years.

You can visit your local Italian embassy or consulate to apply for citizenship by your ancestry. Make sure you have all your personal details plus proof of your ancestry in order to apply in this way.

2. Citizenship by marriage

Being married to an Italian citizen also makes it easier and quicker to become an official citizen yourself. If you and your spouse are living in Italy, then you have the right to apply for Italian citizenship after only two years of marriage. If you are living outside of Italy, then you can do so after three years of marriage. In both cases, you must remain married throughout the process of the application.

Italian Couple

Photo by: https://imagestudio.com


Even upon meeting these requirements, you may still be denied citizenship if you have any serious offences on your criminal record or if you are deemed to be a threat to national security.

If you have children, including adopted children, with your Italian spouse, then the naturalisation period will be halved. So, you could become an Italian citizen in one year within Italy or 18 months outside of Italy if you have children. Also, if your marriage was formalised before 27th April 1983, then you would have automatically become an Italian citizen immediately, as this was before the most recent laws were introduced.

3. Citizenship by naturalisation

If you don’t have any Italian roots at all, then you can still become a citizen by naturalisation, the process just takes longer. EU citizens can apply for Italian citizenship after living there for 4 years, while non-EU citizens can do so after 10 years. If you are a refugee or otherwise without citizenship from any country, then naturalisation will take 5 years.

Finally, if you were born in Italy but your parents are not Italian, then you will become an Italian citizen if you legally reside in Italy for the first 18 years of your life. If you did not grow up in Italy but return there as an adult, then you can apply for citizenship after three years of living there.

Your Italian citizenship will only be granted if you meet all the necessary requirements, including a clean criminal record and sufficient finances to support you in Italy.


Enjoy Italian life

Whichever route you are planning on taking when relocating to Italy, we wish you good luck and a great life in your new country. Remember that most countries allow dual citizenship, so you should not have to renounce citizenship of your home country to become a citizen of Italy. You can live the best of both worlds as an expat. Benvenuto!

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