The acquisition of citizenship by the foreign or stateless spouse of an Italian citizen is regulated by Articles 5, 6, 7 and 8 of Law 91/92 and subsequent amendments.
The foreign spouse can acquire Italian citizenship upon request, if the following requirements are met:
- in Italy: two years of legal residence after marriage or since the date of acquisition of Italian citizenship by naturalization of the spouse; abroad: three years after marriage or since the date of acquisition of Italian citizenship by naturalization of the spouse. These terms are halved in case of children born of or adopted by the spouses;
- validity of marriage for the Italian legal system and registration of the marriage certificate with the competent Italian Municipality, as well as persistence of the marriage bond until the adoption of the decree;
- absence of convictions for offences leading to a maximum penalty of three years of prison or convictions by a foreign judicial authority of over one year for non-political offences, when the conviction has been registered in Italy;
- absence of convictions for one of the crimes and offences listed in Book 2, Title I, Chapters I, II and III of the Criminal Code (offences against the State);
- absence of obstacles relating to the security of the Italian Republic;
- certified knowledge of the Italian language at a level no lower than B1 of the “Common Reference Framework for Knowledge of Languages” (rule in force for the applications submitted starting from 4 December 2018).
People living abroad shall currently submit an online application to acquire the Italian citizenship, according to the new procedure established by the competent Interior Ministry.
The applicant shall register on the dedicated portal, called PORTALE SERVIZI, at the following url: https://www.interno.gov.it/servizi/servizi-line and, once logged in, will have access to the online procedure for submitting the citizenship application.
In order to facilitate the identification of the diplomatic-consular Mission territorially competent to receive the application, at the above mentioned Internet address there is a link which enables the user – after having selected the country of residence – to choose, by means of a drop-down menu, the competent Mission by accessing a list which includes the entire diplomatic-consular network of the selected country.
The user shall fill in all the fields in the form and enclose the following mandatory documents required by the Interior Ministry to apply for citizenship (please note that the E.U. Regulation No. 2016/1191, which entered into force on 16 February 2019, provides for the exemption from legalisation provided that public documents are issued to an EU citizen by the authorities of his/her Member State of nationality):
- birth certificate of the country of origin (in compliance with the legalisation/apostille and translation requirements laid down by the legislation in force), complete with all personal details, or, in the event of documented impossibility to obtain it, a certificate issued by the diplomatic-consular authorities of the country of origin, stating the applicant’s exact personal details (name, surname, date and place of birth), as well as paternity and maternity;
- criminal record certificate of the country of origin, and of any third countries of residence and countries of which the applicant holds citizenship(in compliance with the legalisation/apostille and translation requirements under current legislation);
- receipt of payment of 250 euros;
- identity document: photocopy of a valid passport (pages with personal details, photograph, dates of issue and expiry) or identity card;
- certificate of knowledge of the Italian language at a level no lower than B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) or qualification issued by a public or officially certified private educational institution recognized by the Ministry of Education, University and Research and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The CLIQ (Certificazione Lingua Italiana di Qualità) certifying bodies – possibly in collaboration with local Italian cultural institutes – are only the University for Foreigners of Siena, the University for Foreigners of Perugia, the University of Roma Tre and the Società Dante Alighieri.
The following people are not required to provide a qualification or certification proving knowledge of the Italian language:
- foreign nationals (even if resident abroad) who have signed the integration agreement referred to in Article 4 bis of Legislative Decree No. 286/1998 (Consolidated Act on Immigration);
- holders of an EU (or EC) stay permit for long-term residents referred to in Article 9 of the above stated Consolidated Act.
In order to find out which educational institutions are authorised to issue the requested certification, please consult the dedicated web page of the Italian language portal(portale della Lingua Italiana).
After the online submission, the applicant will be summoned by the diplomatic-consular Mission that received the application for identification and for fulfilling the other procedures necessary to finalise the application, including the acquisition of the original documents attached to the application submitted online and any other document that may be useful for its examination. In this regard, it should be noted that, if the applicant is an EU citizen, the marriage certificate, the family status certificate and the spouse’s Italian citizenship certificate are replaced by self-certification in accordance with Presidential Decree No. 445/2000 and most recently with Law No. 183/2011.
Applicants who are nationals of a non-EU country may be exempted from submitting the marriage certificate, the family status certificate and the spouse’s Italian citizenship certificate, only if these documents are already in the possession of the diplomatic-consular Mission.
Pursuant to Article 4, paragraph 5, of Presidential Decree No. 572/93, the Interior Ministry may request other documents as appropriate.
Please note that, in accordance with the Interior Ministry’s directive of March 7, 2012, as from June 1, 2012, competence to issue decrees granting citizenship lies with:
- the Prefect in case of applications submitted by foreign nationals legally residing in Italy;
- the Head of the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration, if the foreign spouse resides abroad;
- the Interior Minister if there are reasons relating to the security of the Republic.
To all intents and purposes, we suggest you to consult the website of the Mission competent by residence.
Following the publication in the Official Journal (issue No. 22 of 27 January 2017) of Legislative Decrees No. 5, 6 and 7 of 19 January 2017 – adopted pursuant to Art. 1, paragraph 28, of Law No. 76 of 20 May 2016 (Rules and regulations on civil partnerships between same-sex persons and rules and regulations on living together) – as from 11 February 2017, applications for Italian citizenship may be submitted online, pursuant to Articles 5 and 7 of Law No. 91/1992, also by foreign nationals who have established civil partnerships with Italian citizens, entered in the civil registry of the Italian Municipality .