1861, 1912, 1948, 1992: why exact dates are so important for Italian citizenship?

Oct 11, 2021

Italian citizenship is passed on from parent to child without limitation of generation, but there are some limitations and conditions.

If you have some Italian ancestors you can be entitled to obtain Italian citizenship.

The general principle is that citizenship is passed on from parent to child without limitation of generation, on the condition that neither the Italian parent nor the Italian ancestors ever renounced their citizenship.

There are however some conditions and a number of factors and limitations.

·The Kingdom of Italy was formed only on March 17, 1861, and some territories were annexed later. Accordingly, people who were born in a territory before its annexation to Italy may be not be entitled to citizenship:

Since 1861 various citizenship laws were enacted (most notable in 1865, 1912, 1992) and rules and conditions for acquiring citizenship have changed.

Check also the Gov. website


1) The Italian ancestor, born in Italy, acquired a new citizenship before July 1, 1912

2) The Italian ancestor acquired a new citizenship after July 1, 1912 AFTER his/her child birth.

3) The Italian ancestor acquired a new citizenship after July 1, 1912 BEFORE his/her child birth

4) A member of the Italian lineage acquired a new citizenship prior to 1992, before the descendant’s birth

Some exceptions and special rules

  1. Those who have in their Italian lineage a child born by an Italian mother, before January 1st, 1948 can obtain the Italian citizenship only through a legal process to be taken at the Court House in Rome.
  2. An Italian woman married to a foreign husband before January 1st, 1948 (who, accordingly to his foreign law, transmitted the foreign citizenship to the wife as an automatic effect of the marriage) is entitled to transfer Italian citizenship to her children and their descendants only through a legal process to be taken at the Court House in Rome.
  3. Children of Italian citizens born between April 27th, 1965 and May 17th, 1967 may not be eligible to acquire Italian citizenship whether before the age of 19 years old they did not explicitly choose to retain Italian citizenship. The eligibility may be subject to the place of birth of the descendants (Jus soli or Jure sanguinis Country). Under these circumstances, we should contact the relevant Italian Consulate abroad and Italian Town Hall to know their orientation concerning this issue.
  4. In case the Italian ancestor naturalized citizen of another country during the minor age of his/her child, 2 different rules — leading to completely different scenario — may be applicable (art. 12 Law 555/1912 or art. 7 Law 555/1912). The “minor case” issue has been ruled by two articles within the Italian citizenship law 555/1912: art. 12 is the one regarding the general rule “The non-emancipated children of the person who lost the Italian citizenship become foreign citizens […]”, while art. 7 is a specific rule declaring “[…] the Italian citizen born and resident abroad, deemed citizen of that country by right of birth, maintain the Italian citizenship unless they decide to give the citizenship up once adult or emancipated”. If the Italian ancestor naturalized when the child was still a minor, it will be of key importance to double check if the minor acquired the foreign citizenship by birth on a jus soli Country or if — as opposite — he/she was born in a iure sanguinis Country. Only in the first case, Italian descendants may be entitled to Italian citizenship (Italian judges have different interpretation of this issue).

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