Acquisition of Italian citizenship by a child

Oct 27, 2021

Italian citizenship can be acquired by both adults and minors.

Any child born to an Italian citizen mother or father is an Italian citizen by birth.

However, there are other options to acquire Italian citizenship for those who are younger than 18 years old.

The main cases are: a) recognition or judicial declaration of paternity or maternity, b) adoption and c) parents’ naturalization.

Below, is an overview:

a. Citizenship by recognition or judicial declaration of paternity or maternity (art. 2 paragraph 1 law 91/1992)

Any minor recognized as a child by an Italian citizen or declared a child of an Italian citizen (father or mother) according to a judge’s decision, is an Italian citizen.

To have the child’s citizenship recognized, the parents shall register the birth of the child with the Italian authorities.

The relevant authority is: Vital record office (“Ufficio anagrafe”) of the Italian Town Hall, if the minor is an Italian resident.

Once the birth has been registered, it will be possible to apply for an identity document and/or an Italian passport.

If the child resides in a foreign country, the parents shall register the birth at the relevant Italian Consulate according to his/her place of residence.

In this case, it will be necessary for the parent who requests the transcription, to first have all their own position updated with the A.I.R.E. registers (Registry of Italians Resident Abroad).

For example, if the Italian parent has not registered the marriage, it will be necessary to obtain the marriage’ registration before requesting the transcription of the child’s birth.

Generally, the Consulate allows the registration of the two acts at the same time. However, it is always advisable to check with the relevant Italian Consulate according to the own residency.

E.g., Mario, an Italian citizen resident in New York, wants to register the birth of his son in the US. First of all, it will be necessary that:

  • Mario’s A.I.R.E. position is updated;
  •  the child’ US birth certificate is apostilled and translated into Italian (the translation has to be sworn in front of an Italian Court or can be obtained abroad – in this second case it is advisable to follow the Consulate’s instructions);
  •  the Italian parent requests the transcription of the birth certificate from the Consulate;
  • the Consulate transmits it to the A.I.R.E. office at the Town Hall in Italy;
  • once both registrations are updated (AIRE Registry of the Consulate and AIRE office at the Italian Town Hall in Italy), it is possible to apply for an Italian passport for the minor.

b. Citizenship through adoption (art. 3, paragraph 1, law 91/992)

A foreign child adopted by an Italian citizen acquires Italian citizenship through a provision of the Italian Judicial Authority or, in case of adoption issued abroad, through a provision of the foreign Authority made effective in Italy by an order (issued by the Juvenile Court) of transcription in the civil status registers.

If the adopted child is of age, he/she may require Italian citizenship after 5 years of legal residence in Italy, after the adoption.

The adoption procedure is composed by a phase in Italy that ends with a decree of suitability (“decreto di idoneità”) pronounced by the Juvenile Court and a phase abroad that ends with a judgment of adoption issued by the foreign authority.

The adopted child shall acquire Italian citizenship through the transcription of the adoption decision in the civil status registers, Article 34, last paragraph, Law No 476/98.

With regard to the starting date of the acquisition of citizenship in this case, it is essential to recall the Circular K 28.4 of 13 November 2000 of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which has given the following instructions: the transcription of the adoption decision is to be considered as a condition for giving effect in our legal system to the adoption decision, which, once transcribed, takes effect retroactively from the date of its pronouncement. In the same Circular it is indicated that in the case of adoption the Mayor’s certificate on the acquisition of citizenship shall no longer be issued.

c. Citizenship by parents’ naturalization

The minor children of a person who acquires or reacquires Italian citizenship, also becomes Italian if he/he shares the same residency of the parent. It is possible to renounce Italian citizenship once 18 years old and if having another citizenship.

The acquisition is automatic, based on the sole condition of cohabitation and provided that the subject is a minor (younger than 18).

In order for the parent who has become Italian to transmit its own status civitatis to the child, three conditions must therefore be met:

-the filiation relationship;

-the minor age of the child;

-cohabitation with the parent.

Art. 12 of Presidential Decree no. 572/93 has specified that cohabitation must be stable and effective and certified by appropriate documentation; also, it must exist at the time of the acquisition or reacquisition of the parent’s citizenship.

Article written by Vittoria Landi

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