ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP & NAME CHANGES

Jun 22, 2020

This article is written by Marco Mazzeschi and contributed to our publication on Medium.com.

Follow us on Medium.com/StudioMazzeschi for more latest articles.


The famous actor Rodolfo Valentino was an Italian immigrant whose real name was Rodolfo Alfonso Rafaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina D’Antonguolla.

He is still recognized and pictured as the stereotype of the Italian “Latin Lover”, even though an actor who appeared with Rudolph Valentino in 1921’s “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” dismissed Rudy’s much-touted magnetism by saying

All he thought about was Italian food”!!!!

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

A BAD WOUND MAY HEAL, BUT A BAD NAME WILL KILL!

Valentino and many other celebrities changed their names for various reasons. For example, “Katy Perry and Emma Stone opted for a change to avoid clashing with stars who shared their birth names. Others, like Bruno Mars and Michael Caine, were simply inspired. Some stars, including Halsey and G-Eazy, didn’t like their birth names”.

Valentino changed his name because it was definitively too long and difficult to pronounce.

His screen name became a bit of a conundrum. The hard-to-remember “Guglielmi” was shed in favor of “di Valentini,” but that was put through a veritable wringer of different spellings: “di Valentina,” “De Valentina,” “Volantino,” “Valentine” and “De Valentine,” all of which might be paired with “Rodolfo,” “Rudolpho,” “Rodolph,” or “Rudolf” with careless abandon. Eventually he settled on “Rudolph Valentino,” which certainly had flair–and asked that his friends call him Rudy. (*)

ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT

Emigrants to a new country had other and more serious reasons for the changing their names. Adopting names that could sound more “friendly” in the new country could help them to speed assimilation, avoid detection, deter discrimination or just be better for the businesses they hoped to start in their new homeland (*)

What can be the impact of a name change or discrepancy in a citizenship application?

Individuals who are applying for Italian citizenship by descent are required to produce many documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates.

In fact, they need to prove that the ancestor who expatriated and his/her direct descendants maintained their right to Italian citizenship (aka never renounced Italian citizenship) and — in the event that their Italian parent was a naturalized citizen — were born before that parent renounced Italian citizenship via naturalization.

Photo by Henry Boulind on Unsplash

These vital records have often names or dates discrepancies, not only because many immigrants changed their names but also because their name was mistakenly recorded.

In many cases, the mistake was done not upon arrival but at the shipping line’s station in Europe, by clerk who wrote the passenger’s name in the ship’s manifest. (*)

WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE ARE DISCREPANCIES OR MISTAKES?

Photo by Daniela Holzer on Unsplash

Italian law is quite formal and does not leave much flexibility or discretion to the the Office that need to decide upon the adjudication, in case submitted documents have discrepancies or mistakes.

In fact, any documents containing:

  • errors (misspellings, incorrect dates, incorrect boxes checked, etc), must be corrected/amended BEFORE submitting the citizenship application
  • discrepancies on ancestral documents — discrepancies should be corrected when and where possible so that the documents reflect the same information on the ancestor’s birth certificate.
  • discrepancies on applicant’s documents — applicant’s vital records (marriages and births of any children under 18) must reflect his/her information (first name, any middle names, last name, and date of birth) as it appears on his/her original birth certificate. Any discrepancies or errors must be corrected BEFORE submitting documentation.

HOW TO OBTAIN THE CORRECTION OF MISTAKES OR DISCREPANCIES?

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

Procedure to obtain the correction of a certificate or vital record change from country to country.

Italian offices generally do not accept affidavits or sworn self-declarations. In some cases, correction can be done directly by the Office of Vital Statistics but when this is not doable the correction shall be obtained through a Court proceeding, which can be lengthy and the outcome unpredictable.

WHAT CAN I DO IF I CANNOT FIND MY ASCENDANTS’S CERTIFICATES?

Photo by Daniel on Unsplash

Consulates suggest the applicant to obtain a written statement from the vital records office where the certificate was requested stating that the document does not exist. The statement must clearly explain the reason why the record does not exist. The office where application is filed will discretionary assess whether the statement can be taken into account and be considered as validly replacing the missing certificate.

CAN I SUBMIT A BAPTISMAL CERTIFICATE OR CHRISTENING RECORD?

Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

If there were no registries in existence at the time of your ancestors’ birth, applicant can submit:

  • a baptismal certificate issued by the Parish with the authentication of the pastor’s signature by the authorised bishop’s office;
  • the written response from the town hall (Comune) in Italy confirming the non-existence of a registry office on the date in question.

_________________________

The information provided on this article (i) does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; (ii) are for general informational purposes only and may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information (iii) contains links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader; (iv) readers should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.

Marco Mazzeschi

Attorney at law. One of the leading corporate immigration lawyers in Italy. Admitted to the Milan Bar Association (1988) and to the Taipei Bar Association (2016), a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and an accredited partner of Invest in Tuscany.

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