My Journey to Italian Citizenship

Kelly Burns
5 min readJun 20, 2021

Becoming an Italian citizen is a dream I have had. It’s a lot of work, but well worth the long process involved.

This photo shows the famous Vittorio Emmanuele II Monument in the heart of Rome. There are two Italian flags on each side of the monument and a figure on a horse at the center. There are Roman columns at the front of the building and classical Roman architecture along with embedded bas relief on the building.
Photo by Michele Bitetto on Unsplash

I attended a seminar in San Jose, California about five years ago curious to learn more about becoming an Italian citizen. A gentleman gave a talk at a nearby Italian Heritage Center on dual-citizenship through Jure Sanguinis.

Jure Sanguinis is the right of blood conferred upon an Italian descendant connected to your last Italian-born relative in Italy.

It’s a pretty complicated and lengthy process, but to find out if you qualify, you must know when your last Italian-born relative naturalized here in the U.S., and then make sure the next person in your line was born before your Italian-born relative naturalized.

You must also research whether anyone in your line of descendants ever gave up their right to citizenship in Italy before the next person in the line was born.

If all of the people in your line handed down their right to citizenship in Italy through Jure Sanguinis, before the next descendant was born, and before they naturalized in the U.S., then you will most likely have a chance to become a citizen of Italy.

I chose to use my mother’s line. My mother’s grandfather was born in the Basilicata/Potenza region in Italy. He came to the United States in 1901 and settled in California.

There is Italian lineage on my father’s side. One of my father’s grandfathers came from the Lazio region. He settled in New York and then eventually moved to California. He came to America through Ellis Island. I could have used either side, but I was more closely connected to the history of my maternal line, so I chose this line.

The first step in the process is to gather documents. You will need to gather all birth records for all line descendants. In my case, I needed two birth certificates from Italy for both my great-grandfather and great-grandmother.

I also needed their Italian marriage certificate. I was able to obtain these documents by sending a letter to the comune in the town where my grandfather was born. I mailed a form requesting the document and I also enclosed a few euros. I found the documents by searching for them through church records on ancestry.com.

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Kelly Burns

writer and sometimes singer/composer & painter. Italian-American. INFP. I write fiction and nonfiction. www.kellyburns.com