Dual Citizenship: Collecting Documents (continued)

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One of the most important documents is the naturalization certificate of your ancestor. You must prove that your parents or grandparents were born before the date your ancestor naturalized, while your ancestor was still an Italian citizen.
If you have the original certificate and the name and age are consistent with their birth certificate, you are fortunate.
If not, you must get a copy of the documents, which, in the U.S., include a copy of Certificate of Citizenship (Naturalization Certificate), the Petition for Citizenship, and the Declaration of Intention.
In the U.S., you can request these from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
If you are in another country, write to the National Archives there.
If your ancestor never naturalized, you must get proof of this, which includes a letter from the government agency that issues the documents. Also, many death certificates will state where the decedent was born, and census records are helpful because they may also state citizenship status. The more proof you have, the better.
You will need to get the certified, long form versions of all direct-line vital records, and they must have an apostille from the Secretary of State of the state from which they were issued. An apostille is the legalization of a document for international use. Usually, all vital records for your direct line not from Italy must be translated into Italian. The naturalization papers do not need an apostille nor do they need to be translated. For New York City vital records, you need to request a Letter of Exemplification, which will allow you to get it certified by NYC, which will then allow you to get the apostille from New York State. Depending on where you live, you may also have to go through a similar process.

Finding and dealing with discrepancies on documents is the most frustrating part of this process. It is important that the dates and names are consistent. Because many immigrants did not read or write, they may have signed papers with misspelled names and wrong birth dates. Sometimes, their memory just failed. My grandfather’s naturalization documents contain errors in his birth date and the spelling of his surname. Naturalization documents cannot be amended. I am hoping that a letter from USCIS will be sufficient, which states that the three different spellings of my Grandfather’s name represent the same man. To deal with the discrepancy of the birth date, I requested a letter from his comune in Italy saying there was no one by his name born on the erroneous birth date. Some documents can be amended, others cannot. Amend those you can so that birth dates and names are consistent. If you cannot amend a record, get a letter from the issuing agency saying so.

Eventually, you will go to your appointment and, hopefully, everything will go well. The wait to hear the outcome can take a couple of months. Once you receive a letter from the Consulate saying you have been recognized, you will make an appointment to get your Italian passport.

When times were difficult, Italy lost many of its sons and daughters to other countries. In a generous spirit, Italy has opened her arms to the descendants of those who left. If you decide to embark on this journey, just remember that you are not alone. Here are some helpful websites:

For templates of letters in Italian, go to www.italianside.net/community. You will find them under Files.

For a database of Italian towns, go to ItalianSide towns database

For searching records, www.familysearch.org has a vast collection of records indexed.

Ellis Island has records of immigrant entry into the U.S. at www.ellisisland.org where you can search the records by name or by ship.

You must follow the guidelines posted by your particular Italian Consulate; however, in the citizenship section on the website of the Consulate in San Francisco, California (USA), there is a detailed Guide to Italian Citizenship by Descent that you can download. It explains a lot and you may find it helpful even if you are not applying through that Consulate.

I hope this helps explain a bit about the process and helps get you started on your own journey. Buona fortuna!



14 Comments to “Dual Citizenship: Collecting Documents (continued)”
  1. Mike says:

    Does anyone know how stringent the consulates are on discrepancies on first names? My great grand dad as well as great grandmother used slight variations on what is essentially the same name, example: Santino, Santi, Sante….The surname was always consistent.

  2. Linda says:

    Grandpa born Italy 1896. Grandma in NY or NJ USA in 1900. Her parents were Ital citizens, moved here and then left in 1903 till Grandma met Grandpa in Salerno and married in 1920 in Italy. They sailed back to US in 1921. My dad born 1926 in NY. Grandpa became US cit 1928, Grandma many years later. I have all docs needed except Grandmas birth cert because I just cant find it in NY or NJ records! And her last living daughter, my aunt, doesnt have it or remember where Grandma was born. I know I’m eligible for dual cit coz Dad was born to an Italian father/citizen. Can I still apply for dual cit without Grandmas birth cert? I have her naturalization doc and death cert to prove she did exist! Thanks for any help. Its taken me a long time to gather all this info and now I have to get it translated and apostiled! Thank you for any info you can provide.

  3. Richard says:

    My grand parents and father were born in San Giovanni in Fiore.
    My grandfather and father became a us citizens, I
    dont know if my grandmother became a us citizen. Am I entitled to Italian citizenship?
    Thanks for any help.

  4. Domenico Gargani says:

    I am looking fo the address for (Stato Civile) for Collarmele, L’Aquila so I can start requesting documents to gain duel citizenship thank you and maybe a template to use for requesting documents Thanks DG.

  5. Regina Appolonia Smith says:

    My great grandfather was born in Italy, I should have no problem getting citizenship. My three children are over 18 can they? Or does the legacy end with me?

    • Diane says:

      They would have to apply themselves, but you may all be able to apply together as a family at the same Consulate meeting. The Consulate should be informed when you set up your appointment.

  6. Alice says:

    I do not know when my father’s parents became American citizens, but I know that my maternal grandmother did not do so until my mother was a teenager. I am very interested in gaining dual citizenship so that I may both, buy property and live in Italy.

  7. Kenny B. says:

    I am wanting to get my Italian citizenship. My mother was born in Calabria, moved to the states, became and American citizen before I was born on the day she turned 18. She never “renounced” her Italian citizenship, she just became an American citizen. Both grandparents are Italian too obviously.

    How hard is it going to be for me?

    Thank you,

    Kenny B.

  8. anthony radi says:


    My grandfather was naturalized before my father was born. Please tell me how I may obtain Italian citizenship. Most of my family lives in Italy. I want Italian citizenship so that I may live and work in Italy. thank you

    Best regards,
    Antonio Radi

    • Diane H. says:

      Hi Antonio,

      Because your grandfather naturalized before your father was born, I think the only way for you to get Italian citizenship would be through marriage to an Italian citizen or by naturalizing by living in Italy for 10 years. Perhaps you can go through your mother’s line if she is of Italian descent.

      • Lino says:

        I was born in san quirino pn Italy in 04/09/1931 and immigrated to Canada 23/09/1950 arrived in montreal qc on 10/10 1950 I now posses double citizenship:canadian and European with respective valid passports.I never had an Italian passport because my father was a Canadian citizen at my birth.

      • Veronica says:

        Need some help. Trying to get thru to
        municipale Marano Principato. I have let several emails no response? Their hrs. Are limited. Any contact info u might have would be great. Looking for my great grandfathers birth certificate.

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