I often receive enquiries about how to obtain Italian citizenship by descent: my great-grandfather was Italian by birth, and then moved abroad over 100 years ago. Can I claim Italian citizenship and obtain an Italian passport? The acquisition of citizenship through ancestry, or by the law of the bloodline (jure sanguinis), is claimed out of romantic nostalgia, as a way to stay in Italy permanently, to work anywhere in the European Union or to hand down this opportunity to our children.
The national law no. 91 of February 5, 1992 regulates the different ways of obtaining or relinquishing Italian citizenship. Article 1 states that Italian citizenship is granted based on jure sanguinis, meaning that you are automatically an Italian citizen if your father or mother are Italian, no matter where you were born. The principle of acquiring citizenship by descent goes as follows: if you can prove that none of your ancestors ever formally waived their Italian citizenship (to acquire the citizenship of another country) you are theoretically able to claim your Italian blood as well. To do so, any foreigner attempting to claim citizenship based on an Italian ancestor must go back in their ancestry to the family member who was born in Italy and find out when he or she left Italy. The following steps require the applicant for jure sanguinis citizenship to locate the birth, marriage and death certificates of each child of that ancestor up to the birth certificate of the applicant.