All you need to know about citizenship for foreign spouses of Italian citizens

All you need to know about citizenship for foreign spouses of Italian citizens

This FAQ will answer key questions about the requirements for citizenship by marriage and residency permits for non-Italian spouses of Italian citizens.

Mon 22 Apr 2024 5:17 PM

Children automatically become Italian citizens by virtue of having a parent with Italian citizenship. However, this is not the case for the non-Italian spouse of an Italian citizen. Instead they have two options: they can either apply for citizenship by marriage or for a residency permit to live in Italy.

This FAQ answers some of the questions about the process and requirements for citizenship by marriage and residency permits for non-Italian spouses of Italian citizens.

Citizenship by marriage

Who is eligible?

Becoming an Italian citizen by marriage is also known as Jure Matrimonii.

If living abroad, after three years of marriage or civil union, the non-Italian spouse can make an application for Italian citizenship by marriage, which must be submitted at the same Italian consulate where the Italian spouse is registered with the A.I.R.E.

If residing in Italy, a citizenship application can be made after two years of marriage or civil union. This is done at the local prefecture (prefettura) in the municipality where the couple live.

It is important to state that the time periods are reduced by half if the couple has children. Therefore, if abroad, 1.5 years, and one year if living in Italy.

It should be noted that if the marriage happened before April 27,1983, the spouse has the right to automatically become an Italian citizen.

How is an application made?

In order to apply for Italian citizenship by marriage, the non-Italian spouse must complete the online application and then attend an appointment, either at the prefettura, if in Italy, or at the Italian consulate, if abroad.

The online application is done on the web portal of the Italian Ministry of the Interior, through the portal “ALI”.

Once the application has been approved by the relevant prefettura/consulate, the non-Italian spouse will be asked to attend an appointment to present all original documentation.

Does the applicant need to speak Italian?

For citizenship by marriage applications, the applicant must pass a B1 level Italian language test (intermediate level) and have certification issued by an institution approved by the Italian Ministry of Education or Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Are there any conditions that impact an application?

In terms of how marital status affects citizenship applications, citizenship can no longer be obtained if spouses divorce while the non-Italian spouse is applying for citizenship by marriage.
If the Italian spouse passes away during the process of citizenship, the non-Italian spouse can still seek citizenship.

What documents are needed for the application?

In order to make an application for Italian citizenship by marriage, the following must submit:

  • The marriage certificate from the Italian municipality where the Italian spouse is registered with A.I.R.E.;
  • A birth certificate (certified copy);
  • Criminal checks from the US States (and foreign countries, if applicable) where the applicant has lived since the age of 14;
  • B1 Italian language certification.

What documents are needed for the interview stage?

When the applicant attends the appointment either at the prefettura or consulate, they will need to submit original copies of the following:

  • Italian passport of Italian spouse
  • Non-Italian spouse’s passport and state ID
  • Proof of residency
  • “Signed declaration” of marriage
  • The non-Italian spouse’s birth certificate
  • Marriage transcript from the Italian municipality
  • Criminal background checks
  • Application form
  • Italian language certificate
  • Receipt of the €250 payment
  • A money order to pay the consular for the legalization of the translations

Do documents need to be translated?

All documents in languages other than Italian must be translated into Italian, and the translations must be certified by the Italian consulate, and must have an Apostille attached. An “Apostille” is an international legalization of a document that permits its use abroad.

How much does it cost?

In Italy, to make an application for citizenship by marriage, a marca da bollo is needed (stamp duty). These can be purchased at post offices, tobacco shops and some banks at a cost of 16 euro.
If applying at an Italian consulate, the processing charge is 250 euro.

How long does it take?

Citizenship by marriage applications can take on average between 2 and 3 years to process.

What happens once citizenship is granted?

Once citizenship is granted, the applicant will need to attend a citizenship ceremony (usually takes place within six months of citizenship being granted) in order to take the oath of allegiance. The Italian spouse also needs to attend and sign an affidavit stating that no separation, divorce or annulment took place.

Residency permit

What is the residency permit?

A residency permit (carta di soggiorno) allows the non-Italian spouse to reside in Italy. It has a validity of five years, after which the non-Italian spouse can renew it for permanent residency.
The five-year permit is valid only if the couple reside together in Italy and remain married. Once the non-Italian spouse becomes a permanent resident, however, their being permitted to be in Italy is no longer dependent on the status of the Italian spouse.

How is an application made?

Upon arrival in Italy, the Italian spouse will need to register as a resident in the municipality where they intend to live. Once they are a resident, the non-Italian spouse can apply for a residency permit (carta di soggiorno).

The non-Italian spouse can enter Italy on a tourist visa, but this is only valid for three months, making a residency permit essential. The application is made at the local police station (questura).

What documents are needed to obtain a residency permit?

The documents are submitted at the local questura (police station) and include the Italian marriage certificate issued by the municipality where the Italian spouse is registered with the A.I.R.E., the passports of each spouse and passport-size photos, as well as proof that you reside together, i.e., rental contract issued by the comune.

How much does it cost?

The cost of the application is 16 euro.

Does applicant need to speak Italian?

No, a language certificate is not required to obtain a residency permit.

Are there any conditions that impact a residency permit?

If the non-Italian spouse is in the five-year period of residency, the divorce or death of the Italian spouse may impact on their being able to remain in Italy. The following factors are taken into consideration: the length of the marriage, duration of the marriage spent in Italy, any custody or visitation rights if children living in Italy, and if/or domestic abuse was a factor. However, if the non-Italian spouse has permanent residency, then divorce or death does not affect their residency status.

These FAQ have answered questions about options available for the non-Italian spouses of Italian citizens, if you have further queries, or would like more information, you can visit or contact us at, and one of our friendly experts will be in touch to answer your queries.

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