The death certificate for my great-grandmother, Maria (Giambrone) Palmeri, arrives today. This lists her mother's last name as Amico/a (some other things listed it as D'amico).
death certificate, Maria (Giambrone) Palmeri
The death certificate for my great-grandmother, Maria (Giambrone) Palmeri, arrives today. This lists her mother's last name as Amico/a (some other things listed it as D'amico).
death certificate, Maria (Giambrone) Palmeri
A useful post on Italian passports by BBCWatcher on the Italian Citizenship Message Board (copied here): http://italiancitizenship.freeforums.org/your-italian-passport-an-operator-s-guide-t2209.html
This guide explains the legal and practical requirements for using your Italian passport, especially with respect to dual nationals. If you have comments or corrections, please send me a private message. Include any legal citation(s), if possible.
As with all information posted to this forum, this information should not be treated as formal legal advice. Contact a professional attorney specializing in immigration-related matters if you need legal assistance.
1. What is the purpose of an Italian passport? When do I need one?
The primary purpose of a passport is to facilitate international travel. If you are an Italian citizen, you must present an Italian passport to Italian passport control when entering or exiting Italy (per Law no. 1185 of November 21, 1967). However, for travel to/from many countries within and near Europe, a carta d'identità (Italian national ID card) suffices if you have one.
Moreover, if you are physically in Italy, and your Italian passport is your only form of Italian government-issued identification, you should carry your Italian passport with you or at least have it readily available. The reason is that if the police cannot identify you they are permitted to detain you pending identification.
2. I just received my citizenship recognition letter from my local Italian consulate. Must I apply for an Italian passport?
It is "advisable" to obtain an Italian passport, and many newly recognized and naturalized citizens wish to hold a tangible document that only citizens may obtain. Also, an Italian passport serves as a convenient, recognized form of identification when visiting Italian embassies and consulates. But no, you are not required to obtain an Italian passport unless you need it for the purposes described above.
3. Is there any way an Italian citizen may travel to Italy without an Italian passport?
As mentioned above, a carta d'identità is sufficient to travel between Italy and many countries within the region.
If you hold another passport valid for entry into the Schengen Area, you may travel to another Schengen Area country (e.g. France), clear immigration in that country, then continue on to Italy via the open Schengen border. Likewise, you may exit Italy via another Schengen Area country. There is no passport control for intra-Schengen travel except in extraordinary circumstances.
Please note that while in Italy you must still represent yourself to Italian government authorities (including the police) as an Italian citizen. For example, "Io sono un cittadino italiano" or "Io sono una cittadina italiana."
4. Where can I obtain a carta d'identità?
You must be resident in Europe to obtain a carta d'identità. You can obtain one from your local Italian embassy, consulate, or Italian commune where you reside.
5. If I travel to Italy via another Schengen country, and I stay for more than 90 days (or otherwise appear as if I overstayed), will I have trouble exiting?
Legally, no. Practically speaking, maybe. There are several possible solutions:
If possible, obtain an Italian passport in Italy before you leave. Show the same passport you used to enter the Schengen Area when exiting the Schengen Area, and then, if requested, show your Italian passport. (Exception: Italian citizens must always show an Italian passport to Italian passport control.)
If possible, obtain a carta d'identità in Italy before you leave. Show the carta if requested.
Bring an official copy of your Italian birth certificate or certificate of citizenship. You can obtain a copy quickly from the anagrafe in your home commune. Show that certificate if requested.
Bring an official copy of your letter of citizenship recognition. Show that letter if requested.
6. How do I apply for an Italian passport?
If you are applying at a consulate, check that consulate's Web site for details on the procedure, including application forms. If you are applying at a questura in Italy, check the Polizia di Stato's Web site (in Italian).
The procedure is practically identical everywhere. Every applicant now needs a nulla osta (police check) from Italy, so you should request a nulla osta as the first step. The consulate or questura should then advise you when the police check is complete, usually after about a week (or perhaps two), and thus when you can appear in person to complete your application.
7. What does it cost to apply for an Italian passport?
The current price as of this writing (February, 2012) is 82.79 euro. If you are applying at a consulate you can pay in local foreign (non-euro) currency. The amount varies every three months, depending on the euro exchange rate at the beginning of each quarter. Some consulates post the exact local currency amount on their Web sites, and a few consulates (such as New York) accept major credit and debit cards. However, if you bring enough local currency such that you can pay any exact amount equivalent to 70 to 95 euro at that day's exchange rate, you should have no problem making exact payment.
8. What are the photo requirements for an Italian passport?
The recommended passport photo size is 35 x 40 mm, although there is some tolerance for variation. The Polizia di Stato publishes this helpful illustrated guide with much more information on passport photo requirements.
9. May I apply for an Italian passport by mail?
If you have never previously been fingerprinted to obtain a biometric Italian passport, no, you must appear in person at an Italian embassy, consulate, or questura to apply for an Italian passport.
If travel to your embassy or consulate is a particular hardship, ask if there is any upcoming special passport fingerprinting session available at an honorary vice consulate. Some embassies and consulates with particularly large geographic jurisdictions offer this special service.
If for some reason your passport is not finished during your fingerprinting visit, you can typically make arrangements with the embassy or consulate to mail the new passport to you. A trackable postal service is recommended, such as U.S. Priority Mail with Signature Confirmation.
10. Should my children get their own passports? Are there any special considerations when I apply for passports for my children?
All Italian passports are now issued separately, one per individual. All Italian citizens, including minors, have the same requirements for when they must use Italian passports.
Both parents (or guardians) must give permission to issue passports to minors. Minors' passports expire within either three or five years, depending on their ages.
11. What is the "marca da bollo" inside my Italian passport?
That's a tax stamp. When you receive your Italian passport, it includes a one year stamp. There's only one occasion when you must have an unexpired marca da bollo sul passaporto in your passport: when you are exiting Italy, you have the intention to leave the European Union, and you are presenting your Italian passport to Italian passport control.
You can obtain a new marca da bollo sul passaporto at most tobacco shops in Italy before you depart. The current cost is 40.29 euro per marca. To make sure you get the correct type of marca show your passport (and tax stamp page) to the shopkeeper.
Note that each marca da bollo sul passaporto always expires on the anniversary of your passport's date of issue, even if that's the very next day after your first use of that particular marca. For example, if your passport was issued on June 24, 2009, then your first marca (included with the passport) is valid through June 23, 2010 (inclusive). The second marca (if you purchase it) would be valid through June 23, 2011, and so on. You can skip buying a marca for any passport year when you don't need one.
Note also that if you are exiting Italy, presenting your passport to Italian passport control, and you have a roundtrip ticket to a destination outside the European Union, the passport control officer may look at your return date. If the return date is sometime in the next marca year, then you should also purchase that next marca ahead of time. That means you might even have to purchase two tax stamps if you don't yet have a current marca, your departure date is within the current passport year, and your return date is within the next passport year (after your passport's next anniversary). In the example above, if your departure date is June 21, 2011, and your roundtrip ticket has a return date of June 28, 2011, then you would need to have a marca in your passport for the June 24, 2010, to June 23, 2011, period plus another marca for the next period (June 24, 2011, to June 23, 2012).
You do not need a valid marca da bollo in any of the following situations:
You are arriving in Italy rather than departing.
You are presenting your carta d'identità, which is permitted for regional international travel, instead of your Italian passport.
You do not face an Italian (Polizia di Stato) border control officer. In particular, there is no border control for intra-Schengen Area travel (except in extraordinary circumstances).
You have no intention to leave the European Union, and your planned itinerary does not take you outside the EU.
12. I'm flying from New York to Mumbai, connecting in Milan. Do I need a valid marca da bollo sul passaporto in my Italian passport when I connect to my second flight in Milan?
Possibly. It both your flights use the same international (non-Schengen) terminal in Italy, and thus you never "enter" Italy (pass through Italian passport control), you wouldn't need a valid marca da bollo. Otherwise you would. In you do need a tax stamp, be prepared to find an airport shop where you can buy one before entering the passport control queue for your second flight.
13. I am a dual national. Can I use my Italian passport to enter or exit my other country of citizenship?
No. As with Italy, nearly all countries legally require their citizens to use only that country's passport to enter/exit. It may be inconvenient, but you must obtain a passport in advance of travel involving any of your countries of citizenship, with the Schengen and carta d'identità exceptions noted above for Italy.
14. I am having difficulty obtaining a passport in time. Can I travel to that country, one of my countries of citizenship?
Legally, no. You must postpone or cancel your travel if you cannot obtain the necessary passport(s).
15. But I have an emergency. What can I do?
Italian consulates and embassies abroad can issue an "Emergency Travel Document" to Italian citizens which is good for entry (only) into Italy.
An embassy, consulate, or questura may be able to issue a limited term (12 month) passport in an urgent situation.
The best option is to plan ahead. If there's the possibility of an emergency — for example, if you have family or friends living in your country of citizenship — then you would be advised to obtain that country's passport and keep it current.
16. What happens if my passport is lost or stolen?
Keep color copies of your passports' identity pages in a separate, secure location. Also, you can scan your passports and keep the scans in a secure Internet-based account, accessible from anywhere there's an Internet connection.
If your passport is stolen, report that theft to your country's embassy or consulate and to the police. Obtain a police report. Bring the police report, a copy of your travel itinerary, and (if available) a copy of your passport to the embassy or consulate. You should then be able to obtain an "Emergency Travel Document" or temporary passport.
17. Do I have to carry both my passports when I travel internationally?
You do not have to carry both passports unless your travel involves both your countries of citizenship, or unless different passports contain different visas required for your particular travel itinerary. However, as a matter of convenience you may prefer to carry both passports on all trips.
18. Should I show my second passport to immigration officials when entering/exiting a particular country?
No, that's not advisable and could cause confusion or worse. That's particularly true when you are entering/exiting one of your countries of citizenship. In fact, some countries do not tolerate dual citizenship and could react quite negatively to your presenting two passports.
Keep in mind that each country enforces its own immigration laws, not the immigration laws of other countries. If the country you are entering is curious how you managed to stay in another country for a "long" period of time, you may either refuse to answer (if legally permitted, as for U.S. citizens entering the U.S.) or state the truth, that you were legally permitted to stay, and/or that the other country did not stamp your passport.
19. Should I lie?
No. Lying is a serious offense in most countries. Don't do it, either verbally or in writing.
20. What about airline check-in? Which passport(s) should I present?
When checking in with the airline, present the passport most relevant to enter your destination country. For example, if you are flying to Beijing, and you require a visa to travel to China, present the passport containing your Chinese visa.
If you can use an airline check-in kiosk, that's recommended. If the kiosk is uncooperative, you can always get a second (human) opinion from the regular check-in desk.
Sometimes the airline will be concerned about your ability to exit the particular country from which you are departing. For example, they may be looking for a tax stamp, entry stamp, or some other evidence. If that evidence is in your other passport, you may then show your other passport upon request.
Sometimes the airline will be concerned about transit in a particular country if you are making a flight connection. If so, and if requested, you may show the other passport if it is more relevant to transit within that other country. Please note that some countries, including the U.S., require clearing immigration before connecting to any flight, including another international flight. Therefore, if you are connecting in the U.S., and if you are a U.S. citizen, you should present your U.S. passport at airline check-in. You may still need to present your other passport as well, depending on your itinerary and visa requirements.
21. I booked my ticket using my married name, which is the name in one of my passports. But I need to use my Italian passport, and my Italian passport has my maiden name. What should I do at check-in?
The airline has an obvious financial interest in making sure that you are the individual corresponding to the ticket. You may need to show both passports in that case, one for verifying your identity as the correct passenger, and the other for immigration purposes for your particular itinerary. Alternatively, the airline may accept another form of identification with a matching name, such as a driver's license.
Note that women can add their married name to their Italian passports on a separate page from the laminated data page. When you apply for your Italian passport, ask to add your married name if you are at least sometimes known by that name in other countries.
22. I received my Italian passport, but there's an error on the data page. What should I do?
Immediately contact the embassy, consulate, or questura that issued your passport if there's any incorrect information. Ask them to correct the information and to reissue your passport. Do not use the passport containing the error.
23. I am an American-Italian dual citizen. I need a visa to travel to China, but the visa is less expensive for Italian citizens than it is for U.S. citizens. May I apply for a Chinese visa for my Italian passport?
Many countries with visa requirements, including China, will only fulfill visa applications if you have proof of residence where you are applying or if you have citizenship with the country where you are applying. For example, if you live in the U.S., and you are a U.S. citizen, you won't be able to show a "green card" or other proof of legal residence that would apply to your Italian citizenship, and therefore you must apply for a Chinese visa as a U.S. citizen, at the higher price. (Conceivably you could apply in Italy, but that would be inconvenient at best if you live in the U.S.)
Keep this in mind when you establish residence outside your countries of citizenship. If you have the choice, and absent a compelling reason otherwise, establish residence under the citizenship most favorable to the type of international travel you do.
Please see the unofficial "Foreign Visa Requirements for Italian Passport Holders" guide for some more information.
24. I am opening a bank account, and the form asks whether I am a "U.S. person." I am an American-Italian dual citizen. May I answer "no" and use my Italian passport as identification?
No. All U.S. citizens (and some others, including U.S. permanent residents) are "U.S. persons." You must provide your U.S.-related information for proper tax treatment.
25. I am an American-Italian dual citizen. May I travel to Cuba with my Italian passport?
All U.S. citizens must obey U.S. laws, including laws relating to travel to Cuba, whether or not they possess other citizenships. If you are a U.S. citizen you may enter Cuba using whichever passport you wish, but you must still have a U.S. Department of Treasury license (or other appropriate U.S. legal approval) to travel to Cuba.
26. I entered a country using my Italian passport. May I use my other passport to exit?
Generally you should use the same passport to exit a country that you used to enter that country. Even if you manage to get through passport control when you exit, you could trigger an overstay investigation the next time you try to enter that country.
Here are most of the exceptions:
If you have established residency in a foreign country using a different country's passport than the one you used to enter that country, or you transferred your residence permit from one passport to another, you should use the passport associated with your residency to exit that foreign country.
If you enter a foreign country with a particular passport and then you are recognized as that country's citizen or naturalize as that country's citizen, you should obtain that country's passport and exit using that new passport.
If you enter a foreign country with a particular passport and then join that country's military service, you may exit that country as part of a military deployment. You would typically use that country's military identification for such travel.
Individuals applying or approved for asylum in a particular country may be required to use that country's travel document.
27. Should I use the same country's passport each time I enter a particular country?
That's advisable, yes. Often landing forms ask "Have you ever entered (country name) using a different name?" Sometimes they even ask whether you have ever entered under a different nationality. Answer truthfully. To avoid possible complications it's best to keep using the same passport you used previously, unless there's a compelling reason otherwise, such as more favorable visa treatment.
28. I am flying to a foreign country. The landing form asks whether I have ever previously been denied entry. When I was a student, that country's immigration service wouldn't let me in, and my parents had to pay for my flight back home. But that was with my U.S. passport. May I use my Italian passport to enter that country and answer "no" to that question?
No. You are still the same individual, and you must answer questions truthfully. You could be subject to severe legal penalties if you don't answer truthfully, penalties much worse than the possibility of being denied entry.
29. If I enter a country using my Italian passport, and I run into trouble, may I contact the embassy of my other country of citizenship for help?
Yes, you may. However, according to international treaty the country you entered is only required to allow you to contact the embassy representing the country that issued the passport you used to enter. Consequently only one country's diplomats may have access to you if you get in trouble. Keep that in mind when deciding which passport to use when entering a country, if you have a choice.
Of course, if you're in trouble, you should probably try to get as much help as possible unless your attempt to contact that other country's diplomats may put you in jeopardy. For example, the country holding you in jail may have better diplomatic relations with certain countries than with others.
Italian citizens may contact any embassy or consulate representing any European Union or European Economic Area country (or the Swiss embassy) to obtain limited emergency services if the Italian embassy or consulate is not present or is unreachable.
If you get into trouble in one of your countries of citizenship you do not have any treaty right to contact the embassy of your other country of citizenship.
30. I'm running out of pages in my Italian passport. Can I add pages?
No. You have to renew and get a new 48-page passport.
31. I am an American-Italian dual citizen, and I am flying from Italy to the U.S. via Toronto, Canada. Which passport should I show in Toronto?
When you are flying internationally and connecting via major Canadian airports, you do not clear Canadian immigration unless you exit the international terminal. If you are not a Canadian citizen or resident, and you want to exit the terminal, you may show whichever passport you wish to Canadian passport control.
United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has set up U.S. passport control entry points at certain airports in Canada, Ireland, Bermuda, and several Caribbean island nations for immigration preclearance. Although these passport control checkpoints are physically outside the United States, they are part of the U.S. government's operations through agreement with foreign governments. Therefore, if you are a U.S. citizen, you must treat them just like any other U.S. passport control checkpoint, and you must show your U.S. passport.
These U.S. CBP outposts are the best examples of extra-territorial checkpoints, but there are a few other examples elsewhere in the world. Make sure you know whether a government is asking for your passport and which government so that you present the correct passport. You may be tired, jetlagged, and physically in Montreal or Toronto or Shannon, but you may also be passing through U.S. passport control.
32. Which immigration queue should I use?
Italian citizens presenting their Italian passports may use the typically shorter European Union/European Economic Area immigration queues in Europe.
If you are entering or exiting one of your countries of citizenship, you must present that country's passport (or, if applicable, a carta d'identità when entering/exiting Italy), and therefore you would use the immigration queue for that country's citizens. Likewise, if you are entering/exiting a country where you have permanent residence, you should use the immigration queue applicable to permanent residents and present the passport associated with that residence.
If you are traveling with family members who must ordinarily use different immigration queues because they possess different citizenships or for other reasons, there are no universal rules about whether you can use a particular immigration queue together. Here are some suggestions:
Adult family members traveling without children may use separate queues. However, if one adult (such as a spouse) is relying on the other for immigration purposes, you should try to use the same queue if permitted.
Due to understandable international concerns about child abductions, both parents should try to use the same immigration queue together with their children.
To determine which immigration queue to use, or in other situations, refer to signs and, if in doubt, ask immigration officials. That should help you avoid the inconvenience of having to wait again in another immigration queue.
33. What should I do if someone asks to hold my passport?
Your Italian passport is Italian government property. You should at least think carefully about whether you wish to surrender your passport. Raise an objection if you feel uncomfortable, and ask for alternative solutions.
Sometimes the request is reasonable. For example, if you are applying for a visa, you may need to surrender your passport to the authority providing your visa so that the proper documentation may be affixed to your passport. That may take a few days. However, especially if you are applying for a visa outside one of your countries of citizenship, make sure you have alternative acceptable identification, such as a residence card with your photograph, in case you need to satisfy local authorities.
Some countries, including the U.S., will provide their citizens with second passports upon application if there is sufficient justification, such as the need to obtain visas from more than one foreign government at approximately the same time. If you hold multiple passports, whether from the same or from different countries, obviously you would be well advised not to disclose that fact as you surrender one of them. (But don't lie.)
If you do surrender your passport, be sure to get an official receipt.
34. When should I renew my passport?
Most countries require that your passport have at least six months of validity remaining for entry. Thus it's a good idea to add a renewal reminder to your calendar. Set that reminder at ten months before your passport expires. Also, if you have only a couple of empty pages remaining in your passport, you should renew it so that you have room for more visas and stamps.
35. I exited a foreign country, but that country forgot to collect my departure card. The departure card is still in my passport. What should I do?
Contact that country's embassy or consulate as soon as possible. That country may not have recorded your exit correctly. To avoid a possible overstay investigation when you next visit that country, you should make sure you properly return that departure card according to the embassy's/consulate's instructions.
36. I am an American-Italian dual citizen. May I show my Italian passport to U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staff who are checking IDs and boarding passes before security screening?
That's at least inadvisable. Show your U.S. passport or alternate form of U.S. identification, such as a U.S. driver's license.
Thanks to BBCWatcher on the Italian Citizenship Message Board (http://italiancitizenship.freeforums.org/guide-for-new-or-newly-recognized-italian-citizens-t218.html). Copied here:
Congratulations on your acquisition of Italian citizenship or recognition as an Italian citizen! This brief guide provides basic information on your most important rights, responsibilities, and privileges as an Italian citizen. However, this guide is not exhaustive, so please search the forums for additional advice, and please post to the appropriate forum if you have questions not previously answered. Also, please consult a professional expert (a competent attorney, for example) if you need legal assistance.
Your Birth Certificate
It's a good idea to keep an official copy of your Italian birth certificate together with your other important papers. To obtain your birth certificate, send a request via ordinary or registered airmail to your home commune in Italy. You can use one of the sample letters provided in the Templates forum. Your local consulate may require you to provide an official copy of your birth certificate if you are applying for a passport, for example.
As with all Italian public documents it is possible to order your birth certificate with a standard marca da bollo (tax stamp), currently priced at 14.62 euro. However, for most purposes, including passport issuance and renewal, it is not necessary to order a tax stamp with your birth certificate.
You may also wish to obtain official copies of your marriage, divorce, and/or childrens' birth records from Italy for your personal files, as applicable.
Other countries may be more lax and forgiving, allowing common variations in how you provide your legal name in different settings. Italy is different!
To avoid complications and potential legal difficulties, always use your full and exact legal name in any interactions with the Italian or other European governments, in business affairs (such as opening a bank account or buying property), in religious affairs (baptisms, weddings, etc.), in educational affairs (such as enrolling in a university), and in all other settings where your name could be recorded officially or semi-officially. If you have a middle name, if it is part of your legal name you must always use it.
It's very simple: your legal name is the one that appears on your birth (or naturalization) record, as recorded in your home comune in Italy. Be consistent with all spaces, punctuation, and capitalization.
For married or divorced women your name is your maiden name, unless you legally changed your name in Italy. (Yes, you may be known legally in one country by your married name and in Italy by your maiden name. If that's true, be extra careful when somebody asks your name.) Unless you are also asked specifically and additionally for your cognome da coniugata (married surname, alternatively cognome da sposata or cognome del marito), you should provide only your full legal name, which is your maiden name.
So, at least for your European affairs, stick to the name on the Italian version of your birth certificate! Check for any errors in any document you receive (such as a passport), and if necessary promptly notify the issuer to get your name corrected to match your birth certificate exactly.
Your Passport and Foreign Travel
Please read "Your Italian Passport: An Operator's Guide" for comprehensive information about Italian passports.
Australia, Canada, and New Zealand offer young Italian citizens special "working holiday" visas which permit extended stays and temporary employment.
Italy offers a national identity card (carta d'identità). Outside Italy, only Italian embassies and consulates in Europe can issue this card. Some citizens find this card more convenient to carry than a passport, and it is valid for travel between nearly all European countries and even a few countries outside Europe. If you live in the European Union and never leave the region, it works well. While you may obtain a carta d'identità if you wish, you do not require one if you have an Italian passport.
In Italy you must carry government-issued photo identification on your person (or have readily available beachside or bedside ) at all times. Otherwise the police can hold you pending verification of your identity. Your Italian passport or carta d'identità suffices.
Other countries also generally require you to carry photo identification, particularly if you are not a citizen of that country. If you're visiting a foreign country, be sure to carry the passport that you used to enter that country.
The Italian health insurance card (tessera sanitaria) proves that you have Italian national health insurance coverage, plus it includes your codice fiscale (see below). You may obtain the tessera sanitaria if you establish residence in Italy and enroll in national health insurance. (See below.)
The codice fiscale is similar in purpose to a U.S. Social Security number or tax identification number. It is available to both citizens and non-citizens. It is required to accomplish many routine tasks in Italy, such as opening a bank account and enrolling in the national health service.
If you live abroad, you may obtain a codice fiscale free of charge at any Italian embassy or consulate. While there are Internet sites that can provide you with your likely codice fiscale, please note that your number is not official and must not be used unless it is issued by the Italian government. Otherwise, the number is not listed in government records and will not work. In fact, it is illegal to try to use an unauthorized number.
Registering All Life Events with Your Comune
Your home comune in Italy records all your significant life events, and you are required to keep your comune informed about these events. To assist Italians living abroad, there is a special registry called AIRE (Anagrafe degli Italiani Residenti all'Estero). Your local embassy or consulate manages your information in this special registry on behalf of your home comune and forwards authenticated official documents (birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, etc.) to your comune for recording in their files. Thus, if you are living abroad, you only have to notify your local embassy or consulate of these significant changes. You do not need to contact your comune directly unless you want to obtain official copies of your family's records.
"Significant changes" means changes in your permanent residential address (even if you're just switching apartments or moving across the street; moves within Italy must be reported directly to your comune), changes in your marital status, and changes in your family's composition (i.e. birth or adoption of a child, death of a child, death of a spouse, or your death). If you are aware of significant changes in the past that have not yet been recorded, you should forward them as soon as possible to bring your records up-to-date.
Italy does not currently recognize same-sex marriages, although some other European countries do. (See below regarding European Union citizenship.) However, Italy permits transsexual persons to change their legal gender, so such changes should be reported.
Passing Citizenship to Others
Italy is primarily a jure sanguinis citizenship country. As an Italian citizen you pass on Italian citizenship to your children when they are born (and to any minors when you legally adopt them). As mentioned previously, you are obliged to register all changes in family composition. Birth (and adoption) registration with Italy gives legal effect to your progeny's Italian citizenship.
Technically Italy has certain rules for naming babies. According to Presidential Decree nº 396 (3 novembre 2000), and affirmed by Italy's highest court in 2008, Italian parents may not name their children the same as a living father or sibling, with a surname as their first name, or with a "ridiculous" or "shameful" name. Suffixes, such as "Junior" or "III," are not used in Italy. Prospective parents may wish to consult lists of Italian baby names, such as ItaliaNames.com. However, per Circolare 18 febbraio 2010 (nº 4/2010), these naming rules are at least somewhat relaxed for children born abroad with dual citizenship (the birth country's citizenship and Italian citizenship).
When you legally marry an opposite-sex partner who is not an Italian citizen, your spouse can optionally apply for jure matrimoni naturalization after a waiting period. You must remain married and living together through the entire jure matrimoni process.
Voting and Democratic Representation
If your permanent address abroad is properly registered in AIRE, and if you are old enough to vote (age 18; age 25 for Senate elections), you should automatically receive voting materials for Italian elections. You may vote by mail for your deputy (representative to the lower house, called the Camera, also known as the Chamber of Deputies), for your senator (representative to the upper house, called the Senate), in referenda, and possibly for certain other offices depending on where you live. (Italy is a parliamentary democratic republic, and Italians do not vote directly for the Prime Minister or President.) Or you may vote in person in your comune when the polls are open, as Italians residing in Italy do, as long as you notify your local embassy or consulate a sufficient amount of time before the election. Whether or not you are also eligible to vote in another country's elections is immaterial, at least to Italy. You can still vote in Italian elections.
Deputies and senators each have districts they represent. Italy has a small number of deputies and senators representing Italians living abroad. Districts outside Italy are very large geographically.
Italian citizens may stand for public office in Italy and are also eligible to work in the civil service.
Taxes and Laws
Italy is similar to most other countries in not taxing the income earned abroad of Italians permanently residing abroad. In other words, there is no inherent tax liability derived solely as a result of Italian citizenship.
Many visitors from outside Europe buy goods and then obtain Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds at the airport just before returning home from Europe. Italian citizens living abroad can still obtain VAT refunds on their European shopping trips, but they must also prove residence outside Europe. You may be presenting a passport from a non-European country to help prove residence abroad. However, if you are an Italian citizen you must always represent yourself as an Italian citizen to Italian government officials, including officials processing VAT refund requests at the airport. In that case, present your Italian passport (or at least clearly state that you are an Italian citizen) first, then present whatever evidence you are using to prove residency outside Europe.
AIRE-registered Italian citizens who move to Italy (to establish permanent residence) are eligible for a customs exemption.
You must obey the laws of Italy. Ignorance of the law is not a valid defense. If you are also the citizen of another country (i.e. a dual national), you must also obey the laws of your other country of citizenship. For example, if you are a citizen of both Italy and the United States, you are still subject to U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba. You must also file an annual "1040" tax return with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and report all your non-U.S. financial accounts to the U.S. Treasury every year using form TD F 90-22.1.
If you are arrested in Italy you have no immediate right to see an attorney, but you may provide the name of your attorney to the judge in writing. You may remain silent except that you must provide your full name, date and place of birth, and indicate whether you have been previously arrested in Italy.
Military Service and National Security
Italy abolished all compulsory military service as of January 1, 2005. However, as with most countries, if there is a future national emergency the Italian government may order eligible Italian citizens, particularly young adult males, to report for military duty. That said, at least since World War II Italians residing abroad have never been recalled to Italy for compulsory military service.
Only Italian citizens are eligible to volunteer for Italian military service. There is no Italian equivalent to the French Foreign Legion, for example. The Italian military permits gays and lesbians to serve openly.
Italian citizens who are also citizens of other countries may have certain restrictions in obtaining the highest security clearances. This issue could affect employment in certain sensitive government, military, and defense industry professions in either or both countries. Complications in obtaining or retaining security clearances are particularly prevalent when the second citizenship is sought or acquired as an adult.
If you are also a male U.S. citizen age 18 to 25 (inclusive) you are still required to register with Selective Service no matter where you live in the world. And all young males resident in the U.S., legally or illegally, must register.
Right of Abode (and Other Fundamental Rights)
Perhaps it should be obvious, but as an Italian citizen you have the right to live in Italy permanently, and you are eligible for the same tax benefits as any other Italian when buying property. You may take any legal employment in Italy. Italian citizens are also citizens of the European Union. You have very similar rights of abode and employment in the European Union, in the European Economic Area, and in Switzerland. As of January, 2012, this combined area comprises 31 countries, including Italy.
If your spouse and/or dependents are not EU/EEA/Swiss citizens, they may accompany you if you establish residence within the EU/EEA/Switzerland and if they apply for legal residence as family members of an Italian (EU) national. Your non-citizen spouse may seek employment. If you die while you are all legally resident together within the EU/EEA/Switzerland, they may stay (with some caveats), and your spouse may still seek employment.
Italy does not recognize same-sex spouses or partners, so the rights described above are not presently available within Italy to households headed by same-sex couples. Court cases are pending. However, many other European countries (including Switzerland, with its majority Italian speaking canton Ticino) fully recognize households headed by same-sex couples as long as the relationship is legally established and documented in some jurisdiction, such as a U.S. state.
The European Union Web site provides a great deal of information on your EU citizenship rights and responsibilities.
You also have a special treaty right of abode and employment in Panama.
Social Security, Education, Medical, and Other Social Benefits
Italy has a Social Security system, but its pension benefits are largely reserved for those living and working in Italy for at least five years. Italy has Social Security treaties with certain other countries, including the U.S., that establish various reciprocal rights to benefits based on combined contributions.
Italian citizens may enroll in Italian universities and may qualify for government scholarships, although general tuition rates are already substantially lower than in many other countries. Italian citizens are eligible for the ERASMUS exchange program. Italian citizens who have resided in the EU for a sufficient number of years (typically five years) are eligible for EU tuition rates at all European universities. Some EU countries have no residency requirements to qualify for tuition benefits. For example, Italian citizens may attend public universities in Sweden without owing any tuition. Of course, Italians living in Italy have full access to primary and secondary education.
Italians resident in Italy may enroll in the national health system. Italians with national health insurance temporarily visiting other European countries enjoy reciprocal coverage. Italians permanently residing in another European country may enroll in their national health system. AIRE-registered Italians residing outside Europe are eligible to obtain a maximum of three months per year of free emergency medical assistance when visiting Italy. The Italian national health system is funded through payroll and other taxes, but Italian citizens only need to prove residence in Italy to enroll.
There are many other benefits available to Italian citizens residing in Italy, including the social allowance (which offers some financial security to low income Italians), disability insurance, maternity benefits, and paid parental leave among others. The Italian government also funds long-term care, such as nursing home care, for Italian citizens residing in Italy who have exhausted their savings.
Consular Services for Citizens
Italian embassies and consulates provide a range of services to Italians residing abroad. In addition to the AIRE-related services mentioned above, embassies and consulates also provide emergency services. For example, the embassy or consulate often can help facilitate emergency evacuations from areas of conflict or natural disaster (such as Libya in early 2011). Consular officials are available to visit Italians arrested abroad and help arrange legal representation, although Italians are still responsible for obeying local laws and for legal costs. The embassy or consulate also typically maintains a directory of competent medical professionals in the area, and they may be able to facilitate emergency medical treatment locally or medical repatriation to Italy, although you are still responsible for costs if you are able to pay. It is advised to have the telephone number of the nearest Italian embassy or consulate readily available (stored in your mobile phone, for example) in case you require emergency consular service while abroad, particularly outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland. You are also advised to register details of any upcoming foreign travel through the MFA's Web site DoveSiamoNelMondo.it (in Italian). Please note that if you enter a particular country using your other passport (whether or not you are required to use that other passport), the Italian government may not be able to provide much emergency consular assistance to you in that country.
The Italian embassy or consulate can also help authenticate foreign official documents (issued within their jurisdiction), legalize documents, and/or translate documents into Italian (or recommend competent translators). In some cases the embassy or consulate can help Italians promote their businesses abroad, particularly the export of more Italian-made products and services.
If there is no Italian embassy or consulate in the country you visit, or if the embassy or consulate is unreachable due to an emergency such as civil unrest, you may contact any other EU country's embassy or consulate for emergency services only.
Italians also enjoy full access to the several Italian Cultural Institutes in major cities outside Italy. The Institutes promote Italian culture, commerce, and language. Many embassies, consulates, and ICIs invite area Italians to special events, such as social gatherings, Italian national holiday celebrations, and artistic performances. There are also Italian Chambers of Commerce and other membership organizations in many cities around the world.
Italian Language, History, and Current Events
Most Italian citizens are fluent in the Italian language. There are numerous opportunities to learn the Italian language. U.S. residents may wish to subscribe to the Italian language newspaper America Oggi, published daily. (Sunday-only subscriptions are also available.) ICN Radio broadcasts a 24 hour schedule in Italian in the New York City area on an FM radio subcarrier, and the broadcast is also available on the Internet. Visit the Learning Italian forum to find other recommendations.
Italy has a rich history, but did you know that Italy did not exist as a nation until 1861? Start learning more about your country's history.
Every day more history is being made. You can follow major news events in Italy by visiting ANSA's English site. (Italy's ANSA is analogous to the U.S. Associated Press.) Of course there are many more sources of news about Italy, especially in Italian. If you'd like to discuss Italian politics (in English), try the Expats in Italy forum "Understanding Italian Politics."
There are many Italian associations and clubs outside Italy, including the National Italian American Foundation. Many Italian embassies and consulates maintain lists of local associations and clubs.
Losing (or Giving Up) Your Citizenship
There are only a very few ways you can lose your Italian citizenship. Naturalizing as a citizen of another country does not affect your status as an Italian citizen, for example. Italian law changed effective August 15, 1992, to permit that.
As you might expect, the Italian government can strip citizenship (with retroactive effect) from anyone who represented themselves fraudulently or inaccurately in any citizenship application.
Italy no longer requires you to renounce another country's citizenship if you become an Italian citizen through naturalization. (And there has never been such a requirement if you are recognized as an Italian citizen jure sanguinis or if you acquired citizenship automatically when you legally married an Italian male before April 27, 1983.) However, some other countries may interpret Italian naturalization (i.e. "voluntary" acquisition of citizenship), in particular, as an act of renunciation. That depends on the citizenship laws of the other country. Presumably you already understand these ramifications.
There is generally no problem when Italian citizens choose to serve in foreign militaries or as foreign government officials. However, the Italian government still technically has the legal power to strip citizenship in such cases by following due process (i.e. a best-effort notice, then a waiting period to allow the citizen to reverse course and end foreign military/government service). The Italian government has rarely exercised this power and then only when the foreign power is expressly hostile to Italy. (The Italian government exercised this power during World War II only to retroactively restore citizenship after Italy's fascist government fell.)
As a separate matter, if you are thinking of voluntarily renouncing your citizenship of another country now that you are recognized as an Italian citizen, please review discussion #1 and #2 to understand the potential advantages and disadvantages.
I contacted the Nashville Police Department and they said that they can take official fingerprints for use by the states and the FBI for background checks.
We need to go to: 200 James Robertson Pkwy at the Criminal Justice Center
They have "standard cards supplied by the FBI for fingerprint submissions that are used for regular background checks."
They said, "Yes, we can do it. The standard fee is $9 for the first set and $1 for each additional set of prints if needed. We are open Mon-Fri from 7AM to 6PM. Please make sure to bring the form with you."
To obtain a Tennessee background check, we need to download the application from here : http://www.tbi.state.tn.us/background_checks/backgrd_checks.shtml
This is the form: http://www.tbi.state.tn.us/background_checks/TORIS-master-memo.pdf
We need to write on it that it needs to be notarized.
We can go to the TBI and get it done in person while we wait:
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
901 R.S. Gass Boulevard
Nashville, TN 37216
Then we can take it downtown to the Secretary of State to get it apostilled.
Division of Business Services
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, Snodgrass Tower, 6th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243
I called the Records Division with the Indiana State Police (317-232-8266).
We need to fill out and download form 8053 (http://www.in.gov/ai/appfiles/isp-lch//LCHrequest.pdf).
We need to obtain a set of finger prints.
And mail to:
Indiana State Police
100 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46204
We need to include a $10 fee. And we need to specify that this is for "immigration/citizenship" and that it needs to be "certified".
They also gave me a phone number for obtaining finger prints: 1-877-472-6917 (L-1 Identity Solutions).
Here's the process:
Indiana requires electronic finger prints. However, electronic finger prints cannot cross state borders. So we need to get ink finger prints on hard cards and send them to be registered with L-1. Basically, they take the hard cards, digitize them, and send them along to the Indiana State Police.
Before sending them, we need to register with L-1, pay, and print out the confirmation to include with the prints.
This is the web site: http://www.l1enrollment.com/state/?st=in
She said not to put a zip code and to select "pay for ink card submission" where she will fill in her information, be prompted to pay, and get a confirmation.
I also found this web site: http://www.in.gov/isp/files/FAQ_isp_inkless.pdf
1) You have a need for a fingerprint based criminal history check.
2) Schedule an appointment online at http://www.l1enrollment.com/state/?st=in or by calling 1-877-472-6917.
3) You will need to select the agency or reason you need fingerprinted. If you need an Indiana only fingerprint based criminal history check select the following reason: Criminal Record Review Challenge.
4) You will choose a location to be fingerprinted.
5) Payment can be made electronically by credit card or debit card at time of scheduling. You can also pay at the fingerprinting service center by cashier’s check or money order.
Here is the web site for obtaining a personal FBI criminal background check: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks
Here is the specific information on making a request: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks/submitting-an-identification-record-request-to-the-fbi
Step 1: Complete the Applicant Information Form.
Step 2: Obtain a set of your fingerprints.
Step 3: Submit payment.
Step 4: Review the FBI Identification Record Request Checklist to ensure that you have included everything needed to process your request.
Step 5: Mail the required items listed above—signed applicant information form, fingerprint card, and payment of $18 U.S. dollars for each person or copy requested—to the following address:
FBI CJIS Division – Record Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306
Note: Although the FBI employs the most efficient methods for processing these requests, processing times may take approximately eight weeks depending on the volume of requests received.
Update 22 Mar 2012
I called the FBI today to ask about the specific procedure. After calling the central FBI office, they gave me the telephone number for their WV office that handles background checks (1-304-625-2000).
They first pointed me to the web site I had found earlier doing a google search: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks
You need to follow the instructions to "Submit your request directly to the FBI" which links to this page: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/background-checks/submitting-an-identification-record-request-to-the-fbi
You need to fill out the application. Easy enough.
There is a specific finger print form on the FBI web site (FD-258), with a link right from the above page. They said that it can be printed out on regular printer paper.
They did say to make sure it was filled out exactly right.
You can (and should) get your prints done by a local police department. In Nashville, they charge $9 for the first set and $1 each for any additional sets. The person seemed to suggest to bring both a filled out form and a blank form in case the police want to fill in the information themselves. The police will (well, should) check ID when they do the prints.
Once you have the application, finger prints, and payment, you send everything in and get the background check back. I didn't ask how long it normally took. From reading other posts elsewhere, I gather that background checks like this "expire" so you don't want to get them too soon in the process. I read someplace that they're only valid for something like 6 months.
For a jure matrimoni application, you likely need to get the FBI background check apostilled. So it's critical that you include another piece of paper that explains why you need the background check authenticated and apostilled. And they recommended also writing at the top of the application that you need it authenticated so that it can be apostilled clearly.
They made a clear distinction between having it "authenticated", which apparently means the FBI affixing a seal or a signature to the document (kind of like what NARA does on census records perhaps), and having it apostilled, which must be done by the US Department of State.
To get the FBI background check apostilled (which the US Department of State called "authentication"), I first called the federal government information hotline at 1-800-333-4636. They gave me this web site: http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/
They said to make sure you include a cover letter with your name, phone, mailing address, email, etc. and the country that the document is being used in. They also recommended using FED-EX or UPS – not the US Postal Service – because USPS mail to the State Department apparently needs to be screened and can delay the mail by several weeks (for some reason, FED-EX and UPS don't go through the same screening process).
They said it should take about 10 business days to have the FBI background check apostilled/authenticated by the State Department.
I found this web site for obtaining criminal records from NY State – http://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/ojis/recordreview.htm
I emailed RecordReview@dcjs.ny.gov:
I am a US citizen by birth and am in the process of finalizing my dual Italian citizenship.
My wife is eligible for Italian dual citizenship by marriage. As part of her application, she needs to obtain "police clearance or certificate of criminal records issued by the central authority of each state of which the applicant has been a resident since the age of 14". She was born in NY and lived in NY until she finished college. My wife was never accused, charged, or convicted of any crime, so we expect it to come back clear.
One complication is that the police clearance / certificate of criminal records must be suitable for an apostille by the Secretary of State of NY. So it needs to be signed and certified. I understand from others who have applied for Italian citizenship by marriage that the criminal record someone might get by applying by the usual methods is not suitable for an apostille and hence is not acceptable by the Italian consulate for citizenship applications.
What is the process for obtaining a signed and certified police clearance / certificate of criminal records suitable for apostille from NY State?
Update 22 Mar 2012
Here is their response:
"… we will have to do is send you out our cardscan packet in the mail. So we will just need a mailing address. once you receive the packet you will fill out the form and take the finger print card to a local police station to get finger printed on. Once all that is completed you will mail to the address on the form. Once we receive it will process it and it will take us 7-10 business days to process and we will get the background check out to you with the sealed and notarized letter."
Now that the jure sanguinis application for me and my children seems to be moving along, I am starting to get information together for my wife's application for Italian citizenship jure matromoni.
This is information from the Ministry of the Interior web site:
Granting of the Italian citizenship to foreign citizens married to Italian citizens and to foreign citizens who reside in Italy
FOLLOWING MARRIAGE TO AN ITALIAN CITIZEN (ARTICLE 5 OF LAW 91/92, as subsequently amended and supplemented)
According to article 5 of Law No. 91 of 5th February 1992, citizenship can be granted following marriage, provided the following conditions are met:
Here is some information from the Detroit consulate brochure:
Before submitting the application the marriage must have already been registered at the Town Hall in Italy and the Italian spouse must be registered at the Italian Consulate as an "Italian Citizen residing abroad" (A.I.R.E.). Payment of Euro 200.00 and the following documents:
The fee must be paid prior to the presentation of the request, through international bank transfer or through Eurogiro network. When making your payment use the following guidelines:
Beneficiary: CONTO CORRENTE POSTALE "MINISTERO DELL'INTERNO D.L.C.I. – CITTADINANZA"
IBAN code n. IT54D0760103200000000809020
Reference of payment – For citizenship by marriage please indicate: "ISTANZA DI CITTADINANZA PER MATRIMONIO"
From the Italian Dual Citizenship Message Board, I've learned that it can take over 2 years for the application to be processed by Rome.
On the message board, I found this about getting an FBI background check apostilled (http://italiancitizenship.freeforums.org/apostille-for-fbi-record-t1077.html):
9. Does the FBI provide apostilles*?
(*An apostille is a certification that a document that has been “legalized” or “authenticated” by the issuing agency through a process in which various seals are placed on the document.)
Yes. The CJIS Division will authenticate U.S. Department of Justice Order 556-73 fingerprint search results for international requests by placing the FBI seal and the signature of a division official on the results if requested at the time of submission. Documents prepared in this way may then be sent to the U.S. Department of State by the requester to obtain an apostille if necessary. This procedure became effective on January 25, 2010 and will apply only to documents finalized after that date. Requests to authenticate previously processed results will not be accepted. This procedure replaces the letter formerly provided by the CJIS Division that indicated the service was not provided. The apostille service is not provided to individuals requesting search results for Canadian immigration, as it is not required for this purpose.
More information from the message board:
"You need a criminal background check in every state he has resided in (ie. had a license or utilities registered in his name). For the criminal background checks, you need to contact the state government and ask for a copy of this that is appropriate for apostille by the Secretary of State (SoS). The SoS is who you will send this form to after you've received it. Appropriate means they have notarized it before sending it to you. I received a couple of un-notarized copies which would not be accepted by the SF consulate as I had to notarize them myself before the SOS would apostille them. … For the FBI check, you need it for visa/immigration purposes and as it is only valid for six months, you might not want to get it too far in advance."
"Try asking for an "authenticated" background check. It has to be "authenticated" before it can be apostilled. Good luck! It just means that they put their seal with a signature that can be verified on it."
"I am beginning the process of getting my husband Italian citizenship through marriage. I spoke to my local consular officer (NY) who told me that I need to collect the certificates of good conduct from each state of birth and residence, and to have each one "legalized" by the Italian Consular authority responsible for that area (i.e., a criminal history from Rhode Island must be legalized by the Italian Consulate in Boston)."
"The U.S. is not one of those countries hostile to the acquisition of second citizenships, so that's not a worry."
"Just remember to say, 'suitable for Apostille.'"
"FBI fingerprints – I called our local police department about this. They do the fingerprinting but the officer who answered the phone wasn't sure if the department had the cards/forms. A poster on another forum wrote that he/she was told by his/her local police department that they don't provide them. The form (FD-258) can be downloaded from the FBI website. Just google From FD-258. I don't know if these copies would be acceptable. The poster indicated that you might want to contact your local FBI Field Office."
"I first had them taken by an authorized outlet for state and government fingerprints (CA requires fingerprints too, so there are many places that do this). State ok'ed them. The Government sent them back stating that they were not clear enough and giving tips to re-take. I had them retaken at the certified place for free, but when I sent them back to the Government, same result. Desperate, I called the local police department almost in tears, and explained my dilemma. They told me to come in and they would try. I apparently have really really bad fingerprints (so they said – they called it potter's hands). They were very very careful (and in fact took the best of three sheets they did) and thankfully, the Government finally accepted them and issued the all clear. Long story short, I'd use the local police. Just be sure they are careful."
"I am reading that you have 3 months to get to the consulate for the background checks."
I sent my birth certificate and marriage certificate to the Italian consulate in NY City. I'm not sure what the cost will be – they asked for my credit card and will return a receipt with my documents – but the postage (2nd day with UPS, there plus a return envelop) was $43.46.
In reference to your request pertaining to the legalization of Vital Records documents, issued in the States of New York and Connecticut, to be presented to the Italian Consular Office where you reside to claim Italian citizenship through ancestor:
(Please include copy of your passport)
The undersigned assumes all responsibility for the mailing of the original documents in the pre stamped self addressed envelope and will not hold the Consulate General of Italy in New York liable for the loss or damage of the documents while in transit.
Signature (to be notarized)
Here is my grandparents marriage certificate from Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They were married 10 Jun 1939. Witnesses were John Palmeri, probably one of my grandfather's Palmeri cousins, and Mrs. J. D'Arata, who I don't know.
my grandparents' marriage certificate from NBVM Church in Buffalo
interior of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, where my grandparents were married
I need to get my birth certificate and marriage certificate from NY State authenticated by the Italian consulate in NY City in order to finalize recognition of Italian citizenship for me and my two boys. I emailed them today asking for details about the process (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I had previously posted information I had gotten from the discussion boards but I wanted to confirm that I had the correct process.
Going in today, I knew I had some issues with my application. My GGF's MC and naturalization were both misspelled Palmieri rather than Palmeri, my GF's BC was misspelled Palmieri, my GF's BC had Giuseppe rather than Joseph, and I have yet to find my GP's MC.
I arrived 45 minutes early. I had left my hotel near the airport early, not wanting to get stuck in traffic on the way to downtown Detroit or have trouble finding parking. No problems with either. After sitting in the waiting area for a short while, I was invited back to an office 30 minutes before my scheduled appointment.
It was all business. Courteous. Professional. No small talk.
"I need to make copies of your driver's license and your passport." I give her both. I also brought copies and she's happy to take them. I ask if she wants my children's passports too and I tell her I have copies of them. "Give me those."
"Give me your first document." I didn't know which document was first, but figured she meant my GGF's birth certificate. She saw I was confused and said, "The birth certificate for the ancestor you are claiming citizenship." I hand her my GGF's BC. She looks it over, jots some notes in pencil on the apostile attached to it. She says, "That way I won't need to look back at the form itself."
"Your great-grandfather's naturalization record." I hand it to her. She makes some comment to herself that she needs to put something on their web site so that people use the right address for the USCIS. At first I think I did something wrong. Then I realized that she was fine with what I had and was just commenting on what could be problems with documents other people produce. No comment about the misspelling and I did not say anything. I had a "positivo-negativo" letter from my great-grandfather's commune and also had a letter of "one-and-the-same" from the USCIS. But there did not seem to be any need to offer them since she did not note any concerns.
"Your great-grandparent's marriage certificate." She looks it over. It included two pages. One was a copy of the license for the marriage from Armstrong County in Pennsylvania. The other was a signed and sealed certificate from the county clerk that basically recapitulated the signed statement on the license from the priest . She puzzled over this one a while, feeling both pages until she found the seal on one of them. For the other one, she said "This is just a license." I told her that it included the signature of the priest who had married them and that this was what was copied on the page with the certificate and seal. She finally found it and seemed satisfied.
"Your grandfather's birth certificate." She seems fine with it.
"Your grandfather's marriage certificate." I tell her that despite months of searching, contacting the City of Buffalo, New York State, and just about every church in Buffalo, I cannot find a marriage certificate. I offered that I did have my grandfather's death certificate, since that included my grandmother's name on it. "Give that to me." She then says, "Maybe they never got married." I'm pretty sure they did, but of course I say nothing.
Next is my father's birth certificate and my parents' marriage certificate. No problem with those.
Then she gets to my birth certificate and my marriage certificate. "Sigh." Pause. "You know what you need to do next, don't you? You need to get these certified by the consulate in New York." She gives me a page with the contact number for the consulate and tells me the procedure. She emphasizes "Make sure you tell them that you have already come to the Detroit consulate." Later on, she said something to the effect of, "They should send those back to you." Pause. "Hopefully." Sounds like they're equally frustrated with the New York consulate.
Then my children. No problem there. They were born in Tennessee, which is under the Detroit consulate.
So then she says, "Here are some forms you need to fill out in the waiting room. Give them to the receptionist when you are done."
One is a version of the application some consulates have on their web sites, asking for all of the information on birth and marriage dates for GGPs through to me. It's just the Detroit consulate's version.
Then I start to fill out another form. While most items on the form are in both English and Italian, the heading is only in Italian. I think it's just another application form, but the Italian at the top of the page is beyond my ability to decipher. I get about half-way through and then look back at the top of the page and see a superheading in smaller font that ends in A.I.R.E.
She comes out again because I have a question about filling out a section of the A.I.R.E. Basically, it was the place on the form to fill in passport or visa information and she tells me to leave it blank. She says that once I get the birth certificate and marriage certificate approved by the NY consulate she will mail them back to me and then they will be registered with my great-grandfather's commune of Serradifalco. Then my wife can apply.
Being the pessimist, I'm assuming that someone is going to contact me and tell me they found something wrong. If so, I'll deal with it. But from everything I've read on this forum, being asked to fill out the A.I.R.E. basically means that the consulate is approving your application for recognition as an Italian citizen. Fingers crossed that's the case.
Here is a review of what I got and what was needed.
GGF BC from Italy
GGF naturalization record
GGP marriage certificate from PA (apostilled and translated)
GF BC from NY (apostilled and translated)
GP marriage certificate needed, but I did not have it (took my GF death certificate in its place and kept official "no record found" certificate from Buffalo)
F BC from NY (apostilled and translated)
P MC from NY (apostilled and translated)
My BC from NY (apostilled and translated), need to get authenticated by NY consulate
Our MC from NY (apostilled and translated), need to authenticated by NY consulate
Children's BCs from TN (apostilled and translated), she authenticated them
Spouses BC from NY (apostilled and translated, but she only needed a photocopy)
Not Needed (but obtained)
Positivo/negativo for my GGF from Italy
One-and-the-same letter for GGF from USCIS
GGF DC (apostilled and translated)
GGM BC from Italy
GM BC from Italy
M BC (apostilled)
M DC (apostilled)
Here are some pictures from my trip to the Detroit consulate. The consulate is in the Buhl building in downtown Detroit on the 18th floor. An old building. A fairly standard office. But a great experience.
outside the Buhl Building
on the 18th floor
the hallway to the consulate
Translations arrived today.
Going to Detroit tomorrow.
According to one of the churches that responded to my request to find my grandparents' marriage (they did not have it), her family church in Buffalo could have a record of her marriage: "If that was your grandmothers baptismal church, all her sacraments would be recorded there, under her maiden name, and also it would tell you the church your grandparents were married in."
Desperate to find any possible leads on my grandparents' marriage, I emailed one of my cousins asking if he might have any idea where it could have taken place. He told me that my grandmother's parents' church was Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the west side of Buffalo. That church is closed and I would have never found it searching as I have. I emailed another church and they told me that the records for Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary are now held at Our Lady of Hope church in Buffalo. I emailed them. We'll see if they find anything. Fingers crossed that the Italian tradition was to get married in the wife's church.
Update 19 Mar 2012
Today I received an email from Our Lady of Hope Church: "I found the marriage in our books and mailed out the certificate to you last week, probably on Thursday"
Okay, so no record was found in the City of Buffalo for my grandparents marriage abt 1939. I assumed it must have been in Buffalo since that's where they had lived their entire lives. But apparently not. We'll see if my aunt can get a copy of their marriage certificate from NY State. In the meanwhile, I'll email and write the town clerks around Buffalo to see if any others can track down a marriage certificate for me.
At least "no record found" is official (certified, with a raised seal). Perhaps the Detroit consulate will be okay with this. It's better than nothing I suppose.
Update 12 Mar 2012
Other cities and towns who have checked their records:
Depew – NO
Lackawanna – NO
Hamburg – NO
No records of the marriage of my grandparents were found at St. Anthony's, Holy Angels, Holy Cross, or Blessed Sacrament in Buffalo. I'm broadening my search to include St. Paul's, St. Mark's, St. Margaret's, St. Ann's, and St. Joseph's Cathedral. We'll see if any of them find anything.
St. Pauls' – No.
St. Margaret's – No. But the suggested St. Lucy Church (now closed – records are are at St. Columba-Brigid Parish – 716-852-2076 – 418 N. Division St., Buffalo, NY 14204) or Annunciation, Our Lady of Loretto or Nativity Parish (all are now closed – records are at Our Lady of Hope Parish 716-885-2469, 18 Greenwood Pl., Buffalo, NY 14213) or Holy Spirit Parish – 716-875-8102 – 91 Dakota Ave., Buffalo, NY 14216.
St. Mark's – No.