Mar 192012

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 (

I had previously posted information I had gotten from the discussion boards but I wanted to confirm that I had the correct process.

Mar 192012

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)

Mar 192012

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.

Buhl Building

outside the Buhl Building

on the 18th floor

the hallway to the consulate

Consolato D'Italiano

Mar 162012

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."

Holy Angels
Holy Cross
St. Margaret's
St. Mark's

St. Anthony's
St. Joseph's

Mar 152012

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"

Mar 102012

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

Mar 052012

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.

Mar 012012

My aunt had found what looked to be official birth and death certificates for my grandfather, Joseph Palmeri. I wasn't sure if they were indeed official and if they could be apostilled. Today I got them back in the mail.

apostille for my grandfather's birth certificate


apostille for my grandfather's death certificate

Feb 242012

My aunt had found a certified copy of my grandfather's birth certificate in my grandmother's records. It was old. Not sure if it was an original from 1911 but it was old. I wasn't sure if it would be accepted but I sent it to Erie County for their authorization. They sent it on to NY State for an apostille because NY State called today for some extra information – apparently I transposed a digit on my credit card number – so that means both Erie County and NY would accept it. Great!

Feb 222012

I asked the help desk for the New York Supreme Court whether I needed a separate petitions to go with each proposed order or whether similar issues should be lumped together in the same petition with multiple proposed orders. This is what they said:

Even though the information may be similar or the same, you should prepare a separate petition for each proposed order you are requesting to be signed.

Update 12 Mar 2012

Another update. I asked them about court fees and the like. This is what they said:

As previously stated, Erie County does not require an index number nor an RJI be purchased unless you want the original documents to be on file with the Erie County Clerk. If you do want the original documents filed with the Erie County Clerk's Office, you would need to purchase an index number and the fee would be $210.00. That fee would cover all the petitions since this is regarding one specific case.

Feb 202012

Today I emailed the Italian Consulate in Detroit asking, (1) What the process is for making an appointment? and (2) How far out appointments are being scheduled? We'll see what they say.

Here are some links to relevant sites:

Italian Consulate in Detroit

Italian Consulate in Detroit's Citizenship page

Citizenship Criteria from the Italian Interior Minister

Citizenship Information from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The consulate is located in the Buhl Building, 535 Griswold, Detroit, Michigan, Telephone: (313) 963-8560.

Update 20 Feb 2012

Quick response back telling me that I could have an appointment on March 19 or March 29. That was too close for me since I needed to get translations and I still need to get my grandparents' marriage certificate. But it was cool to know that they had appointments so close out.

I also found an interesting suggestion about going to the consulate even if you think you might have things to amend:

I tend to prefer waiting for the consulate's guidance in such matters, at least before investing too much effort and expense. The consular officer is the person who needs to be satisfied, so his/her views are controlling. Also, if you have to go back to try to re-amend a record it's at least embarrassing.

I also have a hypothesis that some officers want applicants to overcome at least one obstacle — that there's sort of an informal "obstacle quota." So if you're going to have to jump through a hoop or two anyway, why take the easiest hoops off the table before your first appointment? That's just a hypothesis about human nature, though.

Update 21 Feb 2012

Both the consulate and posts online confirm that there is no need to bring my children to the consulate appointment. The consulate did say to bring their passports however. 

Now I'm just waiting to hear if my translator can get the translations finished before 19 March. If so, I will try to take the 19 March appointment, assuming it's still open.

Update 21 Feb 2012

My translator said that she could get the translations to me between the 10th and 15th of March. So I emailed the consulate asking if they still had the 19 March 2012 at 11am appointment slot open. If they do, I'm taking it.

Feb 192012

After getting feedback from the online forums, I have decided to take the plunge and get my documents translated into Italian. It turns out that even though I'll ultimately need to get the documents (some of them at least) authenticated by the NY consulate I don't necessarily need to use their approved translators like I might if I was going through them. Detroit is not as picky apparently, so I am using a translator that many people recommend, Gabriella Einaga (gabriella_einaga AT hotmail DOT com).

I sent my great-grandfathers marriage and death certificate, my grandfather's birth and death certificate, my dad's birth and marriage certificate, my birth and marriage certificate, and my sons' birth certificates. I'll need to forward my grandfather's marriage certificate once I get it. From what I learned online, I may not need any birth or death certificates from the females in my family tree, but we'll see.

The cost is reasonable, between $15 and $20 for most vital records. Possibly more for some. 

Only waiting for two more items. One is the apostille for my great-grandfather's birth certificate. That was old, so there's a chance they might not do it. If they don't, I'll need to use their rejection letter to obtain a court ordered release (and probably get an a.k.a. added as well at the same time).

If I get that and if I get my grandfather's marriage certificate, then all I'll need to do is get them translated too and I can make an initial appointment with the consulate in Detroit.

Feb 182012

Because my great-grandfather's last name was misspelled "Palmieri" rather than "Palmeri" on his early documents from the US, I wrote the commune of his birth, Serradifalco, to ask them to confirm that no one named "Angelo Palmieri" was born in Serradifalco on his birth date. I sent this letter last month and just got a reply today, with that confirmation.

A poor translation of their return letter says something like this:

  • Twenty-seven days in that month of January of 1886 and born in Serradifalco Mr. Angelo Palmeri, just recorded document in the records of this district of the State Civil No. 30 Part 11 Series 11;

  • That in the register of births of that year 1886 is not to be born other person bearing the name Angelo Palmieri was born in Serradifalco on 27/01/1886.

Feb 162012

Once I get my grandparents' marriage certificate, I will need to get documents translated into Italian. In an earlier post, I listed approved translators and the estimated cost. Today I'm checking out the Italian Citizenship Message Board to confirm what does and does not need to be translated.

This page has a number of things that others needed to have translated:

Basically, it's variable. Everything from all documents to no documents. Summarizing, at a minimum all BC, MC, and DC in the direct line, including mine and my children's, need to be translated. It might be easiest just to have everything translated I suppose.

I emailed someone who went through Detroit to see what they needed to have translated for their application. This is their response:

My initial appointment was at the end of August 2011. I went in with all my direct line documents translated and apostilled. My line is GGF GF F Me, so I had a lot of documents. Needless to say all of documents were from NY and NJ. I was given back my BC MC and my children's BCs to have authenticated. All the other documents were accepted as is. The DC were not even looked at nor retained by the consulate. I probably did not need them. I had the documents authenticated and returned them in mid November. Two months later I had my acceptance letter. I also just received my BC from my commune.

I can only say good things about my experience in Detroit, they are very reasonable and understanding.

I followed up by asking what forms this person had apostilled and translated. They said they only did that for their direct line:

By direct line I mean the male descendants in my case. It would be the same for you. Do not Apostille or translate your mother or GM or GGM. You will need spouse only if she is applying with you ( married prior to 1983). You will need minor children if that applies.

So for me, that means getting the following translated:

– GGF marriage certificate
– GGF death certificate
– GF birth certificate
– GF marriage certificate
– GF death certificate
– F birth certificate
– F marriage certificate
– my birth certificate
– my marriage certificate
– my children's birth certificates

So at the cost of $50 per document, that means about $500 or so plus shipping.

But here's another response that I got regarding translations (for Detroit):

Detroit does have a list of translators but they do not require you to use it. I think the same holds true for the other consulates that post lists of translators. If you use one of the "required" translators you will be less likely to have an issue with them rejecting your translations. If you do your own translations you run the risk of rejection and posibly more delays. I translated my documents with the help of the templates here and my limited knowledge of Italian. They were accepted for authentication by NY and Newark.

Feb 152012

Any records from states that fall under the jurisdiction of other Italian consulates need to be authenticated by them before handing them over to the Detroit consulate. For that means the NY consulate for the vast majority of my vital records and Philly for my great-grandparents' marriage. I was uncertain of the process so I posted to the Italian Citizenship Message Board. This is a response I received from someone who had gone through Detroit before:

I went through Detroit and had to have documents authenticated in both NY and Newark. I will post this evening in Templates the letter, release and instructions. In most cases the documents are sent to the citizenship department of the consulate, however some are done by the notary and some by the legal departments. The fee currently is $8.10 per document (fee changes quarterly) and is based on art. 71 A. NY took approximately 2 months to return my documents. Philly has a faster turn around, but I don't know the specifics. NY will not process documents while you wait if you deliver them personally, Philly will do them while you wait. The documents must be apostilled and translated.

Update: 16 Feb 2012

This person now posted the templates and information on the message board. I repeat the details here:

To authenticate documents that originate in a consular jurisdiction other than the one to which you are applying send the following:

1. Original apostilled document (BC, MC, etc.) and copy.
2. Translation.
3. Request letter (template attached)
4. Release (template attached)
5. Payment – enclose a money order for $8.10 per document (fee changes quarterly and can be located on the consulates' tariff schedule as Art. 71A). NY and Philly post a tariff schedule, I am not sure of the other consulates but the fee should be the same at all. NY and only NY accepts Visa or Mastercard in addition to a money order, they charge a one time $4.00 transaction fee. (Alter the template letter if you are enclosing a money order.)
6. Self addressed stamped envelope (your choice of delivery method, first class mail, priority mail, fedex, etc.)
7. Copy of your photo ID.

You can personally deliver your documents for processing and some consulates will process your documents while you wait. NY will not process your documents while you wait so be sure to include your SASE. Processing in NY is approximately 2 months.

Template Statement

Template Letter

Feb 132012

Searching through some online boards, I found this suggested wording for a court order of one-and-the-same:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED and DECREED that the following be and is hereby established:

1) The person named XXX XXX XXXX, born in XXXXXXXXXX, Kingdom of Italy on (DATE), to (FATHER'S NAME and MOTHER'S NAME) of XXXXXXXXXX, Kingdom of Italy, is one and the same person as YYY YYY YYYY, born (DATE), in XXXXXXXXXX, Kingdom of Italy; "


… the petition would be called a "Petition for a Miscellaneous Order" and the order is titled "Miscellaneous Order" because it's not part of any contested case (e.g. Johnson vs. Smith).

Feb 102012

I've received the naturalization records for my great-grandfather with his name spelled incorrectly as Angelo Palmieri and a letter of no-record-found with his name spelled correctly as Angelo Palmeri.

Recently, I sent a request to USCIS asking for a letter of "one and the same". It included all of the documents I have pertaining to him, including his birth and death and naturalization certificates.

Today I received a letter. It states that "we've confirmed that Angelo Palmieri and Angelo Palmeri born on January 27, 1886 are the same person."