Dual Citizenship in Italy?
In all of my blogging about travel, there’s one BIG item I haven’t talked about much, because it was too soon. Here it is: We’re trying to get US/Italian dual citizenship. After bouncing around Europe for a year, we’re now in Italy, working on that.
As readers of this blog know, we decided to sell it all to be digital nomads, for a minimum of “a few years,” maybe more.
Apart from the excitement of travel and adventure for our family, we desire to learn other languages and cultures. We wanted to show Kamea that there is a great big world out there. We want her to bi- (or tri-) lingual to help her future. We want her to learn how other cultures live. Not everything is “supersized” and SUV in the world.
As we started planning our new life, we had to consider tourist visas to determine how long we could stay in any given country. Most countries impose a limit on how long you can stay.
Europe presented a special situation, in that we could only stay in the “Schengen Area” (26 EU countries with unrestricted travel between them) for a max of only 90 days out of every 180 days. Meaning, at 90 days, you must leave the area for 3 months before you can return.
But that doesn’t mean you have to leave Europe. There are a handful of European countries that are not in the Schengen Area… notably the UK, Ireland, and a few eastern European countries.
How to Live in Europe Year Round
We could have applied for a long-term visa, but that didn’t fit our situation very well. Another way to live in Europe year-round is to transit in and out of the Schengen Area every 90 days. (So, 90 days in and 90 days out. Rinse and repeat. For many people, that means staying in the popular countries like France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, etc. — and then heading to Eastern Europe or the UK for the other 90 days.)
That’s great and it can be done, but it requires a lot of moving around, which is disruptive and can be expensive.
But then, I guess as the “nomad” moniker implies constant movement. Frequent disruption comes with the territory.
But sometimes you just want to stay put for a while. Staying longer means better deals when renting apartments, creating meaningful relationships with locals, and deeper immersion for learning languages.
Were there other options?
Things got interesting when Italian dual citizenship came on our radar.
About a year before we left the U.S., we heard an expat-oriented podcast about how obtaining Italian dual citizenship is an option for certain people who can trace their lineage to an Italian ancestor… so called “jure sanguinis” citizenship (“law of the bloodline”).
Italy is the only Schengen Area country that offers jure sanguinis citizenship going back an unlimited number of generations. As it happens, I’m half Italian, thanks to my great-grandfather Francesco, who came to the U.S. in 1912. By Italian law, I “am” already an Italian citizen — meaning they don’t actually “grant” it. But I have to prove it in order to be recognized.
Once recognized, I’d officially be not only an Italian citizen, but also an EU citizen, and issued an Italian/EU passport. Same goes for my daughter. My husband does not qualify through bloodline, and he’d need to apply as the spouse of an Italian citizen.
Bottom line: TWO PASSPORTS!
How cool is that? That’s some grade-A
James Bond Jason Bourne sh*t.
Talk about opportunities and options — long-term travel in Europe is just the beginning. We could live there permanently if we chose. It means university opportunities for Kamea, and perhaps best of all, affordable healthcare! Not to mention, just being allowed to live in Italy (la dolce vita-‘n-all)… the sense of belonging that can only come with a passaporto.
My Italian genes started tingling the moment this option presented itself.
We decided to pursue it.
Let’s Do It! Italian Dual Citizenship, Here I Come!
Not so fast.
As I mentioned, I still need to prove my lineage to Italy. With a lot of documents. A lot. There are a few ways to pursue dual citizenship in Italy:
- DIY in America via the Italian consulate (takes YEARS longer and not nearly as fun)
- DIY in Italy (difficult, even if you speak Italian, and a nightmare if you don’t)
- Hire professional help in Italy and do it in Italy (costs money but easier)
We opted for the last choice. We hired an attorney in Italy with a group of professionals specializing in this process. They know the system backwards and forward. They are Italian Citizenship Assistance (ICA) and thus far they’ve proved to be rock stars. (More on them in a future post.)
Thank god we did, too — Italy is famous for pizza and bureaucracy.
This meant moving to Rovigo in northeastern Italy, because that’s the comune where we’re applying and our legal group is located there.
We Started Imagining Life in Italy Long-Term.
I mean, we could become citizens and live in Italy! I started reading books about other people moving to Italy (here’s my favorite, Il Bel Centro about a family of 5 who lived in Italy for a year).
The books I read excited me about living in Italy long-term. Finding community and enjoying a slower pace to life appealed to my heart and soul.
Kamea would like this, too. She’s not as keen on always bouncing around between countries. I don’t blame her. When we arrived at our apartment in Rovigo, Italy, I bought a lovely pink coffee mug, because I’m not going to be moving around as much, needing to keep it super light. I found myself enjoying some creature comforts. That’s for another post though.
Suffice it to say, we’ve signed a long-term lease and are living in Rovigo. During my application process, which could take a while, Greg is still subject to Schengen restrictions, so we’ll still be visiting non-Schengen countries in the coming months.
More Adventures and Updates Coming Soon!
Stay tuned as I share my family’s life living in Italy, and everything we’re going through in attaining dual citizenship. Our days are filled with humor, patience, and … a lot of coffee.