I am a US born citizen with a grandfather (on my mother's side) born in Italy. I was told that by his blood line, I am elegible to apply for Italian citizenship which would allow me to apply for an EU passport. This would allow me to live and work in the EU without any of the restrictions that exist for a US citizen.

I have a few questions regarding this and I am hoping that someone here has had the same or similar experience:

  1. Is it true that I can get an Italian citizenship through my grandfather's blood line?
  2. If true, what documents would I need to show at the Italian embassy in the US?
  3. Would I have to renounce my US citizenship to gain the Italian citizenship or can I keep both?
  4. Would I be able to work and travel throughout the EU with an EU passport as a EU born citizen?
  • 1
    That's a lot of questions to be asked at once! Number 3 is covered in expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/958/…. Number 4 is covered in expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/1052/…. You could maybe edit them out to focus on the questions that haven't been answered.
    – Gala
    Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 23:34
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    On the last point, being born in the EU is, as such, irrelevant. Each EU country retains its own rules, typically a mix of ius sanguinis and ius soli under which the place you were born might or might not make a difference but under EU law, the only thing that matters is whether or not you are in fact a citizen of one of the member states. “EU born citizen” therefore doesn't mean much.
    – Gala
    Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 23:38

2 Answers 2


It's not enough to born in Italy to be an Italian citizen, because in Italy the citizenship is based on the "ius sanguinis", you need have at least one parent withe the Italian citizenship at the the time of your birth.

So if your grandfather was Italian at the time of birth of your mother, she has the Italian citizenship and unless she dismissed it before your birth, you are an Italian citizen.

To get an Italian passport, you need to provide some paperwork (translated in Italian) to the Italian embassy/consulate in the country where you are resident, basically you need to prove that your grandfather and your mother never renounce the Italian citizenship.

Here you can find some more detailed informations in english about the Italian citizenship http://www.esteri.it/MAE/EN/Italiani_nel_Mondo/ServiziConsolari/Cittadinanza.htm?LANG=EN http://www.consnewark.esteri.it/Consolato_Newark/Menu/I_Servizi/Per_i_cittadini/Cittadinanza/

You can have the US and the Italian citizenship at the same time, and you will get all the right of any other UE citizen to work and live in UE.

  • So, in the case that my mother was born in the US and never requested or received Italian citizenship, I am not elegible to request it?
    – MikeV
    Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 21:25
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    If the father of your mother was Italian at the time of your mother's birth, your mother is (also) Italian. It doesn't matter if she never asked for an Italian passport.
    – Matteo
    Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 21:29
  • @Matteo my mother was born of an Italian father, yes. But she was born in the United States. Is she still an Italian in that case?
    – MikeV
    Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 22:48
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    @mikev absolutely yes. my mother lived her entire life in the united states without ever attempting to acquire an italian passport. i recently acquired mine through her grandfather. click here for proof Commented Aug 16, 2014 at 9:28
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    the critical issue in acquiring citizenship through an italian-american immigrant ascendent is whether or not they renounced their italian citizenship to acquire american citizenship. earlier last century - before dual citizenship was possible - many people did this, and so their descendents are disqualified. my grandfather was born in the united states after my great-grandfather arrived but before my great-grandfather naturalized and my grandfather never renounced. therefore, according to today's law, my mother's father, my mother, and myself are all dual-citizens. Commented Aug 16, 2014 at 9:34

I'm an American who successfully acquired italian citizenship about five years ago.

  1. This questionnaire is the easiest one I've found online: http://italiancitizenship.info/

  2. I had to show every birth and marriage certificate of everyone back to the ascendent i acquired citizenship through. i also had to show a naturalization certificate proving my grandfather was born before my great-grandfather naturalized.

  3. You can keep both.

  4. EU citizenship does not automatically mean you can work anywhere on the continent. You have freedom of movement, but specific employment laws are set by each EU nation. see http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/work/work-abroad/index_en.htm for more detail on this

Buona fortuna!

  • 1
    What do you mean by “specific employment laws are set by each EU nation”? You are in fact entitled to work everywhere in the EU, the only major restriction I can think of is the fact that you are not necessarily entitled to do any type of work (i.e. things like medical or legal professions are regulated and having your credentials recognized is not always straightforward). Some key military or policy positions can also be restricted (but not the whole civil service).
    – Gala
    Commented Aug 16, 2014 at 7:02
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    @Gala i agree, sorry my #4 was more restrictive than intended. perhaps 25% of the workforce (industries that need credentialing + the public sector) often require some sort of special permission? Commented Aug 16, 2014 at 9:25

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