Why You Should Claim Your Italian Citizenship, According to Someone Who’s Lived It

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| Thu, 05/09/2024 - 07:15
Italian passport
An Italian passport is a dream for many with Italian heritage / Photo: illpaxphotomatic via Shutterstock

Audra DeFalco grew up living across the street from her nonni in Queens. Fluent in Italian and English, as a teenager, DeFalco started helping friends in the neighborhood with translations. She was translating documents from Italian to English for an Italian citizenship by descent application when she realized she might also qualify. She was 14, and there were few citizenship assistance services available. 

“There was little information to be had about it back then, so I sort of had to become an expert on it myself,” De Falco said of her citizenship journey, which started in 2003. 

At the time, she was the only person in her family who wanted to recognize their Italian citizenship by descent. Five years later, while studying in Bologna, she was the first US citizen to be recognized as an Italian citizen in Reggio Emilia. What she learned about the process of obtaining citizenship by descent led her to what she now calls her “life’s work,” first as a freelance translator and consultant helping Americans with their Italian citizenship applications, now as head of Latitude Group's Citizenship by Descent Division, which specializes in Italy, Poland, Austria, Slovakia, Ireland, Germany, and Portugal and assists many clients who are seeking the benefits and freedom of having full EU member rights.

Working with a service such as Latitude expedites the process of becoming a recognized Italian citizen. They do the heavy lifting on getting your birthright Italian citizenship recognized, and rather than having to navigate the research and bureaucracy yourself, the service will take care of that for you.

There are many benefits of having your Italian citizenship recognized, most significantly that acquiring Italian citizenship offers EU rights to live, study, invest and work in any of the 27 member states. 

Live, study, and work in Europe with Italian citizenship

With Italian citizenship you're free to live and work in Europe
With Italian citizenship you can live and work freely in Europe / Photo: Maramade via Shutterstock

The most obvious benefit of Italian citizenship by descent is the freedom to stay in Italy and any of the 27 member states in Europe indefinitely without a visa or residence permit. Anyone who has lived in Italy as a foreigner on a residence permit will tell you that the process of renewing a permesso di soggiorno may be one of the most arduous and frustrating aspects of life as a non-EU citizen in the bel Paese.

With your Italian passport in hand, you can not only live in Italy, but you also have the right to live in Europe and travel among Schengen countries freely and indefinitely. Italian citizens can also work and invest in Europe without a permit, opening up job opportunities without the need for visa sponsorship and making your CV more desirable to employers.

For students with Italian citizenship, there’s no need for a student visa to enroll in a university in Italy or anywhere else in Europe for a semester, a year, or a full degree. Depending on the university, tuition fees will be lower at a European university as compared to one in the United States. At a time when student loans are plaguing United States students with debt, studying in Europe can be a way to graduate without the financial burden of student loans. 

Receive the benefits of Italian public healthcare

The financial benefits of being recognized as an Italian citizen don’t end with lower tuition fees for students. Italian citizens (and residents with a valid permesso di soggiorno) also have the advantage of significantly lower costs for socialized healthcare. With enrollment in the healthcare system and a tessera sanitaria, doctors’ visits and trips to the hospital are covered, though there may be a fee to pay, depending on the type of visit. While some Italians do pay for private insurance, insurance isn't required to live and work in Italy. Daycare for children up to preschool age is also available to citizens at public daycares at a significantly discounted rate. Similarly to student loans in the United States, debt from healthcare and childcare costs are financial drains that may be less for dual citizens in Italy.

Learn more about your Italian heritage

With Italian citizenship you'll create deeper ties to Italian heritage
Italian citizenship can help you create deeper ties to Italian heritage / Photo: Azdora via Shutterstock

When you visit Italy as a foreigner, you may not fully experience what it’s like to make a home there. 

As DeFalco, who has split her time between Italy and the US since 2008, said, creating a life in Italy offers the opportunity to learn about your Italian heritage more profoundly and to also understand what it means to live in Italy today.

“It is very cliche, but living in Italy kind of makes you stop and smell the roses,” she said. “There’s a different style of life. It’s one thing to be of Italian heritage and to be close to your roots, and it’s entirely another thing to move to Italy and live in the modern day.”

Buy Italian property more easily

If you want to spend extended time in Italy, it can be a wise financial decision to buy property in Italy. However, the process of buying property in Italy is significantly more complicated for a foreigner. As an Italian citizen, you’ll be able to stay in Italy as long as you need to search for homes, make an offer, and have it accepted. You also won’t need to present proof of your right to live and work in Italy, other than your passport, when it comes to securing a mortgage. Citizens under age 35 may also benefit from programs for lower mortgage rates for first-time buyers. 

Pass Italian citizenship on to your children

As an Italian citizen you can pass your rights on to your children
As an Italian citizen, you can pass the rights on to your children / Photo: Gulcin Ragiboglu via Shutterstock

When you obtain Italian citizenship by descent, you’ll have the right to pass that citizenship on to your children. By being recognized as a citizen, you give your children access to all of the benefits and freedoms explained above without them having to go through the legal process you did. 

In fact, as DeFalco explained, like children of Italian citizens, anyone who qualifies for Italian citizenship by descent is already Italian. 

“You've been a citizen since you were born,” said De Falco. “So whether you recognize it or not, you're actually already Italian, so why not make it official?”

The Latitude Group is a leading provider of global residency and citizenship solutions, having successfully served over 6,500 clients. Its team operates in more than 20 countries worldwide securing second citizenship or residency in desirable locations, unlocking a brighter future.