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CITIZENSHIP

How many foreigners does Italy grant citizenship to?

Thinking of applying to become Italian? Here's how many other people do it each year, where they come from and how they qualify.

The Italian flag.
Acquiring Italian citizenship is the ultimate way to guarantee your future in Italy. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

All data referred to in this article comes from Istat, Italy’s national statistics office. It refers to people acquiring Italian citizenship who are resident in Italy.

How many people get Italian citizenship each year?

A total of 127,001 people were granted Italian citizenship in 2019, the last year for which official data is available. 

That’s a slight increase from 2018, when 112,523 people became Italian, but still considerably below 2017 (146,605) or 2016 (201,591), when the number of successful citizenship requests registered a spike.

Where do most ‘new Italians’ come from?

In 2019, like most years before it, the vast majority of people acquiring citizenship came from outside the European Union: 113,979 or roughly 90 percent. That’s what you’d expect, since people with EU passports already enjoy most of the same rights in Italy as Italians and therefore have less incentive to apply for citizenship.

The highest number of successful applications came from Albanians (26,033), followed by Moroccans (15,812), Brazilians (10,762), Romanians (10,201), North Macedonians (4,966), Indians (4,683), Moldovans (3,788), Ecuadoreans (3,041), Senegalese (2,869), Pakistanis (2,722) and Peruvians (2,685).

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Citizens of Albania and Morocco have consistently made up the top two since at least 2012, with as many as 36,920 Albanians and 35,212 Moroccans gaining Italian citizenship when claims were at their height in 2016.

Meanwhile Brazil has seen successful citizenship requests increase more than sevenfold since 2012.

Other nationalities are far less likely to apply for Italian citizenship despite having a relatively large immigrant population in Italy: notably, less than 5 percent of Italy’s Chinese residents have acquired Italian citizenship, presumably because China does not permit dual nationality.

How do most people qualify for Italian citizenship?

In 2019, the most common way to acquire citizenship was either by descent (ius sanguinis, which allows those who can prove descent from at least one Italian ancestor to claim Italian citizenship), by birthplace (ius soli, which entitles people born and raised in Italy by non-Italian parents to claim Italian citizenship at age 18), or by parental transmission (the law that automatically transfers citizenship to the children of adults who acquire citizenship, provided they’re under 18 and living with them at the time).

Altogether 57,098 people qualified for Italian citizenship via one of these three routes in 2019, around 45 percent of the total.

Another 52,877 people (42 percent) qualified via residency in Italy, while 17,026 (13 percent) qualified by marriage to an Italian national.

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While claims based on residency or birthplace/descent increased by around 13,000 and 8,000 respectively from the year before, claims from spouses of Italian nationals were down sharply by more than 7,000. In fact citizenship requests via this route were at their lowest last year since 2015; in every other year since 2012, they have been either around or above 20,000.

That may reflect a change in the law in late 2018 that allowed the Italian state to take up to four years to process requests for citizenship via marriage, where previously they had to be answered within two years or automatically granted after this point.

The new rules also abolish automatic consent after the deadline, as well as introducing a language test for people applying via marriage or residency.


Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP

Another notable trend is the rise in the number of people successfully claiming Italian citizenship by descent. In 2016, the year that Italy’s statistics office began tracking such claims, some 7,000 people gained citizenship this way; in 2017 it was over 8,200, in 2018 it reached 9,000, and in 2019 it was over 10,000.

The majority of ius sanguinis claims come from two countries: Brazil and Argentina, which between then accounted for nearly 96 percent of all citizenship by descent claims in 2019.

Where in Italy do most people get citizenship?

The region of Italy with the most successful citizenship claims in 2019 was Lombardy, which granted 31,437 requests. The region has topped the list for several years, reflecting the large numbers of foreigners who move there for work or study. 

Other regions where high numbers of people gained citizenship were Veneto (16,960), Emilia-Romagna (12,014), Piedmont (11,702) and Tuscany (11,139). While Lazio, the region of Rome, has a high foreign-born population, just 9,258 people took Italian citizenship there.

The regions handing out the fewest new citizenships, meanwhile, were Sardinia (677), Molise (504), Basilicata (418) and Valle d’Aosta (361).

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The further north you go, the more people base their claim on residency – reflecting the fact that the wealthy, industrial north has long attracted migrants looking for work.

In the south, meanwhile, and especially the regions of Calabria, Basilicata and Molise, the majority of citizenship claims were based on ancestry, the legacy of decades of emigration overseas from impoverished parts of southern Italy.

What else do we know about people who apply for citizenship in Italy?

They’re mainly women (66,890 in 2019 compared to 60,111 men), and they’re mainly young: the largest age group is under-20s, who accounted for 45,741 citizenships granted in 2019.

People aged 20-39 made up another 39,929, while 40- to 59-year-olds numbered 36,316. The number of people over 60 who acquired Italian citizenship was just 5,015.

A version of this article was first published in 2020.

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MONEY

How families can claim Italy’s new universal single allowance

Italy has already recorded nearly two million applications for its new universal child benefit. Here's how you can claim the credit for your family.

How families can claim Italy's new universal single allowance

Families in Italy can now request the new single universal child benefit (L’assegno unico e universale) since applications opened on January 1st, 2022.

The new single allowance, approved in November, replaces a range of so-called ‘baby bonuses‘ in a move hoped to simplify the process of claiming financial support for parents.

READ ALSO: Ten things you need to know about giving birth in Italy

Some seven million families in Italy are eligible to claim the new benefit, and 1.75 million requests have already been made, according to data from Italy’s Social Security Institute (INPS).

For those yet to apply, the INPS on February 9th published instructions on making a claim – currently only in Italian.

Based on the official information available, here’s a guide to what the allowance is, who’s eligible, and how to apply.

What is the single universal child benefit?

The new allowance is a monthly means-tested benefit for those who have children, or are about to have a child.

It is payable from the seventh month of pregnancy until the child reaches the age of 18 or in some cases, 21.

The first payments will be made in March 2022. If you apply by June, you’ll receive payments in arrears from January. After this date, you can still apply but won’t receive any backdated payments.

How much child benefit you can claim depends on your household wealth. Photo by Garrett Jackson on Unsplash

It’s also available to parents of children between 18 and 21 years of age who are dependent on the family – but they must prove that the child has undertaken a course of study or training, or has started an apprenticeship or traineeship contract.

No age limit is imposed in the case of a disabled child.

The universal payment is intended to help encourage more people in Italy to start a family as the birth rate slumps again to a new record low.

It comes as part of the country’s wider strategy – the so-called Family Act – which aims to make starting a family in Italy more affordable.

However, with the introduction of this payment, other ‘bonuses’ for parents have been scrapped altogether – such as the one-off payment of €800 for expectant mothers (Bonus Mamma Domani) and the Bonus Bebé, which had a higher minimum payout, available for the first year of the child’s life.

How much are you entitled to?

The amount payable to each family is based on the household’s economic situation, which in Italy is calculated as ‘ISEE’ (Indicatore della Situazione Economica Equivalente, or ‘Equivalent Financial Position Indicator’).

In other words, you are means-tested to find out how much allowance you’ll be entitled to. The calculation takes into account income and 20 percent of assets, such as your house and your car, for instance.

READ ALSO: How Italy just made it easier to access essential paperwork online

To find out what your ISEE is, you need to fill out a declaration form of your income and assets called the DSU (Dichiarazione Sostitutiva Unica). You can do this yourself or ask your accountant (commercialista) for help.

The amount you can claim ranges from a maximum of €175 per month for households with an ISEE of up to €15,000 per year, to a minimum monthly amount of €50 for those with an ISEE of over €40,000.

Photo by Ana Tablas on Unsplash

If you decide not to calculate your ISEE, INPS states that you’ll be entitled to the base rate of €50 monthly for each child.

From the third child onwards, there is an extra €85 per child and an extra €30 if both parents work.

That means typical payments will range from €50 per month if you have one child and have an ISEE over €40,000, or don’t submit one at all, to around €700 per month if you have three children on a minimum ISEE and both parents are in work.

You’ll need to claim again annually for this benefit.

Who is eligible to claim?

Parents or those who have parental responsibility can access this benefit regardless of employment status. That means all categories of employees (both public and private), the self-employed, pensioners, the unemployed and the unemployable are equally eligible.

Grandparents can apply in the case of sole parental responsibility.

To be eligible, you need to either be an Italian or EU citizen, or a family member of an Italian or EU citizen.

You can also apply if you are a citizen of a non-European country and have an Italian or EU long-term residence permit (permesso di soggiorno per soggiornanti di lungo periodo).

READ ALSO: Visas and residency permits: How to move to Italy (and stay here)

You can also claim the allowance if you hold a work permit authorised for a period of more than six months, or if you hold a residence permit for research purposes authorised for more than six months.

If you wish, you can split the benefit between two parents, by entering the two payment details in the application.

If you’re pregnant, you can only apply after the birth, when the child has been assigned a tax code (codice fiscale). With the first monthly allowance, arrears will be paid from the seventh month of pregnancy.

You can still claim the Bonus asilo nido (nursery bonus) concurrently.

How do I claim?

There are a few ways to apply:

  • by accessing the MyINPS site here – then click on ‘Assegno unico e universale per i figli a carico‘ (Single and universal allowance for dependent children). You’ll need your SPID, a Carta di Identità Elettronica (CIE) or a Carta Nazionale dei Servizi (CNS) to log in;
  • by calling 803164 (free of charge from a landline) or 06164164 (from a mobile network – charges will apply);
  • by going to a patronato (a type of office offering legal and bureaucratic advice and assistance), or by asking an accountant (commercialista) for advice.

READ ALSO: How to use your Italian ID card to access official services online

For more information, INPS has created an FAQ – you can read it (in Italian) here.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance has also provided detailed information on the benefit with a breakdown of how much you can claim based on your ISEE bracket and number of children here.

See more of The Local’s guides to dealing with Italian bureaucracy here.

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