How To Obtain Dual Australian/Italian Citizenship

Italian Passport (1 of 1)
My most prized possession – my Italian passport!

I recently posted a photo to our social media channels of my Italian passport, as I was using it to travel for the very first time to Vietnam. I had a flurry of comments and messages, from ‘I didn’t know you were Italian’ and ‘How did you get an Italian passport?’

When I first started investigating the process to get my passport I found it very difficult to interpret the limited information I could find, as a lot of it pertained to citizens of the US and not Australia where there are different laws. I desperately wanted to read of someones personal account of going through the process themselves but to no avail. After engaging in the long process myself and coming out of it the other end successfully, I thought I would write about my experience and relay the information so that others might benefit.

Please note, I do not believe myself to be an expert on this matter and that rules and regulations may vary from state to state (within Australia). I also only know the ins and outs that relate to my particular family situation, so if yours varies from mine than the process may be different. The best place for further information is to contact your local Italian Consulate with any questions.

Grandparents Italian Passport Photo (1 of 1)
My beautiful Italian Nonno and Nonna, in their original passport photo.

My maternal grandparents were born in Rome, Italy, where they both grew up, met and married and had two children. The emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in January 1970, and their third child, my mother, was born a few months later in May 1970. Being born in Australia, she automatically became an Australian citizen, however as her parents were still Italian citizens themselves at the time, she also inherited their Italian citizenship – but this was never formalised. My grandparents went on to become Australian citizens 12 years later, in 1982.

Eligibility for dual citizenship through inheritance (as opposed to marriage) is all dependant on what is referred to as naturalisation – which to be completely honest, is a term I still don’t completely understand. In a nutshell, when my mother was born as an Australian citizen, she also inherited her parents Italian citizenship as that’s what they held at the time. If they had become Australian citizens prior to her birth, then she would not have been able to inherit this.

When I first started looking into this process, I was fairly sure I was eligible however it was all dependant on this situation of my mum’s and unfortunately when in contact with the local Italian consulate they couldn’t provide me a specific answer without coming in for a verification appointment.

It took me six months to get an appointment, and I was advised to bring as much evidence as possible related to my grandparents and my mothers history. Even though my mother had ‘inherited’ the citizenship, she’d never formalised it therefore for myself to become eligible to become a citizen, my mum had to also go through the process and therefore she accompanied me to my appointment. Unfortunately this also mean twice the processing cost – an application fee of 400 euros was required as payment PER applicant and this has to be paid upfront, regardless of the result or not. It was a lot of money to outlay to not be 100% sure about the end result!

Fortunately my grandparents had retained all their paperwork, and I had both their old Italian passports, immigration papers, marriage certificate and Australian Citizenship certificate, and my mum had all of hers also. The evidence was more than enough to confirm that my mother had inherited Italian citizenship at birth and could formalise it – therefore meaning I could do the same. It was a massive relief!

It was the start of the paperwork process though, as further evidence was required to be provided to be submitted to the consulate in Rome to register both my mother and myself as dual citizens. This included:

  • Having my birth certificate, my mother’s birth certificate and her marriage certificate all translated into Italian by a certified translator registered with the consulate. This cost me $200.00
  • Taking the three original certificates to the Department of Foreign Affairs and having them legalised with an apostille. This cost me $90.00.
  • Returning to the local consulate to submit all documents.

I was advised to wait at least two months for the documents to be successfully submitted before applying for a passport. As the wait list for appointments was quite a long time, I booked a return appointment before leaving that day and returned three months later to get a passport.

This was a much quicker process as passports are made up in house within your 20 minute appointment, and all I had to provide were four new passport photos. The passport cost was $179.00 – I obtained mine in January 2015.

With my Italian passport I’ll be able to move freely about the Schengen Area of Europe – such an opportunity! Image via EU Movement

It was a process that took 8 months and cost me over $1600.00 AUD, but its a cost that I think was well worth it. I now have the privilege of holding dual citizenship to two incredible countries and it opens up a world of possibilities. As Italy is a member of the Schengen area, I have the opportunity to both live and work and move freely between 26 European countries. It was one of the reasons why we decided it was worth pursuing, especially as living abroad is one of our long term plans.

Having two passports also makes travel a little easier. Right now I’m in Vietnam on my Italian passport. I was previously in Malaysia, and had submitted my Australian passport to obtain a visa for India – I didn’t have time to also obtain a Vietnamese visa, but I really wanted to visit Vietnam and only had a certain timeframe in which to do so. That’s when I found out that at present, Italian citizens amongst a handful of other nationalities are granted 15 days in Vietnam visa free until mid next year – so that solved that problem, and saved me an $80 visa cost if I had applied on my Australian passport.

I realise this article may have little interest for anyone not in my situation, but I know when I was looking for information that I would have loved to have read someone’s personal account to see if my situation aligned with theirs – it would have made it so much easier!

So in a nutshell – if you have Italian grandparents who emigrated to Australia, had a parent born (father or mother) in Australia, and then your grandparents became citizens of Australia, you should definitely be eligible to claim citizenship through your parent. If they have already formalised this (perhaps got a passport themselves when they were younger) then your process should be even quicker and easier – and cheaper!

Good luck!

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How to Obtain Dual Australian_Italian Citizenship

  43 comments for “How To Obtain Dual Australian/Italian Citizenship

  1. pazzy
    December 28, 2016 at 6:19 PM

    Hi Amy,
    I was born in Italy and so were both my parents, we migrated to Australia in 1969 and my parents became Australian citizens. Do you know if I would be able to apply for a dual passport as I’ve told by friends that I won’t be able to as my parents became Australian Citizens?

  2. Luana
    November 19, 2016 at 2:11 PM

    Hi Amy
    Both my parents came out from italy one in 1954 the other in 1955.
    I was born in 1965……neither of my parents or my grandmother never became Australian citizens, to this day.
    Does this make my process of getting an Italian passpoert easier. Both my parents are still alive… grandmother isn’t.
    They parents were married here in 1959.
    With myself applying for italian passport will that give my two children that same privilege?

    • Amy
      November 20, 2016 at 10:33 AM

      Hi Luana – I definitely think so – if you were born prior to their becoming citizens (and in this case, they never did) you shouldn’t have any trouble. You will need to be able to prove it however so as long as you have their paperwork/Italian passports regarding their arrival into Australia and you have your birth certificate, that should be enough evidence. If you are eligible, then your children should be too. Definitely worth pursuing! 🙂
      Let me know how you get on!

  3. Carolina
    November 2, 2016 at 11:15 AM

    Hi, Amy! Thanks for sharing your experience and the information provided. I am starting to understand the ‘naturalisation’ angle but am still a bit confused as to whether I would be eligible. Would I be able to send you more detail in an email and you can give me some of your thoughts when you get the time? Much appreciated.

  4. Victoria King
    September 22, 2016 at 6:34 AM

    Hi Amy,
    Thanks for this post – I’m just starting to research whether I’m eligible. I’m in Sydney both my fathers and mother’s grandparents were born in Italy. But I’m in a similar situation to Nicole below….I’m not sure if my father/mother was born before or after my grandparents naturalisation. I suspect that it was after and that I don’t qualify, because my grandparents both came here around 1950 and my parents weren’t born until the 1960s. Do you know how I can find out their date of naturalisation? Is there a record I could look up? Would they have got a citizenship certificate when the naturalisation occurred?

    • Amy
      September 26, 2016 at 9:27 AM

      Hi Victoria, I’m glad you’ve found it useful! The best bet would be to visit your grandparents and go through their paperwork – “naturalisation” is essentially receiving of Australian citizenship, so they should have this certificate. If the date of the certificate is after you parents births, then you should be eligible! Also, the fact they arrived in the 50’s and your folks were born in the 60’s doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not eligible – my grandparents didn’t become citizens until 12 years after arriving in Australia.
      Good luck, let me know how you get on!

  5. Aritana Cenci
    September 8, 2016 at 2:41 PM

    Thank you for the information! I am retaking the search for certificates and would like to know if, being Brazilian, can I apply my Italian citizenship here in australia? If so, who can help me with the documentation?

    • Amy
      September 11, 2016 at 10:38 PM

      Hi Aritana, glad you enjoyed the article. Are you planning to get your citizenship formalised in Brazil or in Australia? I’m afraid that I don’t know anything specifically related to Brazilian/Italian citizenship other than its possible as I have a friend from Brazil who obtained her Italian passport whilst in Brazil and then used this to live in Europe. She then moved to Australia still retaining both those citizenships!

  6. Rob
    July 25, 2016 at 8:04 PM

    If I have been on my mothers Italian passport in the past, do you know what rules apply

    • Amy
      July 25, 2016 at 9:02 PM

      Hi Rob, I wouldn’t know sorry, I’m no expert but I’d say you definitely have a good chance at being eligible yourself – try your local consulate and see what they say!

  7. James Smith
    June 23, 2016 at 12:40 PM

    Hi Amy

    I’m a big fan of the blog. I’m currently in the process of applying for Italian citizenship through my maternal grandfather and have made an appointment with the Italian consulate in Sydney. My grandfather was naturalised as an Australian citizen after my mother was born so she inherited his Italian citizenship. However, my mother’s never formally applied for citizenship (as in your case). Did the Italian consulate in Perth specifically state that your mother had to formalise her citizenship in order for you to formalise yours? The website of the Italian consulate in Sydney doesn’t state either way.

    Thank you very much for your help!


    • Amy
      June 24, 2016 at 9:45 AM

      Hi James, I’ll send you an email!

      • James Smith
        June 24, 2016 at 1:06 PM

        Thanks so much Amy! Could you please send it to the email I’ve provided for this comment?

      • Adrian
        August 6, 2016 at 11:43 PM

        Hi Amy,

        I am in the same position as James. I was wondering if you could answer the same questions for me: Did the Italian consulate specifically state that your mother had to formalize her citizenship in order for you to formalize yours?

        Thank you!!

        • Amy
          August 8, 2016 at 2:23 PM

          Hi Adrian – yes they did, for me in my situation anyway. It could vary from consulate to consulate as I’ve had emails from a few people who said that the Consulate they were dealing with said it wasn’t a problem. I would err on the side of caution, just in case (because it takes so long to get an appointment!) and possibly take your mum and her paperwork with you. If she doesn’t have to do it – bonus for you, less fees!
          Good luck! 🙂

      • Nicola Stransky
        August 15, 2016 at 10:39 PM

        Hi Amy, I am in a similar position to James however I am not aware if my father was born before or after my grandparents naturalisation. I am based in Perth and was hoping you wouldn’t mind sending me an email on the process of getting citizenship here?
        Thanks for the great post.
        Kind regards

        • Amy
          August 16, 2016 at 8:18 PM

          Hi Nicola,
          I’ll send you an email!

          • Nicola Stransky
            August 16, 2016 at 9:13 PM

            Thanks so much for getting back to me Amy.
            Turns out my grandparents were naturalised before my father was born.
            Also is it possible to edit my comment to remove my email address from the public?
            Again a million thanks for all the help.

          • Amy
            August 17, 2016 at 9:47 PM

            Hi Nicola,
            Oh that’s such a shame! So not an option for you then? I don’t know enough about the topic to know if there’s other loopholes or I’d help you if I could. Definitely was worth looking into though!
            No problem – I’ll delete your previous comment!

    • June 24, 2016 at 10:36 AM

      I had the exact same question mate, when I emailed the consulate asking that question, all they said was that as long as your mother was born BEFORE her parents became Australian citizens, then you are fine.

      They call it naturalisation, in my instance, mum was born here in 66, and my nonni became citizens in 73.

      I know I’m not Amy, but hopefully that helps! Hahahah

  8. June 14, 2016 at 11:07 AM

    Hey Mike & Amy!

    I’m really glad I found this blog of yours! I noticed that you didn’t mention having your grandparent’s birth certificates, did you need them to prove your eligibility? Or, did you have enough paperwork to prove it without them?

    I’m in the same situation, where my mother is eligible through her parents, but never applied for citizenship herself, and the Perth Consulate website doesn’t specifically say that she needs to have one. When you were in contact with the Consulate, did they actually say this was necessary?

    Any insight you could give would be amazing!


    • Amy
      June 14, 2016 at 11:37 AM

      Hi Steven, I’ll send you an email with some more information!

  9. Ash
    April 26, 2016 at 9:11 AM

    Hi there,

    I loved your blog. I am Australian and my grandfather was born in Bigolino, Italy. I am not in contact with my fathers side (in which I am Claiming descent from), I was wondering if it were possible to complete the process without having contact with my fathers side?
    Also, How am I able to find out if my Grandfather was naturalised before or after my fathers birth? Cant seem to find any ancestry online at all. Very Confusing! I guess I will need to just order everything I can and try and find something online, however I don’t want to start the process if It will be a waste of time! your reply would be greatly appreciated! Thank you,

    • Amy
      May 5, 2016 at 5:42 PM

      Hi Ash, I’m so sorry for the late reply!
      Do you happen to know how soon after your grandfather arrived in Australia that your father was born? Generally naturalisation/citizenship takes awhile, so if your father was born soon after your grandfather’s arrival then its likely that your grandfather was not yet naturalised. However, you will need documents to be able to prove this. If you happen to know what embassy your grandfather would have likely communicated with on arrival (like what was the first port of arrival to Australia, and contact the local embassy there) then you could try contacting them to see if they have any paperwork on file. However, you will need most of the original documents pertaining to your father’s birth/marriage and grandfather’s arrival documents/passports/citizenship documents etc. Also, I was told as I was claiming through my mother (but she had never claimed herself) that she’d have to claim for me to also do though – they may ask the same of you and your father and if you’re not speaking I’m not sure how you’d be able to arrange that!
      Sorry I can’t be of much more help, but that might be a starting point for you to see whether it’s possible and worth pursuing or not!
      Let me know how you get on!

  10. April 6, 2016 at 8:15 PM

    I’m Australian. My parents moved to Australia at different times in the 50’s, married, and had us 4 children. Both my parents were naturalised after the first 2 were born but before the last 2 were born – unfortunately, I was one of the last 2 so it’s a lot harder for me.

    I was in Italy on the Schengen visa over Dec/Jan this year but had to get out for 3 months. Although I had amazing help from the Immigration officer that spurred me on to apply, I just didn’t have enough time. I’ve been travelling for 2 years and will return to Italy again June/July to try and start the process where my father was born – it’s still proving difficult.

    I’ve sent many emails and made many overseas phone calls and still can’t get an answer on what visa to enter Italy with this time so I can have more than 3 months to get all the paperwork/interviews sorted. I’m lucky that I speak about 90% Italian, which seems to be a huge bonus, but not enough.

    • Amy
      April 8, 2016 at 2:00 PM

      Oh how frustrating – especially considering that if it was your older siblings applying they’d have a much easier time. I hope that you’re able to find a pathway into applying for a passport yourself. Incredibly lucky that you have the language skills that you do – I understand more Italian than I speak but I hope by spending time there (which I plan to long-term one day) I’ll pick up a lot more. Keep us posted with your journey!

      • April 8, 2016 at 7:08 PM

        In the last 2 days, I’ve actually been in contact with a very helpful person where I need to apply from my father’s town and this person is at least responding to my emails and EU Citizenship questions. Although he doesn’t know about visas, I’m feeling much more positive but don’t want to get my hopes up to0 high just yet!

        I am very glad that I retained a lot of the language I learnt as a child (didn’t study grammar though) and although I don’t pick up some words, both sides are understood. When I was speaking with 5 Immigration Officers in Italy, they spoke slightly different dialects but still picked up the conversation. It was pretty hard and my brain hurt afterwards as it was all legal and official speak! Stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed! 🙂

        • Amy
          April 8, 2016 at 10:07 PM

          Oh fingers crossed he is able to provide some valuable help for you. I can’t imagine trying to ask the questions you have been at immigration without the language!

          • April 9, 2016 at 11:20 AM

            Always a challenge! BTW I love your blog 🙂

          • Amy
            April 9, 2016 at 12:20 PM

            Definitely keep us posted! I’m yet to visit Italy, I have this passport that I haven’t used! But I think it’s because when I finally go, I won’t want to leave! Thanks so much for stopping by – really appreciate it! Looking to ramp it up in the next little while with more quality content and features so stay tuned! 🙂

          • April 10, 2016 at 1:36 AM

            You should definitely go and you’re right, you probably won’t want to leave. Be warned about putting on weight with the 3 PPPs (Pizza, Pastry, Pasta) – so good there! Cool stop by my blog and say hi, I’m still very behind with my content 🙂

          • Amy
            April 10, 2016 at 3:06 PM

            Oh god. Sounds like I need to lose some weight before I go so I can eat everything! I’ll be sure to stop by and say hello!

          • April 10, 2016 at 3:31 PM

            Ha, ha, I put loads on there but had a fantastic time eating everything in sight (almost), so all cool!

    • Archie
      July 2, 2016 at 11:50 AM

      the Sydney consulate has a page titled ‘how_to_-_italian_citizenship_by_descent’ stating that there is a way to acquire a residency and live in Italy for 12 months, after which time a person becomes eligible for citizenship. I wonder if this is too long a time for you to spend / stay in Italy, but it seems to be a way to get the time you need to get thru all the bureaucratic red-tape, including the translation lessons in formal Italian! haha (I know what you you are going thru, I am the same!!) The condition is that you apply for this visa from Australia, before you leave, and then connect with the consulate in your town of choice in Italy to conclude the process… hope this is relevant and helps…

      • Amy
        July 2, 2016 at 7:13 PM

        Thanks for sharing Archie!

      • July 2, 2016 at 10:27 PM

        Thanks for the info, which I’ve read. I’ve got all the certs translated, endorsed, Apostille’d, and god know what else here in the UK – I’m ready. As I left Australia over 27 months ago and not going back for a while, we’re leaving for Italy in a couple of weeks and trying to start the process there…will let you know how I go. Wish me luck! 😉

      • September 22, 2016 at 3:31 PM

        I had to fly back from Italy to Australia and in particular, the state of my residency to apply for this 12-month residency visa. There’s a lot of supporting documentation and financial information you need to submit and also pay a fee of about $175, which doesn’t assure you the visa; it can still be denied.

        If you’re successful with the Residency visa, this does grant you 12 months. When you enter Italy on this visa, you need to register with the Questura and Commune for residency within 8 days of your arrival, which grants you 5 years in Italy.

        Currently, for non-EU Citizens, you have to reside in Italy for 10 years before you can apply for Italian Citizenship. However, if you have an Italian parent that became an Australian Citizen before your birth, then you have to live in Italy for 3 years only before you can apply for Italian Citizenship from “former Italian parents”. It’s still a long and expensive process unless your parents did not become Australian Citizens before your birth (as mine did).

        I’ve been going through this for 10+ months and it’s costly and stressful but I’ve just been granted my residency visa and leave in October…yay! 🙂

        • Amy
          September 26, 2016 at 9:29 AM

          Thanks so much for coming back and giving everyone an update… I’m sorry the process for you has been so long and drawn out but I’m pleased to hear that you’re getting somewhere, that’s great news!

  11. Joel
    January 21, 2016 at 6:59 AM

    Hi there, when you returned to the consulate to submit all documents for the second time, did you require another citizenship appointment? Or was it just a matter of dropping them off? Which consulate did you deal with?


    • Amy
      January 21, 2016 at 4:51 PM

      Hi Joel, when I returned for the second time to drop off my documents I had made an appointment – but I’d organised this on my first visit. I gave myself a month to do all the running around (translating, notarisation, etc) and then it was a quick ten minutes the second visit. I dealt with the Italian Consulate in Perth, Western Australia.

      • Paolo
        July 5, 2016 at 7:59 PM

        Hi Amy, great informative post! My father, brother and I are at the stage of having paid the 300 euros each and have to do apostle and translations. I am wondering, did you have to hand in original documents ie birth certificates, marriage certificates that you would never see again? Meaning that we would have to get new copies from birth deaths and marriage registry

        • Amy
          July 6, 2016 at 6:34 PM

          Hi Paolo – great to hear you found the post informative. Very exciting you’re onto the second stage! Yes, I handed in original documents as this is what has the apostille on it. If you want another copy you’ll need to obtain new ones from the Birth/Deaths/Marriage registry as you mentioned. Painful and another expense I know!

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