dual citizenship with Italy - is it worth the hassle? Find out more about our decision for citizenship. - ouritalianjourney.com

Decision for Citizenship

We are often asked why Gary and I didn’t just pack our bags and move to Italy instead of going through the process of trying to obtain dual citizenship. Especially since our journey took three long years and one we call the “rollercoaster ride of our lives!” In our last several podcast interviews, we were asked this same question. And also… if going through the process was worth it.

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Let me try to explain the Italian process as briefly as I can. Without getting into details, I will make this an overview post, and perhaps you can understand our decision. Please understand that it’s not that we don’t want to list or share the process – it’s as simple as the process keeps changing as the Italian government changes the requirements. We are always willing to help and guide, but can’t advise you to start at “A” and then follow “B,C,D.” It just doesn’t work that way. Not with the Italian government!

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Permission to Stay

A Permesso di Soggiorno is approval or permit to stay in Italy for over 90 days. It’s a way for the government (through the police) to keep track of you. It’s as simple as that. You must file within eight days of arriving in Italy.

This detailed process involves a great deal of paperwork, time, and patience. Emphasis on patience! Paperwork must be done to perfection. The process itself can take weeks or even months. You will be notified online that your document is ready to be picked up in person. You also have to provide proof of income and health insurance somewhere along the line.

Another part of the Permesso di Soggiorno process is that you must notify the police anytime you move to a different town or city. They will check up on you – no doubt about it. This entire process (which I assure you I have not included the dreadful details) has to be repeated a year later; then two and three years later. Finally after several years (and this changes, too) you can apply for a Carta di Soggiorno, Italian citizenship.

On the Other Hand… Decision for Citizenship

On the other hand, with dual citizenship, you can come and go anytime you please. We do not have to prove a certain amount of yearly income. We would pay fewer taxes if we were to purchase a home, and are entitled to health insurance (large cost savings for us!) There are many other reasons including the citizens of Italy embracing us as one of their own – instead of a tourist.

Again, without details of a Permesso di Soggiorno, you can see that is an easier road to try and obtain dual citizenship. But… realize that not everyone is lucky enough to have a parent or grandparent who never naturalized into an American citizen. So, simply put – this road is not available to everyone. It may cost more to pursue the citizenship process but, it will cost less in the end.

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Great idea… scan your children’s school work (art, photos, stories) each year and make a memorable Ebook!

Our Personal Story

If you’ve been following our journey you are aware that we met with the Italian Consulate and Gary proved his qualifications for Italian citizenship. We have several posts on this rollercoaster ride on this blog. The fact that we were married in 1980, before the Italian 1983 Rule, I was granted citizenship about a week later.

Then, if you fast forward… we’ve written two books about this entire journey…

Both these books beautifully capture the essence of Italy, its people, and the strong sense of community that defines life in small Italian towns. With lyrical prose and reflections, Ilene & Gary invite readers to accompany them on a journey of self-discovery and transformation in the heart of Tuscany.
Books by Ilene and Gary Modica, Our Italian Journey, When Your Heart Finds Its Home and audiobook, ouritalianjourney.com

We Are Here to Help

Please know that we are more than happy to try and navigate any roadblock that you may be experiencing. If we don’t have the answer, we might be able to point you in the right direction. Please email us and include “dual citizenship question” in the subject line. I direct those to Gary directly. Out of the two of us… he’s got the knowledge on that subject more so than me.

Do you have a story about your adventure to share? Perhaps about your decision for citizenship?



Editor’s Note:  This post was initially published in February 2017, and was updated in May 2024 for accuracy and additional information.

6 Comments

  1. Hi there, I just stumbled across your blog. Wow! So exciting this journey you are on.
    This may sound naive, but is it possible to still live in Italy without obtaining dual citizenship? My husband and I would love to live there. Is that only allowed for a certain amount of time? Thank you in advance and best wishes to you both! So awesome.

    1. Ciao Jamie – yes it is possible and only a small handful of our friends also have dual citizenship. You have to go through a visa process depending on the amount of time you want to stay. I would check with the Italian Consulate in your area to find out the requirements and timeframe. Please email us if you need some assistance.

  2. Ilene
    Ive stayed for extended periods- up to 6 months- and never any issues returning to the US No paperwork or applications – just my passport- FYI Jeff in Florida

    1. Jeff I’m curious…how do you stay for up to 6 months at a time without running afoul of Schengen rules?
      Or maybe you are a citizen of another Schengen zone country?
      Or quite possibly I am misunderstanding Schengen rules!!
      Grazie

      1. Julie – you are correct. Please see my reply to Jeff. Once upon a time, not too long ago… you could leave Italy and enter another Schengen country for 24 hours and then return to Italy to restart your 90-days. This is no longer possible.

    2. If you are an American citizen, and do not possess another European passport, you are only allowed to stay 90-days on your US passport. Period. If you go past that time and discovered, you might have to pay a fine and/or be banned from entering Italy for “x” amount of time. It’s a gamble. I do know some that have stayed over their 90-days without an issue – and some that didn’t have such good luck.

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