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. In our last several podcast interviews, we were asked this same question. And also… if going through the process was worth it.
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.
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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 – 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 which is 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 pay fewer taxes 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.
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.
Both books have won the Reader Ready “Recommended Read Award”
Do you have a story about your adventure to share? Perhaps about your decision for citizenship?
Editor’s Note: This article was initially published on April 13, 2023, and was updated in February 2024 for accuracy and additional information.