Italian citizenship can be granted to refugees legally resident in Italy for at least 5 years.1 Beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are instead subject to the general rule applied to third-country nationals: they can apply for naturalisation after 10 years of legal residence.2

In both cases, the beneficiary’s registration at the registry office must be uninterrupted. This is particularly challenging for beneficiaries of international protection, as the law does not ensure to them an accommodation after getting a protection status and, due to the precarious situation they come to face, they will be hardly able to maintain a residence.


Naturalisation procedure

The application is submitted online through the website of the Ministry of Interior, by attaching the extract of the original birth certificate and the criminal records certificate, issued in the country of origin and duly translated and legalised. The originals are submitted to the Prefecture of the place of residence.

Refugees can replace the documentation requested to prove their exact personal data and their legal position in the country of origin with a declaration (affidavit), signed before the Court and certified by two witnesses. This possibility is not provided for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.

The application is subject to the payment of a €200 contribution.

The evaluation of the citizenship application is largely discretionary. As consistently confirmed by the case law of the Administrative Courts,3 the denial may be motivated by the lack of knowledge of Italian language and insufficient social inclusion in the national context. Even if not provided by law, as evidence of social inclusion, it is usually requested that the income of the last 3 years be equal or higher than the minimum income guaranteed by the State.

The time limit for the completion of the procedure is 730 days (2 years) from the date of application,4 but this is a non-mandatory time limit and is almost never respected.

The person concerned is notified about the conclusion of the procedure by the Prefecture. In case of approval, he or she is invited to give, within 6 months, the oath to be faithful to the Italian Republic and to observe the Constitution and the laws of the State. In case of denial, he or she can appeal to the Administrative Court.

  • 1. Articles 9 and 16 L 91/1992 (Citizenship Act).
  • 2. Article 9(1)(f) Citizenship Act.
  • 3. Most recently, Administrative Court of Lazio, Section II- Quater, Decision No 8967, 2 August 2016.
  • 4. Article 3 PD 362/1994.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti