Country Report: Naturalisation Last updated: 31/05/23


In 2021, a total of 109,594 citizenships were granted, down by 8% compared to 2020.[1] Disaggregated data on citizenship grants to beneficiaries of international protection are not available, nor are general data for the year 2022.

Italian citizenship can be granted to refugees legally resident in Italy for at least 5 years.[2] 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.[3]

In both cases, the beneficiary’s registration at the registry office must be uninterrupted. This can be particularly challenging for beneficiaries of international protection, as the law does not ensure any support or long-term accommodation for them and some might be forced to live in precarious situations. Moreover, following the entry into force of the Decree Law 113/2018, implemented by L 132/2018, registration at the registry could only be obtained after the grant of a protection status (Civil Registration).

The situation has changed after the decision of the Constitutional Court n. 186/2020, which declared the legal provision introduced to create a different legal regime for asylum seekers contrary to the principle of equality stated by the Italian Constitution. The Decree Law 130/2020 was amended and expressly recognises to asylum seekers the right to civil registration.  However, under Decree Law 113/2018, many asylum seekers received a denial of civil registration and, even after the ruling by the Constitutional Court, several municipalities were initially reluctant to recognize the right to register them retroactively.

The 2018 reform also introduced the requirement of the sufficient knowledge of the Italian language (at least B1 level), attested through specific certifications or through the qualification in an educational institution recognised by the Ministry of Education.[4] Applications presented after 5 December 2018 without meeting this requirement have been rejected.[5]

The amended Citizenship Act also provides that citizenship obtained by way of naturalisation can be revoked in the event of a final conviction for crimes committed for terrorist purposes.[6] The law does not provide any guarantee to prevent statelessness.

In 2021, acquisitions by marriage were 11.9% of the total (not limited to beneficiaries of protection, but referred to all third country nationals), while those per residence 41%.

In 2021, the greatest number of acquisitions was recorded regarding Albanian nationals (22,493), followed by Moroccans (16,588) and Brazilians (5,460).

From a territorial point of view, new citizens are heavily concentrated in six regions of the Centre-North:

Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, and Veneto  which host 49% of those who have acquired citizenship in 2021 (with 25.1% of them living in Lombardy alone).[7]

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 by the authorities of the country of origin and duly translated and legalised. Since the 2018 reform, applicants must also submit a certification of knowledge of the Italian language. The originals are submitted to the Prefecture of the place of residence.

Refugees may submit, in lieu of the original birth certificate and criminal records certificate, a declaration (affidavit), signed before a Court and certified by two witnesses. The law does not provide this possibility for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection. However, on 13 November 2019, the Civil Court of Rome recognized a woman of Sierra Leone with subsidiary protection status the right to produce self-signed certificates, instead of a criminal record and birth certificates, to request the Italian citizenship, assessing the risk she would have incurred in by turning to the authorities of her country of origin.[8]

The application is subject to the payment of a €250 contribution.

The evaluation of the citizenship application is largely discretionary. As consistently confirmed by the case law of the Administrative Courts,[9] the denial may be motivated by insufficient social inclusion in the national context. Even if not provided by law, a further general requirement established by the Ministry of Interior for those who apply for citizenship by residency is the necessary to have an income produced on Italian territory, which amount shall not be less than those established by the Decree-Law 382/1989, signed into law 8/1990 as confirmed by art. 2 of the Act 549/1995.[10] The benchmarks are euro 8,263.31 for the unmarried applicant, euro 11,362.05 for the applicant with a spouse, and euro 516.00 to be added for each child. If the applicant does not possess their own income or has an income below those established by law, it is possible to consider the incomes of other household members (in the same family status of the applicant). Pending the acceptance of the citizenship request the applicant must retain, without interruptions, both the residence and the income capacity.

Decree Law 113/2018, implemented by L 132/2018 extended the time limit for the completion of the procedure from 730 days to 48 months from the date of application.[11] The Administrative Court of Lazio decided that it also applied to cases brought to Court before the date of coming into force of the Decree Law, since the Decree Law was silent on the date of entry into force.[12]

The Decree Law 130/2020 has repealed the provision of Decree Law 113/2018 which extended the 48 months term applicable to citizenship applications pending at the time of the entry into force of the decree law.[13] Thus, the previous term of 730 days will be applied to the applications submitted before the entry into force of Decree Law 113/2018.[14]

Decree Law 130/2020 converted into L. 173/2020 has introduced a new time limit for the completion of the citizenship procedure by Prefectures, set in 24 months extendable up to a maximum of 36 months, which applies to requests submitted on or after 20 December 2020.[15]

Thus, currently, there are different deadlines for the conclusion of the procedure, depending on when the application was submitted, whether before, during or after the end of the validity of the provision of Decree-Law 113/2018.

It should be noted that these are indicative non-mandatory time limits.

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] Istat, Non-EU Citizens in Italy, in 2021- 2022, October 20221, available in Italian at:

[2] Articles 9 and 16 L 91/1992 (Citizenship Act).

[3] Article 9(1)(f) Citizenship Act.

[4] Article 9.1 Citizenship Act, inserted by Article 14 Decree Law 113/2018 and L 132/2018.

[5] Ministry of Interior Circular No 666 of 28 January 2019.

[6] Article 10-bis Citizenship Act, inserted by Article 14 Decree Law 113/2018 and L 132/2018.

[7] Istat, Non-EU Citizens in Italy, in 2021- 2022, October 2022, available in Italian at:  

[8] Civil Court of Rome, decision 21785 of 13 November 2019.

[9] See e.g. Administrative Court of Lazio, Decision 8967/2016, 2 August 2016.

[10] Ministry of Interior, Income required for the application for citizenship by residence and modalities for their indication and updating, 30 November 2020, available in Italian at:

[11] Article 19-ter Citizenship Act, inserted by Article 14 Decree Law 113/2018 and L 132/2018.

[12] Administrative Court of Lazio, Decision 1323/2019.  

[13] Article 4 of Decree Law 130/2020 repealed Article 14 (2) of the Decree Law 113/2018 which had set the deadline for the definition of the proceedings pending at the time of entry onto force of the Decree Law 113/2018 in 48 months.

[14] According to Article 3 DPR 18.4.1964 n. 362.

[15] Article 9-ter Citizenship Act as amended by Decree Law 130/2020 and L 173/2020. According to Article 4(6) of Decree Law 130/2020 the provision applies to the applications submitted from the entry into force of the L 173/2020.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation