For the past 47 years British citizens have enjoyed the freedom to travel, work and live in countries within the European Union without the hindrance of having to check travel and health care insurance, passport expiry dates or apply for visas, depending on the nature of the visit whether business or pleasure.  After December 2020 it will all change and many things enshrined in EU membership will now become the responsibility of the traveller. 

It will be necessary to ensure that you have at least six months left on your passport and if your passport is over ten years old, regardless of the length of time left, you will have to renew your passport before travelling. Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid up to 31 December 2020 after which you will have to make your own arrangements; you will need to be particularly careful if you have a pre-existing medical condition as not all insurers will cover you.  There are many other things that must be considered and checked to enable travel in the European Union after Brexit, the government provides guidance on its website.

For British citizens with an Italian connection, all the new requirements can be avoided by obtaining dual citizenship.  Giambrone's immigration team, led by Elze Obrikyte, recommends that if you have any of the prerequisites that trigger the acquisition of dual Italian/British citizenship you should waste no time in starting an application. 

Giambrone recognises that many people would not ordinarily consider applying for dual nationality but for the Brexit situation and the legal costs of such an application are unexpected and unlikely to have been planned for.  In light of this, Giambrone has set up an extremely favourable (and manageable) fixed fee instalment plan for our clients so that they can take advantage of their Italian heritage to gain dual Italian British nationality under the step-by -step meticulous monitoring of the Giambrone immigration team who will be by your side all the way.

Elze Obrikyte, an associate, commented "the route to dual Italian/English citizenship can be considerably assisted by ensuring that your application fulfils all the requirements with regard to the correct documentation demanded by the Italian authorities to avoid the disappointment of having to start your application over again due to a minor breach or failure to meet criteria requested." She further remarked, "if your application is scrutinised by an expert immigration lawyer this will eliminate any obvious omissions and ensure that nothing has been overlooked."

In 2018 the Italian government considerably altered the criteria for foreign Nationals' application for Italian citizenship and it cannot be ruled out that post-Brexit the rules may change again.  It is advisable to initiate an application before December 2020 to ensure that the application can proceed along the current rules applied.

There are three main ways of obtaining dual Italian/British citizenship, all of which require an Italian connection:

Italian descent: through the laws of jure sanguinis

An application can be made through the male line from the foundation of the nation of Italy in 1861. The female line could only transfer citizenship from 1948 until a decision by the Supreme Court judged that the provision was contrary to the principles of equality.

A child born to Italian is automatically an Italian citizen regardless of where they were born, in this event the citizenship only needs to be "recognised" as opposed to "granted".  Children of Italian citizens must have their birth registered with the local Consulate.

In order to start an application an individual with Italian lineage will need the original birth, marriage and death certificates of their forefathers and also a declaration that the person you are relying on did not renounce their Italian citizenship in favour of naturalisation.

Marriage to an Italian citizen

A foreign national married to an Italian citizen can apply for Italian citizenship through Italian law governed by Articles 5, 6, 7 and 8 of Law n. 91- 1992 after two years of marriage if the couple resides in Italy.  If the couple has children under the age of majority the time period for an application is reduced to one year.  If the couple does not live in Italy the period before an application can be made in three years, with a reduction of 18 months should the couple have children under 18 years.

Same-sex civil unions have been recognised in Italy since 2016 and therefore the same rules and procedures apply for the application of Italian citizenship.

The marriage must continue throughout the entire application process.

Naturalisation through long-term residency in Italy:

Italian citizenship can be requested by foreign long-term residents in Italy. A citizen of an EU member state can apply for citizenship after four consecutive years of legal residency.  A non-EU member state citizen may apply after ten years of residency.  If you have Italian heritage but your relatives renounced their citizenship and became naturalised citizens of another country you may apply for citizenship after three years.

Residency must have been legal and continuous and the applicant must have paid taxes and can produce proof of earnings, at the current rate set in law, depending on whether or not the applicant has dependents. Also, if the applicant is financially dependent on their spouse the earnings of the spouse must match the defined level set in law. 

All applicants must provide their own identity documents such as a birth certificate and they must be translated into Italian and sanctioned by the Apostille process.  Also, there is a language requirement that must be fulfilled for applicants in the marriage or residency categories and a proficiency to Level B 1 must be attained and demonstrated by documentary evidence.  There is an exception to this rule if the applicant graduated from an Italian university.

A criminal record check must be made for all applications and any applicant who has been found guilty of a serious crime will be automatically excluded.

Elze pointed out that the Consular officers have a degree of flexibility and discretion with regard to applications.  My team has a full understanding of the requirements of the Consular officers and the best way to present applications.  We thoroughly brief our clients on the all-important face-to-face interview and aim to include all possible issues that may be arise on the day"

Elze and her team have a remarkable track record and have successfully guided many British citizens to dual Italian/British citizenship. The immigration lawyers at Giambrone have enjoyed some exceptional successes with applications and having been able to overcome significant obstacles and complexities in the past. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.