The realisation that British citizens owning a second home in Europe will have to apply for a visa after 31 December 2020 if they wish to spend longer than 90 days in every 180 days at their second home, has caused many people considerable concern.  Often people buy a second home as a holiday home with the intention of the property eventually becoming their retirement home and spend longer and longer periods of time in their overseas property as retirement approaches.  There are also self-employed consultants who often choose to work in the more favourable environment of their overseas home during the winter months.  The situation is inflamed by the fact that EU citizens are able to visit the UK for 180 days in any one year without having to apply for a visa. 

There is a solution to this problem of longer access to a European property without the need for a visa for UK citizens that are either descended from Italian forefathers or are married to an Italian citizen.  Italian descent or marriage to an Italian are two of the criteria required which allows a UK citizen to apply for dual Italian/UK citizenship.  Citizenship of an EU Member State conveys the right to travel, work and reside in other EU Member States. 

Until the 31 December 2020 when the Brexit transition period ends, the UK remains under the same laws as the EU Member States, after which there will be some changes to certain procedures, although much of the EU Member State law has already been incorporated into the law of England and Wales, a UK citizen with entitlement to apply for dual Italian/UK citizenship would be well advised to start the process before the end of the year thereby ensuring that their application will proceed via the current rules as quickly as possible. 

Obtaining dual Italian/British nationality, if you have the credentials to do so, immediately solves the visa problem throughout the EU Member States. There is a rapidly shrinking time-frame for British citizens with link to Italy either by heritage or marriage to start the process to obtain Italian citizenship. 

If your application for Italian citizenship is being made to provide you with the flexibility to visit your overseas property without the need of a visa Italian descent (jure sanguinis), marriage to an Italian citizen are the appropriate categories.   Documentary evidence of your eligibility to apply for Italian citizenship must be provided, applicants must provide their own identity documents such as a birth certificate which must be translated into Italian and verified by the Apostille process.  Applicants relying on descent must provide clear evidence of relating to their forefathers and their own relationship to such relatives. 

With regard to marriage a valid marriage certificate must be provided, translated into Italian and verified by the Apostile process.  Since 2018 applicants applying through marriage must fulfil a language requirement reaching Level B1 which also requires the support of documentary evidence.  However, applicants who graduated from an Italian university are exempt. A criminal record check must be made for all applications and any applicant who has been found guilty of a serious crime is automatically excluded.

Elze Obrikyte, an associate in the immigration team, commented "it is imperative to have the correct paperwork required for your application, where possible the original documentation. The Italian authorities will scrutinise your application and any omission or breach in the criteria will result in rejection."  She further mentioned, "the assistance of  an expert immigration lawyer this will eliminate any obvious errors or omissions and ensure that nothing has been overlooked."

In order to assist those people who would now like to apply for dual Italian/British citizenship in light of the restrictions that will limit travel to their overseas second home but the costs of such an application were not planned for, Giambrone has implemented an affordable fixed-fee instalment scheme to assist our clients.  This will enable individuals to begin an application before the end of the transition period 31 December 2020.

Elze and her team have enjoyed some exceptional successes with applications and having been able to overcome significant obstacles and complexities in the past.  As British citizens comprise the largest group of foreigners buying real estate in Italy and it is wholly possible that bilateral agreements may be separately be struck in the future to preserve the advantages for everyone.  

For further information about applying for dual Italian and British citizenship please click here

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.