How many people does Italy grant citizenship?

How many people get Italian citizenship every year?

A total of 112,523 people obtained Italian citizenship in 2018, the last year for which official data is available.

That is a decrease of about 24 percent since 2017, when 146,605 people became Italian. In fact, the number has decreased since 2016, when successful citizenship applications increased to 201,591.

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The rate has now returned to approximately the same level as in 2013, when Italy granted citizenship to 100,712 people.

In total, Italy was home to more than 1.34 million ‘new Italians’ in January 2018.

Where do most of the ‘new Italians’ come from?

In 2018, the vast majority of people who acquired citizenship came from outside the European Union: 103,478 or approximately 92 percent. (The trend is logical, since people with EU passports already enjoy most of the same rights in Italy as Italians and, therefore, have fewer incentives to apply for citizenship).

The largest number of successful applications came from Albanians (21,841), followed by Moroccans (15,496), Brazilians (10,660), Romanians (6,542), Indians (5,425), Macedonians (3,487), Senegalese (2,918), Tunisians (2,484) and Ukrainians (2,423).

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The citizens of Albania and Morocco have been part of the first two since at least 2012, with up to 36,920 Albanians and 35,212 Moroccans obtaining Italian citizenship when claims were at their peak in 2016.

Meanwhile, Brazil has seen that successful citizenship applications increased more than seven times since 2012.

It is much less likely that other nationalities apply for Italian citizenship despite having a relatively large immigrant population in Italy: in particular, less than 5 percent of Italian residents of Italy have acquired Italian citizenship, presumably because China does not allow double nationality.


Celebrating the Chinese new year in Rome. Photo: Andreas Solaro / AFP

How do most people qualify for Italian citizenship?

In 2018, the most common way to acquire citizenship was by descent (ius sanguinis, which allows those who can prove to be descendants of at least one Italian ancestor to claim Italian citizenship), by birthright (ius soli, which authorizes people born and raised in Italy by non-Italian parents to claim 18-year-old Italian citizenship, or by parental transmission (the law that automatically transfers citizenship to children of adults who acquire citizenship, provided they are minors 18 years and live with them at the moment).

In total, 48,910 people qualified for Italian citizenship through one of these three routes in 2018, about 43 percent of the total. Another 39,453 people (35 percent) qualified by residence in Italy, while 24,160 (21 percent) qualified by marriage to an Italian citizen.

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While residence used to form the basis of most citizenship claims, the number of successful applications for these reasons has decreased since 2016. Between 2017 and 2018, those claims decreased by about 23,000 or 37 percent.

Meanwhile, marriage claims increased by about 9 percent in 2018 (+2,000), with the vast majority, 85 out of 100, made by women.

But one of the most notable trends is the increase in the number of people who successfully claim Italian citizenship by descent. In 2016, the year in which the Italian statistics office began tracking such claims, some 7,000 people obtained citizenship in this way; in 2017 it exceeded 8,200 and in 2018 it reached 9,000.

most of ius sanguinis The claims come from only one country: Brazil, which saw approximately 7,000 people obtain Italian citizenship by descent in 2018.


Photo: DepositPhotos

Where in Italy do most people get citizenship?

The part of Italy with the most successful citizenship claims in 2018 was the northwest (43,962) and especially the Lombardy region, which only represented 30,474.

Other regions where a large number of people obtained citizenship were Veneto (15,536), Emilia-Romagna (13,446), Piedmont (9,801) and Tuscany (9,349). While Lazio, the region of Rome, has a high population born abroad, only 6,943 people took Italian citizenship there.

Meanwhile, the regions that delivered the least amount of new citizenships were Basilicata (252), Valle d’Aosta (316), Molise (426) and Sardinia (644).

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The further north you go, the more people base their claim on residence, reflecting the fact that the rich north has attracted migrants who have been looking for work for a long time.

Meanwhile, in the south, and especially in the regions of Campania, Calabria, Basilicata and Molise, most citizenship claims were based on ancestry, the legacy of decades of emigration abroad from disadvantaged parts of southern Italy.

What else do we know about people who apply for citizenship in Italy?

They are mainly women (61,321 in 2018 compared to 51,202 men), and they are mainly young: the largest age group is under 20, which represented 39,945 citizenships granted in 2018.

People between the ages of 20 and 39 made up another 37,364, while those aged 40 and 59 added up to 31,519. The number of people over 60 who acquired Italian citizenship was only 3,695.

ALSO READ: ‘How I obtained an elective residence visa to retire in Italy’


Photo: DepositPhotos

All the data mentioned in this article come from Istat, the national statistics office of Italy.

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