The legal requirements for recognition of Italian citizenship claims made by persons born abroad, but whose births were never registered with an Italian consular agency, vary considerably according to particular circumstances, and also depend upon existing treaties between the Italian Republic and various states. Therefore, if claimants born in Great Britain, the United States and Argentina each queried an Italian consular officer in their respective countries with regard to this procedure, each would receive different answers to some of the same questions. It is our intention to present a general description of the procedures involved, and particularly the genealogical requirements, especially for claimants born and resident outside Italy. For our purposes, we shall consider births under normal conditions, as opposed to circumstances such as adoption.
Italian citizenship is based primarily on lineage, as opposed to geography (i.e. birth in Italy) or naturalization. However, an Italian bloodline is not, in itself, sufficient grounds for claiming Italian citizenship. One is an Italian citizen if he-she is born to a parent who is an Italian citizen. Citizenship may be transmitted through the childïs mother, father, or through both parents. However, a claim to Italian citizenship is made only through one parent per generation. Legitimacy of birth is not required if the citizenship is claimed through the mother; it is normally required if claimed through the father of a child born outside Italy. It is also necessary to establish definite identification of the person(s) through whom citizens ship is claimed. If, for example, Christina Clark seeks to claim citizenship through her fater, born in Italy as Giuseppe Calarco, but her own birth registration indicates his name as Joseph Clark, it would be nececary for her to establish to the satisfaction of consular authorities that Giuseppe Calarco and Joseph Clark are in fact the same person; this may require that particular records (for example, a legal document authorizing a change of name) be produced in addition to normal circumstances, Italian residency of his-her descendants is not required for them to claim Italian citizenship. It should be noted that when a family has resided outside Italy for several generations, the last ancestor recognized as an Italian citizen may have been born more than a century ago. If born before 1860, he would have been a citizen of one of the nations (Kingdom of Sardinia, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, etc.) to which the Kingdom of Italy and subsequently (since 1946) the Italian Republic are successor states.