Brexit: Dual Citizenship?
Dual-citizenship will give you the right to live and work in both Italy and the UK, and also in the rest of the EU…
Since the Brexit vote on 23 June 2016 there has been much discussion by British citizens living in Italy on how to protect their rights to continue living and working in Italy after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. Of course everyone’s personal situation will be different, but one possible option is the application for Italian citizenship provided that you have lived in Italy for more than 4 years.
Dual-citizenship is permitted under both Italian and English law, they are not mutually exclusive, so a UK citizen may also hold Italian citizenship (and vice versa). Having dual-citizenship after the UK leaves the EU will give the holder the right to live and work in the UK (as a British citizen), in Italy (as an Italian citizen) and elsewhere in the EU (as an EU citizen of Italy). Of course the Brexit negotiations may grant additional rights to EU citizens (including Italian citizens) in the UK after Brexit, and additional rights to British citizens in the EU (including Italy) after Brexit, but this is still to be negotiated and there is no guarantee of the outcome of those UK – EU negotiations. So obtaining Italian citizenship now, and being prepared for the worst, could make sense for many readers.
Here are the requirements for applying for Italian citizenship:
- Registration on the Ministero dell’Interno website: all applications for Italian citizenship are now done online, so register with the Ministero dell’Interno website to gain access to the online application: https://nullaostalavoro.dlci.interno.it/Ministero/registrazione_user. Once you are registered, keep your log-in details safe, as you will need them also to correspond with the local Prefecture handling your application during and after the application process.
- Completing the application form: once registered, follow the link to register for citizenship. There are different rules depending on where you are from, so this article only focuses on British applicants. You must have been continuously resident in Italy for a minimum of 4 years before the application and hold a full British passport. Necessary details to provide in support of your application include place of residence, codice fiscale, qualification, partner’s details, parental details, children’s details, places of residence since 14 years old, and your taxable income in the last 3 years. You don’t have to complete the application form on one go, you can save and return at a later date using your log-in details.
- Required documents: you will need the following:
- birth certificate (original copy), which you can get from General Register Office in the UK (apply online at https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/default.asp) at a cost of BG£9.25. The birth certificate must be apostilled by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (GB£30 plus courier fees) – ask your lawyer to help with this – and then translated and sworn in an Italian court using an officially approved translator.
- a criminal records certificate (showing that you have no UK criminal record) at a cost of GB£45 available online from the UK ACRO Criminal Records Office (https://www.acro.police.uk/police_certificates.aspx) (plus any other country where you have lived prior to arriving in Italy). Again, this certificate must be apostilled by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (GB£30 plus courier fees) – ask your lawyer to help with this – and then translated and sworn in an Italian court using an officially approved translator.
- Payment receipt: you should make the required € 200 payment at your post office to the account indicated in the application, and keep the receipt as evidence of payment, together with a “marca di bollo” of €16 (you must enter the number and date of payment in the application form).
- UK Passport and Italian ID card: simple copies are required.
- Italian residency certificates: you will need to prove continuous residence in Italy of at least 4 years to make the application for citizenship. However, in the application you will also need evidence of your residence since you were 14 years old, so rack your brain to remember where you lived with applicable dates.Once you have sent the application form, and uploaded the documents in pdf format through the website, the application process is then handled by your local Prefecture. Timings for additional information requests and eventual acceptance of the application will vary between provinces (ranging from a couple of weeks to many months).
- Approval and ceremony: the first step after approval has been communicated to you is to go to the local Questura to have your photos and fingerprints taken, followed by the official swearing-in ceremony at the Prefecture. Once you become an Italian citizen you can apply for an Italian passport.
Dual-citizenship will give you the right to live and work in both Italy and the UK, and also in the rest of the EU by virtue of being an Italian citizen. Of course this doesn’t necessarily sort any issues you may have with pensions and healthcare between Italy and the UK, but it could be a first step to guaranteeing your rights post-Brexit. And remember, Italy pays ransom demands (the UK doesn’t), so if you are planning a cruise off the coast of Somalia you know you should pack your Italian passport!
Article by Avv. Martin Pugsley
Tel: +39 334 656 7115
Martin is a corporate finance lawyer at Willkie Farr & Gallagher’s Milan office. He has lived and worked in Italy for 16 years, and was Vice President of the British Chamber of Commerce for Italy from 2012 – 2016. He regularly writes and speaks on Brexit-related matters. He will become a British – Italian dual citizen next month.